Segments in this Video

Marx: Genius of the Modern World: Introduction (01:43)


The 19th century was a pivotal era of revolutions in technology, industry, politics, and ideas. Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud were committed to "identifying the forces controlling our lives."

Marxist Ideology (02:27)

A group gathers to mark the anniversary of Marx's death. Within 70 years of his death, one third of the world's governments ruled under the ideology of Marxism. Bettany Hughes wants to understand what motivated Marx in the context of his time.

Marx's Youth (03:01)

Marx was born in Trier, Prussia in 1818 to a bourgeoisie family. At the age of 15, Marx's father Heinrich met with men who celebrated the French Revolution and his reputation was disgraced; questioning authority and freedom of expression were contested.

Marx's Studies (04:00)

At the age of 17, Marx studied law at Bonn University. Confrontations led to his transfer to Berlin University where he met a group of Hegelians. Dr. Hannah Dawson discusses Marx's encounter with Georg Hegel and his ideology.

Liberal Ideas (03:31)

The Hegelians believed the biggest obstacle to human progress was religion. Marx became editor of the Rhineland News and attacked the political elite; Hughes quotes an article.

Challenging Authority (02:51)

In 1842, Marx reported on the living conditions of vine growers in the Trier region. Hughes quotes Marx. His articles provoked those in power and they shut down his newspaper.

Expanding Intellectual Horizons (02:23)

Marx and his wife traveled to Paris in 1843 where he began forming his philosophy. Marx helped produce a publication that encouraged collaboration between French and Prussian radicals.

"Alienation of Our Species' Essence" (02:52)

Marx described religion as "the opium of the people." He believed a capitalist economy was the root cause of humankind's woes.

Marx's Poor Health (02:44)

Marx suffered a painful skin condition that may have been hidradenitis suppurativa. Sam Shuster discusses the psychological effects of the condition.

Friederich Engels (02:35)

In 1844, Marx's wife took their newborn daughter to visit family in Trier. Marx and Engels shared ideas about Capitalism and social injustice; Engels had firsthand knowledge of industrialism and urban class poverty.

Political Refugee (02:41)

Prussian spies alerted French authorities to the potential danger of Marx's ideas and Marx was forced to leave France. In 1845, he fled to Brussels and denounced his Prussian citizenship. Marx and Engels established secret Communist groups throughout Europe.

Economic and Societal Organization (02:32)

Marx and Engels concluded that economic organization and its changes drive history forward; changes coincide with technological developments. They believed Capitalism led to antagonism between labor and Bourgeoisie classes.

Awakening the Proletariat (02:57)

Marx believed in the eradication of class divisions. In 1848, he and Engels wrote a profession of faith for the Communist League.

Revolts across Europe (01:54)

Workers barricaded Parisian streets and overthrew the monarchy; Belgian authorities ordered Marx to leave. The insurrections collapsed and ruling classes reestablished control; Marx was arrested for inciting rebellion in Prussia. In August 1849, Marx set sail for England.

Marx in England (05:14)

Marx and his family lived in the slums of Soho; hear a Prussian spy's account of Marx's lifestyle. Marx had an affair and fathered an illegitimate son. Three of Marx's children died in infancy; Edgar died at the age of eight.

Critiquing Capitalism (04:14)

Marx's wife received two inheritances and the family moved to the suburbs. Marx was a regular at the British Museum Reading Room, identifying evidence of the destructive consequences of Capitalism.

Unstable System (01:57)

Marx believed the contradictions in the capitalist system would be its downfall. In 1867, Marx finished "Capital, Volume 1;" it received an indifferent response. Hughes reflects on the irony of Marx's work.

Marx's Final Years (01:59)

Marx settled into a middle class respectable lifestyle. His health declined and he had a photograph taken before shaving his hair and beard; he died in March 1883.

Marx's Legacy (04:02)

Engels promoted Marx as a great thinker. A Communist revolution succeeded in Russia, but it defied Marx's logic. Top-down revolutionaries claimed to be disciples of his ideology; experts discuss "their distorted appropriation of Marx."

Marx's Genius (02:21)

Experts consider Marx's ability to look beneath surface reality and his ideas about the alienation of labor. Hughes reflects on the paradox of Marx's life story.

Credits: Marx: Genius of the Modern World (00:37)

Credits: Marx: Genius of the Modern World

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Marx: Genius of the Modern World

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Karl Marx was a man who lived a life of contradiction: An angry agitator who spent years in scholarly silence in the British Library Reading Room. A family man who got the housekeeper pregnant. A brilliant mind who argued against exploitation, but lived off wealth exploited from workers in Engel’s family mills. Yet despite the paradoxes, this philosopher’s ideas had a greater influence in a shorter time than any other thinker in history. During his lifetime he was a little-known, impoverished intellectual, living on the charity of friends and spending his days reading and writing. But within seventy years of his death in 1883, almost a third of the entire human race was living under governments that called themselves by his name—Marxist. Host Bettany Hughes begins her journey in the city of Trier on the banks of the Mosel in Germany. It was here on May 5, 1818 that one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century was born.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL115799

ISBN: 978-1-63521-149-8

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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