Hess, Moses, 1812–75, German socialist. He was responsible for converting Engels to Communism, and he early introduced Marx to social and economic problems. Hess played a prominent role in transforming Hegelian theory by conceiving of man as the initiator of history rather than as a mere observer. He was reluctant to base all human destiny on economic causes and class struggle, and he came to see the struggle of races, or nationalities, as the prime factor of past history. In Rom und Jerusalem (1862, tr. 1958) he declared that the freeing and uniting of humanity was the mission of the Jewish people and urged the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
See biography by S. Avineri (1987).