In a world full of opinions and choices, there are many books, journals, magazines, notes, letters, and so on that fulfil the ideology of a particular section of people. But, when speaking about the view of the classification of society into rich and poor, we would probably remember the most important modern political thinker Karl Marx for the ultimate contribution of his political document Communist Manifesto. Here, let us briefly look into his work and understand the core point of his discussion.
The Outline gives a clear idea:
The communist manifesto, as we all know, was intended to express the founding principles of the Communist League, a small network of around 300 German workers who operated in secret; it arose out of another group called the League of the Just; whose goal was the emancipation of humanity through the dissemination of a theory of collective property; it proclaimed the inevitable disillusionment of the modern bourgeois property system and the beginning of a classless society. But the document is less a statement of principles and more a dramatic call to action with a rhetorical force that still speaks to the profundity and justice of the capitalist system. This world, after the introduction of money as a means for the exchange of goods and materials from one hand to another, believed in the unlimited thought that I could control anything and everything. Such times prevailed around the globe when the capital was in the hands of a few who administered others just for the sake of earning and owing to their “surplus.” To elaborate on this line of thought, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote this famous pamphlet in 1848 that sparked a worldwide debate about communism and their ideology. To make it easy, this one big volume is divided into 4 sections, each explaining the concept of the rule of capitalism in the world.
The manifesto tells a story of the development of modern industrial production and the growing tensions between the two great social classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It provides a snapshot of Marx and Engels’s general method, which is spelled out in much greater detail in their jointly authored German ideology. In the preface to the 1893 edition of the manifesto, Engels affirms that the basic thought running through it was the idea that economic production constitutes the foundation for the political and intellectual aspects of society and that the tensions and contradictions in this economic mode of production gave rise to class struggle. The primacy of economics and of class struggle as the driving forces of human history make up the cornerstone of Marx Engels’s methodology which is called historical materialism. Hence, the first line of chapter one reads, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.”
The Bourgeois Revolution:
The manifesto is divided into four short chapters: the first tells the modern history of class struggle; the second outlines the historical role of the Communist Party in leading the proletariat; the third offers criticisms of rival socialist groups; and the fourth delivers a rousing call to arms for workers to unite and overthrow the bourgeois. The manifesto connects the concrete fight of workers, which they would have had direct experience with within their everyday lives, with an ancient history of the struggle between oppressors and oppressed through different ages. The message here was that society has always been organized unequally, with one part of society exploiting the labor of another. But there was something new and distinctive about the most recent form of bourgeois role. Chapter 1 offers a series of snapshots of the different stages of development towards a fully developed global capitalism. In Marx’s time, only the first steps of this development were visible. One of the reasons the manifesto still speaks to us is how accurate its predictions were about the spread of the capitalist system of production. Marx and Engels argue that the bourgeois revolution in production had led to enormous transformations in economic and social relations, and that many of these were positive steps in the history of humanity.
Marx and Engels described capitalism is like a sorcerer who is no longer able to control the power of his own magic. The bourgeoisie had conjured up a force that would inevitably lead to its own destruction. Why did Marx and Engels think that the workers would inevitably bring about the end of capitalism? It involves a specific type of relationship between capitalists and workers. Workers with no capital of their own, many of whom had been forced off their land or had to move to cities looking for work, were forced to sell their labor to survive. In 19th century European capitalism, many of these workers had no other choice but to take monotonous and soul-destroying work in large factories. These jobs paid low wages and often had terrible working conditions. Marx and Engels evocatively described the oppression of workers under factory conditions. As workers grew in number and became more concentrated, they began to understand themselves more as a unified and self-conscious class with shared interests and political programs. The danger was that workers could be divided amongst themselves and begin to compete against each other along the lines of nationality, race, or identity. The proletariat, according to Marx and Engels, was the essential and revolutionary class capable of putting an end to class society by seizing the means of production and instituting a democratic and collective role in economic production.
The Communist and Classless society:
In chapter 2, Marx and Engels addressed the role of communists in relation to workers and answered a number of objections to their political program. At the time of socialism and communism were new terms in Germany and had overlapping but not identical meanings. One of the reasons they give for choosing communism over socialism is that socialism was associated with middle-class bourgeois reformers who didn’t necessarily require the self-emancipation of the working class. Marx and Engels argued that the communists should come from and address themselves to the working class. Following this point, they also clarified what they meant by the abolition of private property. The problem with private property was that labor was exploited simply to produce more private capital. The communist program also called for the flourishing of women as equal members of society able to fully participate in all aspects of social life. The final goal for Marx and Engels was a classless association of producers where the free development of each was the condition for the free development of all.
Chapter 3 is the least-read section of the manifesto, partly on account of the fact that many of these social groups are no longer widely known. Marx and Engels distinguished their own variety of communism on the basis that it advocated a more ambitious plan of social and political reform that included public control over economic assets and a leading role for the working class. While Marx and Engels shared many of the objectives of the socialists, they saw their own theory as based on the actual development of economic relations, which would inevitably lead towards a system of cooperative production.
The Goal of Communism:
The final chapter of the manifesto finishes with a call to arms of all workers to unite in a struggle against the existing social and economic order. Marx and Engels emphasized that communists should fight alongside other progressive parties when their aim is the improvement of the condition of the working class. But they should never forget the hostile antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The fundamental problem of capitalism is the unequal social power which results in the private ownership of vast sums of wealth. As a result, the goal of communism is the abolition of private property and the Democratic ownership and management of productive assets. Given its current success, it’s ironic that the manifesto had little impact on the revolutionary events of 1848. It only gained in popularity through a republication and circulation in 1872. The manifesto asks us to consider our position in an oppressive system and to take a side in the ongoing class struggle between capitalists and workers.
The manifesto ends with a call for the proletariat, or working class, to come together. Invoking their famous rally cry, Marx and Engels say, “Working men of all countries, unite!”
The central thesis of the manifesto is that of class struggle, and its message has continued to find a receptive audience amongst workers. At this point in history, we should all be Marxists in the sense of accepting his analysis of our dilemmas. But we need to go out and find the cures that will really work. As Marx himself declared and I deeply agree: “Philosophers until now have only interpreted the world in various ways.” “The point, however, is to alter it.” With such concentration, the ideology that he improvised helped his work reach the peak of class differentiation in the world. The significant political theory of the Communist Manifesto is still in reference, thanks to Karl Marx.
Also Read: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844