Presenter Information

Lois Bronaugh, Austin CollegeFollow

Date

4-29-2020

Description

In the decade leading up to the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Karl Marx underwent a turbulent period of personal and intellectual growth. For example, in the years between 1840 and 1849, Marx finished his doctoral thesis, married the aristocratic Jenny von Westphalen, published various revolutionary writings, and lived in four different countries (having been expelled from three of them). In my study, I explore how Marx's experiences living and working as a student, journalist, researcher, and revolutionary across Europe encouraged him to reflect and expand upon his earlier philosophy towards socialism from a domestic complaint to an international call to revolution. My research indicates that as his physical and societal environment changed, Marx developed his theoretical approach to account for international conditions, such as the Chartist worker's movement in England. Specifically, I explore how Marx's partnership with Friedrich Engels, a German economist involved in the textile industry, provided a practical anchor for his subversive inclinations by establishing England as the necessary initiator of worldwide change. Although their prediction of a social revolution was only partially fulfilled, I argue that the principles which Marx formed in the 1840s stuck with him for the rest of his life, establishing the foundation of what would later be commonly referred to as "Marxist thought" or Marxism. I conclude by asserting that the different roles which Marx assumed in these various international contexts enabled him to remain what he always was: a thinker.

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Apr 29th, 12:00 AM

Forever the Thinker: the International Context of Marx(ism) in the 1840s

In the decade leading up to the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Karl Marx underwent a turbulent period of personal and intellectual growth. For example, in the years between 1840 and 1849, Marx finished his doctoral thesis, married the aristocratic Jenny von Westphalen, published various revolutionary writings, and lived in four different countries (having been expelled from three of them). In my study, I explore how Marx's experiences living and working as a student, journalist, researcher, and revolutionary across Europe encouraged him to reflect and expand upon his earlier philosophy towards socialism from a domestic complaint to an international call to revolution. My research indicates that as his physical and societal environment changed, Marx developed his theoretical approach to account for international conditions, such as the Chartist worker's movement in England. Specifically, I explore how Marx's partnership with Friedrich Engels, a German economist involved in the textile industry, provided a practical anchor for his subversive inclinations by establishing England as the necessary initiator of worldwide change. Although their prediction of a social revolution was only partially fulfilled, I argue that the principles which Marx formed in the 1840s stuck with him for the rest of his life, establishing the foundation of what would later be commonly referred to as "Marxist thought" or Marxism. I conclude by asserting that the different roles which Marx assumed in these various international contexts enabled him to remain what he always was: a thinker.