Reflection Essay on Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto
Brief Summary of the Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto was written by the communist Karl Marx in 1848. The manifesto presents the social condition of the class struggle which is prevalent both in the historical events and present societal condition. Upon presenting this condition, Marx analytically studies the problems of capitalism. The communist theorist tried to encourage the proletariats to be more cautious against the bourgeoisies who have the tendency to exploit workers in exchange of productions and wages (Marx, Engels and Hobsbawm, 1998).
Personal Reflections on Communism
Upon reading the Communist Manifesto, one would really understand why it has not only become a declaration of the objectives of the communist organization, but also has transcended into forging a concise explanation of the ideas that form the basis for the two known ideologies: Communism and Socialism. As Marx is a social thinker that traces his understanding through history, it is indeed fitting that he presented his ideas in this perspective. Marx view history as a class struggle, where he argues that members of each of the two main classes have common interests and these common interests, when collectively gathered are in conflict with those of the other class as a whole. This common interest as Marx views it then eventually leads to conflict between the members of the different classes.
In his Communist Manifesto, Marx posited that for every age, there are always two classes of society that will be pitted against each other. At the beginning, he presented that the two classes progressed from masters and slaves but eventually, because of the rise of complexity and the changes in the means of production, these two classes eventually became the ‘bourgeoisie’ (entrepreneurs) and the “proletariats’ (working class) of his time. As Marx consistently argued, one class has always had the leverage to exploit the other as their interests were always common and entirely opposed. The exploitation happens as one class gains control over the means of production (capital), which eventually establishes the power over the other class. One class then becomes the leader, while the other class eventually becomes the follower. This situation exists in history and as Marx argued, “continuous” for as the lower class gains enough power and control over the means of production, a new class would rise again that would sooner or later replace the exiting upper class. Thus, in historical perspective, this explains the kind of dialectical or cyclical process that happened, which created the merchant class and a working class from the clash between the feudalistic period peasants and the nobility.
Although Marx views historical events as dialectic, he also felt that this dialectical process has an end to it, and that there will come a time that the class struggle between the two classes will definitely cease. He argues that at some point in time, the working class would rise up and eventually overthrow the remaining classes; which has now become the basis for what we now know the “Proletarian revolution”. Marx, believing in idealism, argues that if only one class exists, there would no longer be a class struggle and that the dialectical process would end. The end result would be a world that no longer needs money, nation-states and governments as everything exists on communal living. Being a believer of this quasi-Hegelian view of history, its influence on Marx in writing the entire Communist Manifesto is apparent as one would read the whole article. It is this idea that gave history the air of inevitability.
The Pitfall of Communist Manifesto
Centuries have passed and reflecting on this Communist Manifesto amidst the development of not only our nation but also other nation-states, it is clear that the article’s declaration of the future scenario of history were proved to be unfilled since many of the predictions that is has presented has not actually taken place in actual history. Many have analyzed and presented various arguments on the reasons of these failures and upon reading most of them; I agree that the pitfall of this article is mainly on its inability to analyze the possible developments on the interactions of the two classes. Some argue that the theory on the labor value, wherein the “value” of a good or service that could be exchanged, or tend to be, or can be considered or measured as, is equal or proportional to the labor amount required to produce it, were mistaken. Such that as work has become specialized and advancements in producing various goods, the amount of specialization and expertise has affected the initially argued theory of labor.
Moreover, one real problem with the ideas presented in the Communist Manifesto is that Marx misinterpreted which among his classes would eventually embrace all the others. He believed, due the current events in his time, that the working class must in due course take over the means of production and find a way to bring down the capitalist system of production. What was misinterpreted is that he was not able to predict that the means of production may eventually become less and less expensive as time passes by, and as production becomes more efficient and effective in its development. Workers would then eventually become the “entrepreneurs” where they are protected and not exploited in societies that are managed by democratic and republican governments. More so, the creation of computers and other inexpensive access to various tools and implements of a service industry also aided in making small business a dominant and driving force. Various small industries are perfect examples of this wherein one only needs to buy only one or two means of producing a certain good and then be able to start-up a small business.
Networking has also dominated the airwaves wherein hundred of channels proliferate to aid the production process. The advent of the internet has also opened journal publishing up to any person who has a few dollars to rent a server, this eventually trimmed down the working class that Marx argued and converted them into the self-employed or entrepreneurs. Added to this development, the cost for entering into many, though not all, markets has become comparatively cheap other than before. One only needs creativity and a bit of hard work to start one business.
In essence, Marx was mistaken because there was really a class struggle or conflict. There was indeed class struggle throughout most of history; however, he was mistaken because he was not able to understand that the dialectic process would eventually work in its own advantage to elevate and elevate the working class to the entrepreneur class while not pulling all of society down to the oblivion wherein there are no government, nation-states and there is only one ruling class. In the end, we are still the actors in his process. As we have seen, the freedom allowed in a capitalist society has eventually brought about efficiency, specialization and development that have provided a high standard of living for the majority of societies in the world.
Marx, K., Engels, F., & Hobsbawm, E. J. (1998). The Communist manifesto: A modern edition. London: Verso.