selections from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

INTRODUCTION to “Marx the Romantic” by Francis B. Randall, Ph.D

Communists in all parts of the world proclaim that all of their actions are logically derived from the teachings of Lenin, who, they believe, built in turn on the doctrines of Marx and Engels. Communists insist that communism was born in the mind of Karl Marx in the middle of the nineteenth century, and that it received its first definitive expression in 1848, when Marx, with the help of Friedrich Engels, published what has come to be the most famous pamphlet in the history of the world, The Communist Manifesto. (7)

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Marx was not really a Jew. Hitler thought that communism was one vast Jewish plot, citing as proof the “fact” that Marx was Jewish. But Hitler was crazy, and other anti-Communists would do well to avoid this mode of thought.

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Marx’s Jewish background is not the key to Marx. (10-11)

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The University of Bonn was something of a country club, and young Marx joined the other students in drinking, brawling, scarring each other in dueling games, piling up debts, and joining “subversive” (i.e. politically liberal) clubs. (11)

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There were Romantic plays and poems as well as stories, Romantic painting and sculpture, Romantic architecture and music—all familiar enough. But there were also Romantic politics, Romantic history, Romantic religion, Romantic philosophy, and Romantic science—in fact, every human activity could be conducted Romantically. (12-13)

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It is fair and useful to call Marx’s science, philosophy, and socialism a Romantic science, philosophy, and socialism. Marx was the greatest of the high Romantic ideologists of the mid-nineteenth century, just as his contemporary, Wagner, was the greatest of the high Romantic composers, and just as another contemporary, Darwin, was the greatest of the high Romantic scientists. (14-15)

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He came to believe that all the various sciences and philosophies were part of one over-arching system, which, when completed, would give a true and total picture of the universe and man. (15)

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Unlike Hegel, Marx came to believe that there was no God. (16)

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Marx was led to choose the industrial workingmen (for whom he adopted, Romantically, a term out of ancient Roman history, the “proletarians”) as the key to the future development of society, as the great Romantic cause of his life. (17)

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Everyone, starting with Engels himself, has judged that Marx had the more striking and original mind of the two. (19)

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No matter what the definition, it is clear that the socialist movement arose in the Romantic age, and is one of the major Romantic legacies to the twentieth century. The hundreds of millions of people who have called themselves Socialists and/or Communists have all believed that the system of private property they knew—whether it was in industrial capital, piles of money, landed estates, serfs, or slaves—was wrong, and that the consequent inequality between the rich and the poor was wrong, and that any exploitation of one human being by another was wrong. This highly Romantic sense of social wrong, and the consequent highly Romantic drive towards social justice, which Marx and Engels shared to a high degree, are the ethical and emotional bases of any socialist movement.

Virtually all socialists have subscribed to a characteristically Romantic solution to these social problems: to end all or much private property; to turn the land, the factories, and the banks, at least, over to the community. Beyond these essentials, socialists disagree among themselves. (19-20)

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Marx and Engels began with the famous sentence, “A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism.” Nowadays this makes most people smile because it is true today as it never was in 1848, but with a wholly different meaning. (23)

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The proletarians had originally been the poverty stricken masses of ancient Rome, who had no property save their children (proles). The Roman poor had nothing whatsoever to do with factories, but Marx took over the term for modern factory workers because he liked its grand Romantic historical sweep. (26)

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It is intellectually silly for a determinist to be an activist. (30)

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Almost nothing happened as Marx had predicted. Everywhere the revolutionaries were bourgeois liberals and not socialist workingmen. Almost everywhere the primary revolutionary drive was toward national independence and unity. Everywhere the revolutions were put down in eighteen months or less. (34)

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A man’s convictions are more important than the reasons he later sets forth to justify them. (35)

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THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO

A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism. (55)

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I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power.
II. 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 specter of communism with a manifesto of the party itself. (55)

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I. BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS¹

¹ By bourgeois is meant the people in the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletarians, the people in the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live.

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The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guildmaster 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 reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guildmasters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: bourgeoisie and proletariat. (57-59)

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The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left remaining no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest and callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—free trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. (62)

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The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. (63)

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But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons—the modern working class—the proletarians.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed—a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. (68-69)

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Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers. (73)

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Every class struggle is a political struggle. (73)

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The proletarian is without property.

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They have nothing of their own to secure and fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property. (76)

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What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable. (79)

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II. PROLETARIANS AND COMMUNISTS

In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.

They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.

They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement.

The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.

The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat. (80-81)

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The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. (82)

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In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase accumulated labor. In communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer. (84)

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Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriations. (86)

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The Communists have no need to introduce free love; it has existed almost from time immemorial. (89)

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The workingmen have no country. (90)

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In the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc., etc. (93-94)

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III. SOCIALIST AND COMMUNIST LITERATURE

It is well known how the monks wrote silly lives of Catholic saints over the manuscripts on which the classical works of ancient pagan civilization had been written. (102-103)

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A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

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The socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. (106-107)

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Bourgeois socialism attains adequate expression when, and only when, it becomes a mere figure of speech.

Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism.

It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois—for the benefit of the working class. (108)

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IV. POSITION OF THE COMMUNISTS IN RELATION TO THE VARIOUS EXISTING OPPOSITION PARTIES

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly 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! (116)

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