The personality of Karl Marx

“Marx represents a whole world of ideas and images; he is unsurpassed as a theoretician, statesman, strategist and tactician of the class struggle. His brain was like a tremendous laboratory, which analytically and synthetically worked over facts and events, beginning with revolutions, wars, colonial revolts, pronuncimamentos, peasant rebellions and parliamentary debates, and ending with strikes, demonstrations and even the smallest spontaneous economic and political actions.

Marx was not merely a person of encyclopedic education, he was an independent dialectic thinker. He was not a scientist in the narrow, professorial sense of the word. He was an innovator, bold to the extreme, who fearlessly carried his thoughts to their logical conclusion. He was one of those thinkers (and there have been very few of them in the history of mankind) who with the minds of great geniuses looked into the future, and with the daring hands of revolutionaries and artists (‘my work represents one artistic whole,’ he wrote to Engels in 1865) pointed out the path of development from capitalism to communism.

Marx did not guess nor did he prophesy. He argued, analyzed, dissected facts, exposed their inner connections and placed them in such a way that they themselves compelled definite conclusions. He placed Hegelian dialectics on its feet, he was never lost in the face of facts; always remaining firm, he knew exactly what he wanted in theory, in politics and in tactics.

Marx devoured an enormous number of books, deeply analysed facts and moulded them with his masterful mind, which to the very last days of his life continued to pour forth ever-new treasures for the international proletariat.

Marx was not a dry bookworm; he seethed with the great passion and ardour of a fighter. He disliked unnecessary words, glib but empty phrases, and fought against those who roamed in the ‘misty realm of philosophical phantasy’ (Communist Manifesto, p.32). Every phrase written by Marx, every one of his words lives to-day- so much life and passion is there in the works of this great scientist, the tireless destroyer of all pseudo-scientific authorities, the exposer of petty-bourgeois babblers, the merciless enemy of all pseudo-socialist schools, sects and groupings.

Marx possessed the special ability of clothing his rich thought in scant but vivid language. This is why even to-day when one immerses oneself in the works of Marx one is bound to feel deeply moved. It is not only his major works that have retained their importance up to the present time; even his separate articles on vital questions, his notes and letters going far back to the nineteenth century, throw light on the path of the development of the labour movement in the twentieth century. The more one peruses the rich inheriticane of Marx, the more vital it becomes, the more pronounced become the features of this great theoretician and organizer of the working class, the nearer and more comprehensible does he grow- he who gave his life for the purpose of converting the working class ‘from a class of others into a class for itself.’

Marx is multiform, but uniform and consistent in all that he said and did. Not in vain did he succinctly describe the distinguishing feature of his character as singleness of purpose. Only conditionally is it possible to separate some one question or group of questions from the whole of Marx’s work. However, it must be borne in mind at the outset that the inheritance that Marx left is the richest that any person ever left to his descendants, that it is monolithic and it is difficult to divide into separate parts.

It is especially difficult to separate from the depository of ideas and thoughts that Marx left that part which deals with the trade union movement and the economic struggle. Marx did not write any special books or pamphlet or textbook on this subject. His ideas on problems of the economic struggle and the role of the trade unions in the past, present and future can be found all through his works, especially in his practical work as leader of the International Workingmen’s Association.

Is it worth while to collect the opinions and ideas of Marx on questions of the trade unions? Has he, admirers of textbooks and thick reference works might ask, a definite opinion on these problems? To this we can reply- indeed, it is worth while. The slightest, if serious, acquaintance with the works of Marx shows that although Marx did not write any thick books on the trade unions and although he did not frequently deal with this question, still the separate opinions expressed by him constitute a definite system, map out a definite line and give an absolute definite understanding of the role and tasks of the trade unions in the general class struggle of the proletariat. It must be borne in mind that in these questions Marx also laid out new roads. The three sources of Marxism mentioned by Lenin (classical German philosophy, classical English political economy and French socialism) had to be mastered by Marx.”

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