Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist and political theorist who developed the theory of communism. Marx argued that capitalism would eventually be replaced by communism as part of a historical dialectic. He also predicted that social classes such as the bourgeoisie would be overcome by their own internal contradictions and that a proletarian revolution would bring about the end of capitalism and to replace it with socialism.
Philosopher’s theories about society, economics and politics — collectively understood as Marxism–hold that human societies progress through class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a dispossessed labouring class that provides the labour for production.
Marx’s work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labor and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic thought. Many intellectuals consider him one of the most influential figures in human history.
In addition, Marx was a vocal opponent of capitalism and the oppression he saw it causing, especially after the industrial revolution. He believed that capitalism exploited workers by paying them less than their labor was worth through the process of commodity exchange. Marx also postulated that capitalism contained internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by socialism. These tensions include conflict between capitalists (in the form of competition), overproduction, insufficient demand for goods resulting in an economic crisis caused by mass unemployment, and war between nations (over resources).
In fact, Marxism was one of the most influential political philosophies in the 20th century. Marxist regimes ruled China, Russia and many other countries from 1917 to 1991. Marx’s ideas also influenced movements which did not embrace his specific theories or policies, such as anarchism, Stalinism and the New Left.