Connections between Carlyle and Marx–the Plight of the Working Class

What are the similarities and differences between Thomas Carlyle’s “Past and Present” and Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”?

As I was reading this chapter of Carlyle’s work, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Marx’s “Manifesto” and could not help but to draw some connections. While I don’t think Carlyle was a communist by any means, I think it is very interesting to note his similarity to great and famous authors of his time, and after doing a quick google search, I discovered that Carlyle’s “Past and Present” was published in 1843, while Karl’s “Manifesto” was published in 1848, meaning the authors were writing about the exact same time period and probably saw the same problems with society and the working conditions of the people around them. One thing that both authors seem to be concerned with (other than the conditions of the working poor) is the idea of isolation in the workplace, Carlyle states that “Isolation is the sum-total wretchedness to man” and Marx explains in his “Manifesto” that people are being isolated in the workplace, and are thus becoming sub-human. Another similarity between the two works is the idea that workers need to rebell against the harsh working conditions they’re experiencing, when Carlyle addresses the workers in his work he states “ye noble Workers, warriors in the one true war,” by likening their plight to war it is clear that he implies the need for a revolution, and of course Marx’s “Manifesto” strongly encouraged a complete and total revolution.

5 thoughts on “Connections between Carlyle and Marx–the Plight of the Working Class

  1. Not sure what is being referred to here. There is this line in The Manifesto (in English translation): “The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to association.” This would seem to make the opposite point from the one being made in the post above.

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