Talk:Karl Marx

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Good article Karl Marx has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.

Marx's Ideas Killed over 100 million people, and Wikipedia's Liberal Bias[edit]

It is understood that this page does not concern Marxism specifically, but it should definitely mention the fact that Marx's ideas, when implemented in the USSR, China and other places, killed over 100 million people. This page doesn't shy away from talking about the tenets of Marxism, why not its devastation and effects? Adolf Hitler's page certainly include the number of people he killed as well as Mao tse-Tung's and Josef Stalin's. To read this page, it would seem like an insignificant fact, or one that doesn't exist at all. The USSR and China specifically adhered to Marxism-Leninism by name, and certainly carried out at the very least the spirit of his ideas. To not mention this is to let Marx off the hook and to contribute to wikipedia's liberal bias. It is the blatant censoring of a scientific fact. I am sure that this comment I am making here will also soon be gone, all in the name of freedom of speech I'm sure. Liberals seem to believe in freedom of speech only when it suits their beliefs. I am sure that it will be censored away due to the idea that this page doesn't concern actual Marxism, or the idea that this isn't a "talk page" for the subject, but let's face it, wikipedia is suppressing free speech and the free exchange of ideas through liberal censorship. The fact that Marx's ideas killed more than 100 million people is beyond dispute. Here is an academic link with a .edu address to a survey conducted at the University of Hawaii. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 13:16, November 20, 2014

The articles on other historical thinkers does not make this type of claim either, for example Jesus or John Locke. Your link btw does not say that Marx's ideas killed anyone and in fact it is not a survey conducted at the University of Hawaii, but the calculations of a professor, Rudolph Rummel, whose estimates are generally considered to exaggerated. TFD (talk) 04:50, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
While I am more favorably inclined towards Rummel's estimate, Wikipedia is not a good place for anyone who claims that something is "beyond dispute". Go read up on WP:NPOV, please. Anyway, the suggestion is about as ridiculous as suggesting that we list the estimates of victims of Crusades on the page for Jesus Christ, or the number of victims of religious wars on the page about God... --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 09:12, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Some mention should be made of the horrendous death toll inflicted by Marxists!Jimjilin (talk) 20:43, 9 December 2014 (UTC)


The talk section is not an area for an individual to share their political opinions, it is not a forum. -Xcuref1endx (talk) 19:23, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

It needs questioning if the way the political repression developed in the century following Marx's death was anticipated by Marx. Unlike Hitler, Stalin and Mao he died before any country was ruled according to his ideas. As to Russia, Lenin and to lesser extent Stalin added to the interpretation of Marxist teachings. A letter writer to the British Times in the 1970s at time there was much correspondence on the relationship between Marx and Adam Smith, I think summed up the position when they wrote that "The prescriptions of Marx the dietician" had been enacted by "Lenin the force-feeder".Cloptonson (talk) 13:15, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

Journalist and Historian[edit]

The first paragraph omits mentioning that Marx was also a journalist and a historian. Given the fact that much of his time was taken up by writing as a European correspondent for the New York Tribune and the he wrote the '18th Brumaire', a milestone in historiography, I think these should be included. Thoughts? (KLA (talk) 19:41, 17 January 2015 (UTC))

I don't think that writing about the past makes a person automatically a historian. He's more of a sociologist or a social cientist. Uspzor (talk) 20:00, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
The 18th Brumaire is not just writing about the past. It is an explicitly historical essay and, as such, the seminal work of historical materialist historiography. All subsequent Marxist influenced historical works take up and expand of the method of the Brumaire. In this way it is distinct from, say, Capital which includes historical references but is probably (on the whole) not a historical work. My argument is that someone who has, firstly, written historical works, second, has founded a whole school of historiography, a school which would come to be one of the dominant schools of the 20th century, and, third, whose works are studied as examples of that school in university history departments from his death till the present, should be classed, among other things, as a historian. (KLA (talk) 20:30, 17 January 2015 (UTC))
I don't wish to underrepresent the importance of Marx to the historical study, I know it was and is until today enormous. I just wish to point out that being highly influential in a determinate camp of study doesn't made necessarily someone part of it. As Hegel, I think the term philosopher of history is a more appropriate term. Uspzor (talk) 21:05, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
You are not adding anything to your argument here which is still essentially "writing about the past makes a person automatically a historian". As I replied earlier, however, Marx did not just write about the past. He did not just theorise history, he wrote history. As I mentioned the '18th Brumaire' is an explicitly historical work--and a seminal one at that. It is studied as a historical work in universities. Furthermore, I think contrasting to Marx to Hegel in this regard is very helpful exactly because Hegel never wrote an explicitly historical work. He, instead, only theorised about history. So, Hegel is truly only a philosopher of history. Marx, on the other hand, is not only a philosopher of history, but, is also a historiographer, and a historian, since he both created a method for writing history and wrote history himself. Therefore, I have to again express my puzzlement as to why he is not classed as a historian in the article introduction. KLA (talk) 01:17, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
It should certainly mention his profession as a journalist. I think I side with KLA about Marx being a historian, but slightly on the fence. -Xcuref1endx (talk) 02:58, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Right! I added the journalist bit, and unless there are any further objections, I will add the historian bit tomorrow. KLA (talk) 20:03, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

I think that the term "historian" should only be used when that is how people are normally described. TFD (talk) 03:50, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I am not sure what you mean. Historians think and describe him, among other things of course, as a historian. I think that should be enough. KLA (talk) 17:58, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
No, they do not. And his greatest influence on historians has not been his writings on historical events, but his view of history as class struggle. I would also mention that he has had considerable influence on all the humanities and social sciences, but we do not call him an economist, sociologist, psychologist, art and literature expert, etc. The most common academic description is "philosopher." TFD (talk) 03:17, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm afraid I have to disagree completely. Marx was absolutely an economist, a sociologist, and a historian. One could even argue that he wasn't really a philosopher since he explicitly rejected that characterisation himself later in his life. But I'm not going to argue that. I will just reiterate what I noted earlier, namely, that something does not need to be your primary focus for you to be classed under it. Yes, his historical method is more influential that his actual historical writings. But, that does not charge that fact that Marx wrote historical works. I disagree with your claim, and insist that he is considered to be historian by historians, and people who are familiar with his work more generally. To provide just a few sources, he is acknowledged as a historian by e.g. History Today[1], a very respected history periodical. Also, Encyclopedia Britannica[2] classes him as a historian (but also as an economist, and sociologist). To be honest, I think it is you who is going against prevailing opinion here. So, please, back up your claim that historians do not consider Marx to be one of them. Also, please, provide sources for the claim that he was not an economist and a sociologist. Since, if that is the case, we should take these off the first paragraph. KLA (talk) 07:27, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Anyone can write historical works and that doesn't made them historians. Actually, journalists do this a lot nowadays but they aren't called historians because of this. Sorry, but just you here agree with this classification. Uspzor (talk) 08:12, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
It is obvious that we disagree. I still think that you are going against the prevailing opinion among historians and Marxist scholars, and if most people here in Wikipedia are against that, I think each of us should present sources either way. As a matter of course, and to establish the general academic and informed sentiment for this issue, I have already provided two sources above, one being Britannica, a world standard in terms of encyclopedias, and the other being a very respectable and authoritative historical magazine. Now, here's an interview with Marcello Musto, important Marxist scholar and editor of the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe, the largest and most comprehensive repository of Marxian writings:
"[Q:] The tradition of Italian Marxism stresses, following Gramsci, Marx’s importance above all as a historian, as the creator of a historical materialism. Which are, to your mind, the main new insights of Marx as a historian?
[A:] Marx was a great historian. During his life, in some of the historical pamphlets he wrote or as a journalist for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung and the New York Tribune, he described many of the most important political events of his century: the revolutions of 1848, the outcomes of the British empire in India, the Crimean War, the diplomatic relations among European countries, the financial crisis of 1857, the civil war in the United States of America, the Paris Commune, etc. And he did it by writing some of the most brilliant pages of political polemic of the 19th century, like, for instance, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Lord Palmerston, or The Civil War in France. Some of his historical texts really deserve greater attention than they have had so far. I am thinking, in particular, of the articles he wrote for the New York Tribune, at the time the most widely read newspaper in the United States."[3]
Notice what is explicitly stated in the question. That Marx's importance in Italy Marxism is primarily as a historian and a historical theorist, not as a philosopher. I think, therefore, that when Uspzor said "[a]nyone can write historical works and that doesn't made them historians" they severely underestimated the importance of Marx's historical works, especially, but not exclusively, the "18th Brumaire" and the historical parts of Capital, as historical works in their own right. So, Marx did not just "write historical works", he, rather, wrote important and celebrated historical works, and this is why he is classed as a historian by the sources I provided. I could cite quite a lot more but, I think, this selection shows where prevailing opinion is. If you think it does not, please argue why, with sources if possible. KLA (talk) 01:23, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

OK. Please let me know if there are any more objections to this. Also, if you do have an objection, please make your argument clear. If not I'll add the "historian" bit on Monday. Cheers. KLA (talk) 17:51, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

This does not settle the issue, but I reject part of your argument and your quote. To support a claim that Marx was a historian, it is not sufficient to show that Marxists and Marxist scholars describe him as a historian- by definition, they are not taking a NPOV. Similarly, it is not helpful to describe "Marx's importance in Italy Marxism...". The Britannica quote is more helpful.
Gravuritas (talk) 11:31, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
I do not agree that being a Marx scholar makes someone a-priori not of a NPOV. In fact, I’d argue just the opposite: that as experts in the field, their opinion should be taken in consideration in proportion to their credibility. This credibility is substantiated in the number of published works in peer-reviewed journals, in books, etc. Musto is such an expert, and his opinion should be taken as such. His bona fides are very impressive indeed, as they are listed at the bottom of his Wikipedia page. I mean who are you going to ask something about Marx, if not an expert on Marx? And that is what Musto is.
I'm sorry to say this, but you've slithered- I hope accidentally. Your previous post referred to Marxist scholars, which in common English usage means believers in Marxism, and it is those from whom I'd decline to accept that they have a NPOV. You now refer to a Marx scholar, which merely means someone who's studied Marx. That's not the same thing at all- but in any case, I'd suggest it's historians, not Marx scholars (let alone Marxist scholars), who can judge who is & who isn't a historian. Your Britannica source is support for this, agreed.
Gravuritas (talk) 20:43, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
You are right, I did mean Marx scholar in this context. Although I disagree with the sentiment that being a Marxist (i.e. a believer in Marxism) or a Marxist scholar (i.e. a thinker or academic influenced by Marxism) somehow automatically precludes one from a NPOV vis-a-vis our question in hand or Karl Marx in general. One might very well be a Marxist and/or a Marxist scholar and still have NPOV vis-a-vis Marx, if he is an expert and satisfies the conditions mentioned above. Otherwise being a Aristotelian would be prohibitive from having an authoritative opinion on Aristotle, a Thomist on Thomas Aquinas, and a Christian on Jesus Christ, at least as far as Wikipedia is concerned. KLA (talk) 23:26, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Regarding Italian Marxism, I think that showing that such a big branch of Marxist thought--and such an authoritative and influential figure as Gramsci--considers Marx to be, primarily, a historian, would add to what I am trying to do: to flesh out the prevailing opinion on this. Even though, to be honest, I think that the Britannica quote should be enough by itself. KLA (talk) 19:01, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
KLA, so you have any evidence to support your opinion? TFD (talk) 21:52, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
TFD, please see my reply to Uspzor, above. Cheers. KLA (talk) 01:23, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
So the EB article describes him as a "revolutionary, sociologist, historian, and economist." To that list we could add political scientist, journalist, philosopher, and many other things. The issue is not whether these descriptions are true, but how commonly they are used in descriptions of him. TFD (talk) 02:14, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
I think just adding philosopher (which I assume is uncontroversial) and journalist to the EB list would do the trick. Again, I think you and others here underestimate how commonly he is described as a historian and how important his historical works are. Also, the man was something of a polymath, and dealt in multiple disciplines with equal success--so I think an article on him should reflect that. Finally, I am not in some crazy crusade to undeservedly classify him as a historian, rather, I am convinced, from my knowledge of the sources, and whatever I gather from the general academic opinion, that it does warrant a mention in the first paragraph. Now if you think it is superfluous, given the sources I have provided, again, please explain why. KLA (talk) 04:03, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately, since there are 18 million references to Karl Marx on Google books alone,[1] going through them all to see which ones describe him as an historian is going to be a long and tedious process. I am certain we are more likely to see the description used for Caryle and Gibbon, as far as the 19th century goes. TFD (talk) 04:29, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

New Section - Namesake Honours[edit]

I have started a new section, after Legacy, on Namesake Honours, kicking off with the East German Order of Karl Marx and the renaming of Chemnitz as Karl-Marx-Stadt. I wonder if there are any places that remain named after Karl Marx, following the downfall of most Communist states?Cloptonson (talk) 09:50, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Namesake honours is not good British English. Could American editors comment on whether it is OK in US English? 14:28, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
I can accept a change of title, if you let me know about it. On some wiki biographies such facts are often listed under the section heading Legacy or Namesakes or Honours (when not referring to titles, prizes or decorations awarded to the individual) - but the Legacy section in this page seems too entirely devoted to his influence on politics and economics to tag this onto, and I thought of the heading adopted to demonstrate there were other things named after him apart from Marxism itself.Cloptonson (talk) 16:32, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Before this section gets too long, let's talk about it for a moment. There's lots and lots of places named after Marx, and listing all of them doesn't really aid the reader's understanding of Marx himself. And the format of the section as it is currently developing— with a separate paragraph for each place— is not appropriate. Instead, I urge you to look at similar treatment like a summary of places named after Martin Luther King, Jr. Could you succinctly summarize the naming rather than attempt to document each instance? Regards, Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 19:37, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

I agree that the added section, although in good faith, does not help the reader to understand Marx, and have removed it. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 07:21, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Agreed - neither necessary to understand Marx, nor in my opinion of much encyclopaedic merit without sources actually commenting in depth on the practice. Our article on Queen Victoria for example has nothing to say on the many pubs named after her, and frankly I suspect our readers would be most surprised if it did. AndyTheGrump (talk) 11:36, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
I was about to come back with the suggestion of Memorial Namings - an idea picked up from the wiki biography of Horst Wessel (another German, whose views were politically antithetical and became hailed as a Nazi 'martyr'). The examples I used about Karl Marx were not unprecedented (place names, institutions, an award) - look for example at that section in the page on Archbishop William Temple (incidentally a socialist leaning man who had a pro-Communist Dean to his cathedral) - but Temple never had a mountain or a city named for him putting him literally on the map. Pubs would not have been in mind for such a section. Places named after Marx, I do concur, say perhaps more about the people naming them as the man they were named for.Cloptonson (talk) 20:35, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Lack of objectivity in choice of words[edit]

In the last sentence of the first paragraph in the section named "Early life" there is a problem with the objectivity of the author's classification of Lutheranism. This religious denomination is named as a "sect". This choice of word carries with it several negative connotations and puts into question the level of objectivity with which the whole section was written. To classify any major religious denomination as such, whether it be Sunni Islam or Reformed Judaism, invokes in the reader a clear stand-point from the author of an anti-religious bias. I therefore suggest that the words "sect" be changed to simply "religion", in order to avoid this aforementioned bias. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Odysseus90 (talkcontribs) 23:35, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

While if you're that concerned about sect, changing it wouldn't be that big a deal, although I'd suggest to denomination as Lutheranism falls under the religious banner of Christianity quite neatly. I also have to say this is the farthest I've ever seen somebody go to suggest that there was anti-religious bias involved, since when is sect a dirty word?--Ollyoxenfree (talk) 03:31, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@ Odysseus90; good catch, though I'd assume good faith and put down the wording to unfamiliarity with connotations of 'sect'. I've rewritten the sentence. — Neonorange (talk) 06:39, 25 March 2015 (UTC)