China commemorates 200th birthday of Karl Marx

By Luo Yunzhou Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/8 17:13:39

An original manuscript of The Communist Manifesto Photo: VCG

Visitors attend The Power of Truth: An Exhibition Marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of Karl Marx at the National Museum of China. Photo: IC


When talking about the most influential figures in human history, Karl Marx is a name that definitely belongs on the list as his theories about society, economics and politics had a huge impact on the modern world. Although his works have been both lauded and criticized, there is no arguing that the world would be a very different place without his contributions.

Though he passed away more than a century ago, Marx has not been forgotten by his followers. On May 5, Marx's 200th birthday, numerous exhibitions and events memorializing the great philosopher were held across China, a country with which he has continued to have a strong connection.

Marx and his works

Marx (1818-83) shook the world in a wide variety of areas, including philosophy, economics, history, political theory, sociology, journalism and revolutionary socialism. He dedicated himself to endlessly reading and writing about the realities of the world.

Working together with his best friend - the German Friedrich Engels, another great thinker - Marx published many works analyzing society. For example, when it came to the field of economics he expressed his understanding of the relation between labor and the capital in his famous work Das Capital.

With the support of his ideas, many workers, intellectuals and political leaders began to think about how to change the future of their societies. For this reason, Marx is one of the leading architects of modern social science.

The future of China

Among all his works the most popular masterpiece has been the 1848 The Communist Manifesto, which had a great impact on the development of new China by offering many useful ideas and methodologies.

Marxism was introduced by many intellectuals and scholars such as Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao around the time of the New Culture Movement of the mid-1910s and 1920s, when China started turning its eyes to the rest of the world. With this new theory of socialism, these intellectuals brought China down a completely new and revolutionary developmental path that has made the country the great power that it is today.

While it's true that China wouldn't be what it is today without the inspiration of Marx's ideas, if you think Marxism is just a bunch of ideas promoted by books, even Marx himself would disagree with you.

"According to Karl Marx, philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways, the point however is to change the world. Marx chose this sentence to write on his tombstone, stressing that the real Marxism is not just an ideology, a pure explanation of the world, it is more like a weapon and can be used by the proletariats to fight for their own freedom, and at the same time, change the world," a political philosophy major pursing his doctorate at Tsinghua University surnamed Cui, told the Global Times.

Original manuscripts

To celebrate Marx's birthday, dozens of exhibitions held in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, displayed many of Marx's original manuscripts.

Many manuscripts, including an original The Communist Manifesto, letters between Marx and Engels, and his own notes in London, are being displayed at the National Museum of China, for example, attracting many visitors to appreciate the original versions of Marx's works.

The history of The Communist Manifesto can be traced back to 1848, when the original manuscript was first completed in London on February 21 of that year and officially published a few days later on February 24. The document is considered to be a symbol of the birth of Marxism.

The Communist Manifesto has been translated into more than 103 languages, leading to there being more than 600 different versions across these languages. While many visitors to the exhibition at the National Museum of China have probably read a translation of the manifesto before, this most likely will be their first time seeing the original manuscript as it is rarely put on display.

"Many Chinese translations were written using a Chinese Marxism style, which means they are a bit different than the original work," Zheng Keni, a visitor to the National Museum of China exhibition, told the Global Times.

"This exhibition has enabled me to see Marx in a much more vivid way, which I truly value."

Newspaper headline: Never forgotten


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