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What Did Karl Marx Believe?

Updated on October 19, 2012
The Great Karl Marx.
The Great Karl Marx. | Source


  • Marx was an atheist.
  • He stated that religion was the 'opiate of the people' or 'opiate of the masses'.
  • He believed it was a tool used by the ruling class in order to control the masses.
  • He also believed its existence owed to the fact that we naturally want answers to questions we don't yet know the answer to "religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand."
  • He believed it was necessary to rid our society of religion before we could be happy: "The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."
  • Karl Marx is the founder (and so naturally is a believer of) modern socialism and communism.
  • He was an extremely academic economist.
  • One of his strongest beliefs was that the world has a limited amount of resources and a certain amount of people. Logic states that the right thing to do is to share these resources amongst the population equally.
  • For this reason, he hated capitalism which he saw as a means to delegate resources to a small amount of people and deprive others of it.
  • He believed that in order to be happy you must 1. Be allowed to work out of your own free will and 2. Observe the conclusion of your efforts. An example of this is a group of engineers who gain great pleasure from seeing what their collective efforts created (perhaps a bridge or a building).
  • Think back to when you were a child and created or painted something. Did the very knowledge that you created what you see before you brought you pleasure? Karl Marx would argue that it is one of the only things that can bring a person true happiness.
  • This is another reason he hates capitalism because often what we produce is not credited to us but someone else entirely (a boss or an organisation).
  • Carl Marx believed that everyone should work according to what they are capable of doing and that people should get according to what they need.
  • His exact quote is: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
  • Carl Marx also believed in equal rights for women and considered them as equals to men. His quote: "Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included."
  • Quite importantly, he believed in altruism (the idea that humans are naturally good and will put others before themselves) and that sacrificing your own selfish wants for the good of others is where true happienss lies: "If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people."

Has this hub missed out an important and unarguable view of Karl Marx?

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    • Erudite Scholar profile image

      Jeff Zod 

      5 weeks ago from Nairobi

      Hi @DK

      Karl Marx's theories on communism have been misunderstood, misinterpreted and implemented in the way he did not intend.Karl Marx was a very disillusioned cultist.Although he pretended to champion the rights of the ordinary man.His objective was to subjugate humanity through communism.This is the reason why China and Russia slaughtered over 100 million in the name of Communism.Karl Marx infact died a very poor man.He was a lunatic who caused his whole family to commit suicide.You can read more about him in my article

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I completely agree with everything i think we should abolish religion

    • f_hruz profile image


      5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Why all progressive people, especially members of the working class, require better organizing skills ...

    • f_hruz profile image


      5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Hi Stephanie,

      I can see where you are coming from.

      A lot of what you picked up is from before your time! 'Communism' is just a buzz word from the Joe McCarthy years for most politically uneducated, many socially unaware who lack any class consciousness and those who have been conditioned to totally overlook the global ills of capitalism around the world.

      The low level of critical political understanding in the US is greatly reinforced by a two-party system which mainly serves the multinational corporate interests to export arms and constantly wage wars abroad and at home in the form of 'Wars on the Poor, on Drugs, on Terrorism', etc.

      If the US would be a democratic country with an educated population, you would have a variety of socialist, social democratic and other progressive political parties representing ordinary working people who understand the great value of living in a morally and ethically superior society based on Marxist concepts of greater equality, social harmony and economic justice ... only mixed economies and co-operative models of production and distribution will ever provide this to any nation.

      Your idea of communism is unreal! I guess, it was hammered into you since you were born?

      Why did the US wage this filthy war against Vietnam? Their economy is now doing better than the one in the US!

      How did China advance the life of that large nation to being the leading economy in the world using Marxist principles?

      You have no idea how close to total insolvency the US really is!

      Watch these videos and than post an informed reply ...

      There are some rich people doing great things ... but Dick Cheney, the war criminal, with his close ties to Halliburton, and his friends Bush and Rumsfeld, etc. are not among the good guys. It's these criminals who make capitalism into the global cesspool it really is ...

      Franto in Toronto

    • sgiguere profile image

      Stephanie Giguere 

      5 years ago from Marlborough MA

      I definitely haven't been brainwashed. I have studied a little bit of political philosophy, and I'm no expert.

      I do know this: communism likes to pretend that it has all the answers, and that everyone will be equal and that everyone will be ok with that. But communism on a large scale can only be instituted with violence; it will inevitably be forced upon a certain percentage of the society-- most likely the people who have the most to lose.

      As much as we love to hate billionaires and like to think of them as evil and greedy, we would be absolutely lost without them. They are the ones who are willing to take risks, and more importantly, take on great responsibility.

      In the end, if you quell all the great doers in this world, all those "capitalists," then yes, the big collapse will be just around the corner. We will be back in the Dark Ages, doomed to reminisce about the great achievements of the past, just as they gawked at the marvelous statues and architecture of Rome.

    • f_hruz profile image


      5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Where in the world did you get that experience? You must have been exposed to too much capitalist brainwashing over the years.

      You don't seam to have a clear understanding of the benefits most ordinary working people have to gain by enjoying greater moral and ethical values in a socially and economically just society in view of all the wars, exploitation and cultural degradation capitalism is responsible for, domestically, and around the world ...

      The big collapse is just around the corner! How do you think it'll all be playing out in the end?

    • sgiguere profile image

      Stephanie Giguere 

      5 years ago from Marlborough MA

      Nope. Experience has told me that this greed which everyone is so concerned about in the capitalist system is actually best harnessed within the capitalist system. Greed doesn't simply disappear within a communist society, and it isn't accounted for either, making it vulnerable to hoffible corruption. I don't think that American capitalism is perfect, but it is definitely better than the current alternatives.

    • f_hruz profile image


      5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Thomas Aquinas was a forward thinking guy for the short time he was alive in Italy (1225 – 1274) ... revolutionary social thinkers like Karl Marx came a bit later - his ideas have evolved quite a bit and live on as Neo-Marxism.

      Most religions, including Christianity, are unethical for trying to make, money out of illusions, perpetuating the idea of miracles instead of teaching people fact based skills to solve practical problems so they will learn how to better cope with their every day reality being subjugated by a manipulative establishment.

      There are some Christians in Italy, France and places like Latin America who are Marxists. They see Jesus as a revolutionary akin to Che Guevara, who didn't think the poor should let themselves be exploited without revolting against such social injustice while still alive.

      The whole idea of Liberation Theology is based on the power of the people and has a revolutionary dynamic to it, which is very strongly opposed by most of the church hierarchy. Even bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who was a strong supporter of the Sandinista, paid with his life for it.

      Changing society from being run by the rich for the rich, to wage wars against people in other countries so the few can maximize profits for themselves is not just a theory ... there are millions of people trying in which ever way they can to bring about positive social change every day!

      Social and economic justice is a very REAL and WORTHWHILE goal for all the people around the world - not just an academic subject.

      International solidarity among working people of all sorts opposing global domination by a few multinational corporations is not a pipe dream ... letting the US government spend all this money on trying to bail out a capitalist system about to fold because it can no longer afford to pay the interest on the ever growing dept is pure insanity!

      Isn't it time you woke up and joined the revolution?

      Franto in Toronto

    • Philanthropy2012 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from London

      That's an interesting point Sgiguere and I agree with you and F Hruz concerning how religion is used to justify capitalism. But times are changing and capitalism is growing ever less popular! Will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

    • sgiguere profile image

      Stephanie Giguere 

      5 years ago from Marlborough MA

      It's rather interesting that most religions, especially ethical monotheistic religions such as Christianity, preach a sort of spiritual socialism or communism. It is especially apparent in the Gospels, written long before Marx picked up a pen.

      I haven't studied this very in depth, but I think that this is proof that socialist and communist theories are just that: theories, and they can't be enacted in reality.

      Marx and f_hruz have a point: Aquinas (a christian philosopher) argues that we all began as equals in the eyes of God-- above only the animals. However, sin came into the world and therefore a hierarchy between men must be established in order to keep concord. Because of this, the mysery of some is perfectly justified. Seems like a defense of capitalism to me, even though Aquinas was writing in the late middle ages, before capitalism existed.

    • f_hruz profile image


      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      I'd say, Karl Marx was the kind of intellectually advanced thinker about rationality, economics and the social reality of his time, at par with Albert Einstein and his understanding of our physical reality.

      The capitalist system is driven by constant wars, ruthless exploitation, over consumption and manipulation of the people ... religion is the perfect tool to help make capitalism run smoothly and keep the people in the dark so they will be happy just hoping for something better once they die!

      Franto in Toronto


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