Tribute to Karl Marx

Often described as one of the most influential figures in human history the German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx sadly passed away on this day 14th March in 1883.

His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto  and Capital; some of his works were co-written with his friend and fellow German revolutionary socialist, Friedrich Engels.   Born into a wealthy middle class family in Trier, formerly in Prussian Rhineland now called Rhineland-Palatinate, Marx studied at both the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin, where he became interested in, but critical of, the work of the German philosopher G.W.F Hegel , whose ideas were widely debated amongst European philosophical circles at the time. He became involved with a group of radical thinkers known as the Young Hegelians, who gathered around Ludwig Feuerbach and Bruno Bauer. Like Marx, the Young Hegelians were critical of Hegel’s metaphysical assumptions,

. In 1836, he became engaged to Jenny von Westphalen, marrying her in 1843. After his studies, he wrote for a radical newspaper in Cologne, and began to work out his theory of dialectical materialism. Moving to Paris in 1843, he began writing for other radical newspapers. He met Engels in Paris, and the two men worked together on a series of books. Exiled to Brussels, he became a leading figure of the Communist League, before moving back to Cologne, where he founded his own newspaper. In 1849 he was exiled again and moved to London together with his wife and children. In London, where the family was reduced to poverty, Marx continued writing and formulating his theories about the nature of society and how he believed it could be improved, and also campaigned for socialism—he became a significant figure in the International Workingmen’s Association.

Marx’s theories about society, economics and politics—collectively known as Marxism—hold that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labour for such goods. Heavily critical of the current socio-economic form of society, capitalism, he called it the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”, believing it to be run by the wealthy classes purely for their own benefit, and predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, it would inevitably produce internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system, socialism. He argued that under socialism society would be governed by the working class in what he called the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, the “workers state” or “workers’ democracy”. He believed that socialism would, in its turn, eventually be replaced by a stateless, classless society called communism. Along with believing in the inevitability of socialism and communism, Marx actively fought for the former’s implementation, arguing that both social theorists and underprivileged people should carry out organised revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic change.   Revolutionary socialist governments espousing Marxist concepts took power in a variety of countries in the 20th century, leading to the formation of such socialist states as the Soviet Union in 1922 and the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Many labor unions and worker’s parties worldwide were also influenced by Marxist ideas. Various theoretical variants, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism and Maoism, were developed. Marx is typically cited, with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science.

As a result Marx is widely thought of as one of the most influential thinkers in history, and had a significant influence on both world politics and intellectual thought, and in a 1999 BBC poll was voted the top “thinker of the millennium”. Robert C. Tucker credits Marx with profoundly affecting ideas about history, society, economics, culture and politics, and the nature of social inquiry. Marx’s biographer Francis Wheen considers the “history of the twentieth century” to be “Marx’s legacy”, whilst philosopher Peter Singer believes that Marx’s impact can be compared with that of the founders of the two major world religions, Jesus Christ and Muhammad. Singer notes that “Marx’s ideas brought about modern sociology, transformed the study of history, and profoundly affected philosophy, literature and the arts.” Paul Ricœur calls Marx one of the masters of the “school of suspicion”, alongside Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Philip Stokes says that Marx’s ideas led to him becoming “the darling of both European and American intellectuals up until the 1960s”. Marx has influenced disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology, media studies, political science, theater, history, sociological theory, cultural studies, education, economics, geography, literary criticism, aesthetics, critical psychology, and philosophy.   The reasons for Marx’s widespread influence revolve around his ethical message; a “morally empowering language of critique” against the dominant capitalist society. No other body of work was so relevant to the modern times, and at the same time, so outspoken about the need for change. In the political realm, Marx’s ideas led to the establishment of governments using Marxist thought to replace capitalism with communism or socialism (or augment it with market socialism) across much of the world, whilst his intellectual thought has heavily influenced the academic study of the humanities and the arts.

E=MC2

Often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history, German-born theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, Albert Einstein was born this day March 14th, 1879 in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire

He is best known for developing the theory of general relativity, E = mc2, which was revolutionary in physics. For this achievement  he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. The latter being pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics.   Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole.

He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, and did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the U.S., becoming a citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he helped alert President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might be developing an atomic weapon, and recommended that the U.S. begin similar research; this eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein was in support of defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced using the new discovery of nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, together with Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.   During his life Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. His great intelligence and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with genius. In 1922, Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. This refers to his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”, which was well supported by the experimental evidence of that time. The presentation speech began by mentioning “his theory of relativity which had been the subject of lively debate in philosophical circles and also has astrophysical implications.

Awards & Legacy

Einstein also won many awards for his work, including the he Max Planck medal of the German Physical Society In 1929, for extraordinary achievements in theoretical physics. In 1936, Einstein was also awarded the Franklin Institute’s Franklin Medal for his extensive work on relativity and the photo-electric effect. The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics also named 2005 the “World Year of Physics” in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of the annus mirabilis papers.   The Albert Einstein Science Park is located on the hill Telegrafenberg in Potsdam, Germany. The best known building in the park is the Einstein Tower which has a bronze bust of Einstein at the entrance. The Tower is an astrophysical observatory that was built to perform checks of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

The Albert Einstein Memorial in central Washington, D.C. is a monumental bronze statue depicting Einstein seated with manuscript papers in hand. The statue, commissioned in 1979, is located in a grove of trees at the southwest corner of the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue.   In 1999 Time magazine named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century, ahead of Mahatma Gandhi and Franklin Roosevelt, among others. In the words of a biographer, “to the scientifically literate and the public at large, Einstein is synonymous with genius”. Also in 1999, an opinion poll of 100 leading physicists ranked Einstein the “greatest physicist ever”. A Gallup poll recorded him as the fourth most admired person of the 20th century in the U.S. In 1990, his name was added to the Walhalla temple for “laudable and distinguished Germans”, which is located east of Regensburg, in Bavaria, Germany. The United States Postal Service also honoured Einstein with a Prominent Americans series (1965–1978) 8¢ postage stamp and In 2008, Einstein was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody candles out!”

Cockney actor Michael Caine was born on this day 14th March in 1933. He is one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s, the other being Jack Nicholson. In 2000, Caine was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his contribution to cinema.

Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in St Olave’s Hospital, Rotherhithe, Southwark in South East London, during the Second World War he was evacuated to North Runcton near King’s Lynn in Norfolk. After the war, when his father was demobilised, the family was rehoused by the council in Marshall Gardens at the Elephant and Castle in a pre-fabricated house. In 1944, he passed his eleven plus exam, winning a scholarship to Hackney Downs Grocers’ School. After a year there he moved to Wilson’s Grammar School in Camberwell (now Wilson’s School in Wallington, South London), which he left at sixteen after gaining a School Certificate in six subjects.

Caine’s acting career began at the age of 20 in Horsham, Sussex when he responded to an advertisement in The Stage for an assistant stage manager who would also perform small walk-on parts for the Horsham-based Westminster Repertory Company who were performed at the Carfax Electric Theatre. In July 1953 he was cast as the drunkard Hindley in the Company’s production of Wuthering Heights. He moved to the Lowestoft Repertory Company in Suffolk for a year when he was 22. It was here that he met his first wife. He has described the first nine years of his career as “really really brutal.” When his career took him to London after his provincial apprenticeship, his agent informed him that there was already a Michael Scott treading the boards in London and that he had to come up with a new name immediately. Speaking to his agent from a telephone box in Leicester Square, London, he looked around for inspiration, noted that The Caine Mutiny was being shown at the Odeon Cinema, and decided to change his name to “Michael Caine”. (Humphrey Bogart was his “screen idol” and he would later play a part originally intended for Bogart in John Huston’s film “The Man Who Would Be King”.

A big break came for Caine when he was cast as Meff in James Saunders’ Cockney comedy Next Time I’ll Sing To You, when this play was presented at the New Arts Theatre in London on 23 January 1963. When this play moved to the Criterion in Piccadilly with Michael Codron directing, he was visited backstage by Stanley Baker, his co-star in A Hill In Korea, who told him about the part of a Cockney corporal in his upcoming movie Zulu, a film Baker was producing and starring in. Baker told Caine to visit the director, Cy Endfield,

who informed him that he already had given the part to James Booth, a fellow Cockney who was Caine’s friend, because he looked more Cockney than Caine did. After dozens of minor TV roles, Caine finally entered the public eye as the upper class British Army officer Gonville Bromhead in Zulu.

Subsequently, Caine’s agent got him cast in the BBC production Hamlet at Elsinore (1964) as Horatio in support of Christopher Plummer’s Hamlet. Horatio was the only classical role Caine, who had never received dramatic training, would ever play.

After working on The Italian Job with Noël Coward, and a solid role as RAF fighter pilot Squadron Leader Canfield in the all-star cast of Battle of Britain, both made in 1969, Caine played the lead in Get Carter (1971), a British gangster film. Caine was busy with successes including Sleuth (1972) opposite Laurence Olivier, and The Man Who Would Be King (1975) co-starring Sean Connery and directed by John Huston (which he has stated will be the film he wishes to be remembered for after his death). In 1976 he appeared in the screen adaptation by Tom Mankiewicz of the Jack Higgins novel The Eagle Has Landed as Oberst (Colonel) Kurt Steiner, the commander of a Luftwaffe paratroop brigade disguised as Polish paratroopers, whose mission was to kidnap or kill the then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, alongside co-stars Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter, and Donald Pleasence. Subsequently in 1978, he starred in The Silver Bears, an adaptation of Paul Erdman’s 1974 novel of the same name. Caine also was part of an all-star cast in the film “A Bridge Too Far” (1977).

By the end of the decade, he had moved to the United States, but his choice of roles was often criticised — he admitted to and has since made many self-deprecating comments about taking parts, strictly for the money, in numerous films he knew to be bad, despite working with Hollywood’s highly regarded directors such as Irwin Allen, Richard Fleischer, Michael Ritchie and Oliver Stone. Caine was averaging two films a year, but these included such failures as the BAFTA Award-nominated The Magus (1968), the Academy Award-nominated The Swarm (1978), Ashanti (1979) (which he claimed were the worst three films of all the other worst films he ever made), Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979), The Island (1980), The Hand (1981) and a reunion with his Sleuth co-star Laurence Olivier in The Jigsaw Man. Caine also took better roles, including a BAFTA-winning turn in Educating Rita (1983), and an Oscar-winning one in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and a Golden Globe-nominated one in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988).

The 1990s were a lean time for Caine, as he found good parts harder to come by, however His performance in 1998’s Little Voice was seen as something of a return to form, and won him a Golden Globe Award. Better parts followed, including The Cider House Rules (1999), for which he won his second Oscar.

In the 2000s, Caine appeared in Miss Congeniality, Last Orders, The Quiet American, for which he was Oscar-nominated, and others that helped rehabilitate his reputation. Several of Caine’s classic films have been remade, including The Italian Job, Get Carter, Alfie and Sleuth. In the 2007 remake of Sleuth, Caine took over the role Laurence Olivier played in the 1972 version and Jude Law played Caine’s original role. Caine also starred in Austin Powers in Goldmember as Austin’s father and in 2003 he co-starred with Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions. He also appeared in the films Children of Men, The Prestige and Flawless,  as well as starring in the British drama Is Anybody There?, which explores the final days of life.

In 2005, he was cast as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins, Directed by Christopher Nolan, while in 2008 he reprised his role as Alfred in Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman sequel, The Dark Knight and is also in the forthcoming film The Dark Night Rises, alongside Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway.

Caine has been Oscar-nominated six times, winning his first Academy Award for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters, and his second in 1999 for The Cider House Rules, in both cases as a supporting actor. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in the 2000 New Year Honours he was knighted as Sir Maurice Micklewhite CBE. On 5 January 2011, he was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France’s culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand. In 2008, he was awarded the prize for Outstanding Contribution to Showbusiness at the Variety Club Awards.