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Political ThinkersFrom Socrates to the Present

Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (3rd edn)

David Boucher and Paul Kelly
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date: 16 April 2024

p. 48826. The Early Marxlocked

p. 48826. The Early Marxlocked

  • Lawrence Wilde


This chapter examines Karl Marx's work prior to 1846, with particular emphasis on his concept of alienation. Although Marx borrows heavily from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and from Ludwig Feuerbach, his background in the philosophy and culture of ancient Greece is an important factor in his early essentialism. The early Marx rejects Hegel's theory that the state represents an ethical community. For Marx, communism is the movement of the exploited workers struggling to free themselves, and, in the process, liberate the whole of humanity so that they can freely develop their human essence of social creativity. After providing a short biography of Marx, this chapter considers his arguments about human essence and its alienation as well as his critique of the modern state. It concludes with an analysis of Marx's communist alternative.

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