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One of the first and most persuasive advocates of modern capitalism was Adam Smith The most serious challenge to Adam Smith and his followers came from Karl Marx a nineteenth century German The son of a Prussian lawyer the methodical Marx was a worthy and resourceful opponent He unfolded his economic theories in his monumental Das Kapital a work on which he spent eighteen years of research and writing Marxs main objection to the capitalistic system was that it was unfair to workers To show this he developed his now famous theory of surplus value This theory involves the relationship between the worker and his product and the employer and his profit It implied that whatever profits the capitalist class acquired it stole from the workers Seventy years after his death about a third of the human race was living under governments that called themselves Marxist Marxism is more that just a set of bright ideas which anyone at any time might have thought up It is rather a time and place phenomenon which acknowledges that the very categories in which it thinks such as abstract labour the commodity the freely mobile individual and so on could have emerged from a heritage of capitalism and political liberalism Eageton 9 Karl Marxs ideas had a greater influence in a shorter time then any other thinker in history Karl Marx was born in the Germany in a town called Trier His parents were Jews who converted to Lutheranism when he was six but Marx was anti-religious by the time he was a teenager His creed even then was Criticism of religion is the foundation of all criticism Magee 165 Marx did little paid work in the course of his life instead he chose to live in poverty most of the time and continue his studies and his writing Marx went to Paris in 1843 where he met the young Friedrich Engels Engels came from a rich German
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