The Poverty of Philosophy
by Karl Marx
First published in French, Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) was composed during his years in Brussels, when he was developing his economic views and, through confrontations with the chief leaders of the working-class movement, establishing his intellectual standing.
In this classic work, which laid the foundation of ideas later developed in Capital, Marx polemicized against then premier French socialist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon wanted to unite the best features of such contraries as competition and monopoly. He hoped to save the good features of economic institutions while eliminating the bad. Marx, however, declared that no equilibrium was possible between the antagonisms in any given economic system. Social structures were transient historical forms determined by the productive forces: “The handmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the stream mill, society with the industrial capitalist.” (© 2016 Penguin Random House)