Selected Essays by Karl Marx/Preface

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The present volume consists of a translation of some of Karl Marx's principal writings during the six years 1844-1850.

In 1843 Marx was twenty-five years old. He had just married, apparently on the strength of the modest salary he was to receive for editing, jointly with Arnold Ruge, a periodical called the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (Franco-German Annuals), the purpose of which was to promote the union of German philosophy with French social science. Only one double-number of this journal appeared in 1844. It contained Marx's criticism of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right and his exposition of the social significance of the Jewish question, in the form of a review of two works by Bruno Bauer.

Translations of both articles are given in this volume.

They possess a special interest for the Marxian student, as they exhibit the grafting of a materialist philosophy upon the idealist philosophy of Hegel, and show the employment of the Hegelian dialectic in the investigation of political and historical questions.

It was not long before Marx and Ruge became intellectually estranged, and the third essay, "The King of Prussia and Social Reform," which appeared in the Paris socialist journal Vorwärts, contains a severe polemic against Ruge. In the same organ Marx published an elaborate defence of Engels in particular and communists in general from the strictures of Karl Heinzen, a radical republican politician. In both essays Marx ranges over a wide field, and develops his own views upon economic, political and historical questions.

The essay on Proudhon emphasizes the special merits of that writer as a pioneer of economic criticism, and forms a counterweight to Marx's devastating criticism of Proudhon in the "Poverty of Philosophy." This piece and the sketch of French materialism are extracted from Die Heilige Familie (The Holy Family), a comprehensive work of satirical criticism, in which Marx and Engels (whose share in writing the book was a very small one), settled accounts with their philosophic conscience.

The critique of the views of M. Guizot upon the English and French middle-class revolutions appeared in the Neue Rhenische Revue (New Rhenish Review), a periodical which Marx and Engels edited from London in 1850.