Karl Marx

Karl Marx was born into a progressive Jewish family in Prussian Trier (now in Germany). His father Herschel, descending from a long line of rabbis, was a lawyer; Herschel´s brother Samuel was - like many of his ancestors - chief rabbi of Trier. As advancement opportunities for Jews were rather limited in early 19th century Prussia, and as they were not extremely religious, Herschel decided to change his name to Heinrich and convert the family to the Prussian state religion of Lutheranism, after which his legal career prospered. The Marx family was very liberal and the Marx household hosted many visiting intellectuals and artists through Karl's early life.
Marx received good marks in gymnasium, the Prussian secondary school program (or the approximate equivalent of high school). His senior thesis (which anticipated his later development of a social analysis of religion, although in a way that emphasized social functions rather than economic and political inequality) was a treatise on "Religion: The Glue That Binds Society Together", for which he won a prize.
Marx enrolled in the University of Bonn in 1833 to study law, at his father's behest. Bonn was a notorious party school, and Marx did poorly as he spent most of his time singing songs in beer halls. The next year, his father made him transfer to the far more serious and academically oriented Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin (now known as the Humboldt University).
In the university, interests of Marx turned to philosophy, much to his father's dismay, and he joined the circle of students and young professors known as the "Young Hegelians", led by Bruno Bauer. Some members of this circle drew an analogy between post-Aristotelian philosophy and post-Hegelian philosophy. Another Young Hegelian, Max Stirner, applied Hegelian criticism and argued that stopping anywhere short of nihilistic egoism was mysticism. His views were not accepted by most of his colleagues, and Karl Marx responded in parts of Die Deutsche Ideologie (The German Ideology).
Georg Hegel had just recently died in 1831, and during his lifetime was an extremely influential figure at the University and in German academia in general. The Hegelian establishment (known as the Right Hegelians) in place at the University maintained that the series of historical dialectics had been completed, and that Prussian society as it existed was the culmination of all social development to date, with an extensive civil service system, good universities, industrialization, and high employment. The Young Hegelians with whom Marx was associated believed that there were still further dialectical changes to come, and that the Prussian society of the time was far from perfect as it still contained pockets of poverty, government censorship was in place, and non-Lutherans suffered from religious discrimination.
Marx was warned not to submit his doctoral dissertation at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, as it would certainly be poorly received there due to his reputation as a Young Hegelian radical. Marx instead submitted his dissertation, which compared the atomic theories of Democritus and Epicurus, to the University of Jena in 1840, where it was accepted.
When his mentor Bauer was dismissed from the philosophy faculty in 1842, Marx abandoned philosophy for journalism and went on to edit the Rheinische Zeitung, a radical Cologne newspaper. After the newspaper was later shut in 1843, in part due to Marx's conflicts with government censors, Marx returned to philosophy, turned to political activism, and worked as a free-lance journalist. Marx soon moved, however, something he would have to do often as a result of his radical views.
Marx first moved to France, where he re-evaluated his relationship with Bauer and the Young Hegelians, and wrote On the Jewish Question, mostly a critique of current notions of civil rights and political emancipation. It was in Paris that he met and began working with his life-long collaborator Friedrich Engels, who called Marx's attention to the situation of the working class, and guided Marx's interest in economics. After he was forced to leave Paris for his writings, he and Engels moved to Brussels, Belgium.
There they co-wrote The German Ideology, a critique of the philosophy of Hegel and the Young Hegelians, and then Marx wrote The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), a critique of French socialist thought. These works laid the foundation for Marx and Engels' most famous work, The Communist Manifesto, first published on February 21, 1848, which was commissioned by the Communist League (formerly, the League of the Just), an organization of German émigrés whom Marx had met in London.
That year Europe experienced revolutionary upheaval; a working-class movement seized power from King Louis Philippe in France and invited Marx to return to Paris. When this government collapsed in 1849, Marx moved back to Cologne and restarted the Rheinische Zeitung, only to be swiftly expelled again. Marx's final move was to London. In 1852 Marx wrote his famous pamphlet The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, in which he analyzed Napoleon III's takeover of France. From 1852 to 1861, while in London, Marx contributed to Horace Greeley's New York Tribune as European correspondent.
In 1863, Chancellor of the Exchequer William Ewart Gladstone gave a budget speech to Parliament in which he commented on the increase in England's national wealth, and added, "I should look almost with apprehension and with pain upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power if it were my belief that it was confined to the class who are in easy circumstances." But, Gladstone added, the wealth was improving the lot of the British laborer, too.
In 1864 Marx organized the International Workingmen's Association, later called the First International, as a base for continued political activism. In his Inaugural address, he misquoted Gladstone. He claimed the Chancellor had said, "This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes of property." The actual quotation was well known and the discrepancy was soon employed to discredit the International.
To this day, anti-Marxists such as the journalist Paul Johnson invoke Marx's reversal of Gladstone's meaning as evidence of clear falsification and a more general dishonesty.
The International survived that controversy, but collapsed in 1872 in part because of the fall of the Paris Commune, and in part because many members turned to Mikhail Bakunin's anarchism. In London Marx also dedicated himself to historical and theoretical works, the most famous of which is the multivolume Das Kapital (Capital: A Critique of Political Economy), the first volume of which was published in 1867. Throughout the London period of Marx's life his family were generally impoverished and depended on generous contributions from Engels to get by.
Marx died in London in the year 1883, and is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. The remaining volumes of Capital were published by Engels posthumously from notes.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx#Biography