The Mid-Nineteenth century in Europe was a melting pot of activity. The industrial revolution was in full swing in Great Britain, while the Prussian empire slowly grew in size. Over most of the continent the people were poverty stricken while few thrived in the economy. Rebellions of the middle classes were common in this era.
Liberal philosophies were showing up in a few different political radicals. Due to this liberal thinking political philosophers such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles had the ability to express their opinions over a broad variety of people and this is the time in which the Communist Manifesto came to be. Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5th, 1818 in the city of Trier, Germany to a comfortable middle-class, Jewish family. His father, a lawyer and ardent supporter of Enlightenment liberalism, converted to Lutheranism when Marx was only a boy in order to save the family from the discrimination that Prussian Jews endured at the time. Marx enjoyed a broad, secular education under his father, and found an intellectual mentor in Freiherr Ludwig von Westphalen, a Prussian nobleman with whom Marx discussed the great literary and philosophical figures of his day.
Notably, it was Westphalen who introduced the young Marx to the ideas of the early French socialist Saint-Simon. As a student in Bonn and Berlin, Marx was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Hegel. While Marx was impressed with the Hegelian professors under whom he studied, he ultimately found himself attracted to a group of students known as the “Young Hegelians.” This group of young iconoclasts, including David Strauss, Bruno Bauer, and Max Stirner, were inspired by Hegel but were determined to champion the more radical aspects of the old master’s system.
In particular, these Left Hegelians called into question the conservatism they saw in Hegel’s avowed political and religious philosophies. Although Marx desired a career as an academic at the time, …