Freud and Marx: Theoreticians in Search of Followers

          Although Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born 38 years before Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and died 56 years before him, their ideas had quite different histories of academic influence, especially as they concerned interpretation of literature.  Freud's ideas found more broad acceptance during his lifetime.  Perhaps because Marx's ideas threatened the very structure of Euro-American capitalist states, Marx became a polarizing figure whose active political life occupied a great deal of his energies, until in his later years he turned to a more theoretical analysis of societies, economics, and cultural systems.  After his move London (1849, until his death), Marx's pursuit of active political influence gradually gave way to analytic writings which would form part of the foundations of sociology (with Weber and Durkheim).  The political theories which contributed to the Russian Revolution and others in the early twentieth century have lost much of their force, as have Freud's claims to know the structure of the human unconscious.  Just as Freud's basic intuition that there was more to the mind than "rational" vs. "irrational" or "emotional" behavior, Marx's fundamental theoretical belief in the importance of material circumstances and historical conditions have been central to modern socio-economic analysis of cultures, and their literature.  A comparison of their publication history will give some sense of their parallel influence--Freud attempting to save the world by turning human attention inward to explore our minds' hidden secrets, which he believed would control our behaviors and perceptions, and Marx attempting to save the world by turning our attention outward toward the physical conditions into which each of us is born, which he also believed would (mostly secretly) control our behaviors and perceptions.  Perhaps, rather than trying to choose between them, you might try using each in alternation to see which provides the better explanation of a given set of evidence.

Karl Marx's Publications 
(Note two of Marx's major works were published posthumously, which led to a delayed adoption of his ideas by academic textual interpreters.)
Sigmund Freud's Publications
(Note Freud's publication of most of his works in his own lifetime while he could defend and try to control their significance.)

1842-48 a series of newspaper articles written for the German press in which he explored the concept of "historical materialism" (we are the products of our economic and historical circumstances) and his belief that religions were instruments by which the state controled human consciousness.  (Note that German cities levied taxes specifically to support their churches, which made "church and state" almost indivisible.)

1844 (with Frederick Engels) The German Ideology  (written in '44, not published until 1932, outlines a systematic analysis of German political culture as a starting point for analysis of all European cultures.

1848 (with Frederick Engels) The Communist Manifesto  (his first major influential work in print, arguing the inevitability of a worker's revolt against the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie who maintain aristos in power).

[1849 Banished from Germany--takes up residence in London, with Engels' financial support]

1867 (published posthumously, 1887) Capital: A Critique of Political Economy  (a major foundation text for sociology and political science, it argued that all value was rooted in the labor cost to produce it, and that capitalism intentionally produced surplus value by unfairly exploiting laborers so that this surplus value could support the unproductive lives of their bourgeois and aristocratic rulers).

1895, Studies in Hysteria (with Josef Breuer), (introduces the concept of unconscious causation based on the work of William James and others)

1900, The Interpretation of Dreams, (introduces the "repression" of the unconscious drives and displacement/condensation as the "dreamwork" processes for evading the censor, calling the analysis of dreams "the royal road to the unconscious")

1901, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, (develops the "neurosis" diagnosis of unconscious repetitions of coping mechanisms as distinct from "psychoses" which debilitate)

1905, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, (introduces "infant sexuality," the "family romance," and the influence of childhood fixation on the opposite-sex parent on adult sexuality)

1909, Lecture tour of the United States, results in publication of Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1916 (popularizes the idea that everyone would benefit from undergoing psychoanalysis to better understand the drives and neuroses which govern their minds)

1923, The Ego and the Id,  (fully develops the tripartite model of the mind as ego, id, and super-ego)