Karl Marx: 10 great quotes on his birthday

May 5 marks the birthday of Karl Marx. Best known as the author of "Capital" and, with Freidrich Engels, the "Communist Manifesto," Marx provided the intellectual foundation for an array of regimes that at one time governed nearly half of Earth's population.

These regimes were, for many, a long nightmare of state terror, genocides, deportations, extrajudicial executions, forced labor, and artificial scarcity, crimes that left tens of millions of people dead and deprived many more of basic dignity. 

But while Marx's solutions are widely and rightfully condemned, his analysis still resonates among workers and intellectuals alike around the world. As much of the globe struggles to extricate itself from an economic slowdown that many believe was created by the excesses of what Marx called "the bourgeoisie," several Marxist concepts – the anarchic nature of capitalism, the parasitism of the financial class, and the reserve army of the unemployed, to name a few – appear to take on new relevance. 

Here are 10 quotations from Marx. Let us know which ones you like best, and add your favorites that didn't make it into the list in the comments below.

1.On 'the 99 percent'

Karl Heinrich Marx, shown here in 1875 (International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, Netherlands/Public domain)

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths." (From "The Communist Manifesto," 1848)

On Ponzi schemes

Financier Bernie Madoff exits Manhattan federal court in New York in 2009. (Louis Lanzano/AP/File)

"In every stockjobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbor, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety." (From "Capital: Critique of Political Economy," 1867)

On slacking off at work

(Thierry Roge/ReutersFile)

"Capital is dead labor, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the laborer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labor-power he has purchased of him. 

"If the laborer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist." (From "Capital")

On worker protections

In 2010, Luis Urzua, the last of 33 Chilean gold and copper miners to be rescued after being trapped for more than two months underground, gestures as Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, right, looks on. (Alex Ibanez/Chilean Presidential Press Office/AP)

"Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society." (From "Capital")

On religion

An Egyptian woman attends Friday prayers before a rally in Tahrir Square to denounce the presidential candidacies of Hosni Mubarak-era officials, in April, 2012. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

"Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." (From the "Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right," 1843)

On drudgery

In this April 2012 photo young workers use sewing machines at a garment factory in Yangon, Myanmar. (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

"The fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself." (From "Estranged Labour," 1844)

On consumerism

FILE - In this Oct. 2011 photo, a man holds up an iPhone 4S in front of an Apple Store location in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP/File)

"Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it – when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc., – in short, when it is used by us. Although private property itself again conceives all these direct realisations of possession only as means of life, and the life which they serve as means is the life of private property – labour and conversion into capital." (From "Private Property and Communism," 1844)

On the mainstream media

U.S. President Barack Obama stands next to Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler and White House Correspondents Association President and Reuters correspondent Caren Bohan as he attends the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner in Washington, in April 2012. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas." (From "The German Ideology," 1845)

On not wanting to be pigeonholed

A Kashmiri fisherman is reflected in the waters of Dal Lake as he throws a net to catch fish in Srinagar on May Day, 2012. (Fayaz Kabli/Reuters/File)

"For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic and must remain so if he does not wish to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic." (From "The German Ideology")

On Marxism

Activist of Sri Lanka's Marxist political party, the People's Liberation Front push carts with portraits of Communist leaders, from left, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Rohana Wijeweera during a street march to celebrate May Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2012. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)

"If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist." (Quoted by Friedrich Engels, in a letter to Eduard Bernstein, 1882)