The Communist Manifesto

1848 publication written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The Communist Manifesto (originally Manifesto of the Communist Party) is an 1848 political pamphlet by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) just as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political documents. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and then-present) and the conflicts of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.

With the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines a new world-conception, consistent materialism, which also embraces 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.

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  • "With the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines a new world-conception, consistent materialism, which also embraces 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."
    • Vladimir Lenin on the Manifesto, 1914,Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 6, p. xxvi.
  • [W]hile there is no doubt that Marx at this time shared the usual townsman's contempt for, as well as ignorance of, the peasant milieu, the actual and analytically more interesting German phrase ("dem Idiotismus des Landlebens entrissen") referred not to "stupidity" but to "the narrow horizons", or "the isolation from the wider society" in which people in the countryside lived. It echoed the original meaning of the Greek term idiotes from which the current meaning of "idiot" or "idiocy" is derived, namely "a person concerned only with his own private affairs and not with those of the wider community". In the course of the decades since the 1840s, and in movements whose members, unlike Marx, were not classically educated, the original sense was lost and was misread.
    • Hobsbawm 2011, p. 108.
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was published in 1848 and is now re-issued with an interesting introduction by Yanis Varoufakis, Greek economist and politician. He hails the Manifesto as an inspiration to collective action for a better future "urging us to become agents of a future that ends unnecessary mass suffering and to inspire humanity to realize its potential for authentic freedom". Varoufakis interprets the Manifesto not as a call to state authoritarianism, as communism became in practice, nor just an analysis of bitter and enduring class conflict, but rather as a 'liberal text', which he believes is even more relevant today than when it was written.
    • 'Where no man lacks': a post-capitalist order? -- An excerpt, by Phyllis Power Share International magazine (June 2018)
  • Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.... Liberty, happiness, autonomy, individuality, spirituality, self-guided development are ideals that Marx and Engels valued above everything else. If they are angry with the bourgeoisie, it is because the bourgeoisie seeks to deny the majority any opportunity to be free. Given Marx and Engels' adherence to Hegel's fantastic idea that no one is free as long as one person is in chains, their quarrel with the bourgeoisie is that they sacrifice everybody's freedom and individuality on capitalism's altar of accumulation.
    • Varoufakis quoted in 'Where no man lacks': a post-capitalist order? -- An excerpt, by Phyllis Power, Share International magazine (June 2018)

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