Karl Marx was the founder of the scientific communism, teacher and leader of the international proletariat. Marx was an idealist and examined the injustices and cruelties that the poor working class persisted during the period of industrial revolution. Karl Marx was a great person who was inspired to explain a new ideology and to write of a society without oppression for any class of people. The teaching of Marx revealed the laws of social development and indicated the path of humanity towards the communist renewal of the world. The main features of a brilliant thinker, who has carried out a revolution in the social sciences, and the features of the indomitable revolutionary fighter, who helped to turn the labor movement into a powerful force of social progress were combined in the personality of Karl Marx. It is necessary to mention that Karl Marx strongly believe in a kind of revolution that would end capitalism and socialism, and will base on communist principles. Thus, it is necessary to think about The Manifesto of the Communist Party in this assignment and to focus our attention on the context of its appearance, its main ideas, the way of its criticism and to analyze its influence on the society in those times.
Historical Context of the Manifesto of the Communist Party Appearance
The Communist Manifesto was originally titled The Manifesto of the Communist Party (Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) and was written by Karl Marx and was edited by Frederick Engels. It was published for the first time in 1848 and became a topic for different debates from those times. The Communist Manifesto was republished for many times even during the life of its authors, however it never been amended. In the preface to the German edition in 1872, Engels said that The Communist Manifesto is a historical document and we have no right to change it. We should to mention that this major policy document provides a holistic and systematic exposition of the basic principles of Marxism, the main core of which is the doctrine of not only a world, but also a historic role of the proletariat as a class that considered to be the founder of communist society, moreover the doctrine of the proletariat to the ruling class, is the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Manifesto describes the main purposes of the communist party for ending of unfair exploitation of the working class full of suffering and creating a new society with equal rights and freedoms for all people, without social classes and social division.
Taking into account historical context of those times we see that it was a spirited act to write The Manifesto, because in this document, Marx and Engels had abandoned in the face of all the forces of the old world proud words: “It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself.” (Spalding, 2000) These words show us that Marx and Engels considered unnecessary to conceal their views and intentions. Both authors openly proclaimed that their goals can be achieved only by the forcible overthrow and even dethronement of all hitherto existing social order. They mentioned that ruling classes should be afraid of new social force, because proletarians have nothing to loose except their high goals, but in a case of their glory they would receive the whole world in their hands.
Thus, we see that the relevance of The Manifesto needs no explanations and it could be titled the Bible of those times in the figurative sense. Working class needed a person who would be able to protect their rights and they received even two persons: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
Summary of the Manifesto Main Ideas
As it was previously mentioned The Communist Manifesto was the first programmatic document of the scientific communism and the first program of the international communist organization. All the component parts of the great teaching of Marx and Engels received their systematic and complete exposition exactly in this document for the first time. Thinking about the main ideas of the discussed work Lenin even wrote about the Manifesto that “with the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines a new world-conception, consistent with materialism, which also embrace the realm of social life; dialectics, as the most comprehensive and profound doctrine of development; the theory of the class struggle and of the world-historic revolutionary role of the proletariat—the creator of a new, communist society.” (Meyer, 1961)
The first part of the Manifesto received the title Bourgeois And Proletarians and this title completely reflected its content. In this part of the Manifesto Marx began to explain the main notions of his time and stated that the history of man and society is the history of unceasing class struggles. In the acknowledgement of this words it is necessary to quote the part from the Manifesto: “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” (Marx & Engels, 1848) That’s mean that the modern bourgeois society has developed out of the well-known feudal system, but it did it in a simpler form when one class of the Bourgeoisie opposing them to another class of the Proletariat. In condensed form the Manifesto formulated the basic provisions of the materialist conception of history, the objective laws of social development, laws governing the transition from one mode of production to another.
It seems that Karl Marx not only believed in his own words, but he even felt the future changes in the air: “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.” (Marx & Engels, 1848) The Manifesto contains a brilliant analysis of the features of capitalism, the rapid development of productive forces and the emergence of large-scale machine production. Summarizing the main ideas of the discussed document it is also necessary to mention that the Manifesto analyzed the antagonistic contradictions inherent to capitalism and justify the inevitability of its death with tremendous strength and depth.
For the end of this part it is necessary to emphasize that the modern bourgeois society that has developed from the feudal society didn’t destroy the class differences and contradictions, but it only put new classes, new oppression conditions and new forms of fight instead of the old one. It was obvious that the conflict manifestations between productive forces and capitalist relations of production found their power in the economic crises that disturbed the bourgeois society periodically.
Criticism of the Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto was criticized for many times since the time of its initial publication, because it has developed a wide range of reactions. These reactions had different characters and were directed on different ideas of the Manifesto. The title of the document proved us that the achievement of the social freedom Marx and Engels bound with: a) a communist organization of social life, and b) the use of “in the revolutionary struggle” of the government (since they act on behalf of a political party, and realization of their goals relates to the seizure of state power).
For millions of people the Manifesto has served as an indispensable text, affecting their ways of life for ages. Criticizing the previous statement according to Labriola (1999) we see that the means to achieve the social freedom can be defined, “deduced” only from a scientific view, from the “theory of social freedom”. Only having a clear idea of what we want, we can determine the correct meaning of the action that would be taken. Marxism did not realize it, so all of its major “position” on the problem of the social freedom achieving, can not withstand logical criticism, and found no historical evidence.
Schumpeter (1949) stated that the idea of public conflicts as a “class struggle” is a grandiose delusion of Marxism. According to Marx & Engels (1848) we see that “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.” But nowadays criticizing these words (the struggle of “slaves” against “masters”) it became obvious that they look like just a beautiful illusion. In fact, every “class struggle” is a small part of the collision operated with the state, repressive bodies of which is composed in 90% of themselves exploited people.
Marx & Engels (1848) stated that “…oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted fight … a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” Thus, all previous so-calling “revolutionary reconstructions” proved only a change in the forms of exploitation, redistribution of production between individuals, and the last resulted in not a fight of the “slaves” against their “masters”, but the struggle of one group of exploiters (rising ruling class) against another (top-down ruling class), of course, using the “human factor” in the face of the oppressed. It also seems that the change of the feudal bourgeois was not a consequence of the struggle of serfs against landowners, and was the result of the struggle against the latter, against the so-called “third estate” – the rising bourgeoisie, who managed to send the anger of disadvantaged in the right direction. In this case, we see that even Marx and Engels themselves wrote about it in their work.
Summarizing this part of the work we see that the Manifesto is a controversial document and its advantages and disadvantages interpreted in different ways by different generations and scientists.
Analysis of the Manifesto Influence on the Society
This part of the paper would be written in a form of conclusion, because I’m going to summarize the influence of the Manifesto in it.
Thus, taking into account the above stated information we could say that the Manifesto sharply criticized the foundations of bourgeois society – the bourgeois property, the bourgeois family, the bourgeois morality, and the bourgeois state, in which state power is increasingly becoming a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie. The Manifesto has a disclosing character, because it reflected defects of the capitalist society. Moreover, the Manifesto condemned the expansionist policy of the bourgeoisie, wars of aggression inherent to capitalism, and argued that the overthrow of the capitalist system would lead to a radical change in the international relations. Society believed that the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes and the hostility between nations will disappear in the nearest future. People believed that there would disappear causes for the international conflicts and wars.
Thus, we should mention that the Manifest showed a depressed position of the proletariat in the bourgeois society; it opened the world-historical mission of the working class – gravedigger of capitalism and the builder of communist society. Marx and Engels in their turn stated that capitalism is based on wage slavery, the brutal exploitation of workers, their economic and political enslavement but at the same time it leads to the concentration of workers at factories, to the unite of the working class. The proletariat alone is a consistently revolutionary class, struggling for their liberation of all the classes, which under capitalism is opposed to the bourgeoisie. The proletariat struggles for own freedom and for the freedom of all the exploited and oppressed.
In conclusion, we should mention that The Manifesto of the Communist Party was discussed in this assignment with all important details and there were also discussed its historical context, its main ideas, the way of its criticism and analyzed its influence on the society in those times.
Labriola, A. (1999, Jan. – Apr.). In Memory of the Communist Manifesto. Social Scientist, Vol. 27, No. 1/4, pp. 3-48.
Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1848). The Communist Manifesto.
Meyer, A. (1961). Marxism since the Communist Manifesto. Service Center for Teachers of History.
Schumpeter, J. (1949, Jun.). The Communist Manifesto in Sociology and Economics. The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 199-212
Spalding, R. (2000). The Communist Manifesto. History Review.