THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO (originally MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY)
is an 1848 political pamphlet by German philosophers
The Communist Manifesto
* 1 Synopsis * 2 Writing
* 3 Publication
* 3.1 Initial publication and obscurity, 1848–72 * 3.2 Rise, 1872–1917 * 3.3 Ubiquity, 1917–present
* 4 Legacy
* 5 Influences on
The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto
The first section of the Manifesto, "Bourgeois and Proletarians", elucidates the materialist conception of history , that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". Societies have always taken the form of an oppressed majority living under the thumb of an oppressive minority. In capitalism , the industrial working class , or proletariat , engage in class struggle against the owners of the means of production , the bourgeoisie . As before, this struggle will end in a revolution that restructures society, or the "common ruin of the contending classes". The bourgeoisie, through the "constant revolutionising of production uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions" have emerged as the supreme class in society, displacing all the old powers of feudalism . The bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat for its labour power, creating profit for themselves and accumulating capital. However, in doing so, the bourgeoisie serves as "its own grave-diggers"; the proletariat inevitably will become conscious of their own potential and rise to power through revolution, overthrowing the bourgeoisie.
"Proletarians and Communists", the second section, starts by stating the relationship of conscious communists to the rest of the working class. The communists' party will not oppose other working-class parties, but unlike them, it will express the general will and defend the common interests of the world's proletariat as a whole, independent of all nationalities. The section goes on to defend communism from various objections, including claims that it advocates "free love " or disincentivises people from working. The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands—among them a progressive income tax ; abolition of inheritances and private property; free public education ; nationalisation of the means of transport and communication; centralisation of credit via a national bank; expansion of publicly owned etc.—the implementation of which would result in the precursor to a stateless and classless society .
The third section, "Socialist and Communist Literature",
distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at
the time—these being broadly categorised as Reactionary Socialism;
Conservative or Bourgeois
Only surviving page from the first draft of the Manifesto, handwritten by Marx
In spring 1847 Marx and Engels joined the League of the Just , who were quickly convinced by the duo's ideas of "critical communism". At its First Congress in 2–9 June, the League tasked Engels with drafting a "profession of faith", but such a document was later deemed inappropriate for an open, non-confrontational organisation. Engels nevertheless wrote the "Draft of the Communist Confession of Faith ", detailing the League's programme. A few months later, in October, Engels arrived at the League's Paris branch to find that Moses Hess had written an inadequate manifesto for the group, now called the League of Communists. In Hess's absence, Engels severely criticised this manifesto, and convinced the rest of the League to entrust him with drafting a new one. This became the draft Principles of Communism , described as "less of a credo and more of an exam paper."
On 23 November, just before the Communist League's Second Congress
(29 November – 8 December 1847), Engels wrote to Marx, expressing
his desire to eschew the catechism format in favour of the manifesto,
because he felt it "must contain some history." On the 28th, Marx and
Engels met at
Upon returning to Brussels, Marx engaged in "ceaseless
procrastination", according to his biographer
Francis Wheen . Working
only intermittently on the manifesto, he spent much of his time
delivering lectures on political economy at the German Workers'
Education Association, writing articles for the
Deutsche-Brüsseler-Zeitung , and giving a long speech on free trade .
Following this, he even spent a week (17–26 January 1848) in Ghent
to establish a branch of the Democratic Association there.
Subsequently, having not heard from Marx for nearly two months, the
Central Committee of the
In all, the Manifesto was written over 6–7 weeks. Although Engels is credited as co-writer, the final draft was penned exclusively by Marx. From the 26 January letter, Laski infers that even the League considered Marx to be the sole draftsman (and that he was merely their agent, imminently replaceable). Further, Engels himself wrote in 1883 that "The basic thought running through the Manifesto ... belongs solely and exclusively to Marx." Although Laski doesn't disagree, he suggests that Engels underplays his own contribution with characteristic modesty, and points out the "close resemblance between its substance and that of the ". Laski argues that while writing the Manifesto Marx drew from the "joint stock of ideas" he developed with Engels, "a kind of intellectual bank account upon which either could draw freely."
INITIAL PUBLICATION AND OBSCURITY, 1848–72
A scene from the German March Revolution in Berlin, 1848
In late February 1848, the Manifesto was anonymously published by the
Workers' Educational Association (Communistischer
Although the Manifesto's prelude announced that it was "to be
published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish
languages", the initial printings were only in German. Polish and
Danish translations soon followed the German original in London, and
by the end of 1848, a Swedish translation was published with a new
title—The Voice of Communism: Declaration of the Communist Party. In
June–November 1850 the Manifesto of the Communist Party was
published in English for the first time when George Julian Harney
Helen Macfarlane 's translation in his Chartist magazine
The Red Republican
Soon after the Manifesto was published, Paris erupted in revolution
to overthrow King
After the defeat of the 1848 revolutions the Manifesto fell into obscurity, where it remained throughout the 1850s and 1860s. Hobsbawm says that by November 1850 the Manifesto "had become sufficiently scarce for Marx to think it worth reprinting section III ... in the last issue of his London magazine". Over the next two decades only a few new editions were published; these include an (unauthorised and occasionally inaccurate) 1869 Russian translation by Mikhail Bakunin in Geneva and a 1866 edition in Berlin—the first time the Manifesto was published in Germany. According to Hobsbawm, "By the middle 1860s virtually nothing that Marx had written in the past was any longer in print." However John Cowell-Stepney did publish an abridged version in the Social Economist in August/September 1869, in time for the Basle Congress .
In the early 1870s, the Manifesto and its authors experienced a
revival in fortunes. Hobsbawm identifies three reasons for this. The
first is the leadership role Marx played in the International
Workingmen\'s Association (aka the First International). Secondly,
Marx also came into much prominence among socialists—and equal
notoriety among the authorities—for his support of the Paris Commune
of 1871, elucidated in
The Civil War in France . Lastly, and perhaps
most significantly in the popularisation of the Manifesto, was the
treason trial of
German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leaders. During
the trial prosecutors read the Manifesto out loud as evidence; this
meant that the pamphlet could legally be published in Germany. Thus in
1872 Marx and Engels rushed out a new German-language edition, writing
a preface that identified that several portions that became outdated
in the quarter century since its original publication. This edition
was also the first time the title was shortened to The Communist
Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), and it became the bedrock the
authors based future editions upon. Between 1871 and 1873, the
Manifesto was published in over nine editions in six languages; in
1872 it was published in the United States for the first time,
serialised in Woodhull ">'s popularity reflected the development of
socialist movements in a particular region as well as the popularity
of Marxist variety of socialism there. There was not always a strong
correlation between a social-democratic party's strength and the
Manifesto's popularity in that country. For instance, the German SPD
printed only a few thousand copies of the Communist Manifesto every
year, but a few hundred thousand copies of the
Erfurt Programme .
Further, the mass-based social-democratic parties of the Second
International did not require their rank and file to be well-versed in
theory; Marxist works such as the Manifesto or
The Bolshevik (1920) by
Therefore the widespread dissemination of Marx and Engels' works became an important policy objective; backed by a sovereign state, the CPSU had relatively inexhaustible resources for this purpose. Works by Marx, Engels, and Lenin were published on a very large scale, and cheap editions of their works were available in several languages across the world. These publications were either shorter writings or they were compendia such as the various editions of Marx and Engels' Selected Works, or their Collected Works . This affected the destiny of the Manifesto in several ways. Firstly, in terms of circulation; in 1932 the American and British Communist Parties printed several hundred thousand copies of a cheap edition for "probably the largest mass edition ever issued in English". Secondly the work entered political-science syllabuses in universities, which would only expand after the Second World War. For its centenary in 1948, its publication was no longer the exclusive domain of Marxists and academicians; general publishers too printed the Manifesto in large numbers. "In short, it was no longer only a classic Marxist document," Hobsbawm noted, "it had become a political classic tout court."
Even after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in the 1990s, the
Communist Manifesto remains ubiquitous; Hobsbawm says that "In states
without censorship, almost certainly anyone within reach of a good
bookshop, and certainly anyone within reach of a good library, not to
mention the internet, can have access to it." The 150th anniversary
once again brought a deluge of attention in the press and the
academia, as well as new editions of the book fronted by introductions
to the text by academics. One of these, The Communist Manifesto: A
Modern Edition by Verso, was touted by a critic in the London Review
of Books as being a "stylish red-ribboned edition of the work. It is
designed as a sweet keepsake, an exquisite collector's item. In
Manhattan, a prominent
"With the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines a new world-conception, consistent materialism, which also embraces the realm of social life; dialectics, as the most comprehensive and profound doctrine of development; the theory of the class struggle and of the world-historic revolutionary role of the proletariat—the creator of a new, communist society." — Vladimir Lenin on the Manifesto, 1914
A number of late-20th- and 21st-century writers have commented on the
Communist Manifesto's continuing relevance. In a special issue of the
Socialist Register commemorating the Manifesto's 150th anniversary,
Peter Osborne argued that it was 'the single most influential text
written in the nineteenth century.' Academic John Raines in 2002
noted that "In our day this Capitalist Revolution has reached the
farthest corners of the earth. The tool of money has produced the
miracle of the new global market and the ubiquitous shopping mall.
Read The Communist Manifesto, written more than one hundred and fifty
years ago, and you will discover that Marx foresaw it all." In 2003,
the English Marxist
Chris Harman stated, "There is still a compulsive
quality to its prose as it provides insight after insight into the
society in which we live, where it comes from and where its going to.
It is still able to explain, as mainstream economists and sociologists
cannot, today's world of recurrent wars and repeated economic crisis,
of hunger for hundreds of millions on the one hand and
'overproduction' on the other. There are passages that could have come
from the most recent writings on globalisation."
In contrast, critics such as Revisionist Marxist and reformist
Many have drawn attention to the passage in the Manifesto that seems
to sneer at the stupidity of the rustic: "The bourgeoisie ... draws
all nations ... into civilisation ... It has created enormous cities
... and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the
idiocy of rural life". As
hile there is no doubt that Marx at this time shared the usual townsman's contempt for, as well as ignorance of, the peasant milieu, the actual and analytically more interesting German phrase ("dem Idiotismus des Landlebens entrissen") referred not to "stupidity" but to "the narrow horizons", or "the isolation from the wider society" in which people in the countryside lived. It echoed the original meaning of the Greek term idiotes from which the current meaning of "idiot" or "idiocy" is derived, namely "a person concerned only with his own private affairs and not with those of the wider community". In the course of the decades since the 1840s, and in movements whose members, unlike Marx, were not classically educated, the original sense was lost and was misread.
INFLUENCES ON THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
Marx and Engel’s political influences were wide-ranging, reacting
to and taking inspiration from German idealist philosophy, French
socialism, and English and Scottish political economy. The Communist
Manifesto also takes influence from literature. In Jacques Derrida
Specters of Marx : The State of the Debt, the Work of
Mourning and the New International, he uses
* Adoratsky, V. (1938). The History of the Communist Manifesto of
Marx and Engels. New York: International Publishers.
* Boyer, George R. (1998). "The Historical Background of the
Journal of Economic Perspectives . 12 (4):
* ^ Laski, Harold (1948). "Introduction". Communist Manifesto:
George Allen and Unwin . p. 22.
* ^ Laski, Harold (1948). "Introduction". Communist Manifesto:
George Allen and Unwin . p. 26.
* ^ Louise Yeoman. "Helen McFarlane – the radical feminist
admired by Karl Marx".
The Communist Manifesto
* v * t * e
Scorpion and Felix (1837)
* The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of
The Philosophical Manifesto of the Historical School of Law "
* Critique of Hegel\'s Philosophy of Right (1843)
On the Jewish Question
MARX AND ENGELS
The German Ideology
The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)
* Principles of
* Marx\'s notebooks on the history of technology * Tendency of the rate of profit to fall
* WorldCat Identities * VIAF : 174280547 * LCCN : n95092137 * GND : 4099310-3 * SUDOC : 027772705 * BNF : cb119743