Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Karl Marx

German Philosopher, Sociologist, Economic Historian, Journalist and Revolutionary Socialist

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

"Every unprejudiced observer seers that the greater the centralization of the means of production, the greater is the corresponding heaping together of the laborers within a given space; that therefore, the swifter capitalistic accumulation, the more miserable are the dwellings of the working people."

"Accumulation of wealth at one pole is... at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital."

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

"Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity."

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

"The foundation of every division of labor that is well developed and brought about by the exchange of commodities is the separation between town and country. It may be said, that the whole economical history of society is summed up in the movement of this antithesis."

"The foundation of irreligious criticism is this: man makes religion; religion does not make man. Religion is, in fact, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet gained himself or has lost himself again... The wretchedness of religion is at once an express of and a protest against real wretchedness. Religion is the sigh of the opposed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

"When machinery seizes on an industry by degrees, it produces chronic misery among the operatives who compete with it. Where the transition is rapid, the effect is acute and felt by great masses."

"The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and extent. The worker becomes a cheaper commodity the more commodities he produces. The increase in value of the world of things is directly proportional to the decrease in value of the human world. Labour not only produces commodities. It also produces itself and the worker as a commodity, and indeed in the same proportion as it produces commodities in general."

"As society itself produces man as man, so it too is produced by him. Activity and mind are social in their content as well as in their origin; they are social activity and social mind... The individual is the social being."

"To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness."

"The tradition of all past generations weights like an Alp upon the brain of all living."

"In slave labor, even that part of the working day in which the slave is only replacing the value of his own means of existence, in which, therefore, in fact, he works for himself alone, appears as labor for his master. All the slaves labor appears as unpaid labor."

"The capitalist mode of production and accumulation, and therefore capitalist private property, have for their fundamental condition the annihilation of self-earned private property; in other words, the expropriation of the laborer."

"Though man is a unique individual, he is equally the whole, the ideal whole, the subjective existence of society as thought and experienced. He exists in reality as the representation and the real mind of social existence, and as the sum of human manifestations of life."

"Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is ours only when we have it - when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed... In the place of all physical and mental senses there has therefore come to be the sheer alienation of all these senses, the sense of having. The human being has been reduced to this absolute poverty in order that he might yield his inner wealth to the outer world."

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

"Men make their own history… but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past. The traditions of all dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the minds of the living."

"The philosophers have interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it."

"The overcoming of private property means the complete emancipation of all human senses and qualities, but it means this emancipation precisely because these senses and qualities have become human both subjectively and objectively. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object derived from and for the human being. The senses have therefore become theoreticians immediately in their practice. They try to relate themselves to their subject matter for its own sake, but the subject matter itself is an objective human relation to itself and to the human being, and vice versa. Need or satisfaction have thus lost their egoistic nature, and nature has lost its mere utility by use becoming human use."

"The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."

"In the social production of their existence, human beings necessarily enter into determinate relations, independent of their will, relations of production, corresponding to a given stage of development of their material productive powers. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation on which rises a legal and political superstructure and tow which correspond determinate forms of social consciousness. the mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and spiritual life. It is not the consciousness of human beings which determines their existence, but their social existence determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive powers of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or - this merely expresses the same things in terms of right - with the property relations in the framework of which they have thus far operated. From forms of development of the productive powers these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure."

"The more these conscious illusions of the ruling classes are shown to be false and the less they satisfy common sense, the more dogmatically they are asserted and the more deceitful, moralizing and spiritual becomes the language of the established society."

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past."

"Follow your own path no matter what people say."

"A commodity appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties."

"Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time."

"Democracy is the road to socialism. "

"Capital is money, capital is commodities. By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs."

"Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks."

"Men's ideas are the most direct emanations of their material state."

"It is not history which uses men as a means of achieving - as if it were an individual person - its own ends. History is nothing but the activity of men in pursuit of their ends."

"Revolutions are the locomotives of history. "

"Medicine heals doubts as well as diseases. "

"Nothing can have value without being an object of utility."

"The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal, not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society."

"The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism."

"The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people."

"We should not say that one man's hour is worth another man's hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing: he is at the most time's carcass."

"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force."

"‎There comes a time in your life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus solely on the good. After all life is too short to be anything but happy."

"Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included."

"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness."

"The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them."

"Men make their own history but not in circumstances of their own choosing."

"All freed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."

"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."

"The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of other circumstances and changed upbrinding, forgets that it is men that change circumstances and that the educator himself needs educating."

"In proportion therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases."