Marx - Genius Of The Modern World

Confirmed for BBC Four on 16 June at 9pm to 10pm

Ep 1/3

Thursday 16 June



Historian Bettany Hughes retraces the lives of three great thinkers whose ideas shaped the modern world: Karl Marx, Frederick Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

Born in the 19th century, they lived through a time when old certainties were breaking down. Regimes were overthrown by mass uprisings, science was undermining religious authority. Their challenge was to figure out what makes us human in a fast-evolving world.

In this first episode Bettany investigates the revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx.

Born to an affluent Prussian family, Marx became an angry, idealistic radical, constantly on the run for his political agitating and incendiary writing.

In Paris he first formulated his explosive analysis of capitalism and its corrosive effects on human nature. In Brussels he co-authored the Communist Manifesto with Frederick Engels. In London his obsessive theorizing dragged his family into poverty, and tragedy.

Marx’s masterpiece Das Capital was largely overlooked in his lifetime, and only 11 people attended his funeral. Yet his ideas would generate one of the most influential, and divisive ideologies in history.

Drawing on expert opinion, and new evidence, Bettany reveals the flesh-and-blood man and his groundbreaking ideas.

Produced in partnership with The Open University.