No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

Karl Marx

Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883) was a prominent German thinker with an immense impact on the social sciences. His work helped shape the labor movement and he stands as a central figure in the history of socialism and communism.

Born on May 5, 1818, in Trier, Germany, Marx came from an affluent family. His intellectual journey began with a career in journalism, working for "Die Rheinische Zeitung". But political turbulence forced him into exile, first in Paris with his wife and then to Brussels. In 1848, while in Brussels, Marx co-authored the influential "Manifesto of the Communist Party" with his lifelong friend Friedrich Engels.

The Belgian government eventually expelled Marx, leading him on a journey through European countries, including France, Germany again, and finally England, where he spent the rest of his life. It was in London that Marx penned his work "Das Kapital".

Marx, along with Lorenz von Stein, is considered by some as a founder of German sociology. He wrote about the opposition between state and society, drawing inspiration from German idealism, particularly the ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

Marx's contributions extended to social classes, distinguishing between landowners, capitalists, and wage laborers. He stressed historical materialism, emphasizing the role of economic and technological development as the driving forces of history.

One of Marx's significant ideas was alienation, describing how workers were separated from the products of their labor and the means of production due to capitalism. He identified four forms of alienation resulting from this separation.

Throughout his work, Marx critiqued capitalism's logic of commodification, highlighting how it prioritizes the accumulation of capital at the expense of human well-being. He argued that capitalism inherently bred inequality and exploitation.

While Marx's prophecies about the end of history did not fully materialize, some aspects of his ideas found resonance in contemporary progressive democracies. His work remains a cornerstone of sociological thought, inspiring thinkers like Max Weber, Pierre Bourdieu, and Immanuel Wallerstein.



Geiger, T. (1949), Die Klassengesellschaft im Schmelztiegel, Köln/Hagen: Gustav Kiepenheuer.

König, R. (1987), Soziologie in Deutschland - Begründer, Verächter, Verfechter, München: Hanser Verlag.

Kühl, S. (2017), Arbeit - Marxistische und systemtheoretische Zugänge, Wiesbaden: Springer.

Marx, K. (1872), Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie.

The Karl Marx Monument in Chemnitz. On the wall behind the monument the sentence “Proletarians of all countries unite!” from the Communist Manifesto is depicted in German, English, French and Russian: