Marx, Karl

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Karl Marx

A 19th-century economic philosopher. He espoused common ownership (not state ownership) of the means of production. He taught that the capitalist class of persons (who control the money) exploits the proletariat (who provide most of the labor) to the detriment of the latter. According to Marx, as the direct result of industrialization, the proletariat inevitably will overthrow the capitalist class and, after a brief period in which the state controls the means of production, the state will fade away to create a communist society. His philosophy, Marxism, significantly influenced communist thinking for the next century. He lived from 1818 to 1883.
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Marx, Karl

(1818–83) a German philosopher who produced a new theory about historical change based upon conflict between competing groups in his book Das Kapital. The first volume was published in 1867, with the remaining volumes, edited by Friedrich Engels, being published posthumously in 1885 and 1894. Marx argued that at each stage in history one particular class in society would become powerful because of its ownership of the means of production. In the meanwhile, however, another class would be developing whose interests clashed with those of the dominant class. Finally, the new class would overturn the old and set itself up as a new dominant group. For example, under feudalism, the aristocracy predominated because of its control of the land, then it gave way to the capitalists who gained ascendancy because of their control of capital.

Capitalists were able to drive a hard bargain with workers over wage rates, and the low-paid exploitation of the working class permitted factory owners to accumulate even greater wealth and to gain monopoly power. Workers produce goods and services of value, but because they are paid so little, capitalists are able to appropriate much of this value for themselves in the form of high profits. Marx predicted that this exploitation would eventually provoke a revolution in which the ‘property-less proletariat’ would overthrow the dominant capitalist class and take over the means of production. Initially under socialism, the nation's productive assets would be acquired and controlled by the state, but eventually, under COMMUNISM, the workers themselves would collectively own the means of production, with goods and services being distributed according to people's needs. See alsoCENTRALLY PLANNED ECONOMY, LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE.

Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
MARX, Karl, ENGELS, Frederick .Collected Works, New York, International Publishers, 1975, vol.
Marx, Karl. "Comments on the North American Events." Collected Works: Marx and Engels, Vol.
Marx, Karl. "Das Kapital." In The Marx-Engels Reader, ed.