His teachings continue to inspire, challenge and scandalize people throughout the world. Two hundred years after his birth, the documentary "Who Was Karl Marx?" examines the life of this infamous German philosopher, and explores why his controversial theories continue to resonate to this day.
The film continuously shifts its narrative from Marx's personal journey to the modern-day settings that continue to embrace his philosophy. In the process, it shines a spotlight on the contradictory perceptions of Marx throughout the world, and why his divisive teachings haven't lost their power to engage a significant segment of the working class.
Marx's socialist ideals were wrought from the Industrial Revolution. Wearied by evidence of deplorable working conditions, Marx suggested that it was only a matter of time before the working class mounted a revolt against the capitalist system. He envisioned a society free from the shackles and disadvantages of class.
Idolized by some and scorned by others, Marx's popularity has ebbed and flowed for two centuries. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2007, his socialist principles found a newly energized foothold. In China, his resurgence has been particularly robust. Marxist propaganda fills the airwaves, infiltrates print media, and even serves as the basis of a popular game show.
The relevance of Marx is not limited to one region, however. It can be felt in France, the United States and other countries where the class divide continues to widen. As more citizens find themselves struggling through poverty, homelessness, unfair wage disparities and overall disillusionment, some have found their hope and inspiration within the tenants of Marxist philosophy.
The film is not blind to the criticisms of this philosophy, and the potential pitfalls of putting it into practice. We hear from several detractors of Marx - not necessarily those who fall in the strictly pro-capitalist margins, but others who find fault in his naiveté and questionable ethics. Some feel that they will forever contend with a capitalist structure. Others are challenging the Marxist philosophy by attempting to redefine it for a modern age.
"Who Was Karl Marx?" provides well reasoned insights into an often vilified subject.