Karl Marx was a 19th-century German philosopher who had a huge impact on world history with his formulation of communism as a way of combating the horrors of the capitalism that had resulted from the Industrial Revolution. Our interview about Marx and Marxism is with political theorist Terrell Carver of the University of Bristol. The best place to start with Marx is by reading The Communist Manifesto. Written with his friend, Friedrich Engels, it is short and clear (in contrast to his later work, Capital). If you’re new to Marx, there’s also a nice comic book, Introducing Marx: A Graphic Guide, by the Mexican cartoonist and intellectual, Rius, which puts him in context. Our most recommended biography of Karl Marx is Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life (2013) by Jonathan Sperber. For a biography that’s more focused on his philosophy, there’s also Karl Marx: His Life and Thought (1973) by David McLellan.
Books by Karl Marx
Of course, this list should really include the works of Marx. But The Communist Manifesto doesn’t have much to do with what I thought Marx was, or what anyone else thought Marx was afterwards. It’s just a piece of old-fashioned politics. And Das Kapital is one those books that people claim to have read, but no one has really read it to the end. Still, it accumulated into a creed.
Interviews where books by Karl Marx were recommended
British philosopher Jonathan Wolff chooses five books by thinkers who have shaped the field of political philosophy. He explores the experiences that influenced each writer, saying ‘it’s very rare for philosophers to say very much about their history and what brought them to the views they have’.
Embracing global history allows us to see humans with a much clearer perspective. Historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto introduces us to some of the trailblazing books in the field, starting in the 2nd century BCE.
The nineteenth century saw not only a widespread interest in philosophical ideas but also philosophy’s development as a more rigorous discipline. Australian philosopher Peter Singer introduces us to the highlights of a century of philosophy books.
History professor and co-editor of Dissent magazine, Michael Kazin, looks back at US leftist movements from abolitionism to Vietnam to see where OWS came from and what it can learn from the past.