Although born in the early 19th century, the relevance of Karl Marx‘s ideas for analysing 20th and 21st century capitalism, as well as for understanding the political and economic struggles and changes of his own day, remain vital and essential. Here, Verso presents a Marx Reading List for that world-changing historical thinker, born 196 years ago. Karl Marx was born on 5 May 1818 to Heinrich Marx and Henrietta Pressburg. Largely non-religious, Heinrich was a man of the Enlightenment, interested in the ideas of the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Voltaire. A classical liberal, he took part inagitation for a constitution and reforms in Prussia, then governed by an absolute monarchy. His wife, Henrietta Pressburg, was a Dutch Jew. She was from a prosperous business family that later founded the company Philips Electronics. In contrast to her husband, Henrietta retained her Jewish faith. Little is known of Karl Marx‘s childhood. The third of nine children, he became the oldest son when his brother Moritz died in 1819. Young Karl was baptised into the Lutheran Church in August 1824. His surviving siblings were also baptised as Lutherans. Young Karl was privately educated, by Heinrich Marx, until 1830, when he entered Trier High School, whose headmaster, Hugo Wyttenbach, was a friend of his father. By employing many liberal humanists as teachers, Wyttenbach incurred the anger of the local conservative government. Subsequently, police raided the school in 1832, and discovered that literature espousing political liberalism was being distributed among the students. Considering the distribution of such material a seditious act, the authorities instituted reforms and replaced several staff during Marx’s attendance.
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