THE leader of the Communist Party of Germany, Ernst Thaelmann, who was murdered in 1944 by the nazis in the Buchenwald concentration camp, said in 1925 that anniversaries are for communists and the class-conscious “not vain commemoration days, but guidelines for class struggle, manuals for action.”
This is valid also for today. To honour Marx is to remind us of the most important thinker in the history of Europe, to study his ability to combine theory and practice.
Friedrich Engels, his close friend and comrade-in-arms, described this in 1883 in his speech at Marx’s grave.
“Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history — the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc, that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art and even the ideas on religion of the people concerned have been evolved and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.”
There were, naturally, materialist philosophers before Marx.
But he was the first to explain and demonstrate that the state, ideas or religious faith are not the driving forces of history but rather the dialectics of productive forces, of technology and man, and of production conditions, in juridical terms, the conditions of property.