The Communist Manifesto is a manuscript that was developed by Karl Marx and edited by Friedrich Engels. In the document, the author summarizes the history of the world passing from the hands of the bourgeoisie to the proletarians. The manifesto simplifies the history of the development of a constant struggle between the rich and the poor, categorically named as the oppressor and the oppressed respectively (Brazier 35). It also predicts the rise of the proletarian movement to take over power and bring the world to freedom and equality. The book largely looks at the perspective of the historical struggles that capitalism has brought to the lives of Europeans as far as the concept of the class is concerned (Brazier 119). Marx also brings out how these confrontations have influenced the nature of the European society and politics. He further presents theories of the ultimate struggle by the peasants or proletarians to bring equality to the people (Engels and Marx 7).
Summary of the History of the World According to The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx, in an attempt to explain the ultimate goal of communist, illuminates the communist theory of history, which encompasses the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletarians. The Communist Manifesto underscores the fact that the historical injustices by the bourgeoisie against the proletarians take center stage in shaping the future historical developments (Engels and Marx 3). Therefore, historical development, according to the manifesto is easily predictable through the attempts of the proletarians to overthrow the reign of class and install a classless society, a free world for all (Brazier 36). This is because the historical background of the revolution of socio-economic and political systems has a strong relationship with the struggle to control the means of production. The Communist Manifesto criticizes capitalism and predicts its grand fall (Engels and Marx 7). It also suggests that the proletarians will install the communist ideas to govern their socio-economic and political world.
The need for an organized system to achieve the general goal of controlling the economy informed the rise of systems such as absolute monarchy, nation state, feudalism, and capitalism. In the feudal society, for example, there was a need for an organized system that would guarantee the safety of clans and their agricultural lands (Chevalier and Buckles 20). The rise of the capitalist movement, on the other hand, originated from the need to improve the economy from agriculture into other ventures such as industrialization. This process resulted in the beginning of the industrial revolution (Engels and Marx 5).
The systems exhibited a common trait of the need of the lords or bourgeoisie to maintain their control over the peasants and people of lower classes in the society despite the changing conditions (Chevalier and Buckles 20). This was evident in the rise of the absolute monarchial systems, mainly, in France. Capitalism, which also has a characteristic of few rich people controlling the economy by owning the means of production, indicates that the rich still clamped for control (Engels and Marx 5). The Communist Manifesto was written at the time when workers were struggling with poor working conditions and low wages. The document lamented over the poor living standards of the workers as a result of capitalism (Engels and Marx 4).
According to The Communist Manifesto, the present capitalist society simply represents a recurrence of the former systems. The only difference is the advancement with which they carry out their operations. This includes the advancement of industrial machinery that constantly threatens the position of the proletariats and the replacement of the family values with economic slavery (Chevalier and Buckles19). The Communist Manifesto predicts that the proletariats will eventually rise as a more united force that will bring down the existence of capitalist society and see the rise of another system, which is the communist system (Engels and Marx 7).
Further, the Manifesto reveals that the struggles would stem from the constant need to advance the economic developments at the expense or exploitation of others. The proletarians would stage big and inevitable resistance that will consequently lead to a revolution (Engels & Marx 6). The revolution, sponsored by the ideologies scripted in the communist manifesto, would seek to improve the life of the proletarian and bring an end to the reign of the bourgeoisie class (Engels and Marx 7).
The Communist Manifesto and Major World Figures
The events predicted in The Communist Manifesto bear a lot of resemblance to some of the significant activities and changes that took place in different parts of the world, both before and after the publishing of the book. Major people that influenced these revolutions include such notable individuals as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln that both served as presidents of the United States, Winston Spencer Churchill of the UK, and chairman Mao Zedong of the People's Republic of China. All these men displayed the urge and zeal to change their societies to alleviate the life of the ordinary man (Toropov 87).
Thomas Jefferson finds historical significance in the struggle for the independence of the United States of America from the British Empire. He believed in the supremacy of the human and universal rights (Toropov 85). History states that he freed a total of seven slaves from his farm and never bothered to pursue the other two who escaped, although he was raised as a slave owner (Chinard 12). His notable work to show dedication towards fighting for equity among people is coined in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence (Chinard 88). The document has since stood as the emblem of universal liberty. It contained a declaration that advocated for the equality of men regardless of their birthplace, wealth, or status in the society (Chinard 88). The Communist Manifesto relates better to the part that emphasized on the role of the government as a servant and not a master. In addition, the breaking away of the US from the British Empire with the guiding principles found in the Declaration of Independence document preempted the rise of the proletarians to greater power (Engels and Marx 7).
Abraham Lincoln made history as the American president who brought slavery and the slave trade in North America to an end. He despised the slave trade and slavery in the United States, claiming in his speeches that it was a reproach to the intentions of the founding fathers of America and the document of Declaration of Independence (Anderson 9). As The Communist Manifesto puts it, the slaves were involved in the production of wealth that did not improve their lives in any way. They suffered from repressive and alienating rule of the propertied few. This meant that the slave owners only kept them as instruments of commerce, enjoying degradation of the lives of fellow humans (Toropov 114). The whites in the United States opposed the efforts by Lincoln. He lived through the war sparked off by the confederates who strongly opposed any possible abolition of slavery (Anderson 7). Largely, the confederates could translate to the bourgeoisie described in The Communist Manifesto while the union members and the free slaves could translate to the proletarians who opposed slavery (Engels and Marx 5).
Winston Churchill, one of the longest serving political leaders in the history of Britain, in his undertakings equally bears some resemblance to the contents of The Communist Manifesto. His rise to politics was informed by his desire to become a policy maker (Churchill 4). His speeches always touched on the need to initiate and support changes that could alleviate the lives of the poor. This forced him to turn coat from conservative to the liberal party in 1904. This is because the conservative party did not hold the same sentiments as he had. His leadership is best remembered for fearless leading England against the Nazi invasion in the Second World War (Churchill 17). This position made him the symbol of victory among the people that had suffered oppression from the Nazis. Though being a public official, he had the interests of the proletarians at his heart (Chevalier and Buckles127).
Finally, Chairman Mao Zedong of China was a self-confessed follower of Marxism (Marx 11). Zedong believed in the empowerment of the rural farmers as a way of creating equality. With this step, he intended to avoid the possible exploitation of the farmers by the urban dwellers. In addition, he wanted to instill the idea that the farmer had more influence. He is remembered for leading the people of China through the age of revolution, which included the formation of the Peoples Republic of China (Marx 101). His reform agenda included the approach of collectivization in agriculture and the spread of medical services. His Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a result of his concerns that other leaders were promoting the rise of classes in China (Toropov 124). However, Mao Zedong remained committed to tackling the interests of the oppressed (Karl 119).
Strengths of The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto reveals the importance of having the freedom for all in society. The intention of the manifesto to spearhead the deconstruction of a society of oppressors and the oppressed comes as a positive idea. Furthermore, the idea would help in creating a strong and united society. The strength would help in bringing peace and harmonious coexistence among people. The idea of bringing down definition by class would also help in instilling the face of unity. This would mean that even the granting of difference in status by virtue of belonging to cities, towns, or rural areas would not exist.
The Communist Manifesto also makes appeal concerning the welfare of the family institution. A society that values the family institution cannot seek for replacing it with economic slavery. This means that the manifesto offers relief for the proletarian families that face hardships. The abolition of child labor, for example, stands out as a significant advantage to children. This way, the young ones would have more time to attend school, develop into skilled laborers, and pursue their careers of choice. This further gives children equal chances and opportunities.
The existence of a society where everyone has an equal obligation to work would signify that the status of equality is achieved. This means that everyone possesses equal opportunity to earn the means of sustenance through work. This further promotes the spirit and idea that everyone is equal because of equal working condition and earnings. The significance of this policy and stance is to promote and stress the importance of equality in the society. This would prove more appealing to the proletarian society that cares and fights for equality. It will also improve the self-worth of people within the society.
The move to end the bourgeoisie practice of inheritance would help in bringing down the advantage that heirs of rich men have over heirs of proletarians. It would further create a fair playing ground for all families. This means that it would help in reducing chances of certain families having more wealth than the others do, meaning a route to power.
Limitations of The Communist Manifesto
Capitalism has always thrived on the principle of competition. It is through competition that people have the urge to work because their efforts are rewarded. Therefore, the move by Karl Marx to create a society where everyone has equal economic status lowers the motivational level for work. In addition, motivation based on people's desire to help each other, or the nation might not work right. This would equally reduce the economic status of the country and lead to recession. The failure of the rural program by Chairman Mao in China might provide an example of the difficulty in the implementation of the manifesto (Runciman 13). The Ujamaa policy in Tanzania is another manifestation of just how the socialist and communist ideologies, envisaged in The Communist Manifesto, can be economically misleading.
The idea of implementing the communist manifesto in countries automatically would lead to the reduction of investments and innovations. The notion that any kind of work and innovation would receive the same reward failed. It failed in the sense that it could not provide the necessary motivation for hard work for economic productivity. Producers in such societies would lack the driving force to specialize and become exceptional in their fields of operation. In other words, the regime simply gets people to their comfort zones and strives to retain economic status-quo at the expense of progression.
Bringing the right to own property to an end as envisaged by Marx and Engels might actually cause more problems than solve questions of inequality. It is actually most likely that the policy can easily cause anarchy and state of anomie in the society. Every society has people with different characteristic traits including greed and malice. This would mean that people are likely to grab land and possess more than others. The imbalance caused might result in tensions and fights among the people.
The centralization of every national department puts much power in the hands of a government. The nationalization of the running of sectors such as transportation, communication, and commerce also leads to monopoly of the market. This consequently makes the government vulnerable to issues such as corruption. These issues automatically spark off a series of problems within the country including shutting down of significant services or compromising the quality of service.
Finally, the manifesto harbors a lot of hatred for the bourgeoisie class. In addition, anyone who identifies with the proletarian class will automatically be incited against the rich people in the society after reading The Communist Manifesto. Therefore, the book fails to bring peace and unity, for which it is claiming to advocate in the society. The book generally sets the proletarians against the rich class and fails to provide further instructions on how to run things once capitalism as an ideology collapses (Runciman 14). Such revolution can only lead to instability and disintegration of social institutions in the society. This can cause even more chaos and lack of stability within a country.
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The Communist Manifesto is a masterpiece that has attracted a lot of scholarly attention through the ages. The prevailing economic conditions in the present world, to some extent, can relate to the times when the book was written. The working conditions in the third world countries and emerging economies exhibit the exploitation of the employees. Laborers in the production industries are faced with the heightened levels of alienation that Marx envisaged. However, the much anticipated toppling of the bourgeoisie class did not happen. Instead, the European society underwent a revolution that saw many changes in the rights of the workers. Today, workers in the European world and other Western countries such as the United States have developed a strong legislation eliminating any kind of exploitation. Furthermore, their remunerations are comprehensively competent and display an appreciation for the people's work. This also brings into light the working conditions, which governments have made to meet the required standards. However, the manifesto made a lot of sense since in some societies, the use of force and threat by the workers helped in prompting industry owners to open up to negotiation for improved working conditions.