The Manifesto of the Communist Party, one of the most important political documents in the history of the world, begins with the prophetic words “A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism.” This brief book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand modern European history.
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About the Author
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist and journalist. In Paris he met his lifelong friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), the son of a Manchester factory owner and author of groundbreaking essays on the social conditions of the working class in Britain.
Yanis Varoufakis is an economist and academic, a bestselling author, and the former finance minister of Greece. He is a co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025. His books include And the Weak Suffer What They Must? and Talking to My Daughter About the Economy.
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MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
A SPECTRE is haunting Europe--the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact.
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers to be itself a Power.
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London, and sketched the following Manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.
I. BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS*
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master* and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms: Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.
From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.
The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.
The feudal system of industry, under which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.
Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry, the place of the industrial middle class, by industrial millionaires, the leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.
Modern industry has established the world-market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.
Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the mediaeval commune,* here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany), there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France), afterwards, in the period of manufacture proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, corner-stone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world-market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom--Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-labourers.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which Reactionists so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man's activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.
The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.
The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier and one customs-tariff.
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground--what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?
We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.
Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted to it, and by the economical and political sway of the bourgeois class.
A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity--the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.
But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons--the modern working class--the proletarians.
In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed--a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piece-meal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of the machinery, etc.
Excerpted from "The Communist Manifesto"
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Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
"the greatest charter of our movement." Rosa Luxemburg "an integral and systematic exposition of [Marx's] doctrine ... the best to this day." Lenin "laid the foundation for modern socialism." Karl Kautsky
Reading Group Guide
For much of the twentieth century, The Communist Manifesto was accepted as doctrine by those living under Communist rule as well as by those caught up in the fervor of revolutionary political activity, while others considered it a piece of propaganda of interest mainly to scholars of political history and international relations. But the Manifesto is really an extended set of provocative answers to questions about Communism, which emerged in the 1840s as a new vision of history and the nature of humans as historical beings, determined in all aspects by the material conditions of society. And as a work that places so much importance on the connection between ideas and artifacts and their historical moment, it has its own history.
In June 1848, less than six months after the Manifesto's first publication, Marx advocated shelving the document and disbanding the Communist League, which had requested in late 1847 that Marx and Engels write the Manifesto. After the widespread and unsuccessful revolutionary activity across Europe earlier in the year, it was already clear to Marx that the immediacy of the program outlined in the Manifesto could not well serve the political and social conditions of the times. Over the next twenty years, the Manifesto was largely disregarded. In the 1870s, with Marx prominent in the international socialist movement, the Manifesto came to be honored more as a document of symbolic historic significance than as a viable plan of action. By then, the vehement call to revolution in the Manifesto had been superseded by the move to accommodate different class interests within and through existing political structures, best exemplified by the flourishing of labor unions and reform legislation.
The Manifesto did not achieve canonical status as the essential informing document of the world Communist revolution until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia and the rise of Lenin. Treated for decades as a piece of writing imbedded in an era long past, the Manifesto came to be regarded as a perennial outline of political direction. Like sacred scripture, it engendered a body of orthodox interpretation, carefully constructed to fit to the changing world scene what were considered its universal propositions.
But what of the intrinsic qualities of the Manifesto? What assures that it will be read and discussed regardless of political circumstances? In part 2, Marx and Engels assert, "The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes" (p. 234-235). Marx and Engels, it would seem, intended the Manifesto not only to make clear to the world the political positions and views of Communists, in order to dispel the specter of misconception, but to also describe the causes and directions of historical change as manifested through the clear-eyed view of Communists.
In brief form, the Manifesto presents nothing less than a unified theory of historical dynamics, with class struggle as the central motive and all manifestations of politics and culture, including art and literature, derived from the prevailing system of material production. This gives way to an almost exuberant characterization of capitalist productive achievement that still holds our attention as a completely recognizable portrait of the relentless drive of modern industry and trade. Set against capitalism's wonders is the human cost of being subject to a system that drains personal incentive, wears out the body and mind, and results in profound alienation from the value of one's productive activities. The plight of the proletariat forces us to consider the harrowing condition of humanity stripped of all comforting illusions: "...man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind" (p. 223).
But Marx and Engels ultimately are concerned with the advent of a world in which the conditions of life will be uniformly benign and in which human relations will be in some way improved. What would be the moral basis of such a world? Marx and Engels claim that "Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis" (p. 242). In the end, readers of the Manifesto must confront a paradox that arises whenever we conceive of the individual as largely determined by circumstances. For the Manifesto is both a prediction of an inevitable course of history and a rallying cry to act in a certain way for the purpose of bringing about change and improvement. How to act autonomously in a world determined by forces more powerful than the individual is a timeless question.
ABOUT KARL MARX AND FRIEDRICH ENGELS
Karl Marx was born in 1818 to a professional family in Prussia with liberal political leanings, which, at that time, were likely to attract police surveillance. After a vigorous academic career at the University of Berlin, where he was influenced by the historical doctrines of the philosopher Hegel, Marx became editor of a radical newspaper in Cologne, which was soon suppressed. He then left with his new wife for Paris, where he began to meet with Communist organizations of French and German workers and formulate his socialist views.
Friedrich Engels, born in 1820, came from a family of affluent industrialists and quickly developed a capacity for leading a double life. While successfully tending to family business interests as manager of and partner in textile factories in Germany, and later in Manchester, England, he pursued his involvement in revolutionary politics through writing and meeting with radical workers' groups. In 1844, he published his classic study of the social ravages of industrialized society, The Condition of the Working Class in England.
Marx and Engels began their lifelong partnership to establish what has become known as Marxist Communism during a ten-day visit in Paris in 1844. Marx once remarked that their enemies used the singular verb when speaking of "Marx-Engels." However, though joined by their mutual commitment to the cause of revolutionary socialism, they were very different in temperament and background. Engels was brisk and lighthearted, with all the social refinements of a bourgeois gentleman, while Marx was the stereotype of the ponderous scholar—slow, careful, and somber. Though he lived in London for thirty-four years, Marx never learned to speak English fluently; Engels was fluent in more than a dozen languages.
In 1847, Engels helped organize the Communist League in London; the following year, he and Marx drafted a statement of principles for this group, Manifesto of the Communist Party. By this time, Marx had moved to Brussels after a series of expulsions from France and Germany. After the unsuccessful European revolutions of 1848, which occurred immediately after the publication of the Manifesto, Marx returned to Germany to edit a newspaper. When this failed, he settled permanently in London in 1849. Earning very little from his writing and dependent on the generosity of Engels, Marx pursued his studies in economic and social history in the library at the British Museum. During fourteen years of isolation from politics, he began to write a series of books on economic theory. The culmination of these writings was his greatest work, Capital, for which Engels provided essential information about business practices and industrial operations.
With the founding of the International Working Men's Association in 1864, Marx emerged from obscurity to be a leading spirit in the movement to unite workers across political boundaries, one of the goals professed sixteen years earlier in theManifesto. After the Paris Commune was crushed in 1870, Marx became an internationally known figure, declaring, "Its martyrs are enshrined forever in the great heart of the working class." After Marx's death in 1883, Engels used his considerable social and writing skills and persuasive abilities to popularize their mutual views. Until his death in 1895, he was generally regarded as the foremost authority on the body of economic and social theory known as Marxism.
- Why do Marx and Engels believe the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat will have a different result from all previous class struggles in recorded history?
- Why do Marx and Engels claim that the bourgeoisie inevitably produces its own gravediggers?
- What do Marx and Engels mean when they describe the proletariat as a revolutionary class?
- What do Marx and Engels mean when they say that capital has individuality but living persons do not? Is this true of members of the bourgeoisie as well as the proletariat?
- Why does a manifesto of the Communist party place such strong emphasis on the remarkable achievements of bourgeois capitalism?
- Why do Marx and Engels assume there is a strong affinity between the grievances of the workers and the aims of Communism?
- What gives Communists an advantage over the proletariat in understanding the conditions, direction, and general results of the proletarian movement?
- What evidence do Marx and Engels give for their claim that human consciousness—ideas, views, and conceptions—changes with every change in material existence?
- Why do Marx and Engels insist that the abolition of private property is central to revolutionary change?
- If one of the early stages of the proletarian revolution is a despotism of the working class, as Marx and Engels assert, what assures that this order will give way to a free, classless society?
- Why do Marx and Engels reject the possibility that existing social and political systems can be reformed?
- In part 3 of the Manifesto, why do Marx and Engels advocate supporting the bourgeoisie in Germany when it acts in a revolutionary way, instead of advocating direct support of the proletariat in its class struggle?
- Is it possible to define human needs, values, and goals outside the material conditions of a society?
- How could a historical process, governed not by ideals but by the clash of materially contending interests ("the class struggle"), lead to a morally desirable result?
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843) and Hard Times (1854)
The popular Christmas story can be read in light of what is referred to in the Manifesto as "conservative, or bourgeois, socialism"—the attempt to ameliorate the misery of the working class through charitable works. Published soon after theManifesto, Hard Times portrays the conditions in mid-nineteenth-century industrial England that provoked Marx and Engels's critique of capitalism.
V. I. Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)
The chief architect of the Russian Revolution draws on the work of Marx and Engels to substantiate the imminent seizing of power and establishing of a proletarian dictatorship.
Karl Marx, Capital (1867)
This work elucidates the revolutionary implications of the capitalist system of production and argues that its demise is an inevitable consequence of its own development.
Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945)
This signal work of social philosophy includes a searching critique of Marx's theory of historical inevitability, arguing that it contains principles antithetical to the values of modern, liberal democracies.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755)
This essay speculates that the establishment of private property underlies civil society and is the root cause of all social inequalities and class differences. Rousseau's sentiments fed the fervor of revolutionaries and socialists, including Marx and Engels, for a century.
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)
In graphic detail, this novel of social realism depicts the brutalizing effects of industrial production on the lives of workers in the Chicago stockyards. Like the Manifesto, it conveys the impressive efficiency of capitalism while deploring its human cost.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For those people who are confused by communism or opposed to it, I highly encourage you to read this remarkable text to understand what it is. Many people still debate about how "communism" has been practiced in the world and how it has had devastating effects on socity. Communism, in fact, has yet to be practiced. By reading this text, you will be able to clearly understand what Marx had in mind, and you will be able to discuss his political theory with an education and understanding. Don't let your opinions on communism be formed by what the skeptics say! This work, including others of Marx, illustrate what his ideas are and one will see that the "communism" that has been put into practice doesn't resemble his ideals at all!
I really enjoyed this pamphlet. As a teenager, I know that kids today are raised with "communism is evil, capitalism is good, and that's that" without being explained to what exactly they are, and why one is considered bad, and the other good. this book is sometimes kinda boring at parts and hard to understand, mostly due to the vocabulary, but other times is wonderful, enlightening, and makes you upset about current society. you'll find yourself thinking, hmm communism is a good idea! i suggest this book to everybody frustrated with capitalism. WORKINGMEN OF ALL NATIONS, UNITE!
The Communist Manifesto is probably the most misinterpreted and misused book in history, (probably second to the Bible). Though it may need few revisions to be applicable to the 21st Century global economy, the core message remains universal and timeless. Marx says that if globalisation is inevitable, workers must rise up to see to it that it serves for the best interests of all humanity. Though he wanted socialism to be established as a phase in fully industialised countries, history had other plans leading to the 1917 revolution in the backward feudal Russian Empire. Manay praise this book, a few curse it, but no one can ignore it. Simply, timeless.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were simply products of their time. They observed the opression of obvious capitalist England. Though the care of the working class has greatly improved, they are still treated, to scale, like trash. Marx and Engels show human nature and how no one will stay opressed, in theory. The ideas of the book are great but in todays capitalism it would be a imposiblity for a socialist/Marxist reform. Of course Marx or Engels couldnt have known how strong capitalism would have become,nevertheless, the book still has very strong points to be made about the working class. I heard from a earlier reviewer that one of the 'paradoxes' was that once the proletarian took power they wouldn't elect a leader and hand over power. The reviewers point was that due to human nature no one would just give up the power they fought for. Not many revoluitions have been succesfully carried out and sustained by the working class but one comes to mind and that is the French Revolution ( the second part). And the working class did give over power. So theres some historical evidence to back up this book. I would suggest this book to anyone honestly, its gives a very straight foward view of how capitalism cannot work forever.
Since Americans don't really know what communism is, they should probably pick up this book. The scholarly Karl Marx explicates his predictions for the proletariat to rise against the bourgeois, and the elimination of private property--this is communism. The short book sums up the true basis of the economic/political system at its very beginnings. What is communism? It is not what we were taught during the Red Scare. It is different and deeper than that.
This is a great book espousing what is, at least "in theory", the most fair social and economic system of principles in existence. However practical it is "in practice", that's another question. But a must-read for every citizen, whatever one's political persuasion, especially for those with a particular interest in sociology, economics, politics, and the role that government can play in bettering our lives. This is one of the great manifestos for all mankind. When we look at the politics and economics of today's modern democracy, we see how a few at the top are getting rich and phat off the sweat of the masses, just as Karl Marx says. I still prefer capitalism overall for all the individual opportunity and freedom it allows, but still, our modern-day economic problems have certainly proven the serious fallbacks and excesses of our dog-eat-dog capitalist system. It's basically one man exploiting another for personal financial gain in the name of money, basically, greed. The collective good is sacrificed to individualism. This is true. Buy this book and read it, it's fascinating.
It may be a little difficult to read, but it's pretty short, so you can do it. Besides, it will be well worth your while. Whether you decide at the end if there's something to Marx's ideas, or if its all junk is up to you, but this is definately a work that you should read, if only to give you something to muse about in your spare time . . .
There are some truly inspired and compelling ideas put forth in this work, which, being read from a twenty first century perspective, are indeed utopian and idealistic as has been proven by the course of history. Yet many of the idealisms of Marx's manifeso still incite one to examine one's own place in their community and consider the possibilities of a classless society, however unlikely they are to be realized. Definitely worth a read and ongoing discussion as history continues forward.
Am I the only one seeing the irony here? BUYING the Communist Manifesto? Anyone? No? Just me? Oh well, it's a nice socio-economic commentary on the 1800s, if you're into that. If you change you're views on socialism or capitalism because of it then I geuss that Marx achieved what he was trying to do: educating the proletariat of his views.
I needed something to balance out "The Law" by Bastiat. Interesting reading.
I took a graduate-level literary theory class and picked socialism as my topic of choice over which to complete a semester-long project and presentation. Boy, am I ever glad I did.I remember in high school I had heard so much negativity about communism and socialism; I cracked open my textbook to the glossary to find the actual definitions, and was left only with vague impressions and more questions.Finally, I had some answers. This is a volume that I think everyone should read before they spout off misinformed ideas and opinions over communism and socialism. So many base their opinions off of fundamentalists--after all, we don't judge all Christians on the slight margin of fundamentalist Christians, don't we? (Well, we shouldn't.) And so on. Many have taken Marx's ideas and twisted and distorted them to their own agendas. This has led people to mistrust and dislike communism and socialism upon just hearing the words.However, if you read Marx's ideas, they are fundamentally logical and sound. Maybe not exactly plausible, but definitely something worth thinking about.
The rantings of a man who's ideology would work only in the smallest of settings, or perhaps in a utopia. Attempts at implementing the policies laid out in this work have killed millions outright and millions more from starvation and poverty. Reading this is a matter of knowing your enemy.
A thought provoking and landmark book. The Manifesto was a reaction against the industrial revolution and untethered capitalism, which resulted in extraordinarily unfair labor practices and a heavy skew between those few at the top of the economic pyramid, and those at the bottom who were shouldering the load. Perhaps that was always true throughout history, but post-Enlightenment, and in the 19th century in particular, leading thinkers and artists said, ¿enough.¿ Marx and Engels just took it a step further than others, by stating that all private property needed to be abolished and made collective. How could they have taken such an extreme position? As Pozner says in the introduction: ¿Few people today have even the remotest idea of the horrors of mid-nineteenth-century labor. ¿ Marx was sickened by what he saw, as were many others, among them Charles Dickens. But differing from everyone else, Marx set out to discover whether there was any rhyme or reason for this situation, any basic underlying motive for this state of affairs, anything resembling a law. ¿ Where Marx differed from Thomas Jefferson and most other thinkers was in his certainty that a decent livelihood (the pursuit of happiness) was not possible without two basic elements: political equality and economic equality. ¿ He may have been an idealist in believing that once the conditions of human existence were changed, once private ownership of property was abolished, once exploitation disappeared, people would change as well. He believed that in a society where there were no have-nots, where one¿s livelihood did not depend on struggling to make money, where instead of competing against one another people worked together¿¿In his list of ten measures to be taken by all nations, there are some that I agree with unequivocally and which you may take for granted today (progressive income tax, free education for all children in public schools), some that are arguable (abolition of inheritance, equal liability to all in labor), and some that I disagree with (abolition of private property, centralization of production by the State). As Capitalism was extreme in 1848, so was Marx and Engel¿s counter. They swung the pendulum too far the other way, and were too idealistic in doing so. Furthermore, they could not have foreseen what perverted forms their theories were to take in practice in the following century, where private ownership was replaced by state ownership, not public, and individual liberties were crushed by totalitarianism. It was dangerous in its time to declare ¿Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!.¿, and it was dangerous more than a century later. Being branded a communist during the Cold War in America led to loss of work, black balling and exportation; the communists were ¿the enemy¿, without much thought outside of intelligentsia as to what communism actually stood for. Read it for that.Quotes:¿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. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.¿¿Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation.¿
It is an error to assume that the problem with humanity is an inability to recognize our own problems. While it's true that we constantly look outside for answers, this is just because we are unhappy with the answers we have. We know that success requires hard work and knowledge, but we want something easier. We will accept an easier answer even when it isn't true. We are not motivated by what is true or likely, but by frightening or enticing stories.We are driven away from the necessary and the difficult by our inadequacies and fears, and so rarely move ourselves any closer to fulfillment. In a perversity of justice, those who do achieve the things which we imagine would fulfill us (wealth, fame, beauty, genius) are no more fulfilled than the average man, and just as beset by inadequacy and fear. Often, more so.Transhumanism represents a hope that we can escape this pattern of ignorance and self-destruction but only by escaping the human bodies and minds that cannot control themselves.The Manifesto always seemed little more than a sad reminder of our failings, though it did motivate people and provided a test of the mettle of humanity. Beyond that, it does more to rile than to increase understanding of the economy and our role within it. It is sad that a work which is at least based on some worthwhile principles falls to the same simple fears and ideals that plague our everyday lives.The manifesto tries to take all of the economic theory of its authors and create from it a story that will excite the common man. They did not expect that most of them would pick up Das Kapital and start really thinking about their role in things. It was enough to engage their greed and sense of injustice without intruding much on their understanding.The average man does not want to understand, he would prefer to believe. It is unfortunate that the main effect proven by the Communist movement is that any and every political system simply shifts wealth and power from one group to another, and little aids the serf or the unlucky.We Americans are in little position to stand over the 'failure of Communism', since democracy has not proven any kinder to mankind, nor can it deliver justice equally to the poor and the rich.
For many people through the years this book has been something similar to the Qur'an.It's a compelling and fascinating though short text, a look backward in time.
The Manifesto itself, is a profound and masterful work. What undoes this book, however, is the pitiful introduction by A.J.P Taylor. This introduction, unlike Marx's work, is an unimportant quibble of its time (1967). He rails on and on for 47 pages (longer than the manifesto itself!) about how 2 buddies from Germany managed to fool millions of people into believing their crazy deluded message, and how these two lads, working completely and always alone, utterly misunderstood history and economics and sociology down to the core. The work itself is a classic simply because millions of people have been deluded into worshipping it, but the men themselves were self-obsessed and narcissistic and thought themselves gods among men, when in fact they were poor economists, and even poorer historians.A.J.P. Taylor wrote this in 1967, and one cannot understand why on earth such an introduction could be commissioned or approved to accompany the Manifesto. I can only imagine what the public opinion of communism must have been like at the time - fear and loathing of the USSR alongside complete and total faith in capitalism. In an amusing passage, Taylor takes a break from criticizing Marx to "disprove" his critique of capitalism in the light of modern history, arguing that capitalism has proven itself after the little hiccup of the '30s. Well, it's 2011, and today economists like Nouriel Roubini are questioning capitalism altogether and the world is mired in collective contemplation on how to save the world economy. It seems that despite all of Taylor's fluff, Marx and Engels turned out to be far more timeless thinkers than he was.Read the Manifesto, just don't read this version. It is nothing more than publishers wanting to make more pennies by pawning Marx's writings off with fluff-filler as an addendum.
This is a classic and should be read. It is really small but powerful.
Do not go looking here for a lengthy explanation about why Marx believes what he does. Rather, read the Manifesto to learn how he sold his ideas. For what it was designed to do, this book is excellent. For actually understanding Marx, the Manifesto is lacking. A closer look at some of his other works is required.
A book famous for many reasons, the most obvious being its simple political impact. This book by Karl Marx, has affected the lives of millions of people in the world, and its impact is monumental. Now you have most likely heard of this book, but if you further wish to understand the thing that is Communism, and revolution which brings upon it, I strongly recommend you read this book. This book is not an easy read per say, and could most likely be summarized in about a page, but it is still a great book to skim through to further educate oneself on politics.
This is my favorite book. Everyone should be required to read it in school.
No matter what one's political point of view is, this is a must read for those who wish to be informed.
This is an amazing work. You don't have to agree with it or follow it to glean the beauty and precision of it.
The header on ever page prints Commumist Manifesto
Communism would work if people were trustworthy. The main ideaof it all isbthat all animals are equal, but some are equaler than others. This means that everyone is equal, but there is still a ruling class to keep things in order. As you can see with chin, communism kind of tore everything aparrt. My older brother checked out the communist manifesto from his school library and my little brother thinks that the communist manifesto copy the he got can destroy evil. Communism, mm, mm good.