Remember Karl Marx on his birthday with these lesser known facts

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Today marks the 203rd anniversary of the birth of the German polymath Karl Marx, who promoted the ideology of communism and tried to push for a proletarian revolution that would bring about a more egalitarian society.

Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in Trier, the Rhine province of Germany which was then under the reign of Prussia. Today he is remembered as the revolutionary thinker who published the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei commonly known as the Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels. He has also published another in-depth research work devoted to the socialist movement, Das Kapital.

To commemorate her 203rd birthday, let’s take a look at some of the lesser known facts about her:

1. Marx was born into a family of Orthodox Jews and was the grandson of rabbis on both his motherly and fatherly side. However, during the time under Prussian rule, the political environment began to have doubts about Jewish emancipation, and Marx’s father converted to Christianity a year before Karl was born. Karl was baptized at the age of six, but growing up religion did not play a major role in shaping his ideology.

2. Marx’s notorious side was at its peak when he was a humanities student at the University of Bonn. A student of Greek and Roman mythology and art history, Marx actively participated in the usual student activities, dueled and even spent a day in prison for being drunk and messy.

3. His socialist side was already taking shape when he was at the University. Marx chaired the Tavern Club, which was at odds with the more aristocratic student associations, and joined a club of poets that included political activists. At the time, the culture of politically rebellious students was part of life in Bonn.

4. Marx also pleaded for press freedom and criticized censorship at a time when the political regime was quite hostile. Ironically, the newspaper Marx worked for, Rheinische Zeitung, was the liberal democratic branch of a group of young traders, bankers and industrialists. The newspaper was based in Cologne, which was the center of the most industrially advanced section of Prussia.

5. In 1849, Marx’s newly founded newspaper, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, advocated constitutional democracy and war with Russia. Marx even called for arms and men to aid the resistance when the King of Prussia dissolved the Prussian Assembly in Berlin. For this charge and several others, Marx was banished from his home country and spent the last years of his life in London.

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