Part of the SAGE Social Thinkers series, this brief and clearly–written book provides a concise introduction to the work, life, and influences of Karl Marx, one of the most revered, reviled, and misunderstood figures in modern history. The book serves as an excellent introduction to the full range of Marx’s major themes—alienation, economics, social class, capitalism, communism, materialism, environmental sustainability—and considers the extent to which they are relevant today. It is ideal for use as a self-contained volume or in conjunction with other sociological theory textbooks.



Marx is famous, perhaps more than anything else, for his advocacy of communism. This fame was undoubtedly buoyed by the establishment of several nations that claimed to be communist regimes of the type Marx recommended. This chapter will not be a discussion of actually existing or formally existing communist states. Rather, this chapter will be an overview of Marx’s comments on communism and an attempt to understand them systematically.

Before the chapter moves into the formal analysis, here is a note on some terminology. Marx commonly referred to his recommended postcapitalist society as communist as opposed to socialist. In The Communist Manifesto, many of the political movements Marx and Engels criticized are described as socialist. A few were called communist as well (Marx & ...

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