Speech at the Ceremony Commemorating the Bicentenary of the Birth of Marx
May 4, 2018
Today, we gather here filled with reverence to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, remember his strong character and historical achievements, and review his eminent spirit and brilliant ideas.
Marx is the revolutionary leader of the proletariat and the working people the world over, the principal founder of Marxism, the founder of Marxist parties and of the international communist movement, and the greatest thinker of the modern era. Two centuries have passed, during which human society has undergone massive and profound changes. However, Marx’s name continues to be met with respect around the world, and Marx’s theories continue to emanate their brilliant rays of truth.
On May 5, 1818, Marx was born in Trier, Germany, into a lawyer’s household. As early as his middle school years, Marx aspired to work toward human happiness. During his university years, Marx undertook extensive and intensive studies into philosophy, history, and law in pursuit of the secrets underlying the development of human society. When he was working for the Rheinische Zeitung newspaper, Marx wrote incisive articles attacking the autocratic rule of the Prussian government and defending the rights of the people. In 1843, after he moved to Paris, Marx became an active participant in the workers’ movement. In the course of his participation he brought together revolutionary practice with theoretical inquiry, thus completing his shift from idealist to materialist and from revolutionary democrat to communist. In 1845, Marx and Engels coauthored The German Ideology, which was the first relatively systematic elaboration of the basic principles of historical materialism. In 1848, Marx and Engels coauthored Manifesto of the Communist Party – which, once published, immediately shook the world. Of Manifesto of the Communist Party, Engels said that it is “the most widespread, the most international production of all socialist literature, the common platform acknowledged by millions of workingmen from Siberia to California.”
In 1848, as the bourgeois democratic revolution sweeping across Europe erupted, Marx threw himself into and guided this struggle. Following the failure of the revolution, Marx reviewed the lessons learned from the revolution and subjected them to a systematic politico-economic analysis, thus revealing the nature and patterns governing capitalism. In 1867, Capital was published, which is his most profound and fecund work, and which has been honored as the “Bible of the working class.” In his later years, Marx continued to closely watch new trends in global development and new events in the workers’ movement, making great efforts at reflecting on issues concerning human development from an even greater viewpoint.
Marx’s life was a life of harboring lofty ideals and of dedication to the struggle for the emancipation of humankind. In 1835, a 17-year-old Marx wrote a high-school graduation composition entitled “Reflections of a Young Man on the Choice of a Profession” in which he wrote, “If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually be at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.” Throughout his life, Marx encountered hardships from an errant life and suffered poverty and illness, yet he stayed the course, never swayed from his original aspiration, dedicated himself to the lofty ideal of the emancipation of humankind, and accomplished a life of greatness.
Marx’s life was a life of defiance in the face of hardships and of bravely scaling new intellectual heights in search of truth. Marx once wrote that, “There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.” In founding his scientific theoretical system, Marx endured hardships unimaginable to most ordinary people until ultimately arriving at the luminous summit. Being well-read and erudite, he not only thoroughly understood and studied the scholarship of all disciplines of philosophy and the social sciences, but also that of a range of natural sciences, diligently working to draw pabulum from the civilizational achievements of all of humankind. Throughout his life, Marx selflessly dedicated himself to his work, regularly working sixteen hours a day. Of his work Capital, Marx once wrote a letter to his friend saying that, “I was perpetually hovering on the verge of the grave. Therefore, I had to use every moment in which I was capable of work in order that I might finish the task.” Despite constant illness in his later years, Marx still continued to stride toward new scientific fields and objectives, and he wrote an immense number of scientific manuscripts in the fields of history, humanities, and mathematics. Just as Engels said, “In every single field which Marx investigated – and he investigated very many fields, none of them superficially – in every field, even in that of mathematics, he made independent discoveries.”
Marx’s life was a life of ceaseless fighting to topple the old world and create it anew. As Engels said, “Marx was before all else a revolutionist... Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity, and a success such as few could rival.” Marx’s lifelong mission was to struggle for the emancipation of humankind. In order to change the people’s lot of suffering exploitation and oppression, Marx threw himself without hesitation into the dynamic worker’s movement, always standing at the vanguard of the revolutionary fight. Under his leadership, the Communist League was founded in 1847, which was the world’s first proletarian party, and he led the International Workingmen’s Association which was the world’s first international workers’ organization. He also zealously supported the Commune of Paris, the first revolution in which the working class seized political power, and fervently and unrelentingly drove the development of the workers’ movement across the world.
Marx was a great man of indomitable spirit, yet he was also a man of flesh and blood. He loved life, and was sincere, honest, sentimental, and fair-minded. Marx and Engels’ revolutionary friendship lasted for 40 years. Just as Lenin once said that, “Old legends contain various moving instances of friendship,” but that Marx and Engel’s friendship “surpasses the most moving stories of the ancients about human friendship.” Marx unselfishly financed the revolutionary cause; even during the most difficult times of his life he gave his utmost to help his revolutionary comrades-in-arms. Marx and his wife, Jenny, endured these hardships together, composing a providential symphony of ideals and love.