The Communist Manifesto: New Interpretations

Paperback (Print)

Overview

Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the original publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848, and including the Manifesto's complete text, The Communist Manifesto: New Interpretations is an ideal, one-stop text for students studying Marxism at the graduate or undergraduate level.

Organized into four sections covering issues of text and context, revolution, the working class and other social groups, and the relevance of the Manifesto today, this one-of-a-kind anthology provides a historical background to the writing of the Manifesto, highlights the main political and philosophical issues raised in the text, and expands current debates about the relevance of the text to contemporary politics. Including contributions from such highly regarded scholars as Terrell Carver, John Hoffman, and Wal Suchting, The Communist Manifesto: New Interpretations is a well-timed contribution to ongoing discussions about the Manifesto and Marxism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814715772
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Cowling is Principal Lecturer in Politics at the University of Teesside in England.

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Read an Excerpt

The Communist Manifesto

New Interpretations
By Karl Marx

New York University Press

Copyright © 1998 Karl Marx
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0814715761

Chapter One

MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY



A SPECTRE is haunting Europe-the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Two things result from this fact.

I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers to be itself a Power.

II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.

To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London, and sketched the following Manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.



I. BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS*



The history of all hitherto existing society is the historyof class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master* and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms: Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.

The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

The feudal system of industry, under which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry, the place of the industrial middle class, by industrial millionaires, the leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world-market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.

Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the mediaeval commune,* here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany), there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France), afterwards, in the period of manufacture proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, corner-stone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world-market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom-Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which Reactionists so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man's activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier and one customs-tariff.

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground-what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?

We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.

Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted to it, and by the economical and political sway of the bourgeois class.

A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity-the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons-the modern working class-the proletarians.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e.,



Continues...


Excerpted from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx Copyright © 1998 by Karl Marx. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
Preface
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
Manifesto of the Communist Party 14
1 The Hungry Forties': The Socio-economic Context of the Communist Manifesto 41
2 Re-translating the Manifesto: New Histories, New Ideas 51
3 Past Receptions of the Communist Manifesto 63
4 The Communist Manifesto and the Idea of Permanent Revolution 77
5 The Communist Manifesto, Marx's Theory of History and the Russian Revolution 86
6 The Cunning of Production and the Proletarian Revolution in the Communist Manifesto 97
7 Revolution? Reaction? Revolutionary Reaction? 106
8 The Communist Manifesto and Working-class Parties in Western Europe 119
9 The Communist Manifesto's Transgendered Proletarians 132
10 Marx and Engels, Marxism and the Nation 142
11 What is Living and What is Dead in the Communist Manifesto? 157
12 A Capitalist State? Marx's Ambiguous Legacy 166
13 The Communist Manifesto and the Crises of Marxism 177
14 The Communist Manifesto as International Relations Theory 190
Guide to Further Study 202
Index 205
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 103 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Essential Text for Everyone

    For those people who are confused by communism or opposed to it, I highly encourage you to read this remarkable text to understand what it is. Many people still debate about how "communism" has been practiced in the world and how it has had devastating effects on socity. Communism, in fact, has yet to be practiced. By reading this text, you will be able to clearly understand what Marx had in mind, and you will be able to discuss his political theory with an education and understanding. Don't let your opinions on communism be formed by what the skeptics say! This work, including others of Marx, illustrate what his ideas are and one will see that the "communism" that has been put into practice doesn't resemble his ideals at all!

    12 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2009

    A VERY DIFFERENT EDITION

    No, the Pathfinder edition of the Communist Manifesto is not introduced by "renowned social theorist David Harvey," whoever he is. It's introduced by renowned world revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Trotsky's approx. 12 pg. introduction written in 1937 is (along with the prefaces by Marx and Engels) worth more than all the other hundreds of introductions put together. This is the best edition.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2009

    Very hard to read all the way!

    This was honestly one of the most boring books I've ever read. I'm in complete opposite of the Marx Opinion!

    7 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2010

    Was this guy serious ?

    This ideology is a big failure. Marx basically combined Anarchism ( which i don't agree with it from the start because is impossible to live in a society without laws) with his own ideology and that's how Communism was born. Some people says that actually Communism never existed before because no Communist leader ( Stalin, Ceausescu ) ever respect what's in this book. Well if you study a little bit Communism in his existence you will find out that most of the Marxist theory were fully respected, such as classless people. However Communism did not worked because the ideology itself can't work. Never ever i read such a childish book, written for kids who dream with their eyes open.

    6 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2006

    What Marx and Engels really wrote

    In this particular edition of the Communist Manifesto, the reader is treated to an introduction by Leon Trotsky, one of the central leaders of the Russian Revolution as well as some correspondence from Marx and Engels. But it is the Manifesto itself which bears repeated readings and discussion. How could such a short work have been the basis for revolutions around the world? It is due I think to the fundamental points made: i.e. that workers of the world must unite---as they have more in common with each other than their own national rich and powerful. In very brief but cogent explanations, Marx and Engels give a concise history of mankind and prove that all history in the 'history of class struggles'. Be it feudal lords and serfs or autoworkers and General Motors, it is still the truth.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Most Profound of all Socio-Economic Literature

    The Communist Manifesto is probably the most misinterpreted and misused book in history, (probably second to the Bible). Though it may need few revisions to be applicable to the 21st Century global economy, the core message remains universal and timeless. Marx says that if globalisation is inevitable, workers must rise up to see to it that it serves for the best interests of all humanity. Though he wanted socialism to be established as a phase in fully industialised countries, history had other plans leading to the 1917 revolution in the backward feudal Russian Empire. Manay praise this book, a few curse it, but no one can ignore it. Simply, timeless.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    This is a book made for a child

    This book is a child story about a man who wants to take trading out of the world and trys to spark a revolution agaist the rich. Robin Hood with stupidity. With out rich we have nothing but Government. Government wants to take us over they will under Marxism. In China Communism kills religious practice. Karl was a spoiled brat who got money from his rich friend... So what is Capitalism? Free Trade, Property ownage, The right to work hard to get ahead. Communism? Mama government gives you food and water for work... Free healthcare sounds good but, nothing is really free. Government runs it, you gotta do what they say "but I don't wana have surgery it's against my religion" WELP TO BAD! Government owns you! So dear Communist and Socialist: Retardism is your real Party.

    3 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    Important to history but not economics

    The Communist Manifesto has resulted in some of the greatest tragedy and terrible genocide the world has ever seen (ex. Soviet Union, North Korea, and China). Its effects on history is immense and sad. Only in this context should the book be read. The economic theory the book presents is flawed yet unfourtunately tempting for many who wish to live in a world free of the responsibility and liberty of private ownership. A world free of economic liberty is also a world free of personal choice. For all you communist out there, and anyone interested in the relationship between socialism and totalitarianism, I recommend that you read 'The Road to Serfdom' by Hayek. The Communist Manifesto is important only to history and its economic theory should be abandoned.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Whoa!

    So believe it or not, I turned into a crispy kritter reading this book at the beach. Yea, I know I have no concept of lite reading. But, I had to read it, hearing that Marx's ideas were unrealistic and time has proven that point. I disagree. I have actually found many of Marx's and Engles ideas in the book has come true. I'm not going to give anything away, plus this would be the longest review in history. You have to read with a open and critical mind, I will admit it is a little dry if your not used to reading this type of books.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    Karl Marx was really on to something...

    This is a great book espousing what is, at least "in theory", the most fair social and economic system of principles in existence. However practical it is "in practice", that's another question. But a must-read for every citizen, whatever one's political persuasion, especially for those with a particular interest in sociology, economics, politics, and the role that government can play in bettering our lives. This is one of the great manifestos for all mankind. When we look at the politics and economics of today's modern democracy, we see how a few at the top are getting rich and phat off the sweat of the masses, just as Karl Marx says. I still prefer capitalism overall for all the individual opportunity and freedom it allows, but still, our modern-day economic problems have certainly proven the serious fallbacks and excesses of our dog-eat-dog capitalist system. It's basically one man exploiting another for personal financial gain in the name of money, basically, greed. The collective good is sacrificed to individualism. This is true. Buy this book and read it, it's fascinating.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2002

    A BETTER WORLD IS POSSIBLE

    Because of the tragic disasters of Stalinism, Maoism and other horrendous fascistic dictatorial regimes, the very word 'communism' brings with it many pejoratives. These misconceptions must be dispelled, and the Communist Manifesto can do that. It is clear that the current politco-ecomic model (i.e american capitalism) is failing so many people of the world; oppressing their democratic rights, and keeping them in repressed, subjigated conditions with little to eat or drink and nowhere to live. A better world must be built - a truly democratic world, ran by the people, for the people, not by the rich, for the rich as today's society is. Although the Communist Manifesto is specific to its time, its sentiments and programmes for a better world are still applicable today, and all those wishing to fight inequality, injustice and oppression should read this pamphlet. It is an essential for all revolutionaries.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Irony

    Am I the only one seeing the irony here? BUYING the Communist Manifesto? Anyone? No? Just me? Oh well, it's a nice socio-economic commentary on the 1800s, if you're into that. If you change you're views on socialism or capitalism because of it then I geuss that Marx achieved what he was trying to do: educating the proletariat of his views.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Karl Marx quote

    From each according to his ability to each according to his need.
    -Karl Marx

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Irrelevant but still thought provoking

    Marx and Engels truly had a plan in 1848. This manifesto is extremely intersting even today but its flaws are many. I recommend this to anyone who plans on reading into Lenin or the Bolshevik Revolution.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    The communist manifesto was a good way to understand the thought process behind the Communist system. The book provides a knowledgeable understanding to the ideas created by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. I would reccomend the book to readers interested in understanding the customs of the Communist party. However, the language used in the book is very reminiscent of the time in which it was written. It is full of definitions of older words that we rarely use today. Only readers motivated on learning about the topic would have the ability to finish Communist Manifesto without hesitation. Overall, a well written, first hand account of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels ideas on the topic of Communism.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2004

    A wonderful therory

    Karl Marx had the perfect plan for the perfect utopia. The problem with his plan was that the world is not perfect. None the less, this book is a great read for a very broad educaation. The 'Communist Manifesto' makes communism seem like the perfect government, the only problem is no one can seem to find a truly impartial leader.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Communism

    Interesting: it provides great insight into the minds of great communist leaders and the extreme side of socialism

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2013

    Sociology's favorite torture move

    I had to read this for the first time in graduate school and it was not as painful as I originally thought. It was definitely a better read than The German Ideology.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Communism

    Jugding from the nay reviews, it seems to me that many people missed the point. Karl Marx's beliefs were not practical. But they had some good in them. People in the reviews are jugding Marx's beliefs based on they way communism has been used. But that is not What Marx's really had in mind. Dictators have taken Marx's ideas and have used them, as humans usually do, for bad. That ia not Marx's fault. Marx had intended communism to be positive and helpful, but i would agree that he didnl not take into account that humans can not be trusted. So the point is: "true communism has been used, and because of human nature will be used as it was originally thought up."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2013

    Provides an interesting idea on viewing the world

    Though, as time has shown, communism has its flaws and has continuously procured a dictorial rule, it provides an idealist's view on how the world COULD, and I emphasize could, work if all indivduals put forth their best. We would all recieve the benefits of our comullative work and would progress far faster than we do today. However, as I said before, it has yet to work.

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