May 5 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. He was born in Trier, Germany in 1818. His collaborator and friend Fredrick Engels said Marx was the first to give socialism, and thereby the whole labor movement, a scientific foundation. Marx, by most serious accounts, was one of the great minds of human history; a political economist, a historian, a philosopher, but also a man of action.
He was an organizer and leader in the cause of socialism, social justice, and the modern working class. Inscribed on his headstone in Highgate Cemetery in London are his words: Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.
Engels wrote that Marx brought about a revolution in the whole conception of world history. The whole previous view of history was based on the conception that the ultimate causes of all historical changes are to be looked for in the changing ideas of human beings, and that of all historical changes, political changes are the most important and dominate the whole of history. But the question was not asked as to whence the ideas come into mens minds and what the driving causes of the political changes are.
At the grave site of Marx, after his death on March 17, 1883, Engels said: Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, et cetera; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.