May Day 2018 and the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx


May Day 2018 and the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx

David North

6 May 2018

May Day 2018 is invested with special significance, because we are celebrating not only the day of international working-class solidarity, but also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. There is no element of exaggeration in the assertion that in the realm of philosophy, economic science, historiography, social theory and politics, Marx is the most significant figure of the modern era. There is not another thinker who has exerted such a great, enduring and progressive influence on the development of the social consciousness of the great mass of humanity and its struggle against oppression and exploitation. Marx’s work initiated a new epoch in mankind’s understanding of the objective forces that determine the course of historical development, and thus made possible the conscious struggle of the working class for the socialist transformation of society.

On the basis of his refutation of Hegel’s objective idealism and the critical appropriation of its dialectical methodology, Marx was able to develop philosophical materialism and apply it to the study of man’s socioeconomic and political evolution. Prior to Marx, even the most advanced thinkers—above all, Hegel and Feuerbach, the greatest of Marx’s immediate predecessors—derived social and political relations from some sort of ideal inspiration, be it spiritual or intellectual. Even the great materialist thinkers of the 18th century, such as Helvetius and Baron d’Holbach, whose writings played a critical role in preparing the ground for the great French Revolution of 1789-1794, believed that the social and political environment was determined by “public opinion,” that is, by thought. But the idealist…

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