Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was an atheist German philosopher, economic historian, sociologist, revolutionary socialist, and the founder of the communist theory Marxism: he is considered one of the most important figures of human history. Marxism would provide the basis for variant communist ideologies such as Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, and Maoism. His works inspired the majority of communist states in the twentieth century, such as the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. He was one of the most influential socialist thinkers of all time, having written The Communist Manifesto (with Friedrich Engels) and Das Kapital, a critique of capitalism. He noted the transition from feudalism to capitalism (which, he argued, happened during the French Revolution) and predicted a coming transition from capitalism to socialism when the workers organized (per the communist phrase he coined in the Manifesto "Workers of the World, Unite!). Socialism would later turn into a classless, stateless society called communism, according to Marx.
In recent years, economists have taken much less interest in Marx since many of his predictions are considered wrong; today, the people who take the most interest in Marxism are literary critics in university English departments.
Marx was born into a fairly wealthy middle class home in Rhineland city of Trier, in Germany. His alma matter was the University of Bonn. He studied law in Bonn and Berlin, and wrote a Ph.D. thesis in Philosophy, comparing the views of Democritus and Epicurus.
Marx's ideas and theories about society, politics, and economics hold that people are in class struggle, between a class that owns them means of production, and a lower class that provides the labor.
To Marx, capitalism is a "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", meaning that it is run by the higher wealthy classes purely for their own benefit.
Theory of History
The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party was written by Marx and Engels.
Criticism of Marxism
Marxism is very controversial in religious circles, given this statement: ""Religion...is the opiate of the masses." A belief in God is seen as a hinderance to Marxism.