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Word Count: 633
The ideas of Karl Marx Karl Marx was one of the most important thinkers of Western civilization For good or for ill few individuals have had as profound an effect on the course of history as Karl Marx Marx was a highly original thinker like many original thinkers he expressed many intelligent ideas and a considerable amount of nonsense It is impossible in one assignment to do justice to anything as complex and contradictory as Marxs thought What follows is a brief summary of what Marx was trying to say You should be aware that Karl Marx would not necessarily approve of everything that is done in the name of Marxism in the Communist world 1 The economic theory of history Marxs view was that economics determined human history This economic theory of history held that mens economic needs and the techniques by which they meet these needs determine the course of history As Engels put it Marx discovered the fact hithertofore unnoticed that men must eat wear clothing and find shelter before they are interested in religion philosophy art or nationality In a society of nomads Marx pointed out political power rests with those who own the most horses Similarly in a modern industrial state Marx argued that political power rests with those who control the factors of production factories mines railroads labor etc This is the most important difference between liberal and Marxist opinion Marxists believe that no matter what political institutions exist there can be no freedom for the great mass of people as long as economic control is in a few hands Liberals disagree stating that freedom for the individual requires that the individual have the right to hold economic power in his own hands and within reason use that power as he sees fit Our understanding of history has gained immensely from Marxs economic interpretation No reputable historian today writes without some reference to the economic
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