The Communist Manifesto

first publication date:  1848-02-21
original title:  Das Kommunistische Manifest
original language:  German
movement:  Marxism
narrative location:  Germany

The Communist Manifesto (German: Das Kommunistische Manifest), originally the Manifesto of the Communist Party (Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), is a political pamphlet written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London in 1848. The text is the first and most systematic attempt by Marx and Engels to codify for widespread consumption the core historical materialist idea that, as stated in the text's opening words, "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles", in which social classes are defined by the relationship of people to the means of production. Published against the backdrop of the Revolutions of 1848 and their subsequent repression across Europe, the Manifesto remains one of the world's most influential political documents. Marx and Engels combine materialism with the Hegelian dialectical method to analyze the development of European society through its modes of production, including primitive communism, antiquity, feudalism, and capitalism, noting the emergence of a new, dominant class at each stage. The text outlines the relationship between the means of production, relations of production, forces of production, and the mode of production, and posits that changes in society's economic base effect changes in its superstructure. Marx and Engels assert that capitalism is marked by the exploitation of the proletariat (working class of wage labourers) by the ruling bourgeoisie, which is "constantly revolutionising the instruments [and] relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society". They argue that capital's need for a flexible labour force dissolves the old relations, and that its global expansion in search of new markets creates "a world after its own image". The Manifesto concludes that capitalism does not offer humanity the possibility of self-realization, instead ensuring that humans are perpetually stunted and alienated. However, it theorizes that capitalism will bring about its own destruction by polarizing and unifying the proletariat, and predicts that a revolution will lead to the emergence of communism, a classless society in which "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all". Marx and Engels propose the following transitional policies: the abolition of private property in land and inheritance; introduction of a progressive income tax; confiscation of rebels' property; nationalisation of credit, communication and transport; expansion and integration of industry and agriculture; enforcement of universal obligation of labour; and provision of universal education and abolition of child labour. The text ends with a decisive and famous call for solidarity among proletarians, popularized as the slogan "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains". Source: Wikipedia (en)

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