How can “The Communist Manifesto” be connected to present day?

Karl Marx, an extremely influential philosopher and revolutionary, was born in 1818 in Germany. He grew up in a middle-class home, and attended the University of Berlin for four years. Marx moved to Paris in 1843, and wrote about his communist views in Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which was not published until after his death. In Paris, Marx developed a friendship with Friedrich Engels. The two moved to Brussels, but frequently visited Engels’ family in London, where they joined the Communist League. The two were then asked to write a declaration of the beliefs of the Communist party, leading to the publishing of the Communist Manifesto in 1848. [1]

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels argue that the bourgeois oppresses the working class. They are interested in getting rid of bourgeois private property. They argue that while the bourgeois are horrified by the thought of getting rid of private property, private property does not exist for nine-tenths of the population. They go on to state, “you must, therefore, confess that by “individual” you mean no other person than the bourgeois.” [2]

The mention of “nine-tenths of the population” leads me to think of current times, and the situation of the 1% of America. While the numbers are not quite the same, the two situations are similar. Many Americans are upset that 1% of the population hold over a quarter of the wealth of the country, while the rest is split up among the other 99% of the population. As Marx and Engels mention, money and wealth can be used as personal or social power.

How else can The Communist Manifesto be applied to current times and problems? Is it too far of a reach to say that The Communist Manifesto can relate to the situation involving the 1% in America?

[1] Steven, Kreis. “Karl Marx, 1818-1883.” The History Guide. January 30, 2008. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/marx.HTML.

[2] Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in The Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings, ed. Bob Blaisdell (Mineola, New York: Dover Publicans, 2003), 123-150

2 thoughts on “How can “The Communist Manifesto” be connected to present day?

  1. I think that you make an interesting point by correlating the ideas that Marx and Engels had with the recent protests over income distribution in the United States. I don’t think that it is too much of a stretch to apply their ideas to present day situations. Income inequality is growing as the middle class is shrinking and I think that if Marx was alive right now, he would be appalled at how much power and influence is held by a very small minority of people in the United States. I think that he would still agree that his ideas of redistribution of wealth through communism and the abolition of private property would be the best way for society to proceed to increase the overall quality of life for the average individual. While quality of life has vastly improved for the proletariat in today’s society, many of the issues that Marx identifies in The Communist Manifesto, such as striking for better wages and the need for a movement that comes from the majority of the people are still very present today. However, Marx discusses the ideas that the workers should have a common interest and work to strengthen themselves against the bourgeoisie to pass favorable legislation. I don’t know how possible this is in today’s society, is the working class too partisan to come together for certain interests or a certain political party? It’s hard to tell if the classes have as clearly defined interests these days when so much else goes into politics and political thinking.

  2. Yes, I think that the top tier of society has a stranglehold over the rest of society today. It’s really interesting how some individuals at the top have absolutely no compassion (or at least very little) for the working class, while some individuals are trying to spread their wealth in a selfless manner. The bourgeois held an immense out of power, and while I do think it has carried over to today in some respects, I also think for the most part there is a greater deal of empathy and selflessness across the nation today, even though the 1% dominates the wealth. People are trying to make a difference. Marx was influenced by capitalism’s negligence for the worker, and today, socialists and communists are still influenced by capitalism’s evils. I honestly don’t know where we are headed as a nation. It seems like capitalism will prevail, but with the amount of progressives in our society, anything can happen.
    At least we’re not North Korea.

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