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The Communist Manifesto
     

The Communist Manifesto

4.1 22
by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, D. Ryazanoff (Editor)
 

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

Overview

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

Author Biography: Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Trier, Germany and studied law at Bonn and Berlin. In 1848, he settled in London, where he studied economics and wrote the first volume of his major work, Das Kapital, in 1867, with successive volumes following in 1884 and 1894. He lived in London until his death.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“L.M. Findlay’s excellent translation of The Communist Manifesto, embedded in a splendid introduction and a most carefully chosen appendix of Marx and Engels pieces, superbly places this nineteenth-century classic in an extraordinary historical context. There is no other edition at the moment that can match its quality in terms of translation, and its substance in terms of historical context.” — Renate Holub, Director, Interdisciplinary Studies, University of California, Berkeley

“Findlay engages the reader by depicting how personal and historical events shaped the thinking of Marx and Engels. At the same time, he clarifies why Marx and Engels pursue the manifesto format, explains its historical significance as a political genre, and highlights the importance of Marxist concerns in the post-industrial, post-Cold War era. Combined with the excellent array of appendices, Findlay’s translation should enrich readers’ understanding of the Manifesto’s historical context and help solidify their understanding of the fundamentals of Marxism.” — Bryon Moraski, University of Florida

“Findlay’s new edition of The Communist Manifesto is very scholarly, and the additional documents are a real bonus, providing an interesting context for the work. All in all, this is an excellent edition.” — Walter Adamson, Emory University

“A great teaching text.” — James Tully, University of Victoria

Renate Holub
"L.M. Findlay's excellent translation of The Communist Manifesto, embedded in a splendid introduction and a most carefully chosen appendix of Marx and Engels pieces, superbly places this nineteenth-century classic in an extraordinary historical context. There is no other edition at the moment that can match its quality in terms of translation, and its substance in terms of historical context."
Bryon Moraski University of Florida
"Findlay engages the reader by depicting how personal and historical events shaped the thinking of Marx and Engels. At the same time, he clarifies why Marx and Engels pursue the manifesto format, explains its historical significance as a political genre, and highlights the importance of Marxist concerns in the post-industrial, post-Cold War era. Combined with the excellent array of appendices, Findlay's translation should enrich readers' understanding of the Manifesto's historical context and help solidify their understanding of the fundamentals of Marxism."
Walter Adamson Emory University
"Findlay's new edition of The Communist Manifesto is very scholarly, and the additional documents are a real bonus, providing an interesting context for the work. All in all, this is an excellent edition."
James Tully University of Victoria
"A great teaching text."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780846202622
Publisher:
Russell & Russell Publishers
Publication date:
01/01/1963

Read an Excerpt

THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

 

INTRODUCTION

For much of the twentieth century, The Communist Manifesto was accepted as doctrine by those living under Communist rule as well as by those caught up in the fervor of revolutionary political activity, while others considered it a piece of propaganda of interest mainly to scholars of political history and international relations. But the Manifesto is really an extended set of provocative answers to questions about Communism, which emerged in the 1840s as a new vision of history and the nature of humans as historical beings, determined in all aspects by the material conditions of society. And as a work that places so much importance on the connection between ideas and artifacts and their historical moment, it has its own history.

In June 1848, less than six months after the Manifesto's first publication, Marx advocated shelving the document and disbanding the Communist League, which had requested in late 1847 that Marx and Engels write the Manifesto. After the widespread and unsuccessful revolutionary activity across Europe earlier in the year, it was already clear to Marx that the immediacy of the program outlined in the Manifesto could not well serve the political and social conditions of the times. Over the next twenty years, the Manifesto was largely disregarded. In the 1870s, with Marx prominent in the international socialist movement, the Manifesto came to be honored more as a document of symbolic historic significance than as a viable plan of action. By then, the vehement call to revolution in the Manifesto had been superseded by the move to accommodate different class interests within and through existing political structures, best exemplified by the flourishing of labor unions and reform legislation.

The Manifesto did not achieve canonical status as the essential informing document of the world Communist revolution until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia and the rise of Lenin. Treated for decades as a piece of writing imbedded in an era long past, the Manifesto came to be regarded as a perennial outline of political direction. Like sacred scripture, it engendered a body of orthodox interpretation, carefully constructed to fit to the changing world scene what were considered its universal propositions.

But what of the intrinsic qualities of the Manifesto? What assures that it will be read and discussed regardless of political circumstances? In part 2, Marx and Engels assert, "The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes" (p. 234-235). Marx and Engels, it would seem, intended the Manifesto not only to make clear to the world the political positions and views of Communists, in order to dispel the specter of misconception, but to also describe the causes and directions of historical change as manifested through the clear-eyed view of Communists.

In brief form, the Manifesto presents nothing less than a unified theory of historical dynamics, with class struggle as the central motive and all manifestations of politics and culture, including art and literature, derived from the prevailing system of material production. This gives way to an almost exuberant characterization of capitalist productive achievement that still holds our attention as a completely recognizable portrait of the relentless drive of modern industry and trade. Set against capitalism's wonders is the human cost of being subject to a system that drains personal incentive, wears out the body and mind, and results in profound alienation from the value of one's productive activities. The plight of the proletariat forces us to consider the harrowing condition of humanity stripped of all comforting illusions: "...man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind" (p. 223).

But Marx and Engels ultimately are concerned with the advent of a world in which the conditions of life will be uniformly benign and in which human relations will be in some way improved. What would be the moral basis of such a world? Marx and Engels claim that "Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis" (p. 242). In the end, readers of the Manifesto must confront a paradox that arises whenever we conceive of the individual as largely determined by circumstances. For the Manifesto is both a prediction of an inevitable course of history and a rallying cry to act in a certain way for the purpose of bringing about change and improvement. How to act autonomously in a world determined by forces more powerful than the individual is a timeless question.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why do Marx and Engels believe the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat will have a different result from all previous class struggles in recorded history?
     
  2. Why do Marx and Engels claim that the bourgeoisie inevitably produces its own gravediggers?
     
  3. What do Marx and Engels mean when they describe the proletariat as a revolutionary class?
     
  4. What do Marx and Engels mean when they say that capital has individuality but living persons do not? Is this true of members of the bourgeoisie as well as the proletariat?
     
  5. Why does a manifesto of the Communist party place such strong emphasis on the remarkable achievements of bourgeois capitalism?
     
  6. Why do Marx and Engels assume there is a strong affinity between the grievances of the workers and the aims of Communism?
     
  7. What gives Communists an advantage over the proletariat in understanding the conditions, direction, and general results of the proletarian movement?
     
  8. What evidence do Marx and Engels give for their claim that human consciousness—ideas, views, and conceptions—changes with every change in material existence?
     
  9. Why do Marx and Engels insist that the abolition of private property is central to revolutionary change?
     
  10. If one of the early stages of the proletarian revolution is a despotism of the working class, as Marx and Engels assert, what assures that this order will give way to a free, classless society?
     
  11. Why do Marx and Engels reject the possibility that existing social and political systems can be reformed?
     
  12. In part 3 of the Manifesto, why do Marx and Engels advocate supporting the bourgeoisie in Germany when it acts in a revolutionary way, instead of advocating direct support of the proletariat in its class struggle?
For Further Reflection
  1. Is it possible to define human needs, values, and goals outside the material conditions of a society?
     
  2. How could a historical process, governed not by ideals but by the clash of materially contending interests ("the class struggle"), lead to a morally desirable result?

 

ABOUT KARL MARX AND FRIEDRICH ENGELS

Karl Marx was born in 1818 to a professional family in Prussia with liberal political leanings, which, at that time, were likely to attract police surveillance. After a vigorous academic career at the University of Berlin, where he was influenced by the historical doctrines of the philosopher Hegel, Marx became editor of a radical newspaper in Cologne, which was soon suppressed. He then left with his new wife for Paris, where he began to meet with Communist organizations of French and German workers and formulate his socialist views.

Friedrich Engels, born in 1820, came from a family of affluent industrialists and quickly developed a capacity for leading a double life. While successfully tending to family business interests as manager of and partner in textile factories in Germany, and later in Manchester, England, he pursued his involvement in revolutionary politics through writing and meeting with radical workers' groups. In 1844, he published his classic study of the social ravages of industrialized society, The Condition of the Working Class in England.

Marx and Engels began their lifelong partnership to establish what has become known as Marxist Communism during a ten-day visit in Paris in 1844. Marx once remarked that their enemies used the singular verb when speaking of "Marx-Engels." However, though joined by their mutual commitment to the cause of revolutionary socialism, they were very different in temperament and background. Engels was brisk and lighthearted, with all the social refinements of a bourgeois gentleman, while Marx was the stereotype of the ponderous scholar—slow, careful, and somber. Though he lived in London for thirty-four years, Marx never learned to speak English fluently; Engels was fluent in more than a dozen languages.

In 1847, Engels helped organize the Communist League in London; the following year, he and Marx drafted a statement of principles for this group, Manifesto of the Communist Party. By this time, Marx had moved to Brussels after a series of expulsions from France and Germany. After the unsuccessful European revolutions of 1848, which occurred immediately after the publication of the Manifesto, Marx returned to Germany to edit a newspaper. When this failed, he settled permanently in London in 1849. Earning very little from his writing and dependent on the generosity of Engels, Marx pursued his studies in economic and social history in the library at the British Museum. During fourteen years of isolation from politics, he began to write a series of books on economic theory. The culmination of these writings was his greatest work, Capital, for which Engels provided essential information about business practices and industrial operations.

With the founding of the International Working Men's Association in 1864, Marx emerged from obscurity to be a leading spirit in the movement to unite workers across political boundaries, one of the goals professed sixteen years earlier in the Manifesto. After the Paris Commune was crushed in 1870, Marx became an internationally known figure, declaring, "Its martyrs are enshrined forever in the great heart of the working class." After Marx's death in 1883, Engels used his considerable social and writing skills and persuasive abilities to popularize their mutual views. Until his death in 1895, he was generally regarded as the foremost authority on the body of economic and social theory known as Marxism.

Related Titles

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843) and Hard Times (1854)
The popular Christmas story can be read in light of what is referred to in the Manifesto as "conservative, or bourgeois, socialism"—the attempt to ameliorate the misery of the working class through charitable works. Published soon after the Manifesto, Hard Times portrays the conditions in mid-nineteenth-century industrial England that provoked Marx and Engels's critique of capitalism.

V. I. Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917)
The chief architect of the Russian Revolution draws on the work of Marx and Engels to substantiate the imminent seizing of power and establishing of a proletarian dictatorship.

Karl Marx, Capital (1867)
This work elucidates the revolutionary implications of the capitalist system of production and argues that its demise is an inevitable consequence of its own development.

Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945)
This signal work of social philosophy includes a searching critique of Marx's theory of historical inevitability, arguing that it contains principles antithetical to the values of modern, liberal democracies.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755)
This essay speculates that the establishment of private property underlies civil society and is the root cause of all social inequalities and class differences. Rousseau's sentiments fed the fervor of revolutionaries and socialists, including Marx and Engels, for a century.

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)
In graphic detail, this novel of social realism depicts the brutalizing effects of industrial production on the lives of workers in the Chicago stockyards. Like the Manifesto, it conveys the impressive efficiency of capitalism while deploring its human cost.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"the greatest charter of our movement." —Rosa Luxemburg "an integral and systematic exposition of [Marx's] doctrine ... the best to this day." Lenin "laid the foundation for modern socialism." —Karl Kautsky

Meet the Author

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, and revolutionary socialist. Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was a German philosopher, social scientist, journalist, and businessman.
 

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The Communist Manifesto: 150th Anniversary Commemorative Editio 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting: it provides great insight into the minds of great communist leaders and the extreme side of socialism
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Soooo..........this is akward
Avid_ReaderMJ More than 1 year ago
Exellent copy. Wish it had a table of content to aid in navigation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you think the enemy of working people and of young people who want a human world is 'globalization' ,or Bush, or politicians in general, or just your boss : if you are fighting for a better life for all; if war, mass unemployment, poverty, racism, sexism etc, etc, repell and anger you , then you need this pamphlet. Now. You will keep wondering as you read , ' When was this written ? ' Because in this pamphlet two young revolutionary fighters ( one 29, one 30 yrs. old at the time ) describe the world we live in today : 'global ' capitalism .They also describe the only social class that can put an end to this system : the very working people who create all wealth and the basis for all culture. Not rhetoric, but science.With introduction by a co-leader ( with Lenin ) of the Russian Revolution and fighter against Stalin-ism , Leon Trotsky.You can see this same approach applied to today?s world in The Working Class And The Transformation Of Learning and Cuba And The Coming American Revolution by U.S. socialist leader Jack Barnes. ( Also from Pathfinder Press.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written by two young men who saw how to change the world. It's in-your-face. The opening gambit is a taunt: 'A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of communism.' Fighters flaunting their confidence. Great vivid images which ring all the truer today -- capitalism is like a sorcerer who has conjured up immense forces beyond his control, they say. But, ridiculously, forces of too-much wealth, too-much food, over-abundance in the face of starvation and devastation. Sound like today's world? They explain why this happens and how to end the paradox. The Manifesto answers the debates and rulers' propaganda of the time (and ours, too). Are communists godless heathens? Do they abandon morals and use women? Are rebels just lazy good-for-nothings? I like the Pathfinder edition because it's cheap, has an introduction by a leader of the Russian revolution (Leon Trotsky) which brings it up-to-date for our epoch and has lots of margin space in which to write notes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It does not work! Were is the great USSR now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Marx is always fascinating. But if you read this, read Paul Johnson's 'Intellectuals'. Gives you a good perspective on Marx and why he wrote this watershed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the Marx/Engles views are clearly wrong, the Manifesto makes for an interesting read nonetheless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written in a very persuasive manner. Reading the Manifesto really takes you back to those times and the gap betweem the rich and poor (bourgeiose and prolatriat). More importantly it Marx's really give valid reasons agaisnt capitalism and for communism. Its a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From each according to his ability to each according to his need. -Karl Marx
lenin1890 More than 1 year ago
the glory of the motherland is in this book. Long live the glorious revolution.