Karl Marx (1818-1883)

German philosopher, economist, sociologist, and political revolutionary. best known for his two highly influential works, The Communist Manifesto (co-authtored with Friedrich Engels in 1848) and Das Kapital, which first appeared in its first edition in 1867. Of all the documents of modern socialism, The Communist Manifesto is the most widely read and the most influential. It is the systematic statement of the philosophy that has come to be known as Marxism. Many saw the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as an end to the international appeal of Marxism as revolutionary political movement. At the same time, Marx’s ideas continue to stimulate and engage thinkers in a variety of fields, including political theory, history, and literary criticism.

Friedrich Engels (1820-1895)

The son of a wealthy factory owner, Engels was the co-author of The Communist Manifesto. Since the time of its publication, it has been debated whether his role consisted solely of being the devoted friend and supporter of Karl Marx or if he also contributed ideas to the Manifesto. What is clear is that a significant portion of Marx's writings likely would not have come about had it not been for the unwavering financial and intellectual support given by Engels to his friend.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

Highly influential German philosopher whose ideas form an important part of the cornerstone of modern Western philosophy, Hegel was one of Marx's primary intellectual influences. Hegel presents history as a process in which the world becomes conscious of itself as spirit. Marx took this idea and furthered it, arguing that as man becomes conscious of himself as spirit, the material world causes him to feel increasingly alienated from himself. Escape from this alienation requires a revolution.

Popular pages: The Communist Manifesto