Can Karl Marx be viewed as an economist

Summary of The capital

Children of industrialization: the proletariat

The consequences of the industrial revolution, which Marx was able to study particularly well in his exile in England, formed an essential background for his theory, especially of historical materialism. Industrialization gave factory work its breakthrough. Division of labor and specialization led to enormous increases in productivity. The factories shot up like mushrooms in the cities. Thanks to the steam engine, the production facilities became independent of natural driving forces such as wind, water and muscle power. The rural population poured into the cities and factories. The reason: previously generally accessible pasture land has been converted into private property. The landowners expropriated many farmers in this enclosure and thus robbed them of their livelihood. The rural population had no choice but to earn their food in the city. Industrialization and privatization in the 18th and 19th centuries created a new class of underprivileged people: the proletarians. Marx used to refer to the workers who had no means of production but only their bare labor that they had to offer to the capitalists as “wage slaves”. Impoverishment, catastrophic health and housing conditions and inhumane working hours were the social consequences of this system. Overpopulation and capitalist rationalization efforts also led to the formation of an “industrial reserve army” (Marx), a group of unemployed people who put great pressure on wages and the already poor working conditions.


It took Karl Marx almost 15 years to copy the first volume of The capital. On April 2, 1851, he wrote to his friend Friedrich Engelsthat he intends to be done with "all the economic shit" in a few weeks after looking through his numerous sources and a rough sketch of his concept. But nothing came of it. He worked on the first volume for several years, put his publisher off more than once, but announced his work to friends as “the big hit”. The expectations were correspondingly high. The first volume appeared in 1867. Engels was puzzled when he looked through the manuscript, even though Marx had warned him: He should just not fall over, because even though the work had the title The capital wear, it contains little on the subject. Wilhelm Liebknecht, the founder of the Social Democratic Labor Party, even openly admitted that "never before has a book disappointed him so much". Marx could no longer complete the planned further volumes of the work. Fortunately, however, he had produced detailed manuscripts that laid out the structure and structure of the entire work. After Marx ’death, Engels had to do very hard work for the edition of the outstanding volumes: The second volume was still based on somewhat well-formulated templates and was published in 1885. Volume three was created on the basis of vague sketches, which can also be seen in him, and did not appear until 1894. Marx had also planned a fourth volume in which he primarily wanted to take apart the theories of earlier economists.

Impact history

The capital had an extraordinarily far-reaching effect, both in economic and philosophical science and - in the form of Marxism-Leninism - in political reality. Marx's work inspired socialist writers and politicians around the world. The so-called “Grenznutzenschule der Ökonomie” also dealt with Marx in detail in its work, even if only partly to refute his theses. B. Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk in Capital and interest on capital (1884-1889). In the first half of the 20th century, the battle of the systems raged also in economic science: the Austrian economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (Capitalism, socialism and democracy, 1942) took up Marx’s theory of the smashing of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat: Capitalism, however, will not be destroyed by socialism, but will eventually suffocate in its own productivity, destroy its social protective layers and freeze in bureaucracy.

Solid revolutionary explosive force developed The capital especially in Russia: Lenin saw in Marx’s treatise the scientific proof of the necessity of a revolution, which was actually carried out in 1917. But after the Russian Revolution, the empire of freedom did not begin there, as Marx had meant, but it followed Josef W. Stalin a cruel dictatorship and a totalitarian system that extended beyond Russia and also encompassed many third world countries, but ultimately proved to be non-viable. Marxism turned out to be a teaching that was very susceptible to mutations and variations. Significant philosophers in the succession of Marx were inter alia. Theodor W. Adorno, Louis Althusser, Walter benjamin, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács and Ernst Bloch.