Manifesto of the Communist Party

By Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Albert Einstein

121,364 ratings - 3.59* vote

Originally published on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions, "The Communist Manifesto" is a condensed and incisive account of the worldview Marx and Engels developed during their hectic intellectual and political collaboration. Formulating the principles of dialectical materialism, they believed that labor creates wealth, hence capitalism is exploitive and antithetica Originally published on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions, "The Communist Manifesto" is a condensed and

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Book details

Paperback, 104 pages
January 1st 2011 by Nmd Books

(first published February 21st 1848)

Original Title
Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei
ISBN
193682812X (ISBN13: 9781936828128)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Jeremy

Long overdue update (2013): I read this book five years ago and in almost every respect, I have mellowed considerably.

You can read my review below. It's unchanged. You can read the comments below that. Also unchanged.

I never seriously expected anyone to read this review, much less love or hate it so strongly. I am not apologizing for my view of the book or Marx. He put his entire life into this slender and influential book, and I respect that. I understand a bit more about where he was coming from historically, and it doesn't seem as inherently ridiculous as I might have claimed five years ago. But I still largely stand by my original take on it. What Marx predicts is an oppressive totalitarian regime which would be able to commit all kinds of human rights abuses far too easily. I'm not OK with that. And I don't think it works from a philosophical point of view, mainly because I think it neglects the realities of human nature. I think free market capitalism does the exact same thing, though the end results are different. Or are they?

It's funny. People commenting here seem to think I'm a proponent of free market capitalism (I do consider myself a capitalist, but not of the lassiez faire variety...its track record is poor as far as I'm concerned). I'm not. Whereas on other posts and comment threads on this same site I've been accused of being a socialist. Now that's funny!

Anyway...



Disclaimer: I read this book with a heavy bias against Marxist thought. That being said, I like to think of myself as a logical person so I have framed my thoughts as logically as possible instead of in the 'Communists are bad! They just are!' line of reasoning. That being said...

The spectre of Communism is still haunting the world...it has died.

Suffice it to say that I was sorely disappointed with Marx's argument. So much so that I fail to believe that anyone over the age of twenty-one could take him seriously even on a theoretical basis. Perhaps a century and a half of perspective is to blame. Maybe I'm missing a dimension of Marx's argument. It could simply be that the manifesto is a by-product of the industrial revolution that looks quite silly in "post-industrial" America.

Summing up Marx in two sentences: Class struggle is the defining injustice and condition of human society. We, the proletariat, must rise up through a violent and sudden revolution and overthrow our capitalist oppressors.

Let me get this straight. We're going to overcome class struggle by perpetrating a class war against the bourgoisie? If a major goal of communism is to eradicate social classes, why does it temporarily aim to establish the proletariat as the ruling class?

Oh right. Becauase once the proletariat gains power it will someday voluntarily abdicate said power for the greater good of society. As Mugatu said about Zoolander when he points out that all of the latter's 'looks' are actually the same: "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" It makes little rational sense.

Now onto more specific arguments regarding Marx's "generally applicable measures" that must be established by the proletariat after the violent overthrow of capitalism. It's pretty scary, actually.

No ownership of land, a heavy income tax, no rights of inheritance, seizure of all property from "rebels" (whatever that means...presumably political enemies) and emigrants, centralized credit and capital in the hands of the state, state ownership of the means of transportation and communication, establishment of 'industrial armies', equitable distribution of the populace in town and country, and an abolition of child labor with concurrent establishment of public education (actually that last point I agree with).

Such a strategy will ALWAYS lead to a totalitarian government that needlessly and wantonly causes suffering and economic hardship for the vast majority of its citizens.

I have yet to hear anybody move beyond theoretical praise of Marxism. Even the most ardent supporters will be forced to conclude that in real life the Marxist state is not preferred over the capitalist state because there is still an inequitible division of power between the ruling class and the common man. And the 'evil capitalism' that they rail against is actually the governmental imperialism of capitalist states, not the economic structure of said state.

The argument against capitalism is too much capital in the hands of too few. But Marxism advocates all capital be concentrated in the hands of a totalitarian regime that gives too little to the vast majority.

Jason

Read this and understand why your imperialist capitalist government spent the better part of a century playing hot potato with ICBMs, invading and incinerating peaceful, peasant countries, and making your mom and dad piss themselves under school desks.

The elite were scared shitless and by no means would they allow their slaves, errr labor force, a fraction of freedom or equality or means to resist. The 60 year propaganda campaign against Communism and the virtual disappearance of strong labor unions prove this.

Marx is downright bold in his call for the "FORCIBLE OVERTHROW OF ALL EXISTING SOCIAL CONDITIONS!" In fact, the Manifesto is a flat-out demand that you go out and set shit on fire, and that's cool enough for me.

Of course, Marxism is flawed because any prick with enough power will undoubtedly exploit the little guy bla bla bla...
The point is maybe there is a better system based on real freedom instead of free-trade.

Sean Barrs

Communism doesn’t work. Its ideals are perfectly understandable, justifiable even, but the way it seeks to attain them, that’s just terrible. In reality communist policy falls apart or isn’t fully followed.

The driving force is to achieve a classless rather than class based society. Sounds good on paper doesn’t it? But in order to achieve such a thing, the manifesto proposes a revolution that will wipe out private property. This is more than following the march of history. Mankind has seen countless revolutions that have failed. The Bourgeois (ruling class) is replaced by the Proletariats (working class) which then go on to form a new ruling class. The difference with communism, and why it will apparently succeed, is that the new rising class will destroy ownership; thus, the cycle has been broken: there will no longer be any class divides.

But what’s left? A power vacuum and a new means to create more wealth and ownership? Then surely the system just begins anew. Surely people just belong to the government even more so than before. Then there’s the total lack of proof. There are huge statements in this, huge sweeping statements, that suggest that worldwide communism will end all wars. Isn’t that slightly naïve? What’s to stop two opposing communist nations fighting over natural resources or land? Nothing. Communism isn’t the answer to the world’s problems.

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And besides, the manifesto initially advocates war to create a temporary class. What kind of political party overtly advocates war, death and human suffering? It speaks of blood spilt over the ages, wasted blood, and then goes on to propose the shedding of more. Isn’t this just a little hypocritical? Sure, some extremists may deem that a necessary cost, but it’s just another form of corruption. Communism opposes the capitalist world on the idea that wealth is concentrated in the upper reaches of society. That’s true. Capitalism, obviously, has many flaws, but that’s beside the point. Communist rulers seek to grasp that wealth for the “good” of their people. What do they then do with it? They wage war, covertly or overtly, on the capitalist world and watch as their people starve. But that doesn’t matter, right? As long as communism spreads…….

This is a most interesting read. And whist I obviously take issue with the politics, I’m glad I read it. This is a product of history, one that should be read and understood by all.

Penguin Little Black Classic- 20

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The Little Black Classic Collection by penguin looks like it contains lots of hidden gems. I couldn’t help it; they looked so good that I went and bought them all. I shall post a short review after reading each one. No doubt it will take me several months to get through all of them! Hopefully I will find some classic authors, from across the ages, that I may not have come across had I not bought this collection.

Always Pouting

I finally read this even though someone gave it to me forever ago. I think the ideas are interesting but I think this functions more into explaining communist ideology in that historical period and for explaining the positioning in regards to other groups. I would rather read more about the idea of history as class struggle but expanded upon which seems like it could be an interesting framework or the themes of the inherent instability of capitalism that was being argued for. I don't think I have the capacity to read Capital right now though. I also read this because someone told me if I didn't read it I wouldn't understand Marx's ideas but I'm pretty sure I had the grasp of them without this and this just supports my hypothesis that really I should never have to read source materials when I can just read summaries.

Barry Pierce

What can I say? Marx was right. Almost.

Darwin8u

“Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another.”
― Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto

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Vol 20 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. To be clear, I'm not giving this 5-stars because I'm a Communist just waiting start a revolution (not that I'm against a good revolution here or there)*. I do come from a religious tradition that experimented in the 1800s with ideas of consecration and communalism. They called it the United Order. Even with a charismatic leader and the hope of Zion, it was a failed experiment.

As an economic system, I think there are serious flaws built into Marxism/Communism or any of the isms that derived from Marx and Engles ideas. That said, there are also SERIOUS flaws with Capitalism, Christianism, etc. I think the idea that there is one perfect economic dogma for all levels and all people and all societies is a bit naive. Anyway, I'm giving this 5-stars because it is a helluva tract. It, obviously, lit a fire that spread quickly through Europe, Asia, etc. Love it or hate it, we are all living in a world that has been marked by Marx. Personally, I dig Das Kapital more. I LOVE Marxist theory way more than Marxist practice.

* My wife and I DID have a cat in college named Marx.

Traveller

This tract by Marx and Engels is too enormous in implication to review fully in the small little space that GR allows, so what I'll do for now is take extracts from it and comment on them, piece by piece.

Per the Maifesto:"
"Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists. On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution. The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital. Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty. But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention, direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class. The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.

Marx and Engels are here addressing a snapshot in time of European history. I don't have much knowledge of conditions during the industrial revolution in the rest of Europe, but have researched the situation relatively extensively as it was in Britain, as a background to a lot of criticism that was launched against the status quo by a lot of Victorian writers of fiction.

In the feudal system, "labor" did not remove laborers from their families at all, in fact, it rather strengthened family ties since most of what can be seen as the proletariat of feudal times, were indebted laborers on the fiefdom of their feudal lord.

So, the only labor which compromised the family situation, was the kind of labor done by men, women and children in mines and factories during the industrial revolution, from around 1750 to the early 1900's.

If you read up on reforms in Britain, you will see that by about 1831, public outcries against child labor and the conditions that adults and children were made to work under in mines, caused public commissions to be instituted by government, which started a slow and gradual reform of conditions via legislation, to the point that all kinds of laborers are pretty well-protected and well-represented at the present day.

Ironically, the big bad fat cats these days are not the kind that deal with direct labor, but rather the type who deal in/with secondary products (like financial products) and services. (By services we do not mean of the "labour" kind that Marx addressed- Marx was addressing the kind of workers who were exploited in mines and factories.)

Note that the industrial revolution, although it started off bringing such untold misery to so many, also had the following effect: average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world's average per capita income increased over tenfold, while the world's population increased over sixfold. Finally it was within the grasp of those born outside of nobility to make a decent living for themselves.

A lot of workplace reform has taken place since the IR started.. and not through rabble-rousers like Marx, but because people with a conscience raised their voices and cried out against the injustices being done by capitalists against fellow human beings.

Authors like Charles Dickens, for instance, and Victor Hugo, helped to encourage the privileged to look upon their less fortunate brethren with greater sympathy, and to call for social reform in the name of conscience.

...so, Karl Marx is being a great opportunist here. At a time when history and society is in great flux and inner revolution, when a new era is dawning and social conscience still needs to become cognizant of the suffering of some of the members of society, Karl Marx exploits the situation, ironically by making use of the exploitation by one element of society, of another.

It is the poor and the ignorant that is being exploited, and Karl Marx exploits their helplessness, ignorance and gullibility to shout for revolution instead of evolution. Marx and Engels call for violence where no violence is necessary, because peaceful change was already taking place in any case.

Per the manifesto:
But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus. The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women. He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production. For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives. Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.

The implication is obvious. According to the authors, the implication is that marriage is a bourgeois, patriarchal institution for the exploitation of women, a form of prostitution. You would think that anybody who is even in the slightest familiar with history, would be able to see immediately how fallacious and false such an accusation is, since marriage is a social institution that evolved gradually over many centuries, but has always been something that protected rather than exploited women. Remember, for centuries and centuries, women had no recourse save sexual abstinence (for which the best path was to become a nun) against falling pregnant.

Women had exactly three choices: Be a prostitute, be a nun, or have the protection of marriage, where you could at least have the privilege of raising your children in a protected environment, and in which the father of the child had the responsibility to care for the children and their mother on a material level.

It is only through birth control, which we at last have 99% effective technology for, that woman is emancipated from the hearth and can take her place next to males as a fully economically productive partner, since she doesn't have to be tied down in a perpetual cycle of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing anymore.

This has nothing to do with the bourgeoisie except that it was people out of the horrible, terrible ranks of those dastardly bourgeoisie, that modern medicine was developed, modern medicine, which keeps child- and maternal mortality at bay, has brought better health to people of all walks and stations in life, and has given us the technology to be able to choose when we do or don't have children. (..except if you let The Pope tell you, of course).

I have an overwhelming feeling that Marx was simply exploiting women's emancipation movements to gain more supporters for Communism, when he says the following:
He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
Yes, women were being marginalized, but by the fact that we were excluded from property holding rights (something Marx scorns in any case) and from having an equal right to vote (something else which he scorns too).

Let's analyze this carefully:
How are bourgeois males exploiting women by marrying them? ..by having sex with them and expecting of them to have children? ..but it is usually women who want children in the first place. Certainly, in feudal times, children sons were deemed an essential item for males to acquire in order to continue the family line, but, since the human species would discontinue should women stop having children, calling it an exploitation of women by men sounds like a rather strange, roundabout way of putting things.

Certainly in the time that capitalism has steadfastly taken root, children have become really more of a liability financially speaking, than a prize.

..and calling a married woman more of a prostitute than an unmarried woman would be, who will still be used for sex, just this time by the entire mob instead of her husband, (unless the married woman decides to swing which will be HER decision to cuckold her husband - unless they both agree to swing) just sounds a bit crazy.

In fact, if you think about it, it is Marx who is making the implication that women are mere objects, property to be owned like cows or camels, by suggesting that they will be seen as fair game ("community of women", as he puts it, having a similar meaning to "community of property") under Communist rule.
I just can't help finding his attitude massively patronizing and insulting, both towards men and women, as much as I decry the patriarchy of the past, because Marx himself is speaking with the very voice of patriarchy and sexism that he supposedly decries. He speaks their language, the language of the white, supremacist patriarchal 'master'.


Also from the manifesto:
"The education of all children,from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense."

...and our children must be taken away from us and brought up in some state institution. See: Communist Party Education Workers Congress, Communist quotes:
We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists.... We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children's nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.


It is generally accepted knowledge that institutionalized care away from any sort of notion of family, is psychologically unhealthy for children.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinstit...

..so Marx wants to pull down the very fabric of society, to the point of removing even the notion of family - to remove from children the prerogative of having your own mother and father, of having brothers and sisters, and instead, humans must become cogs in the wheel of Communism, mindless automatons who have no individuality, no sense of self.

No thanks, I don't buy into the hive-mind insect-think.



This review is a work in progress, so more to follow soon.

EDIT: Dear reader, if you feel you need to comment, please take the time to read the discussion thread below first - these issues and even more regarding Marxism, Communism, etc, are discussed EXTENSIVELY in the comment thread below, and I fear that comments are starting to become repetitive, with clear indications that commentors are not bothering to check if their arguments might already have been discussed a few times over. Unfortunately all that is discussed cannot be worked into the review itself, since GR limits review space, and this is a HUGE subject.

I'd also like to mention that I am absolutely to a large extent a fan of Socialism in general and a great fan of the Scandinavian mixed system. What I am criticizing in this review, is specifically this document, 'The Communist Manifesto', and not Socialism itself.

I promise to make time soon to work more of the discussions into the review itself, but some very well-read and intelligent Marxian apologists have commented, so it might be worth your time to read the discussions in any case.
Thanks. :)

J.G. Keely

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.

Rachel

One word review: disgusting.

There is so much I could say, and there isn't the space to say it in a review... Where do I even begin?

For starters, the book began on a whining note. There were basically two main thrusts: first that free trade was so unfair to the poor proletariat; second, that the communistic movement had only the interests of the proletariat at heart. It was unhindered by nationality or any other interests and existed solely to make the working class successful.

What started out as a whining tirade coming from a man who obviously wanted to abolish free trade because it did not suit him as he wished, ended with an abolition of family, home education, patriotism, and marriage.

Little sins like self-centeredness, sloth, and greediness, if not repented of can lead the heart to seek justification on its own. The heart tries to justify itself before the cries of conscience by rationalizing and eventually developing a system consistent with itself... and you end up with Sartre, Nietzsche, or Marx with ideas to make you shudder.

"The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philosophical, and generally, from an ideological standpoint are not deserving of a serious examination". That was literally the only thing said to those objections. Seriously!?

I came away with a lot of observations, but three were especially notable:

Marx hoped that social change would change man's heart (environmental determinism).

The State = the proletariat as an organized ruling class

The abolition of private property was number one on Marx's hit list.

The ending note is one of the reasons I think Communism has such an appeal. It offers purpose, hope, and excitement.

This is the only thing I sympathized with somewhat in the whole thing. I am afraid that Christians have held out an impotent, limp, and emasculated truncation of Christianity for too long. The human heart longs for a higher purpose, a kingdom, a cause. Christ Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the answer, not communism.

"The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. 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 so ends a despicable document.

Jenna

"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."

The Communist Manifesto is a good introduction to Marx's philosophy and ideals and I was frequently blown away by his observations on the wealthy and Capitalism. 

I'm not going to analyze this book or Marxist thought -- there are too many aspects I need to mull over and much I need to learn. I will say though that I agree with Marx on the sins of capitalism. Sure, there has been good that came and comes from it.... but at the expense of billions who've been exploited and suffered, billions who continue to be exploited and who continue to suffer "for the good of the economy".

I will not claim that Marx's ideas are perfect nor do I agree with his methods. Obviously we have witnessed egregious and unfathomable human rights violations under Communist rule. It sounds good on paper but seems to be easily corrupted when put into practice, leading me to think that Communism will never be, and must not be, the solution.

Perhaps I have grown too cynical and pessimistic but I have little hope that humans will ever create a fair and just society for all. But we can at least try and Democratic Socialism seems to me to be a good place to start.

Capitalism only exists to keep the wealth in the hands of the few - at the expense of the majority.

I'm not against private property or people being wealthy. I am against a tiny percentage of people hoarding all the wealth while exploiting the rest of humanity. I am against a tiny percentage of people hoarding all the wealth while billions live in poverty and die from lack of food or health care.

Until all humans have their basic needs met, no human should have more than they could ever use. In a world where one billion people live on less than a dollar a day, the existence of billionaires is evil.

I do not have the answers and I'm not sure anyone ever has or ever will. Any and every ideology has flaws because they are human constructions. Every ideology must continually be put up to debate and criticism in order to improve society.

And those are my thoughts on this.

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