There is still much that is true here. As I read this time around, I reflected on how the historical conditions at the time that Marx was writing were such that, had there been no Marx, the subsequent clash was nevertheless inevitable. If not Marx, then some other would have taken up the cry of freedom, and raised the banner in the name of communism. Considering this in the light of Hegel, we can observe that even after successful communist revolutions succesful meaning that the former sovereigns were overthrown and private property was abolished , man was not yet truly emancipated from his condition of slavery.
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Marx, Karl German, — Intransigent, direct, mocking, and politically subversive, Marx ranks as one of the most powerful and distinctive voices Germany has produced. Its eloquence and conviction is the result of an activist approach to critique. Picking up where Kant and Hegel left off, Marx reformulates the theory-praxis problem in a revolutionary way.
For him, change is no longer introduced by dogmatic assumptions; rather, it is through the critique of the old that the new becomes possible. This implies understanding oneself, i. Critique requires first and foremost a capacity for self-criticism. The unique mission and opportunity of the press call for it to make such critique possible. Starting as a journalist, Marx combined a theoretical outlook with political engagement.
Conceived as critical analyses of the dynamics of social forces, his articles forge the political essay into a tool for class struggle. Subverting in Hegelian fashion the hold of particular interests by exposing their internal contradictions, the essays take on repression, whatever its disguise, and exercise a power that goes beyond the mere fireworks they engender. Instead of merely offering a critique of the opposition, the analytic rigor of his essays destroys the claims of those in power, revealing their falseness as pretense.
As he points out, method rather than its result creates the truth which can thereby resist all attempts at extraneous determination. To ignore this means to fall victim to the contradictions to which the denial of the selfdefining constitution of truth would lead. Critique alone—as self-constituting court—is able to restrict itself.
The parliament that desires to control freedom of the press indicts itself. In the final analysis, he argues, it is such legislation that threatens to undermine the very idea itself of law and state. Clearing up the ideological thicket, the literary strategy exposes the hypocritical character that lends exploitative fraud its friendly face. A literary pas de deux of materialist and idealist thought, this essay pushes the discourse on emancipation to its brink. Its sheer density renders it at once opaque and translucent, light and heavyhanded, radical and superficial.
Charged with the dynamics of dialectics, its sparkle has at the same time a blinding effect. The paper lasted only until May , when the Revolution was finally thwarted. More astonishing is the fact that the paper could be published at all. Two months later, 19 May , the last issue was printed in red ink.
With Engels Marx penned the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei ; The Communist Manifesto , one of the single most influential texts written in the 19th century. Its manifesto style—clarity, brevity, and precision—carries the political essay to new heights. Its imagery has ever since informed and haunted the literary and political imagination. To account for the surprising political backlash to the ideas in the wake of , Marx resorts to the categories of tragedy and farce. Politics becomes a play whose farcical repetitions are ultimately free from historical ramifications.
Yet where this theatrical staging sees only actors playing out their drama of politics, we find Marx attempting to solve the drama posed by his own theorizing. While Marx concedes the political its own sphere, the schedule of world history remains intact; enriched by breaks and interruptions, these farcical ruptures now corroborate what they seem to have jeopardized—the dignity of history.
While Marx offers no argument to resolve this dilemma logically, the exposition of the essay provides the necessary space to act out what seems impossible to address otherwise. While Marx continued his journalistic work as a sideline, the newspaper articles, which now solely served the purpose of a source of income, were toned down to the objective tone of technical reports.
Pointing beyond logical demonstration, the expository play in the later works is grounded in the evocative appeal to critical imagination. Born 5 May in Trier. Editor-in-chief, Die Rheinische Zeitung, Cologne, — suppressed by the censor. Married Jenny von Westphalen, one son died in youth and three daughters. Died in London, 14 March Struik, , Frederic L. Stuik, Early Writings, edited and translated by T. Tucker, ; revised, enlarged edition, Essential Writings, edited by Frederic L.
Bender, Political Writings, edited by David Fernbach, 3 vols. Thomas Ferguson and Stephen J.
Karl Marx: selected writings