The globalised world of the twenty-first century has many parallels with that of the period running up to the cataclysm of 1914, namely the world predicted by Karl Marx. Communications go that much faster, but this is a difference of degree, not type. People, messages, and ideas are flung around the globe. Money circulates in a never-ceasing torrent, poverty lives side by side with wealth, and capital exercises its impersonal power over each and every one of us. In this world, Karl Marx - blunt and straightforward enough to inspire criticism of the latest exploits of capitalism, the failings of politics, and the genuflection of those in power before fetishes like `The Market' - lives on. Despite nearly 200 years having passed since his birth, his burning condemnation of capitalism remains of immediate interest today. The texts he left behind gave rise to what would come to be called Marxism, but that was a term he rejected. His approach - enormous amounts of reading and writing, integrating new discoveries from the various sciences into his analyses of society - was a far cry from how his theories would come to be used in states where only one, party-approved interpretation was allowed. Now, more than ever before, these texts can be read for what they truly are. In addition to providing a living picture of Marx the man, his life, and his family and friends - as well as his lifelong collaboration with Friedrich Engels - Sweden's leading intellectual historian Sven-Eric Liedman, in this major new biography, shows what Karl Marx the thinker and researcher really wrote, demonstrating that this giant of the nineteenth century can still exert a powerful attraction for the inhabitants of the twenty-first.
Sven-Eric Liedman, Professor Emeritus of the history of ideas at the University of Gothenburg, has been reading and writing about Karl Marx for over fifty years. His textbook on political ideologies (originally titled From Plato to Lenin in 1972, rechristened From Plato to the War Against Terrorism in 2014) has been reprinted in fourteen editions.