Karl Marx is one of the most important figures of the 19th Century, and his ideology led to the the creation of Communism.
Karl Marx’s Works and Influence
Born in Trier, Germany, on May 5th, 1818, Karl Marx steeped himself in philosophy, history and law at Bonn and Berlin universities before he turned his attention to economics. In 1848, with his friend, Fredrick Engels, he published The Communist Manifesto for the benefit of the organisation he then headed, the Communist League. Karl Marx’s radical views unsurprisingly proved to be unpopular with the authorities all over Europe and he ended up in London after being expelled from Paris. It was while in London that Karl Marx wrote his greatest work, Das Kapital, which was first published in 1867.
Das Kapital was a profound examination of modern society and the influence of economics within that society. Outside of religious text Das Kapital is regarded by many as the most influential book in history. Communism went on to become adopted by the world’s most populous country, China, and one of the two superpowers of the second half of the 20th Century, the Soviet Union. It was only after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 that Communism in Eastern Europe was replaced by the Capitalism.
Marx and Weber on Stratification
German sociologist Max Weber was heavily influenced by Karl Marx, but he disagreed with Marx’s theories on the efficiency of Communism. Weber believed that a Communist society would have to become more bureaucratic to function properly. Weber also suggested that Western society, in fact, had four classes, and that the middle class could be divided into two classes: white collar and petite bourgeoisie. Weber also believed that, unlike Karl Marx, stratification was not just defined by wealth. Weber put forward class, status and power as determining how a person’s place in society was decided.
Social stratification is, in simple terms a class structure within society. In the West there are generally accepted to be three different types of classes: upper, middle and lower. Another example of social stratification is the caste system in India. Sociology experts are unsure as to when stratification began in human society, but it may date back as far as the time when humans were predominantly hunter-gatherers.
Karl Marx died in his adopted home, London, on March 14th, 1883. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery, North London, and his grave has become a place of pilgrimage for admirers from around the world.