Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto (1848)

Author(s): Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

  • Karl Marx (1818- 1883) was a prominent German philosopher whose ideas on economics, labor, and classism have and continue to influence nations worldwide.
  • Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was also an important German philosopher who shared views and co-authored with Marx.

Context: 

  • laid out the aims and ideals of the Communist party
  • this manifesto was written after much of Europe had recognized communism as a threat to current powers
  • Communists from several nations worked together to draft the manifesto to replace “the spectre of communism” with a clear representation of the party’s views.

Language:

  • Although originally written in German, the Manifesto of the Communist Party was published in many languages in order to reach a broad European audience
    • English, French, German, Italian, Flemish, and Danish
  • Marx writes in a compassionate, but clearly phrased and organized manner. It is clear that this piece was written to address the masses in a language that they could easily understand and rally behind.

Audience: 

  • the manifesto is addressed to self-identified communists throughout Europe in order to unify them with a concrete definition of what it means to be in the Communist party

Intent: 

  • to combat against hostile views of communism common throughout Europe at the time
  • to refute false claims made about the communist party
  • to answer to certain objections made about the communist party (ie. there will be no incentive to work in a communist society)
  • to distinguish and define communism apart from other political views and past revolutions

Message: 

  • the course of human history to this point has been defined as the struggle between classes. There has always been at least one class dominant over another class(es).
  • Communism will end this struggle because it seeks not necessarily to overthrow the bourgeois, but to put an end to all class-based society and instead create a classless society.

Question: How is this concept of Communism initially received, and what factors contribute to this reaction of the public?

One thought on “Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto (1848)

  1. First of all, great job with the ACLAIM method, for it really helped me to understand the main focus of Marx and his argument. Second, in your message at the end, you claim “Communism will end this struggle because it seeks not necessarily to overthrow the bourgeois, but to put an end to all class-based society and instead create a classless society.” While I tend to agree with the majority of the message, I do believe that if society practices communism, then they are overthrowing the bourgeois, albeit indirectly. The reason I say this is because if everyone follows the principles of communism, then the bourgeois will not exist in the way that the citizens in Europe have come to know it. Ultimately, I believe that communism would not only end the class struggle going on in Europe, but it would also overthrow the bourgeois, for without a class system, the bourgeois cannot exist.

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