Seated man with a large white beard wearing a dark suit

Karl Marx

(1818 - 1883)

Born in the Rhineland in 1818, Marx studied in Bonn and Berlin. Forced into political exile after the 1848 publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, he spent the remainder of his life in London. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence,” Marx wrote in 1859, “but their social existence that determines their consciousness.”

All Writing


In an 1850 newspaper article, Karl Marx declared that “revolutions are the locomotives of history.” Ninety years later, Walter Benjamin countered with a different analogy: “Marx says that revolutions are the locomotive of world history,” he wrote, “but perhaps it is quite otherwise. Perhaps revolutions are an attempt by the passengers on this train—namely, the human race—to activate the emergency brake.”


“The ancient Roman class struggle was only fought out within a privileged minority,” wrote Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, “between the free rich and the free poor, while the great productive mass of the population, the slaves, formed a purely passive pedestal for the combatants. People forget J.C.L. Simonde de Sismondi’s significant expression: the Roman proletariat lived at the expense of society, while modern society lives at the expense of the proletariat.”

Voices In Time

1867 | London

Against Nature

Karl Marx on the materials of production.More

Voices In Time

1867 | London

Value Judgment

Karl Marx excoriates vampire capitalism.More

There is only one antidote to mental suffering and that is physical pain.

—Karl Marx, 1860

Voices In Time

1843 | Kreuznach

Opium Den

Karl Marx immanentizes the eschaton.More

Voices In Time

1848 | London

Common Property

Marx and Engels on the cosmopolitanism of the bourgeoisie.More


As a London-based correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, Karl Marx wrote about Abraham Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, “Up to now we have witnessed only the first act of the Civil War—the constitutional waging of war. The second act, the revolutionary waging of war, is at hand.”


In 1863, four years before publishing the first volume of Das Kapital, Karl Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels that apart from “the discoveries of gunpowder, the compass, and the printing press—these necessary preconditions of bourgeois development—the two material bases on which the preparations for machine industry were organized within manufacture...were the clock and the mill.” He elaborated: “The clock is the first automatic machine applied to practical purposes, and the whole theory of production of regular motion was developed on it.”

We should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing; he is, at most, time’s carcass.

—Karl Marx, 1847

Issues Contributed