The Communist Manifesto: Wikis

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Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), often referred to as The Communist Manifesto, was published on February 21, 1848, and is one of the world's most influential political manuscripts.[1] Commissioned by the Communist League and written by communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it laid out the League's purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.[2]

Contents

Authorship

The Communist Manifesto

Friedrich Engels has often been credited in composing the first drafts, which led to The Communist Manifesto. In July 1847, Engels was elected into the Communist League, where he was assigned to draw up a catechism. This became the Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith. The draft contained almost two dozen questions that helped express the ideas of both Engels and Karl Marx at the time. In October 1847, Engels composed his second draft for the Communist League entitled, The Principles of Communism. The text remained unpublished until 1914, despite its basis for The Manifesto. From Engels's drafts Marx was able to write, once commissioned by the Communist League, The Communist Manifesto, where he combined more of his ideas along with Engels's drafts and work, The Condition of the Working Class in England.[3]

Although the names of both Engels and Karl Marx appear on the title page alongside the "persistent assumption of joint-authorship", Engels, in the preface introduction to the 1883 German edition of the Manifesto, said that the Manifesto was "essentially Marx's work" and that "the basic thought... belongs solely and exclusively to Marx."[4]

Engels wrote after Marx's death,

"I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years' collaboration with Marx I had a certain independent share in laying the foundations of the theory, but the greater part of its leading basic principles belong to Marx....Marx was a genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not be by far what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name."[5]

Textual history

The Communist Manifesto was first published (in German) in London by a group of German political refugees in 1848. It was also serialised at around the same time in a German-language London newspaper, the Deutsche Londoner Zeitung.[6] The first English translation was produced by Helen Macfarlane in 1850. The Manifesto went through a number of editions from 1872 to 1890; notable new prefaces were written by Marx and Engels for the 1872 German edition, the 1882 Russian edition, the 1883 French edition, and the 1888 English edition. This edition, translated by Samuel Moore with the assistance of Engels, has been the most commonly used English text since.

However, some recent English editions, such as Phil Gasper's annotated "road map" (Haymarket Books, 2006), have used a slightly modified text in response to criticisms of the Moore translation made by Hal Draper in his 1994 history of the Manifesto, The Adventures of the "Communist Manifesto" (Center for Socialist History, 1994).

Contents

The Manifesto is divided into an introduction, three substantive sections, and a conclusion.

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Preamble

The introduction begins with the notable comparison of communism to a "spectre," claiming that across Europe communism is feared, but not understood, and thus communists ought to make their views known with a manifesto:

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 is 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?[7]

I. Bourgeois and Proletarians

The first section, "Bourgeoisie and Proletariats", puts forward Marx's neo-Hegelian version of history, historical materialism, claiming that

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.

The section goes on to argue that the class struggle under capitalism is between those who own the means of production, the ruling class or bourgeoisie, and those who labour for a wage, the working class or proletariat.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It ... has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment” ... for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation ... Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones ... 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.

However:

The essential condition for the existence and rule of the bourgeois class is the accumulation of wealth in private hands, the formation and increase of capital; the essential condition of capital is wage-labor. Wage-labor rests entirely on the competition among the workers.

Marx explains that the Proletarians will eventually rise to power through class struggle. The Bourgeois constantly exploits the Proletarians for their manual labor and cheap wages, ultimately to create profit for Bourgeois. Marx explains that the Proletarians rise to power because of revolutions against the Bourgeois such as riots or creation of unions. Marx suggests that while there is still class struggle amongst society, Capitalism will be overthrown by the Proletarians only to start again in the near future. The Communist Manifesto states that ultimate communism is the key to class equality amongst the citizens of Europe.

II. Proletarians and Communists

The second section, "Proletarians and Communists," starts by outlining the relationship of conscious communists to the rest of the working class:

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties.
They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.
They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

It goes on to defend communism from various objections, such as the claim that communists advocate "free love," and the claim that people will not perform labor in a communist society because they have no incentive to work.

The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands. These included, among others, the abolition of both private land ownership and of the right to inheritance, a progressive income tax, universal education, centralization of the means of communication and transport under state management, and the expansion of the means of production owned by the state. The implementation of these policies, would, the authors believed, be a precursor to the stateless and classless society.

One particularly controversial passage deals with this transitional period:

When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.

It is this concept of the transition from socialism to communism which many critics of the Manifesto, particularly during and after the Soviet era, have highlighted. Anarchists, liberals, and conservatives have all asked how an organization such as the revolutionary state could ever (as Engels put it elsewhere) "wither away."

In a related dispute, later Marxists make a separation between "socialism," a society ruled by workers, and "communism," a classless society. Engels wrote little and Marx wrote less on the specifics of the transition to communism, so the authenticity of this distinction remains a matter of dispute.

10 point program of Communism

  1. Abolition of property in land and of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.[8]

According to the Communist Manifesto, all these were prior conditions for a transition from capitalism to communism, but Marx and Engels later expressed a desire to modernize this passage.[9]

III. Socialist and Communist Literature

The third section, "Socialist and Communist Literature," distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at the time the Manifesto was written. While the degree of reproach of Marx and Engels toward rival perspectives varies, all are eventually dismissed for advocating reformism and failing to recognize the preeminent role of the working class. Partly because of Marx's critique, most of the specific ideologies described in this section became politically negligible by the end of the nineteenth century.

IV. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

The concluding section, "Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties," briefly discusses the communist position on struggles in specific countries in the mid-nineteenth century such as France, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany. It then ends with a declaration of support for other communist revolutions and a call to action:

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
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.
Workers of the world, unite![10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Seymour-Smith, Maerin (1998). The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press. 
  2. ^ The Great Philosophers, by Jeremy Stangroom and James Garvey, Arcturus 2005/ 2008 ISBN 978-1-84837-018-0, pp160 UKP9.99
  3. ^ Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Metropolitan Books 2009 ISBN 978-0805080254,pg. 142-44
  4. ^ Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, introduction by Martin Malia (New York: Penguin group, 1998), pg. 35 ISBN 0-451-52710-0
  5. ^ Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Metropolitan Books 2009 ISBN 978-0805080254,pg. 117
  6. ^ Kuczynski, Thomas, Das kommunistische Manifest (Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) von Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels: von der Erstausgabe zur Leseausgabe, mit einer Editionsbericht (Trier, 1995).
  7. ^ wikisource:Manifesto of the Communist Party
  8. ^ The Communist Manifesto at Project Gutenberg accessed on January 24, 2007
  9. ^ Preface to the 1872 German Edition on The Marxists Internet Archives accessed at March 19, 2007
  10. ^ "Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!"

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to Manifesto of the Communist Party article)

From Wikisource

Manifesto of the Communist Party
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, translated by Samuel Moore
The Communist Manifesto (German: Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) was first published on February 21, 1848, and is one of the world's most influential political tracts. Commissioned by the Communist League and written by communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it laid out the League's purposes and program. The Manifesto suggested a course of action for a proletarian revolution to overthrow capitalism and, eventually, to bring about a classless society.
Excerpted from The Communist Manifesto on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Introduction

Chapters

Appendix


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|The first version of the book, written in German.]] The Communist Manifesto (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) is a short book. It was written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. The book was originally written in the German language. Since it was first published, it became one of the world's most influential and controvesial political manuscripts, and has be translated into many languages. The book is about analyzing approaches to class struggles (from both the past and present), and problems with capitalism.

The book does not talk about or predict how communism would be in the future. It is a mixture of both Marx and Engels' theories and opinions on society and politics. It also has their written ideas of how the capitalist society of their time would be replaced by socialism, and after that, communism.


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