The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto

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by Karl Marx
     
 

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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:
9781480132658
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
10/17/2012
Pages:
42
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.09(d)

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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 born in Trier to a German Jewish family that had converted to Christianity. As a student he was influenced by Hegel’s dialectical philosophy but later reacted against his mentor’s idealism and turned instead to the then new socialist movement. The Communist Manifesto (utilizing drafts by his friend Friedrich Engels) was written in a creative burst in Brussels for a German emigré society, the Communist League. After taking part in the failed revolutions of 1848, Marx fled to London, where he and his family lived in poverty alleviated only by Engels’ financial help. For some years, Marx was a London correspondent for a New York newspaper. He spent most of his time, however, researching in the British Museum to document his theories of class struggle and the “internal contradictions” undermining capitalism. His works include: The Poverty of Philosophy, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, The German Ideology, and A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
 
Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was born in Germany, the son of a textile manufacturer. After his military training in Berlin he became an agent of his father’s business in Manchester and immersed himself in Chartism and the problems of the new urban proletariat created by the industrial revolution. In 1844, the year he met Karl Marx, he wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England. The pair’s ideas were incorporated into The Communist Manifesto, although the actual writing was done by Marx. Not only did Engels provide Marx with money, but after 1870 spent much time assisting him in his research. After Marx’s death Engels continued his work on Das Kapital, and completed it in 1894, a year before his own death. He also wrote The Peasant War in Germany, The Origin of the Family, and Socialism, Utopian and Scientific.
 
Martin Malia did his undergraduate work at Yale and earned his Ph.D. at Harvard. He has spent most of his teaching career at the University of California at Berkeley. His principal works include Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism, 1812-1855, The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, and Russia under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum.

Stephen Kotkin teaches history and international affairs at Princeton. His books include Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse 1970-2000 and Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment. He formerly directed Princeton's Russian and Eurasian studies program (1996-2009) and served as the regular business book reviewer for the New York Times Sunday Business section (2006-2008). He founded and runs Princeton's Global History initiative.

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The Communist Manifesto 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 114 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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
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
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.
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.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Communism would work if people were trustworthy. The main ideaof it all isbthat all animals are equal, but some are equaler than others. This means that everyone is equal, but there is still a ruling class to keep things in order. As you can see with chin, communism kind of tore everything aparrt. My older brother checked out the communist manifesto from his school library and my little brother thinks that the communist manifesto copy the he got can destroy evil. Communism, mm, mm good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
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.
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."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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Shte
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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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