Karl Marx: Thoroughly Revised Fifth Edition

Karl Marx: Thoroughly Revised Fifth Edition

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0691156506

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Isaiah Berlin's intellectual biography of Karl Marx has long been recognized as one of the best concise accounts of the life and thought of the man who had, in Berlin's words, a more "direct, deliberate, and powerful" influence on mankind than any other nineteenth-century thinker. A brilliantly lucid work of synthesis and exposition, the book introduces Marx's ideas and sets them in their context, explains why they were revolutionary in political and intellectual terms, and paints a memorable portrait of Marx's dramatic life and outsized personality. Berlin takes readers through Marx's years of adolescent rebellion and post-university communist agitation, the personal high point of the 1848 revolutions, and his later years of exile, political frustration, and intellectual effort. Critical yet sympathetic, Berlin's account illuminates a life without reproducing a legend.

New features of this thoroughly revised edition include references for Berlin's quotations and allusions, Terrell Carver's assessment of the distinctiveness of Berlin's book, and a revised guide to further reading.

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subscribed to the programme of the International, this was due partly to a degree of elasticity in its statutes, which skilfully avoided committing its members to openly revolutionary ends, but most of all to their haziness on political issues. This fact was well appreciated by the government, which, in reply to a circular from the Spanish government demanding the suppression of the International, replied in the person of the Foreign Secretary, Lord Granville, that in England they felt no danger

especially in his early years. In this Engels, perhaps because he wrote so clearly, was followed by the overwhelming majority of Marxist writers, with Kautsky and Plekhanov at their head, for more than half a century. Perhaps when Marx, towards the end of his life, declared (he was thinking of his French disciples) that whatever else he might be, he was above all not a Marxist,1 he had such popularisations in view. The most readable are the chapters later reprinted as a pamphlet under the title

and family correspondence, a gold mine for Wheen’s ‘humanisation’ of a Great Man. What Berlin had access to were biographies of Marx in German by Franz Mehring and by Boris Nicolaevsky and Otto Maenchen-Helfen, published in 1918 and 1933,1 a few ‘humanising’ reminiscences from family and friends, and various editions of the then canonical works of the two.2 The canon at the time was not all that promising for Berlin’s approach, which was (at least nascently) that of value pluralism, human

that is responsible for change was fundamentally less absurd; for individuals at least exist and act in a sense in which general notions and common names do not. Hegel had rightly stressed the inadequacy of this view, because it failed to give an explanation of how the total result emerged from the interplay of a colossal number of individual lives and acts, and he showed genius in looking for some single common force responsible for giving a definite direction to these wills, some general law

indifference to moral considerations is hard to square with his evident hatred of the injustice and cruelty so visible in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, and that his assertion of the inevitability of the downfall of the capitalist order was equally hard to square with the way he sacrificed his health and domestic happiness to promoting the revolutionary cause. What was distinctive about Berlin’s reaction to Marx is not that he was affronted by these logical tensions and

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