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The Communist Manifesto, Chapter 1: Historical Materialism

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"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 Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies..." A spectre toils silently in sun-baked fields. It shuffles through dusty village squares. It slaves amidst the grime and drudgery of factory floors "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 Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies..." A spectre toils silently in sun-baked fields. It shuffles through dusty village squares. It slaves amidst the grime and drudgery of factory floors. It picks through the garbage of shanty-town alleys. It floats over office-tower cubicles row upon row. Wherever capitalism has had its parade our spectre follows quietly. It settles amongst the alienated, the impoverished, the exploited. It bears witness to millions of silent screams. More and more, we glimpse that ghost. But why a graphic edition? Put simply, in order to reanimate the text. To make it available to a new audience. To help us better understand our innate yearning for the promise of a better tomorrow and to re-acquaint us with a political pamphlet that forged the ideological foundations for one of the most idealistic yet repressive eras of human history.


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"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 Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies..." A spectre toils silently in sun-baked fields. It shuffles through dusty village squares. It slaves amidst the grime and drudgery of factory floors "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 Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies..." A spectre toils silently in sun-baked fields. It shuffles through dusty village squares. It slaves amidst the grime and drudgery of factory floors. It picks through the garbage of shanty-town alleys. It floats over office-tower cubicles row upon row. Wherever capitalism has had its parade our spectre follows quietly. It settles amongst the alienated, the impoverished, the exploited. It bears witness to millions of silent screams. More and more, we glimpse that ghost. But why a graphic edition? Put simply, in order to reanimate the text. To make it available to a new audience. To help us better understand our innate yearning for the promise of a better tomorrow and to re-acquaint us with a political pamphlet that forged the ideological foundations for one of the most idealistic yet repressive eras of human history.

30 review for The Communist Manifesto, Chapter 1: Historical Materialism

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 fr 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    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 u 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    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 count 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. 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 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

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

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pouting Always

    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 hav 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    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 bourgeois 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. :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    What can I say? Marx was right. Almost.

  8. 5 out of 5

    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 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Xio

    Its awful fun to grow up marxist in the US. You get to go to meetings where you, as a kid, soon realize there's no point in paying attention so off you go with the other rowdy tots into the ghetto to make trouble with whatever you find to hand. And you get to read this novella and if you're bored and underchallenged but over bothered you can begin to argue against american capitalist imperialism and the growth of consumerist doctrine using your new found propaganda skills til you bait a teacher i Its awful fun to grow up marxist in the US. You get to go to meetings where you, as a kid, soon realize there's no point in paying attention so off you go with the other rowdy tots into the ghetto to make trouble with whatever you find to hand. And you get to read this novella and if you're bored and underchallenged but over bothered you can begin to argue against american capitalist imperialism and the growth of consumerist doctrine using your new found propaganda skills til you bait a teacher into telling you to move to Russia if you like that stuff so much (*true story)

  10. 5 out of 5

    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 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    2011 thoughts A very important book at the time it was written. Some would conclude that it was the threat of the Communist that reformed the system to allow for leisure time for the working class. Organized labor reformed American business and transformed Europe. Americans still greatly oppose communism/socialism in all it forms (except for social security, medicare, public roads and parks, pork projects that benefit their neighborhoods, OSHA, veteran affairs......). ---------------------------- 2011 thoughts A very important book at the time it was written. Some would conclude that it was the threat of the Communist that reformed the system to allow for leisure time for the working class. Organized labor reformed American business and transformed Europe. Americans still greatly oppose communism/socialism in all it forms (except for social security, medicare, public roads and parks, pork projects that benefit their neighborhoods, OSHA, veteran affairs......). ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Update for 2015 Reread this today and reminded myself how in the historical context this work was important and how so many today have little idea what it really says. Marx and Engels were not hell bent on Soviet type domination. They would never expect communism to take root in Russia a vast agrarian society. Oddly though that is the only place communism or a totalitarian state calling itself communism ever did take hold. Marx and Engels saw the problem in industrialized societies. People flooded the cities for jobs, wages went down, young children needed to work to help support the family. There were no safety nets that we enjoy today like 40-hour work weeks, minimum wages, and child labor laws, let alone any benefits. Industrialization had destroyed society and divided the population. The skilled labor class was displaced by mass produced goods. The population became two classes the very small property owning bourgeois and the huge working class proletariat. Skilled labor was absorbed by the proletariat. The bourgeois became the ruling class; they even used the proletariat to help rid them of the aristocracy. The movement Marx and Engels documented in the Manifesto was to end the deplorable conditions in the mid-19th century industrial world. They saw no way to do this except for revolution. As the unrest grew in Europe the bourgeoise and industry saved themselves. Rather than risk losing everything compromise came about. Government and labor unions worked to increase factory safety, labor, child labor. Education expanded, England reformed the Poor Law, and something unheard of developed --leisure time for the common man. A middle class developed. The middle class is important to capitalism because they are the consumers, and in order for capitalism to grow it must create new markets or it will stagnate. These reforms created a consumer class that allowed the bourgeoisie to continue in their ways making up for their losses at the factory with new markets. The middle-class saw it possible to advance and the unskilled worker pool shrank with new oppurtunity. Communism did fail, but not in the way most people think. It became a threat and it was appeased. The industrial world reformed to relieve the threat of violent takeover. The proletariat did have a steep numerical advantage over the bourgeoisie (much like today's 99%). Communism never took hold in the areas it was intended to. It could be reforms or the entrance into the world of consumption that allowed this either through availability of affordable housing, plentiful food, and material goods. People who own tend to be more content than those who long. Even if what they own is a tiny fraction of what others own. The failure of communism came in the form of social democrats in Europe and liberalism in America. Marx and Engels believed that capitalism could not be reformed and needed to be destroyed. History has shown otherwise. Reformed and regulated capitalism has created the greatest wealth for the greatest number of people on Earth. America, Europe, and Japan have regulated capitalism. Even "communist" China has jumped on the bandwagon. (Now what all this creation of wealth is doing to the planet and environment is another story.) I'll mention this again because it deserves mentioning. The Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, and others were/are not communist. They never met the criteria; they never developed the system. Very little separated them from right wing dictatorships in reality. You can call a cat a dog all you want, but its not going to bark.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fei Fei

    The terms Marxism and Communism are so misused nowadays that it is difficult to hold an intellectual conversation with people about this deeply fascinating political and economic theorist. It is partly the fault of the school curriculum, I fear. For whenever schools teach Marx, they inevitably always start with this book, the Communist Manifesto. But this is precisely the worst place to begin understanding Marxist philosophy. The Communist Manifesto is an anomaly in Marx's work. Strictly speakin The terms Marxism and Communism are so misused nowadays that it is difficult to hold an intellectual conversation with people about this deeply fascinating political and economic theorist. It is partly the fault of the school curriculum, I fear. For whenever schools teach Marx, they inevitably always start with this book, the Communist Manifesto. But this is precisely the worst place to begin understanding Marxist philosophy. The Communist Manifesto is an anomaly in Marx's work. Strictly speaking, it is not even a formal piece of argumentative writing, neither particularly theoretical nor informative (though certainly engaging a read). The Manifesto was originally a rally speech, given to assemblies of deeply dissatisfied factory workers in a time before unions and labour laws were formalized (which, shortly after Marx's major publications, were formed). Marx was trying to rouse these workers to take into their hands their own fate and change the economic structure they feel trapped in. The ideas Marx proposes in this piece of work were sparse and barely formed because its purpose was not to lay out the foundation of his theories, but to inspire and incite. It is unfortunate that this is the most widely read piece of Marx's work because it forms the smallest part in his theories. In particular, I find the critiques Marx raises concerning the system of Capitalism and its effects on the social fabric to be particularly astute and wholly accurate. For so long have people labelled Marx as a crazy-thinking radical that they've failed to remember that he was actually a trained lawyer with a deep understanding of business and economics. All the negative outcomes he forsees inherently built into our economic structure has been borne out - perhaps even more accurately than Marx himself could have envisioned. For example, he identifies the three ways that capitalists make money: depress the wages of the labourers they hire, overvalue the value of the end product, or somehow obtain the raw materials for production for free (eg steal it). The most common way capitalists choose to turn a profit is depress wages. Wage labourers lack sufficient bargaining power to prevent this because the nature of their work makes them easily replaceable with the pool of available unemployed inherent in a capitalist society. Capitalists will always seek ways to suppress wages in order to turn larger profits, willing to replace uncooperative workers with ones willing to accept the lower wages. Now tell me, does this not sound like the kinds of multinational corporations we have today, outsourcing jobs in an effort to cut costs? Do not get me wrong. Marx does not present a utopia of political justice and governance. In many ways, the solutions Marx presents as a response to Capitalism are insufficient and ill-elucidated. But I think people really need to gain a better appreciation for his work (and the sheer size is sort of staggering) because the arguments Marx presents to the flaws of the Capitalist economic structure and the problems he sees facing a Capitalist society are extremely compelling and worthy of consideration. In my humble opinion, one is better off starting with his early 1844 Economic Manuscripts than this Manifesto.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steve Evans

    No one should feel the need to agree with this short polemic to realise that it is one of the most important books ever written. It should be required reading in schools really, but anyone who hasn't read it should nip out and get a copy straight away, and put her or his nose in it. Most though not all of Marxism is summed up in it, and unless one is really dedicated, very little else is needed for an understanding of "Marxism". I was one of those people and have read a lot of Marx and Engels an No one should feel the need to agree with this short polemic to realise that it is one of the most important books ever written. It should be required reading in schools really, but anyone who hasn't read it should nip out and get a copy straight away, and put her or his nose in it. Most though not all of Marxism is summed up in it, and unless one is really dedicated, very little else is needed for an understanding of "Marxism". I was one of those people and have read a lot of Marx and Engels and their followers over the years, and still dip into their works from time to time. They were misunderstood by practically everybody, most crucially by their followers and even themselves, yet pregnant with astonishing insights that can help anyone make sense of a confusing world. Sadly, Marx opened up the possibility of distorting his methods and his insights, as well as his beliefs, in a way that enabled later "Marxists" to employ the most incredible methods in his name, and it is now hard, even impossible, not to associate him with mass murder and truly crazy political methods and systems. He would no doubt have been horrified to see what was done in his "honour", but I am not sure it is possible to exonerate him on that basis. Even so, this little book is a must for any thinking person. Combined with the preface to the Critique of Political Economy - and just a few pages of that really - nearly everything most thinking people need to know about "dialectical and historical materialism" may be found. For a searching critique of Marx's methods and outlook, Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies is wonderful. Popper is also essential reading in my opinion for anyone wishing to be literate in political philosophy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The history of all hitherto existing society* is the history of class struggles. * That is, all written history. +++ We read the same written history and read it as progress, as stories, etc. The real history, on the other hand, is something else. Played out differently. Yeah, that is the catch. This was a reading of only the bare text (along with the many prefaces!). It was very powerful and I am now reading the Penguin edition with the really long introduction next. Will write more about this imp The history of all hitherto existing society* is the history of class struggles. * That is, all written history. +++ We read the same written history and read it as progress, as stories, etc. The real history, on the other hand, is something else. Played out differently. Yeah, that is the catch. This was a reading of only the bare text (along with the many prefaces!). It was very powerful and I am now reading the Penguin edition with the really long introduction next. Will write more about this important book there. In the mean time, it is hardly 40 pages - why haven't you read this yet? It is not often that you get the summary of one of the most influential thought-structures in history in under 40 pages! It was a rhetorical masterpiece too, by the way.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Very valuable for the political formation of any citizen, even if the reader does not agree with the foundations of communism, the Communist Manifesto is nothing more than a meaning of spreading the opinions, goals and tendencies of this ideology, linked to the era in which the authors of the work lived, that is, the end of the nineteenth century. Several themes are covered in the book, among them we can mention: 1. The eternal class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; 2. The va Very valuable for the political formation of any citizen, even if the reader does not agree with the foundations of communism, the Communist Manifesto is nothing more than a meaning of spreading the opinions, goals and tendencies of this ideology, linked to the era in which the authors of the work lived, that is, the end of the nineteenth century. Several themes are covered in the book, among them we can mention: 1. The eternal class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; 2. The various branches of socialism in the late nineteenth century, among them: - Reactionary Socialism; - Conservative or bourgeois Socialism; - Scientific Socialism; - Utopian Socialism; - Etc. In addition to these ideas, Mark and Engels sought to chart a position of the communists in the late nineteenth century against the opposition parties at the time. Certainly an inseparable book for those who wish to pursue a degree in the areas of history, social sciences, philosophy, geography, etc.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I read this on the train to Manchester, appropriate reading when approaching one of the UK’s biggest centers of Victorian industry and the place where Marx and Engels met to discuss ideas in the mid-1840s. Marx was the chief author of this 50-page pamphlet, first published in London in 1848. It had never occurred to me that it was first issued in German, Marx’s native language. Like Darwin’s Origin of Species, another seminal Victorian text, this has so many familiar lines and wonderful metaphor I read this on the train to Manchester, appropriate reading when approaching one of the UK’s biggest centers of Victorian industry and the place where Marx and Engels met to discuss ideas in the mid-1840s. Marx was the chief author of this 50-page pamphlet, first published in London in 1848. It had never occurred to me that it was first issued in German, Marx’s native language. Like Darwin’s Origin of Species, another seminal Victorian text, this has so many familiar lines and wonderful metaphors that have entered into common discourse that I simply assumed it was composed in English. My eyes glaze over at politics or economics, so I valued this more for its language than for its ideas. Part II, “Proletarians and Communists,” is the most focused part if you want to sample it. Here are some of the memorable phrases: “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.” “The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air.” “In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past.” “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 labor of others by means of such appropriation.” (The last paragraph) “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!”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    wow, this was just amazing. i expected it to be long and dry and boring but instead it's like a pamphlet, it's a stirring infomercial, and the writing is incredible, like walt whitman or tennyson's "ulysses"-level rhetoric. i mean when you get to the list of the changes they actually want to make, you go OH JEEZ NO I DON'T THINK THAT'S GONNA WORK!!! but you can't help but see how this would've moved people to action (and probably still continues to do so to this day). it's electrifying and mesme wow, this was just amazing. i expected it to be long and dry and boring but instead it's like a pamphlet, it's a stirring infomercial, and the writing is incredible, like walt whitman or tennyson's "ulysses"-level rhetoric. i mean when you get to the list of the changes they actually want to make, you go OH JEEZ NO I DON'T THINK THAT'S GONNA WORK!!! but you can't help but see how this would've moved people to action (and probably still continues to do so to this day). it's electrifying and mesmerizing and often just plain undeniably right. 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. In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Belhor

    This of course, like many other ideologies, looks good on paper.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    An introduction to a historical work (or any work for that matter) should not be a thorough deconstruction, undertaken from an ideologically opposite standpoint. The reader should be given an introduction and in fact (as much as possible) a defense of the work. This introduction sets out to do the opposite. I don't have a problem with Marx being critiqued but it should have been done in an independent book. This is like making a reader buy something for the value he attributes to the main work a An introduction to a historical work (or any work for that matter) should not be a thorough deconstruction, undertaken from an ideologically opposite standpoint. The reader should be given an introduction and in fact (as much as possible) a defense of the work. This introduction sets out to do the opposite. I don't have a problem with Marx being critiqued but it should have been done in an independent book. This is like making a reader buy something for the value he attributes to the main work and then forcing a criticism of it down his throat, when all he wanted was a commentary on the main text. 3 stars for this edition, only because I bought it for the intro and it did not serve its purpose: of introducing me to the work and helping me understand it better. It only tries to prejudice me even before I read!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, 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. What can or should It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, 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. What can or should be said? This screed appears both pivotal and yet fantastic. How should we proceed and parse? I found it strange that I had never read this pamphlet. It goes with out saying that I had absorbed all of its aims previously by osmosis and secondary references. I marveled at its poetry and shuddered at the displayed certainty. Such ruminations on historical inevitability are simply chiliasm. No one could fathom in the 19th Century how pernicious and gripping nationalism would prove nor, the ghostly strains of Islam, especially in Central Asia. The fact that capitalism could turn matter into liquid should've tipped off Karl and Fred about the nature of their foe. We have proved to be whores. We are also driven by baubles and thrive on peer recognition. Self Criticism was always going to be a hard sell. Marx and Engels announced their agenda in this manifesto. It was calmly stated that private property would be abolished. Collectivization flashed across my mind but appearing just as suddenly was the bloody strikebreaking in South Africa in 2012. Do you have a world to gain, Jacob Zuma? Oh those imps of our natures.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Greg Brozeit

    The most boring and most interesting thing I've ever read. The most profound and most ridiculous thing I've ever read. The most frustrating and most coherent thing I've ever read. The most far-seeing and most fantasy-derived thing I've ever read. But I'm really glad I read it, occasionally re-read it, and am influenced by it, good or bad. In my opinion, much of the Communist Manifesto is a restatement of Luke 6:31. No matter if you think this is important or tripe, if you've actually read it, the The most boring and most interesting thing I've ever read. The most profound and most ridiculous thing I've ever read. The most frustrating and most coherent thing I've ever read. The most far-seeing and most fantasy-derived thing I've ever read. But I'm really glad I read it, occasionally re-read it, and am influenced by it, good or bad. In my opinion, much of the Communist Manifesto is a restatement of Luke 6:31. No matter if you think this is important or tripe, if you've actually read it, then I hope you will agree with me that the intent was a just world. You may disagree about the means, but not its aspiration. Honestly. Thanks for reminding me, Luís!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rupert Dreyfus

    Whether you disagree with Marx or not, this is an important book. It was part of a wider debate back when the idea of revolutionary strategy was taken seriously by the intellectuals of the day. I personally favour the principles of anarcho-syndicalism as being the path towards a freer, more democratic and peaceful world. I also think manifestos such as this lead to dogma rather than allowing revolutionary activity to be experimental and spontaneous. That said Marx is an important figure in the de Whether you disagree with Marx or not, this is an important book. It was part of a wider debate back when the idea of revolutionary strategy was taken seriously by the intellectuals of the day. I personally favour the principles of anarcho-syndicalism as being the path towards a freer, more democratic and peaceful world. I also think manifestos such as this lead to dogma rather than allowing revolutionary activity to be experimental and spontaneous. That said Marx is an important figure in the debate and anyone interested in revolutionary ideas should consider reading this book as to get a basic understanding of Marx and what the original vision of communism looked like. I'll have to reread it someday as it's only short. It's been a while.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    I'm not entirely sure how you're supposed to rate the book that inspired so many dickheads to nurse grandiose ideas of taking over the world, but I'll play it safe and give it a neutral three stars. I didn't read this for pleasure, but for knowledge, as I wanted to see what are the root ideas to what we now,sneeringly, call "communism". I am not surprised I found it at times, very logical, and at other times very much on point - after all, some of the communist ideas are natural developments, bu I'm not entirely sure how you're supposed to rate the book that inspired so many dickheads to nurse grandiose ideas of taking over the world, but I'll play it safe and give it a neutral three stars. I didn't read this for pleasure, but for knowledge, as I wanted to see what are the root ideas to what we now,sneeringly, call "communism". I am not surprised I found it at times, very logical, and at other times very much on point - after all, some of the communist ideas are natural developments, but functioning communism on a large scale is an utopian system worthy of Orwell - oh, right, he already talked about that!... and how it turns into a dystopia instantly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jo (A follower of wizards)

    For once, I am unsure on how to rate this, so I am going with a safe and sturdy three stars. I certainly think this is worth a read, although, it won't appeal to every individual, unless you have interests in Political History or theory. On the whole, it was a short, but fairly interesting piece of work. It gives a grand insight into the middle 1800's political and also the social life. To be honest though, a hell of a lot has changed since this was written, and without an introduction, I would For once, I am unsure on how to rate this, so I am going with a safe and sturdy three stars. I certainly think this is worth a read, although, it won't appeal to every individual, unless you have interests in Political History or theory. On the whole, it was a short, but fairly interesting piece of work. It gives a grand insight into the middle 1800's political and also the social life. To be honest though, a hell of a lot has changed since this was written, and without an introduction, I would have found some of this hard to understand and evaluate. Also, there are a lot of words and terms used, that are certainly not in common use as of today.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Reread this recently and basically yup.

  26. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    A bit different purpose here, in comparison with the Norton Critical edition of the same basic text. Handsome hardbound, 150th anniversary, not quite a coffee table edition (no pictures), &c. Introduction by Hobsbawm is cool. He notes that the manifesto of the ‘communist party’ refers to no actually existing organization (12) but that its “political rhetoric has an almost biblical force,” “compelling power as literature” (15). Authors did not describe the world as it had already been transfo A bit different purpose here, in comparison with the Norton Critical edition of the same basic text. Handsome hardbound, 150th anniversary, not quite a coffee table edition (no pictures), &c. Introduction by Hobsbawm is cool. He notes that the manifesto of the ‘communist party’ refers to no actually existing organization (12) but that its “political rhetoric has an almost biblical force,” “compelling power as literature” (15). Authors did not describe the world as it had already been transformed by capitalism in 1848; they predicted how it was logically destined to be transformed by it. We now live in a world in which this transformation has largely taken place. (17) He criticizes M&E insofar as “the tendency for capitalist development to generate an essentially revolutionary proletariat could not be deduced from the analysis of the nature of capitalist development” (emphasis original) (25). And he wants to emphasize that one result of class conflict predicted in the manifesto is “the common ruin of the contending classes” (16, 29)--which result is not often considered (though he alludes to Meszaros' Socialism or Barbarism fairly expressly). Manifesto itself is of course a world classic, and section I’s praise and consequent critique of capitalism is one of the great moments of leftwing writing. We see the seeds of Adorno & Horkheimer in lines such as “Because there was too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce” (42). Am seeing the seeds of Agamben in lines such as how the bourgeoisie is “unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure the existence to its slave within his slavery” (50)—the bourgeoisie can’t maintain ‘the bare life’ of zoe as a matter of adherence to basic market mechanism. That is: “The average price of wage labour is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer” (emphasis added) (53). Proletarian is disclosed as prosthesis of production when existing merely as “an appendage of the machine” (43), perhaps authorizing philistine business persons in their obtuse belief in ‘human capital.’ This is the race-to-the-bottom, “as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level” (45). The apousia of the eponymous organization is damned curious, for M&E write for a party that does not yet exist at the time of their writing. They mention that the “organization of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party” (46) while describing intra-class competition. Surely the proletariat exists as a class-in-itself by virtue of labor’s relation to capital in the production process. But not yet is it class-for-itself, a Hegelian atom brought to self-consciousness. That is the moment that history jumps the shark, the schwerpunkt of world historical development, at which point the self-conscious proletariat, similar to a pissed off AI (indeed, proletarian revolution is the model there), launches its missiles at targets in Russia because it knows that the Soviet counterattack will destroy its enemies over here. Formation of a class-for-itself is the determinative event, of which the organization of a proletarian political party (as here) is mere epiphenomenon, making the Revolution a foregone conclusion. The causality thence is “first a national struggle” wherein the “the proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie” (49), very much contrary to the ideas of, say, postmodernized reformed anarcho-marxists of the Frankfurt School (ahem) who prefer that the race-to-the-bottom conclude and equalize all states therein at the most abject position and thereby in such kenomatic crucible the irrationalisms of nationality might be burned away, leaving only naked class-for-itself uncomplicated by nationalist bullshit. But there is an ugly aporia here, as we have already seen that class-for-itself must precede the formation of the party—and yet: “The immediate aim of the Communists [NB: who are not organized into a party yet] is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat” (51). Proletariat is always already a class-in-itself because of relations of production for the tenure of its existence—but class-for-itself must precede formation of the party, as above. Here, however, the party is presumed, and it is forming, apparently, the class-for-itself—which authorizes, sadly, Leninist vanguardism. Another striking thing about this manifesto (etymology from Latin for ‘clear’ or ‘conspicuous’!) is the degree to which is tooths upon a colloquy that is very old: “Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power” (33)—that’s the haunting spectre, after all. It’s parousia, and it’s apousia. But also: “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property” (54)—very much in dialogue with an unidentified interlocutor. Much water under the bridge, even in 1848. Recommended for those who support every revolutionary movement, readers who disdain to conceal their views and aims, and persons who will let the ruling classes tremble.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Like many people (at least of my generation) I got this out of the library when I was in high school. You can't describe this as "good" or "a good read" etc. I would however recommend reading this with an open and thoughtful mind. I don't see how any thinking person can read this without seeing the logical fallacies. What is presented in this book is more properly called Marxist Communism or Marxism. But with only a little knowledge of history it is obvious that wherever "classic" Communism or Ma Like many people (at least of my generation) I got this out of the library when I was in high school. You can't describe this as "good" or "a good read" etc. I would however recommend reading this with an open and thoughtful mind. I don't see how any thinking person can read this without seeing the logical fallacies. What is presented in this book is more properly called Marxist Communism or Marxism. But with only a little knowledge of history it is obvious that wherever "classic" Communism or Marxist Communism has ever been tried it has been a failure, bringing want and misery rather than its stated goal of betterment for all. The only ones who "prosper" under communism are the ones running the show....true in any form of large intrusive government however. "How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin." Ronald Reagan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ford

    An interesting insight into the original idea of communism. It all sounded so great Marxy, didn't it? Shame about the millions upon millions of deaths that ensued, you bastard!! I'd recommend this to all the anti-capitalists who dream of 'a change' in modern society. Be careful what you wish for; this manifesto was extremely well-intended. Seriously though, this should be on everyone's bucket list. Especially if you have a passing interest in political history.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I just re-read this for a project and what really stuck out at me was how sarcastic it was! Ha Marx and Engle were the original ironic hipsters

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Rough, muscular verses from Mr. Marx over here. There are a bunch of good one liners in this well written work. Most of the ideas in it rub me the wrong way, but it explains the theory's political side pretty well. Even this would be a poor introduction to Marxism though. I remember trying to read this without any background knowledge and it came off as bald assertions. The lack of much economics in here sort of limits its explanatory power. The most interesting part of this is part III wherein h Rough, muscular verses from Mr. Marx over here. There are a bunch of good one liners in this well written work. Most of the ideas in it rub me the wrong way, but it explains the theory's political side pretty well. Even this would be a poor introduction to Marxism though. I remember trying to read this without any background knowledge and it came off as bald assertions. The lack of much economics in here sort of limits its explanatory power. The most interesting part of this is part III wherein he addresses the other socialist schools of the day. His critique of Proudhon's mutualist anarchism as conservative or petty bourgeois socialism was interesting, as was his critique of the Christian socialists as band aids for the aristocracy, Aristsocratic socialists as failed tyrants who are just hopping on with the proletarians to sack the bourgeoise, and Saint-Simonians/Owenites as paternalistic chumps who lived too early to see what the workers are capable of in a class war. Not the densest or most brainy book, but basically a fun extended blog post by Marx.

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