The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto

3.8 68
by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

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"L. M. Findlay's elegant new translation is a work of textual and historical scholarship. Few books have had as much of an impact on modern history as The Communist Manifesto. Since it was first published in 1848, it has become the rallying cry for revolutionary movements around the world. This new Broadview edition draws on the 1888 Samuel Moore translation…  See more details below


"L. M. Findlay's elegant new translation is a work of textual and historical scholarship. Few books have had as much of an impact on modern history as The Communist Manifesto. Since it was first published in 1848, it has become the rallying cry for revolutionary movements around the world. This new Broadview edition draws on the 1888 Samuel Moore translation supervised by Engels - the standard English version in Marxist discourse - and on the original Helen Macfarlane translation into English of 1850." Throughout, Findlay draws on a variety of disciplines and maintains a broadranging perspective. Among the appendices are Engels' "Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith," correspondence and journalism of Marx and Engels, ten illustrations, and eight additional influential political manifestos from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Editorial Reviews

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

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."

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by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels



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: " 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.



  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?



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.

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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

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The Communist Manifesto 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were simply products of their time. They observed the opression of obvious capitalist England. Though the care of the working class has greatly improved, they are still treated, to scale, like trash. Marx and Engels show human nature and how no one will stay opressed, in theory. The ideas of the book are great but in todays capitalism it would be a imposiblity for a socialist/Marxist reform. Of course Marx or Engels couldnt have known how strong capitalism would have become,nevertheless, the book still has very strong points to be made about the working class. I heard from a earlier reviewer that one of the 'paradoxes' was that once the proletarian took power they wouldn't elect a leader and hand over power. The reviewers point was that due to human nature no one would just give up the power they fought for. Not many revoluitions have been succesfully carried out and sustained by the working class but one comes to mind and that is the French Revolution ( the second part). And the working class did give over power. So theres some historical evidence to back up this book. I would suggest this book to anyone honestly, its gives a very straight foward view of how capitalism cannot work forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this pamphlet. As a teenager, I know that kids today are raised with "communism is evil, capitalism is good, and that's that" without being explained to what exactly they are, and why one is considered bad, and the other good. this book is sometimes kinda boring at parts and hard to understand, mostly due to the vocabulary, but other times is wonderful, enlightening, and makes you upset about current society. you'll find yourself thinking, hmm communism is a good idea! i suggest this book to everybody frustrated with capitalism. WORKINGMEN OF ALL NATIONS, UNITE!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since Americans don't really know what communism is, they should probably pick up this book. The scholarly Karl Marx explicates his predictions for the proletariat to rise against the bourgeois, and the elimination of private property--this is communism. The short book sums up the true basis of the economic/political system at its very beginnings. What is communism? It is not what we were taught during the Red Scare. It is different and deeper than that.
AReese More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It may be a little difficult to read, but it's pretty short, so you can do it. Besides, it will be well worth your while. Whether you decide at the end if there's something to Marx's ideas, or if its all junk is up to you, but this is definately a work that you should read, if only to give you something to muse about in your spare time . . .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are some truly inspired and compelling ideas put forth in this work, which, being read from a twenty first century perspective, are indeed utopian and idealistic as has been proven by the course of history. Yet many of the idealisms of Marx's manifeso still incite one to examine one's own place in their community and consider the possibilities of a classless society, however unlikely they are to be realized. Definitely worth a read and ongoing discussion as history continues forward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't worry folks, I didn't read it to learn from it, I read it to do some homework for my next book and also to remind myself of the lunacy behind the book that stir up a lot of turmoil and misery in the world. I don't want to review the book itself, since there are many reviews already out there. I rather point out what it does to a free society. Communism/socialism creates equality for sure. It makes everyone equally miserable. How do I know? Because I lived in one of those so called Soviet created equalities. While there are many people who try to define what Soviets were as oppose to the socialism that was preached by this book, I would like to remind them that Lenin was a student of Marx's teachings. Not directly, but studying and documenting all that he could in order to rise up the masses of Russian people. Also, to remind everyone, the people were easily swayed, since the times of Tsar were not easy for many peasants and a large percentage of them were not educated, so it was easy to preach equality that can never exist in the real world to the mass of 'oppressed' and convince them to take away, not just from Royal Russian family and their supporters, but anyone who had something that they earned on their own. Kulaks, people who worked hard and had enough. The rest thought that spreading the others' hard work is a good idea. Sounds familiar in today's world. Whether it was equal and fair, well, so called Kulaks worked for what they had, so anyone can make that judgement call on fair. Marx speaks of what needs to be done and one that should stick out to everyone is this perfect society for the working man and NO INHERITANCE? Excuse me, I have seen this before, but just a reminder to everyone. Equal and fair, fine, I will byte, but after you work your whole life, you can not leave the inheritance and that is a good idea? It is a good book to read to understand the mind of a alcoholic, such as Marx, who was offered numerous opportunities to provide for his family and in not taking those opportunities, this bum allowed a few of his own kids die from starvation. Does that sound like a man whom anyone would listen to? If you would like a more realistic book than this one, I would recommend "Lord of the Ring" (sarcasm intended). Read it for your own knowledge, but to take any of this seriously is to say that you want to give up your freedoms to society, to others and in Marx's school of socialism to government, who are always 'just' (sarcasm intended again).
Bookjunkie40 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thirty pages in, and it's obvious that Marx never had a working class job. Moreover, when due diligence has been completed, it is a fact that he never had a working class job. None of his theories are based from experience. It's not that his theories are great, but bad in practice; the theories are empty, and therefore horrible when put in practice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Communism seems pretty legit..why wouldnt everyone want to be equal? Yes maybe it is ideaistic cuz there is no such thing as utopia but im sure some form of socialism would be the best way...i havent fully read this but i read excerpts from this for AP euro history...again tho my class thinks my communistic/socialistic ideas r insane why equality for all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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As a young adult this book has changed my political views and if your a person who wants to know more about Communism, Socialism, and how they view capitalism opposed to them; I would definitely pick this book up.
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