Man, Alienation and the Vision of Communism While marxism is not a humanism in the sense of assuming the theoretical priority of man over society, its raison d'etre is a concern with man's potential, both as individual and group. In that famous early statement, The German Ideology, where Marx and Engels clarified their views in a criticism of the Young Hegelians and contemporary Utopian socialists, they wrote:

The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. (GI, p. 31)

In everything Marx wrote, whether the early Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 or the Capital (1867) of his maturity, there is protest against the present state of man and affirmation of belief in his future. The object of his prodigous labours was an attempt to understand the world in order to change it.