Karl Marx - Various Quotations

See also Friedrich Engels, supra.

Eighteen Brumaire: ‘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 and inherited from the past. The tradition of all the generations of the dead weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle-cries, and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed Language.’ (Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, Peking: Foreign Languages Press 1978, p.9; quoted [in part] in Thomas Docherty, ‘The Place’s Fault’ [keynote lecture], in Global Ireland, ed. Ondrej Pilny & Clare Wallace, Prague: Litteraria Pragensis 2006, p.9; also [as epigraph] in F. L. Radford, ‘King, Pope and Hero-Martyr: Ulysses and the Nightmare of Irish History’, in James Joyce Quarterly, 15, 4 (Summer 1978, p.25.)

Communist Manifesto: ‘The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, 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.’ (The Communist Manifesto, 1872; Quoted in Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity, Cork UP 2000, p.13.)

The German Ideology: ‘It is within the symbolic constitution of the social order that the dialectic of concealment and revelation arises.’ (Marx & Engels, The German Ideology: Collected Works, Vol. 5, NY: International Publishers 1975, p.30.)

‘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. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothign more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationship which makes the one class the ruling one, therefore the ideas of its dominance.’ (Ibid., p.39.)

The Irish Question: ‘For a long time I believed that it would be possible to overthrow the Irish regime by English working-class ascendancy. Deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never accomplish anything before it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland.’ (Marx & Engels, Ireland and the Irish Question, ed. R. Dixon, London: Lawrence & Wishart, pp.397-98; quoted in Marjorie Howes, Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness, Cambridge UP 1996, p.23.)

The peasantry as a class: ‘In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of other classes, and put them in hostile opposition to the latter, the form a class. In so far as there is merely a local interconnexion among these small-holding peastants, and the identity of their interests begets no community, no national bond, and no political organization among them, they do not form a class.’ (Marx 1951 [viz., Marx & Engels, 1950 Selected Writings, Moscow], Vol .I, p.303; quoted in Teodor Shanin, ‘The Peastantry as a Political Factor’, in Shanin, ed., Peasants and Peasant Societies [Pengin Mod. Sociological Classics], Penguin 1971, p, p.23.)


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