Joseph Carpinelli English, 7 Mrs. Hilliard The Communist Manifesto: Book Critique April 5, 2013 In The Communist Manifesto, otherwise known as The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx, the author and experienced political writer, attempts to explain the intentions and beliefs of the Communist Party. He explains the bases for all historical development and dabbles in his view of how the revolution will occur. The vast majority of the manifesto is centered on capitalism and its flaws.
The manifesto does not actually go into much detail about how Communists would run the economy and society as a whole, and seems to be more about how he thinks Communists should go about bracing the revolution, their goals, and how he believes it will transpire.
The goals of the communists, as in the book, are to make the working class aware of class antagonisms, therefore instilling in them a need for revolution leading to the abolition of private property, and ultimately, a communistic world.
The beginning of the book opens with the statement of its purpose, which is to make the views and inclinations of the Communists public.
He discusses class struggles, property, and the nature of what he calls “proletariats”. In the beginning of section 1, Marx is stating that classes are created based on the economic system of the era. He is saying when an economic system are in place, this system is the bases for the creation of the different classes.
These classes are conflicted in the simple relationship of either being the oppressed or the oppressor. He also claims that this struggle between classes is the driving force for all historical development. This is apparent in the quote “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. ” (Marx, 13). He goes on to say that these relationships between classes will eventually become incompatible with the new and developing forces of production.
When this occurs, a revolution occurs, and a new ruling class emerges out of the old. This all seems plausible and makes quite a bit of since with many different societies. On the other hand, this is quite a generalization of over 5,000 years of complex civilization. Another thing to note is that there has not been much discussion of communism or communists themselves, and because the book is so short, short enough that it is often not even considered to be a book, this is already a good chunk into the book.
More-so towards the end of the first section, Marx talks about the quandary of the proletariats and how they must go about bettering their existence. Marx writes, “He becomes an appendage of the machine, and is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. ” (Marx, 24) In this, Marx argues that the proletariat is treated like a commodity and is viewed as part of the machinery with which they work. Marx also argues that the proletariat has importance only if he continues to produce and has no control in the earnings of his work.
The bourgeoisie has absolute control over the wages of the proletariat and continuously lowers the wages which is causing the existence of the proletariat to become unsustainable. Marx believes that the proletariats are extremely unique in the sense that are connected by means of new industrial communications technology, by a shared miserable existence, and the fact that they are the majority in their society and are still increasing in number. This is all quite accurate fact of the time and is an important idea to grasp while reading the manifesto.
The most significant characteristic of the proletariat, Marx goes on, is that they have nothing to lose. They have no property, no rights, and no time: their family relationships are destroyed. This is where communism really comes into play for the first time so-far; the proletariats must destroy the entire system, including private property. This is evident in the quote, “They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property. ” (Marx, 32).
A final important idea in this section is that this will be the final revolution because of the abolition of class antagonism and private property. He also explains that this stage in history is possible only due to the occurrence of all other stages in history that precede it. In saying this Marx is ignorant to the vast potentialities that the future may hold. Although his theory is well put together and backed up by quite a bit of fact, he assumes that he has gathered enough to affirmatively predict the future, which no one can ositively do. In another light, to be taken seriously, Marx would have to be confident in what he writes and have a definite idea of how the emergence of communism will play out. In this sense he does a really good job of sounding like he knows what he is talking about, and that he, definitively, has all of the answers. Section 2 of the manifesto begins with Marx discussing the relationship of the Communists to the proletariat and addresses some criticisms of communism.
Here he states that the immediate goal of the Communists which is to unite the proletariats and destroy the rule of the bourgeois shown in the quote, “The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, and conquest of political power by the proletariat. ” (Marx, 38). Marx believes that after the proletarians have achieved political power, their first step will be to abolish all private property due to them not owning any sort of property. Here he gives a glimpse of how he thinks the revolution will initially transpire.
Marx speaks about how he believes millions of people will behave, which is, in general, not a very safe prediction. Also in this section, Marx talks about how the prevailing ideas are the ideas that best serve the interests of the ruling class. The ruling class is who makes the rules that structure society, and those ideas lead to a change in the economic system or forces of production, thus, they support the ideas that lead to the end of their own rule. He also says the bourgeoisie only glorify property rights because in their society, they hold all of the property.
This is insightful and also very interesting because it appears to be true. Marx does a great job of fighting off some criticisms against communism: he takes the antagonists of communism, the bourgeoisie, and makes an extremely valid point as to the reasons why they oppose communism by making one of their main arguments sound extremely selfish. The third section of the manifesto focuses mainly on the view of other socialist and communist thinkers. Marx breaks down all other socialist thinkers into three sub-divisions: Reactionary Socialism, Bourgeois Socialism, and Critical-Utopian Socialism.
He argues that the approach of each of the three sub-divisions fails at communism because they are missing important pieces of communistic ideas. Reactionary Socialists do not realize that the rise and fall of the bourgeoisie at the hands of the proletariat are inevitable; Conservative Socialists fail to realize the proper relationship of classes as well as the fall of the bourgeois society; and Critical-Utopian Socialists fail to realize that revolution is inevitable and there is no way around it.
Marx thinks that all of these forms of socialist thinking oppose the thinking of what he considers to be true communism and actually advocates for the bourgeoisie: “They, therefore, violently oppose all political action on the part of the working class; such action, according to them, can only result from blind unbelief in the new Gospel. ” (Marx, 78).
Marx does a poor job of sounding professional in that he sounds like a small child, only in much more sophisticated language, arguing their point by essentially saying, “What you’re saying is wrong because even though it has many of the same aspects of what I am saying, because it is not exactly what I am saying, you are wrong and therefore oppose me and side with my enemy. ” Marx still makes some excellent points, but it would be easier to take him more seriously if he would only change his attitude towards other parties and thinkers as well as his tone.
The fourth, final, and by far the shortest section of the manifesto (3 pages long) concludes with the discussion of the role of Communists and how they work with other political parties. The main reason why Communists fight is for the worker, only in the context of the entire Communist revolution. Communists are willing to work with other political parties, including the bourgeoisie if need be, to ultimately work towards the current goal of the Communists, to instill in the proletariat or working class a recognition of the hostile antagonism between themselves and the bourgeoisie. In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. ” (Marx, 82)Here, Marx is stating that the ultimate goal of the Communists is and always has been a proletariat revolution and the abolition of private property and class antagonism. Marx believes that the Communist revolution is inevitable and was always meant to occur, and has been occurring, slowly, across many millennia and because there are stages to this process, the Communists may ave to, temporarily, support the bourgeoisie to achieve the ultimate goal. Communists are trying to unite the workers and are promising them freedom and a better world. At the very end Marx declares that the Communists are, by no means concealing their views and goals, but openly proclaiming them. He also declares for the bourgeoisie to tremble at the Communistic revolution and encourages the proletariats to fight. Finally, he then calls for all of the working class to unite against the bourgeoisie: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims.
They only declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKINGMEN OF ALL COUNTRIES UNITE! ” In this, Marx wraps up the manifesto. Here Marx does an excellent job of summing up the manifesto while at the same time, adding a new feeling to the whole thing giving a sense of excitement and enthusiasm, just the sense the Communists wish to instill on the working class.
To sum up the manifesto, it reflects the goals of Communism. In it Marx argues that class struggles are the motivating force behind all historical developments. The relationships between classes are defined by the era’s means of production or economic system. In time, the relationships are no longer compatible with the economic system and a revolution occurs, and out of it, a new class emerges to be the new rulers. In the time of Marx, was the class struggle of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Capitalism is becoming less compatible with this class relationship and will eventually lead to a revolution of the proletariat. When the proletariat revolution occurs, he will abolish all private property and the current class system: because of the nature of the proletariat, he has no private property, which prompts him to abolish it. The goal of the Communists is to promote this revolution and help lead this inevitable occurrence in the correct direction.
This was an extremely well written piece of writing where some valid and acceptable points were made. It had its moments where Marx was seemingly unprofessional-like and it read like the rant of a crazy old man who was spilling out his nonsensical dreams. Like any other piece of writing, this book had its ups and downs, but overall it was a good book. Most predictions in the book, however, did not come true, but the bases and work that went into it were astonishing.
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