Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Karl Marx


First published in 1975, this book provides an interpretative introduction to the political thought of Karl Marx. The approach is both historical and analytical, with emphasis placed on developments and changes in Marx's thought. The book is firmly based on a close reading of primary sources including recently discovered documents on the Communist League, the drafts of Marx's Civil War in France and the Grundrisse manuscripts.


This book is an introduction to the social and political thought of Karl Marx. As an introduction, it is necessarily selective, and in some places compressed in treatment. I regret the omission of any extended analysis of the problems surrounding the Hegelian elements in Marx’s thought, but as Hegel once said, these are not ideas that lend themselves to brevity. The discussion of Marx’s economic theory is limited to that sufficient to relate his economics to his politics. My interpretation of Marx steers a course between the Scylla of neo-Hegelian intuitionist Marxism and the Charybdis of positivist Althusserian Marxism without, happily, mentioning either. To establish Marx’s intellectual position requires study of the relevant texts, but it is a fruitful approach to get away from purely textual exegesis, and consider his thought in the context of his activities within the labour movement in England, France and Germany. In this area political theorists should utilise the work of labour historians far more than they have done hitherto. Marx’s ideas changed and developed in response to influences both theoretical and practical.

I should like to acknowledge my own intellectual debts to George Lichtheim, whose Marxism remains the outstanding work of interpretation and synthesis written in the post-war period; and to David McLellan, from whose work on the early Marx I have derived much profit.

My thanks must go to Miss Marilyn Dunn, of the Department of Government; to Miss Gillett and the staff of the Secretarial Reserve in the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies for their patient translation of a difficult manuscript into an elegant typescript.

I should like to express my gratitude to those who read and commented on some part of the work: to Geraint Parry, the editor of this series, for his patient assistance; to David McLellan, Ursula Vogel and Robert Wokler; and, most especially, to Norman Geras, for his penetrating and painstaking comments on earlier drafts. For the defects that remain I am responsible.

Finally, one’s family is usually the main casualty in the writing of a book. I hope they will find the result worthwhile.

Manchester, January 1974

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