Thursday, March 14, 2024

DEATH OF KARL MARX London 14 March 1883 of bronchitis at age 64

DEATH OF KARL MARX London 14 March 1883 of bronchitis at age 64, one hundred and forty one years ago. Karl Marx has been described as one of the most influential philosophers in human history, and his work has been both highly lauded and heavily criticised. Two noteworthy critical philosophers were Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell. 

Russell's critique of Marx citations —

“My objections to Marx are of two sorts: one, that he was muddleheaded; and the other, that his thinking was almost entirely inspired by hatred, poverty, and strife. I have always disagreed with Marx. But my objections to modern Communism go deeper than my objections to Marx. It is the abandonment of democracy that I find particularly disastrous. A minority resting its powers upon the activities of secret police is bound to be cruel, oppressive and obscuarantist. His belief that there is a cosmic force called Dialectical Materialism which governs human history independently of human volitions, is mere mythology. His theoretical errors, however, would not have mattered so much but for the fact that, like Tertullian and Carlyle, his chief desire was to see his enemies punished, and he cared little what happened to his friends in the process. Marx's doctrine was bad enough, but the developments which it underwent under Lenin and Stalin made it much worse.“

— Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Communist from Portraits from Memory published in 1956

“Karl Marx, as a religious leader, is analogous to Confucius. His ethical doctrine, in a nutshell, is this: that every man pursues the economic interest of his class, and therefore, if there is only one class, every man will pursue the general interest. This doctrine has failed to work out in practice as its adherents expected, both because men do not in fact pursue the interest of their class, and because no civilized  community is possible in which there is only one class, since government and executive officials are unavoidable.“

— Bertrand Russell, A Fresh Look at Empiricism (1927–42), 58. Freedom and Government (1940) p.447

“Marx’s socialism may or may not be true scientifically. Yet when people believe in Marxism dogmatically, it becomes a religious belief.“

— Bertrand Russell, Russell on Religion: Selections from the Writings of Bertrand Russell (1999), Part II, Religion and Philosophy, 6. The Essence and Effect of Religion(1921), p. 73

“Considered purely as a philosopher, Marx has grave shortcomings. He is too practical, too much wrapped up in the problems of his time. His purview is confined to this planet, and, within this planet, to Man. Since Copernicus, it has been evident that Man has not the cosmic importance which he formerly arrogated to himself. No man who has failed to assimilate this fact has a right to call his philosophy scientific. Marx professed himself an atheist, but retained a cosmic optimism which only theism could justify.“ 

— Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (1945), Book Three, Modern Philosophy, Part II. Ch. XXVII: Karl Marx, pp. 788-9

Image: Detail of a photograph of Karl Marx 1875, London. 

Karl Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic thought. 
Numerous intellectuals, labour unions and political parties worldwide have been influenced by Marx's ideas, with many variations on his groundwork. Marx published several books during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894).

Marx's critical theories about society, economics, and politics, collectively understood as Marxism, hold that human societies develop through class conflict. In the capitalist mode of production, this manifests itself in the conflict between the ruling classes (known as the bourgeoisie) that control the means of production and the working classes (known as the proletariat) that enable these means by selling their labour-power in return for wages.

For Marx, class antagonisms under capitalism—owing in part to its instability and crisis-prone nature—would eventuate the working class's development of class consciousness, leading to their conquest of political power and eventually the establishment of a classless, communist society constituted by a free association of producers. Marx actively pressed for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised proletarian revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic emancipation.

Marx has been cited as one of the 19th century's three masters of the “school of suspicion“ alongside Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. In countries associated with some Marxist claims, many historical events have led varied political opponents to blame Marx for millions of deaths, however the fidelity of these varied revolutionaries, leaders, and parties to Marx's work continues to be highly contested, debated and rejected, especially by the many schools of thought from “Neo- Marxists“. Karl Marx is buried in Highgate Cemetery(East), London, United Kingdom, in an area reserved for agnostics and atheists.

Friday, March 1, 2024


The historic city of Timbuktu in Mali, recognised for its profound scholarly heritage, harbours the remnants of one of the world's earliest centres of learning, the University of Sankore. Established in the 1200s AD, this university was a beacon of knowledge, housing an extensive collection of manuscripts. These manuscripts, predominantly inscribed in Ajami—a writing system that employs Arabic script to transcribe African languages, with Hausa being a notable example—serve as a testament to the rich intellectual traditions of the region.

As the centuries progressed, from the 1300s through to the 1800s AD, Timbuktu experienced the arrival and, in some cases, the colonisation by Europeans and West Asians. This period marked a turning point for the preservation of the manuscripts. The Malian custodians of this knowledge, acutely aware of the potential risk of destruction or expropriation by foreign invaders—a fate that befell numerous other texts across the African continent, notably in Kemet (ancient Egypt)—took decisive action to safeguard their heritage. They concealed these invaluable documents in various hidden locations, including basements, attics, and underground vaults, thereby shielding them from potential harm.

Among the concealed treasures were manuscripts that covered a broad spectrum of knowledge, including significant works on mathematics and astronomy. These documents are pivotal in understanding the historical depth of mathematical and scientific inquiry in Africa, predating European colonial influence. They reveal a sophisticated grasp of complex concepts and contribute to debunking the myth of a pre-colonial Africa devoid of advanced scholarly pursuits.

In recent decades, the rediscovery of up to 700,000 of these manuscripts has illuminated the enduring legacy of African scholarship. The Timbuktu manuscripts, particularly those related to mathematics and astronomy, underscore Africa's role as a contributor to the global repository of knowledge well before the advent of European colonisation. This resurgence of interest in Africa's intellectual history not only enriches our understanding of the past but also inspires a reevaluation of the continent's place in the history of science and education.

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