138 Years ago today, famed economist and father of socialism Karl Marx would die and be buried in London, Britain – then one of the wealthiest cities, in one of the wealthiest country in the world at that time. As the son of a successful lawyer who possessed an upper middle class income, Marx would go on to study literature and philosophy. At 18, he would be excused from the military due to “weak chest” and would go onto join various writing, drinking, and activist groups while continually falling short in the pursuit of a more traditional lifestyle much to his father’s dismay.
Although not much for manual labor himself, Marx would go on to advocate for “workers rights” in many of his later writings, which were directed at the class disparities borne out of the industrialization of the economy and unfettered capitalism. His insightful and powerful critiques of the divergence in living standards between the successful “Bourgeoisie” (upper class), to which he owed his entire existence to, and the “Proletariat” (working class) led him to suggested that the profit of a goods sold was stolen from the workers(Proletariat) by the owners(Bourgeoisie). As a man who lived such a sheltered life, one gets the feeling that Marx never had much direct experience in how manufacturing (or any business for that matter) operates beyond the theoretical. If he had, he might begin to understand that those bourgeois owners assume certain risks and financial obligations that are well beyond what his drinking buddies ranted about.
Marx, an atheist, would go onto champion the phrase: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” in his writings on communism. For Marx, the abundance created by a collective workforce would be shared by all and the necessity of incentives as a means of human compulsion would be completely ignored. With the exception of his writings, the mostly useless drunk, would go onto describe how he felt the perfect society should operate. Before his death in 1883, Karl Marx would not only see 4 of his own 7 children die partially do to their poor living conditions, but he would lay the foundation for the “us” vs “them” rationality that would go on to precede the atrocities of the Soviet Union, WW2 Germany, and activist and grifters across the world still present today.
Of course, detractors will contest that it’s not real socialism, but to them we could say the same about capitalism. In the end, tyranny is bad regardless of how it’s administered. Human beings should be allowed the highest amount of liberty possible, and for that, it is their responsibility on the individual level be good stewards of these gifts they inherited for themselves, their children, and all mankind.