Theory & Struggle

Marx and the British working class

The class ‘of itself’ and the class ‘for itself’

Theory & Struggle (2020), 121, (1), 2–9.

Abstract

This article examines the evolution of Karl Marx’s understanding of class and class consciousness in light of his encounters with the British working-class movement, specifically his first visit to England in 1845 and his experience of the disintegration of the Chartist movement in the 1850s. It argues that the development of Marx’s understanding of the working class as an active force for social transformation, and his distinction between a class ‘of itself’ and ‘for itself’ in 1846-47, was strongly influenced by his reading of Friedrich Engels’s Condition of the Working Class in England (1845) and his subsequent meetings in Manchester.

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Author details

Foster, John