Karl Marx was not necessarily the last of the philosophes, but in contrast, he could easily be seen as the death of the philosophes. Karl Marx was avidly opposed to anything having to do with reform, instead, he advocated the revolution of the proletariat. All of the eighteenth century philosophes were in support of reform through already established governments in order to implement their own ideas. Karl Marx was influenced by, but directly opposed to the political reform strategies and the internal reform ideas of the French Socialists. Marx believed that only revolution could cause true reform through destroying the social class structure. Piecemeal reforms would not be able to transform society because the class struggles that permeated throughout history were never accidental factors, but class struggle was in itself deliberate, and the proletariat would have to become class-conscious in order to overcome their oppressive existence.
None of the philosophes brought that much complexity into their political ideals solely because they were reformist in nature according to Marx’s taste. He was influenced by them, yet he understood that he would have to oppose all of their ideas in order for him to create what he thought was the correct intellectual agenda and ultimately achieve the revolution of the proletariat. However, Marx conducted political writing and research in the very same ways that French philosophes such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau did. He used a variety of directly opposing views as his resources, and he wrote his agendas in such an authoritative manner that would be reminiscent of Rousseau. However, Marx’s nullification of all past political works including the philosophes and his radical, purely working class rhetoric would have been bizarrely foreign to the Enlightenment philosophers, and thus Marx only had abstract connections to them.
Marx’s theories were purely working class and revolutionary in manner. Marx was indeed, the beginning of a new era in political writers who would write according to their own analyzations of events around them, (such as Marx’s reactions to the revolutions of 1848). Marx utilized his own interpretations of Hegelian historical analysis in order to define and point out class struggle in the world around him. Although Karl Marx absorbed influences and styles from the aforementioned great philosophers of the preceding century, his work can be more accurately interpreted in view of his contemporary surroundings.