Karl Marx’s leadership impacted Europe’s perspective on political, social, and economic ideology. He was a successful leader who used power, effective communication, and courage to transform his followers. His leadership not only influenced his followers, but the rest of the world. He transcribed his leadership and ideology into what is now considered tangible scholarly articles.
Early in his lifetime, Karl Marx was rarely seen outside of his house because he spent most of his time writing with a small radical group. As Karl Marx grew older, he began to gain more and more power from his followers. Early on, he did not engage with his followers directly. Instead, he gained expert power where he pursued his research in social political theory and received a Doctor of Philosophy. Karl Marx more or less observed and analyzed the working class from afar.
He conveyed his expert power when writing to communicate with his followers over his theories. Later in his life, after gaining public recognition for his writings, Karl Marx gained referent power. He established a relationship with his followers who identified with his beliefs. By 1848, Karl Marx represented one of the main pioneers against class struggle in the French revolution. The radical and proletariat groups saw Karl Marx as an icon who understood their hardships. To his followers, his expert and referent power were so prominent that they nominated him to the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association in 1864, where he gained legitimate power (Jones, 2016). His followers saw him as a role model and were placing him on a pedestal of power.
And even despite Karl Marx having poor health at the time, his followers still felt that he would best represent their organization. Karl Marx’s power came from both his followers and his own intellect. He used his power to support and lead his followers towards his vision.
Most of his life’s work was composed of writing to communicate his vision of emancipation to Europe. Karl Marx was an efficient communicator; not only were his claims and arguments strong, his delivery was daunting. Karl Marx filled his writing with blunt, cold, sarcastic criticism. In one of his articles, Karl Marx states “The aristocracy cannot be given the form of law because they are formations of lawlessnessjust as the bandit son of a robber is not exonerated because banditry is a family idiosyncrasy” (Marx, 1842). In a sarcastic manner, Karl Marx is communicating how lowly he thinks of aristocrats. The dark metaphor defiles aristocrats and piques interest in readers.
In another example, Karl Marx states “This can be determined with almost the same certainty as a chemist determines under which external conditions given substances will form a compound” (Marx, 2010). In this statement, he describes how a complex government should be able to easily work out the problems of power and poverty as though the functions of a government should be as simple as the laws of nature. This statement belittles the common sense of government officials and readers who may have adversity to his argument. The way he used written words to highlight the flaws of the government brought fear to many state officials. In addition, his writing was not only bold but clear and concise. In one of his most persuasive pieces The Communist Manifesto, which he wrote with Friedrich Engels, is only thirty pages long. He clearly communicated to his readers his argument and vision not only to Europe but later worldwide.
His followers were enlightened by the potential in his vision. Karl Marx transformed the minds of his followers on many different levels: religion, social class, capitalism, communism and more. As a philosopher, he could make them question the foundation of their understanding but as a leader he guided them towards species [Human] essence. In addition to his leadership, Europe was already in a tumultuous state full of revolutions.
The written words Karl Marx used to attack the governments added fuel to the fire of his followers. His followers read his articles and books or heard them by word of mouth. He made strong claims and arguments that persuaded his readers to change their lifestyles. In 1848, Paris proletariats rebelled against the monarchy in the French Revolution. Karl Marx’s writing transpired hope and courage onto the proletariats. They had faith in their own ability to take action. However, if Karl Marx wanted to impact the proletariats immediately, he should have used oral communication such as rallies, protests, and public speeches as a means to communicate with the working class since most were illiterate during the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, his leadership guided Europe towards the emergence of a revolution.
Not only did Karl Marx write about emancipation, he set an example to his followers by rebelling against those who oppressed him. His defiance empowered his followers to not play sheep and to think for themselves. For example, Karl Marx’s writings were seen as spontaneous radical acts where he wrote in opposition to many European governments. Specifically, the Prussian government deemed his writing treasonous in 1843 when he was editor for Rheinische Zeitung (Liebknecht, 1969). The rebellious articles were banned after less than a year of publication.
However, Karl Marx could not live there in silence; he wanted a platform to speak his mind. As a result of his inability to abide by Prussia’s laws, he was exiled. Karl Marx moved to Paris and then Brussels only to be exiled in those countries too. Finally, he settled in London where he could freely publish his ideas.
Karl Marx showed courage by continuing to write despite having altercations with the law. In addition, this example displays his dedication to write for his followers and inspired them. Karl Marx even acknowledged the importance of female status in society. He stated, Social progress may be measured precisely by the social position of the fair sex (plain ones included) (Marx, 2001).
Even when Karl Marx was young, he displayed courage by standing up for his beliefs. Karl Marx grew up in a family in which religion was the foundation. Both of his grandfathers were rabbis and despite the strong religious beliefs, they deemed Karl Marx an ardently atheist materialist (Salter, 1921, p. 6). Even early on, Karl Marx always questioned the foundation of his understanding and even went against the grain of his family to pursue his beliefs. The fear of being an outlier did not impede his personal choice of religion or writing. He was an effective leader because he had a vision and acted upon it. His followers looked up to him as a courageous leader.
As a result of his courage and effective communication skills, Karl Marx gained many followers who supported him as a leader. As previously stated, the proletariats of the International Working Men’s Association nominated him to the General Council. They sought him out as best suited for the position to make an impact. Karl Marx inspired his followers to the extent that they wanted to carry out his vision. His followers had faith in his words and were eager to hear more about his beliefs. The Communist League even commissioned him and Friedrich Engels to write The Communist Manifesto (Jones, 2016). Before his death, he was able to see his efforts in political change pay off thanks to the help of his dedicated followers.
Although Karl Marx had dedicated followers, his mass influence did not peak until after he died. Less than a century after his death, Karl Marx’s brutal, cold, cut reflection of capitalism had turned society on its head. Countries like Russia showed their allegiance to Karl Marx’s ideology during the Cold War against the United States. Karl Marx’s writing not only embodied his vision but his leadership. His efforts to persuade and encourage the proletariats to be conscious and take action is prominent in his writing.
His vision had even spread to the East and was revered by many state officials, particularly in China, Vietnam, and North Korea. Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh are examples of successful leaders who used Karl Marx’s approach to advocate for political change. In turn, Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh influenced their followers in China and Vietnam to follow Karl Marx’s ideology. Til this day, Karl Marx’s ideology continues to impact political governments. Specifically, China’s communist government embraces Karl Marx’s ideology. Citizens of China are impacted by Karl Marx’s leadership and scholarly journals from centuries ago. His face is plastered on posters and is still studied in school. Even the universal term Marxism was coined to describe Karl Marx’s ideology and has been embedded into modern language.
Now, Karl Marx’s ideology continues to evolve as one of the most debated political, social, and economic theories. Karl Marx knew that change would not come immediately from his leadership, but that society would take centuries to develop into its final stage. That is why Karl Marx spent most of his life transcribing his leadership and ideology into tangible scholarly artifacts that now anyone could access.
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