One hundred and fifty years ago the Communist Manifesto made its first appearance offering a humane alternative to capitalist civilization. However it is not the age of the Manifesto which accounts for the fact that it can now only be found in the larger libraries in many countries, but that, for primarily political reasons, this humane alternative has been, both in theory and in practice, removed from the agenda.
This new publication of the work is, in part, justified by the need to make it more available. However, we also consider it to be more than just a document of cultural-historical significance. We have therefore tried (at a philosophical level) to demonstrate its relevance to the circumstances of the contemporary world. Throughout the text we have provided explanations and commentaries in the form of extended footnotes. The explanations and commentaries employ the now somewhat archaic language of the original text. At the same time, we have left out the third and fourth chapters the limitations of which are a product of the age in which they were written, as was acknowledged by the authors.1
"Further, it is self-evident that the criticism of socialist literature is deficient in relationship to the present time, because it comes down only to 1847; also that the remarks on the relation of the Communists to the various opposition parties (Section IV), although, in principle still correct, yet in practice are antiquated, because the political situation has been entirely changed" (Preface to the German edition of 1872)
The present text can be read or downloaded from the Left Alternative Home Page (www.bal.hu)
Budapest, 1 May 1998
THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of communism.2
2Today the spectre of Communism haunts the whole world. It disturbs those who live at the expense of others in society. The spectre is mysterious and intangible because it is the sense people have that something is missing which gives it form. This feeling, which takes many different forms, is of being deprived of a humane and just society and arises again and again in the hearts and minds of both individuals and the mass.
The spectre of Communism is indeed the expression of the desire for a humane and just society. It cannot be destroyed while people do not consider themselves to be free, while their individuality is restricted by social conditions. For this reason, the spectre of Communism is the spectre of the liberation of individuality.
All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact:
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 spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself.3
3The time has come to confront communist views, aims and aspirations with the myths about communism and the communist experiment. One of the reasons for this is that, in general, the concrete ideology and practice of the ‘Communist Party’ as a state-party remained within the framework of the capitalist system. The other reason is in connection with "real socialism" which, in the interests of tactics and strategy – much to the delight of its enemies - abused the idea of Communism and ensured that it obtained a bad reputation.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.4
4We have printed, and published on the Internet, a Communist Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century in English, German and Hungarian
I. BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS*
*By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletariat, 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. [Note by Engels - 1888 English edition]
The history of all hitherto existing society** is the history of class struggles.
**That is, all written history. In 1847, the pre-history of society, the social organization existing previous to recorded history, was all but unknown. Since then, August von Haxthausen (1792-1866) discovered the common ownership of land in Russia, Georg Ludwig von Maurer proved it to be the social foundation from which all Teutonic races started in history, and, by and by, village communities were found to be, or to have been, the primitive form of society everywhere from India to Ireland. The inner organization of this primitive communistic society was laid bare, in its typical form, by Lewis Henry Morgan's (1818-1861) crowning discovery of the true nature of the gens and its relation to the tribe. With the dissolution of the primeval communities, society begins to be differentiated into separate and finally antagonistic classes. [Note by Engels - 1888 English edition]
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master 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, guild-masters, 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.5
5Considering their social status, everyone is a proletarian whose labor power is used in the process of making profit: who directly or indirectly contributes to the maintenance of capitalist property owners or of their fellow consumers. Everyone is a proletarian whose existence depends on selling his or her labor power, either economic or political in character, and which is wholly advantageous to the system of exploitation. Economic wage laborers directly contribute to the creation of profit when they produce surplus value which they do not receive in their wages. Those who are employed for the maintenance of the system of exploitation (police, politicians, lawyers, teachers, managers etc.) indirectly contributes to the creation of profit. Those who are employed to provide personal services to owners of capital (as well as to other controllers of money), to comfort, to entertainment or to the maintenance of them (e.g. servants, bodyguards, personal chauffeurs etc.) are not wage laborers, but fellow consumers.
The functioning of the capitalist system requires both economic growth (therefore the creation of surplus value) and stability (state regulation). In a certain sense the so-called ‘real socialisms’ were characterized by state capitalist economic policy. In adopting the developmental principles of bourgeois civilization (and thus its value system), they aimed at overtaking economically the industrially developed West by means of economic growth (accumulation) and state regulation. There was a significant difference between the two in the tactical use of ideology. Traditional capitalism sought legitimization for its system in ‘freedom’ whilst the ‘real socialist’ states referred to the idea of equality. At the same time they exhibited a common characteristic in that each system employed two kinds of wage laborer: one to support economic growth (the production of surplus value), and the other to conserve the political structure.
During the course of the twentieth century significant differences emerged in the remuneration of wage laborers. The manual worker and the manager, the policeman and the minister are each employed by capital (be it private capital or the capitalist state) and each serve the system, though not for the same remuneration. Wage labor has become economically and socially stratified. The well-paid wage laborer has the opportunity to invest his savings and acquire a capitalist income (interest, dividends); as a result of this the sense of belonging to a class has become more uncertain than ever before.
From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.
The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonization of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development. The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolized by closed guilds, now no longer suffices for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class; division of labor between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labor in each single workshop.
Meantime, the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturers no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.
Modern Industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.
Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance in that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association of medieval commune***: here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France); afterward, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general -- the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political sway.
*** "Commune" was the name taken in France by the nascent towns even before they had conquered from their feudal lords and masters local self-government and political rights as the "Third Estate". Generally speaking, for the economical development of the bourgeoisie, England is here taken as the typical country, for its political development, France. [Note by Engels - 1888 English edition]
The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.6
6During the twentieth century the common affairs of the bourgeoisie have expanded considerably. Legal, political (parliamentary) and police violence no longer offer sufficient protection to the capitalist system of private property. The avoidance of conflicts which threaten the stability of capitalist relations has become one of the common affairs of the bourgeoisie. To achieve this aim requires the counterbalancing of social dissatisfaction and the neutralization of rebellious energies. Part of this process includes the organization of the wage laborers’ leisure time in accordance with the interests of capitalists: consumer demand, consumption patterns, institutional intervention in forms of entertainment (advertisements, the media). Another element is the moderation of dissatisfaction by state means (poverty policy) and support for labor organizations which conform with the capitalist system (trade unions which only fight for wages).
The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.7
7The revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie ended with the creation of the factory system. It then lost its progressive character and now represents an unprecedented historical decline with respect to the potential of human society. Large-scale industry destroys scarcity at the level of social forces (because the monopoly of capitalist property defines the distribution of goods) but does not destroy scarcity at the level of the individual. Large-scale industry creates a social economy but in the capitalist age the social economy is privatized (private expropriation). The humane social alternative -- known as Communism – was created in the epoch of the industrial revolution. Thus also was created the possibility that human beings, as social beings, can take control over the social forces (e.g. productive forces, human abilities) created under the force of capital, and run them in their own interests.
In favorable conditions, the formation of large-scale industry also provides the alternative of Communism for economically less-developed peoples. The Introduction to the 1882 Russian edition contains the following: "Now the question is: can the Russian obshchina, though greatly undermined, yet a form of primeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher form of communist common ownership? Or, on the contrary must it first pass through the same process of dissolution such as constitutes the historical evolution of the West? The only answer to that possible today is this: if the Russian revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for communist development". In 1894, Engels analyzed the problem further, arguing that if a successful revolution could be achieved in the West, in those countries where there were still remnants of common property (and which had only just embarked upon capitalization) a short-cut could be found by avoiding those struggles which the Western proletariat had had to go through. However, for this to happen would require an example to be set by, and active support given from the West.
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.8
8During the twentieth century it has often happened that in countries embracing capitalism, later capital builds the still existing patriarchal social relations and pre-capitalist hierarchies into a system of making profit.
It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned out 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.
The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers.9
9Moreover, later, most of the critical intelligentsia were turned into paid wage laborers. While the relatively well-paid jobs provide their subsistence, they occupy themselves with only theoretical and not practical criticisms of capitalism.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation.
The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigor in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man's activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former exoduses of nations and crusades.
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.10
10A tendency contradictory to this has become stronger and stronger during the twentieth century. The sober acknowledgement of the real conditions of life is affected by conscious and organized attempts to mislead the masses by the growing number of institutionally regulated and directed manipulations which have a direct bearing on the individual.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.11
11The main reason for the so-called ‘change of system’ in Eastern Europe was the need of international capital to extend its markets – a huge question which still needs to be answered is why this process was supported by the state parties’ leaders. The methods employed by international capitalism were old ones: penetration, establishing links, reorganization.
The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible,12 and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
12In the second half of the twentieth century the one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness of nations gave way to "supranational" one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness. The process of so-called globalization is leading increasingly to the Americanization of this cosmopolitanism.
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate.13
13However, as economic penetration deprives the masses of their traditional means of survival (by creating cheap labor ready for exploitation etc.) and economically ruins the country, capitalism reproduces hatred of foreigners in a strengthened form. At the end of the twentieth century, sweeping global capitalism stimulates instinctively anti-capitalist extremist movements, religious fundamentalism and terrorist groups.
It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.14
14This process is being completed by globalization at the end of the twentieth century. Today, multinational companies, representing transnational capital, have built a network across the global economy. Capitalism does not only spread the technology of production and goods across the world, but also value systems, consumption habits and lifestyles. At one and the same time, it spreads across the world unprecedented wealth and unprecedented poverty.
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.15
15In the global capitalist world system a strong economic and (economically based) political hierarchy has developed between the so-called core and peripheral (and semi-peripheral) countries (alternatively, between the industrialized North and the underdeveloped South). The core countries moderate their own internal social tensions through the exploitation of the peripheral and semi-peripheral countries. Furthermore, they try to export to these countries their own internal conflicts (overproduction, locating environmentally damaging industries, industrial waste etc.)
International political (UN), military (NATO) and financial/economic (IMF) organizations serve to maintain the hierarchy between the core and the periphery, and to reduce the level of conflict arising from these relationships. International subordination breeds resistance, sometimes even desperate revolts and riots. The core countries and their organizations cannot keep matters under control. The problem of overproduction is visible today. There is no solution to mass unemployment. Arms production and the arms trade do not lead only to profit but have side-effects: the weapons provided by the core countries are used against them (terrorist activities). Naturally, only the victims are disadvantaged. For capitalists and their political-ideological representatives, international terrorism provides benefits from a number of perspectives. Terrorism not only destroys markets, but also creates them, providing profit from the further sale of weapons and from rebuilding after destruction. There are political benefits to be gained from constructing an image of an enemy which diverts attention away from the conflict between capitalists and wage laborers (i.e. between those who own and those who are owned).
The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class interest, one frontier, and one customs tariff.16
16Later, the totality of national capital was strengthened in order to take a political form which would supersede the interests of the individual nation state and private capital. In the age of state monopoly capitalism the state became the nation’s main capitalist (namely, its largest employer, largest trader and largest consumer). The end of the twentieth century is characterized by the weakening of the political and economic power of the nation-state and, in the face of the economic and political strength of international institutions and multinational companies, the diminishing importance of national class interests. The process of international integration is more complex. For example, entry into the European Union directly harms the class interests of national capital. At the same time, international capital organizations help protect the national bourgeoisie (as well as economic and political leaders) from their domestic wage laborers.
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature's forces to man,17 machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization or rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground -- what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?
17Later Marx and Engels pointed out the dangers present in the capitalist subjugation of the forces of nature.
We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.
Into their place stepped free competition,18 accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class.
18More accurately: free competition for those who possess capital. The system of free competition is in fact a concurrence where chances are based upon social inequality. There are two reasons for this. First, because competition is built upon a hierarchy between the property owner and those without property. Second, because it is built upon a hierarchy between property owners. Therefore, the age of free competition has been, necessarily, replaced by the age of monopoly capitalism.
A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past, the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that, by their periodical return, put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity -- the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed. And why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them.19
19Capital, as Marx later explained, is contradictory given its tendency towards the unlimited expansion of productive forces; however, it also attaches limits to the main productive force (the human being) and makes it one-sided. "In effect it contains the tendency to limit forces of production". In capitalism, the development of humanity is assured and realized only through the horrific destruction of the development of the individual. What sort of economic alternative would not restrict development? It would be a society which has as its ruling principle "the full and free development of every individual". In other words, a society where the amount of an individual’s leisure time would increase in accordance with the reduction in the amount of work time required to produce the necessities of life. Reduction in the amount of work time is equal to the amount of the leisure time of the individual -- i.e. the extension of the amount of time that can be devoted to the development of the individual which, as the single most important force of production, must have an effect upon the productive force of work. The abolition of the limitations on productive forces therefore results in humane consequences as it liberates the main productive force, the human being, from the domination of capital. This is why Marx wrote that the fundamental principle of Communism is "the full development of the individuality", "the free individuality".
And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? One the one hand, by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones.20
20Both the conquest of new markets and the thorough exploitation of old ones requires direct political mechanisms beyond economic ones. In the final analysis, the former means economic colonization, the extraction of extraprofit from economically disadvantaged regions. The expansion of domestic markets demands more subtle techniques. To a significant degree, domestic demand needs to be organized in such a way as to transform surplus products into necessities. Through the organized manipulation of consumer demand the tensions of overproduction can be moderated. The state regulated market (in which state and market regulations are combined) replaced the free market. This limits the utilization and development of productive forces while also maintaining the now inadequate capitalist relations. To reduce socio-political tensions and in the interests of preventing the radicalization of wage laborers, the capitalist state tries to guarantee those formal rights and life chances (i.e. the standard of living) which in the short-term gives the exploited workers an interest in maintaining the system. In this way the freedom of capital is limited and the eagerness of individual capitalists is restricted to serve the interests of the whole capitalist class and thus the further functioning of the capitalist system and its political stability.
The dual characteristics of the wage laborer’s situation -- simultaneously an exploited worker but also a fellow consumer of capitalist surplus -- contributes significantly to the political stability of core capitalist states. The working class of the core countries are wage laborers and citizens of exploiting nations. Thus, in effect, this citizenship gives them part of the profit extracted from economically weaker regions. On the one hand, they are sustainers of the capitalist class and to the non-productive employees of the capitalist class while, on the other hand, they are dependants of the proletarians of the exploited nations. In the dilemma caused by this dichotomy of interests (class interests and direct material welfare) the latter has usually won. In practice, this has led to conformity to, and political compromise with the system.
That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.21
21The fundamental theory of the crisis of overproduction is still valid. However, in the period following the Second World War, partly through the manipulation of mass consumption and partly through the political intervention of international organizations in the development of markets, the bourgeoisie were able to avoid the development of crises which would paralyze the system. At the same time, as Engels noted, there is another source of tension – that is, speculative capital showing that "interim crises have their origin in stockmarket swindles".
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 maintenance, and for the propagation of his race.22
22Later Marx analyzed in detail and more precisely the question of the level of wages and came to the following conclusions. 1) Wage levels required to provide the minimum means of subsistence are governed by local customs and therefore differ. 2) The level of wages is not independent from the state of the class struggle 3) The products consumed by workers can also include luxury items. 4) The class position of workers remains the same regardless of the level of remuneration.
But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labor,23 is equal to its cost of production.
23After working out his theory of value, Marx replaced the term ‘price of labor’ (commonly used in earlier works on political economy) with the term ‘the price of labor power’.
In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. What is more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labor increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time, or by increased speed of machinery, etc.
Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army, they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, in the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.
The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labor, in other words, the more Modern Industry becomes developed, the more is the labor of men superseded by that of women and by that of children.24
24The section dealing with child labor was left out of the English edition of 1888. At the end of the twentieth century the mass employment of child labor has once more become a characteristic feature of rapidly capitalizing countries.
Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labor, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.
No sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portion of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.
The lower strata of the middle class -- the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants -- all these sink gradually into the proletariat,25 partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus, the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.
25During the twentieth century the state has employed a significant proportion of those who have lost their property or have had no independent means of making a living and have been forced into the position of wage laborers. They became wage laborers for the state, either as state officials or employees.
The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first, the contest is carried on by individual laborers, then by the work of people of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois condition of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labor, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages. At this stage, the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.26
26The situation is reproduced in the international conflicts over new markets (world wars etc.), where the proletariat does not fight its own enemies but the enemies of its enemy (the national bourgeoisie). Therefore, their victory is really the victory of the bourgeoisie. The struggle between fascism and capitalist democracy is a fight between two different bourgeois trends.
But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalized, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labor, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.
Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by Modern Industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.
This organization of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently, into a political party,27 is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves.
27In this context the term "party" does not mean an official institution conforming to state regulations but a movement following its own laws
But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself.28
28More characteristic of the twentieth century is that the bourgeoisie makes use of the divisions within the proletariat and secures the acknowledgement of the interests and the conservation of the capitalist structure through state sanctioned laws.
Thus, the Ten-Hours Bill in England was carried.29
29For Marx, the Ten-Hours Bill was a victory of a principle, "victory of the political economy of labor over the political economy of capital". In contrast to the struggle for wages (which takes place within the confines of the capitalist system), restricting the hours of work raised the amount of leisure time and partially freed the wage laborer from the incarceration of capitalist relations. From this "immense physical, moral intellectual benefits hence accrued to the factory operatives". This analysis supposes that leisure time can in fact be freely used. In the twentieth century the marketization of the wage laborer’s leisure time, or its incorporation into the process of capitalist commodification, obstructs such a possibility. The leisure time of the individual has become a means of supporting capital.
Altogether, collisions between the classes of the old society further in many ways the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.
Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.
Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.30
30More common is the contradictory process whereby proletarians adopt bourgeois opinions. Their systems of values and aspirations strengthen the capitalist system and thus (either consciously or unconsciously) they make common cause with the bourgeoisie.
Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.
The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class.31
31In the core countries a significant proportion of those belonging to the middle layers succeeded in maintaining their existence as petty proprietors. The cause of this is that the expanding activity of large-scale capital and the tendency towards the proletarianization of the population moved from the national market into the less developed regions, thus offering cheaper labor and greater profits. Domestic small property owners became losers in this "feeding frenzy". The process of proletarianization continues dynamically and there are significantly more wage laborers today than there were 150 years ago.
They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay, more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If, by chance, they are revolutionary, they are only so in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests; they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.
The "dangerous class", the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.32
32Later Marx distinguished between the common and the noble ‘lumpenproletariat’. A common feature is that both want to be given money gratis and/or loans.
In the condition of the proletariat, those of old society at large are already virtually swamped. The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; Modern Industry labor, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
All the preceding classes that got the upper hand sought to fortify their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurance’s of, individual property.33
33In other words: they must end all security based on privilege. They must end the private security of those who benefit at the expense of others and realize true public security where everyone is guaranteed the means of subsistence.
All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.34
34The aim of the proletarian movement is to transform capitalist private property into social property. For the reasons outlined above, the majority of wage laborers in the core countries do not have such an aspiration. However, throughout the world the overwhelming majority of workers and their movements (whether spontaneously or consciously and even with widely different concrete aims) take up the struggle against capitalist property.
The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air. Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.35
35In this age of multinational companies, this mean that the wage laborers of each country must, first of all, struggle against the capital which exploits them directly.
In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.36
36Since the beginning, there has been a "hidden civil war" between the two major classes in society. However, the essential characteristic of the capital’ s rule over labor is the impersonal rule of the market over each human being. This latter is the ultimate basis of the former. This ‘hidden civil war’ exhibits more general dimensions than simply those of contradictions between capitalists and workers and, in the final analysis, exists as a struggle between impersonal, economic (institutional) rationality and personal human rationality.
Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of the feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth.37
37Throughout the world, the tendency of capitalism to pauperize the population can still be observed. The annual income of the poorest half of the global population (2.5 billion people) is less than that of the fortunes of the 350 richest. Every day between 20-40,000 people die of starvation.
And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him.38
38State support for the unemployed created by capitalism reduces the clear profit of capitalists. Within this can be included the symbolic support of the so-called "Third World", which, due to the invasion of capitalists from the core countries has been left without the means of subsistence.
Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.
The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage labor. Wage labor rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association.39
39In 1843, Marx recognized that the political activity of the state is not independent but, in the final analysis, reflects the tensions and movements within civil society. In contrast to the political state, civil society was created by the social relations of individuals out of the obligations found in feudal society. In essence, the civil society of the capitalist system is characterized by competition between the economic considerations of individuals and the exchanges between people. It is not a community of individuals but of commodities and money. Finance’s virtue is "the contempt for the human being as a purpose in itself". For Marx the emancipation of humanity presented itself through the possibility of civil society superseding capitalism: i.e. the union of individuals and direct cooperation in the interest of the satisfying of needs. A precondition of this involves individuals recognizing and organizing their own power as social forces; consequently, social forces cannot be separated from the individual in the form of political forces. Furthermore, the individual will no longer separate their social forces in the form of economic force i. e. money, which means an end to "preconditions of profiteering".
The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
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.40
40Therefore all local and tactical actions conform to the following strategic aim: the creation of a humane society recognized as a historical possibility. "The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class" wrote Marx and Engels "but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement "
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 lines 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,41 overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.42
41Today the task to create a proletarian class is still on the agenda. This requires consciousness of long-term interests, the replacement of the identity of the individual worker with the proletarian consciousness of belonging to a class, and the strengthening of awareness of the practice of solidarity with workers from other communities and other countries.
42The economic and military superiority of the core capitalist countries, as well as the confused interests of their working class, mean that there is no direct possibility for the political overthrow of the exploitative capitalist system. However, this does not exclude the possibility of superseding the capitalist system either socially or culturally.
The latter includes revolutionization of everyday life within civil society: that is, the gradual replacement of the capitalist form of civil society by a human form of civil society through the association of productive individuals. The real world historical aim is the revolution of civil society; the catalyst for which is political revolution. The transformation of civil society prepares and provides the basis for the political revolution itself.
It is an illustrative historical fact that the economic and cultural overtaking of feudalism did not occur at the same time as the political breakthrough. In the process of establishing the capitalist system, the bourgeoisie gradually created civil society in its own image (through the formation of a kind of rival power, creating a dual authority within the confines of the feudal system). In general, political power was only obtained when the bourgeoisie had already conquered civil society, when it already possessed the power in civil society. Essentially, political revolutions sanction and institutionalize the transfer of power when the bourgeoisie is already established in civil society. However, in the history of the struggles of the working class the possibility of people beginning to create the basis for communist civilization within civil society has received very little attention in contrast to political struggles. The conscious and practical application of a humane alternative in social relationships between individuals, economic methods, ways of life and value systems have been largely neglected.
A way of life (forms of production, voluntary associations, forms of leisure time) can be created which helps increase the individual’s freedom as well as enriching social relationships. Also, we can aspire to organize an alternative humane civilization within civil society by organizing counter cultural, economic and social power. This means the conscious construction of parallel power which can carry on the ‘hidden civil-war’ with both the political state and those mechanisms of civil society manipulated by the state.
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer.
They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of communism.
All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions. The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favor of bourgeois property.
The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own labor, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.
Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property?
But does wage labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage labor, and which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new supply of wage labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism.
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.
Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power.
When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.
Let us now take wage labor.
The average price of wage labor is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage laborer appropriates by means of his labor merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others.43
43In a later work, Marx argued that Communism "restores individual property on the basis of that acquired during the capitalist age: cooperation and the common ownership of land and of the means of production created by labor". It was often said in reference to the Paris Commune that it sought to make a reality of individual property in such a way that the means of production could become simply the tools of free and associated labor.
All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it.
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.
In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society, capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.
By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying.
But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying disappears also. This talk about free selling and buying, and all the other "brave words" of our bourgeois about freedom in general, have a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted selling and buying, with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when opposed to the communist abolition of buying and selling, or the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeoisie itself.
You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.
In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.
From the moment when labor can no longer be converted into capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolized, i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say, individuality vanishes. You must, therefore, confess that by "individual" you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible.
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.
It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.
According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those who acquire anything, do not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology: There can no longer be any wage labor when there is no longer any capital. All objections urged against the communistic mode of producing and appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged against the communistic mode of producing and appropriating intellectual products. Just as to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture.
That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.44
44In the twentieth century, mass culture and media culture turn the human spirit into a type of machine. In subordinating individual economic activity to the rules of the market, capital becomes impersonal, modern culture makes thinking, tastes, dress, behavior, lifestyle, and consumption patterns similarly uniform and impersonal.
But don't wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.
The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason the social forms stringing from your present mode of production and form of property -- historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production -- this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of your own bourgeois form of property.
Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.45
45The Manifesto speaks about the end of those family structures which are based on private property. The ending of family structures based on private property is a consequence of the ending of private property.
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among proletarians, and in public prostitution.
The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.
Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.
But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.
And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, etc.?46
46At the end of the twentieth century, the means of mass communication have become the means by which the directors of the capitalist system can most effectively intervene in the thoughts and life of the individual.
The Communists have not intended the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.
The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed correlation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor.
But you Communists would introduce community or women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.
The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.
He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce free love; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives.
Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalized system of free love. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of free love springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.
The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality.
The working men have no country.47
47They have no country in the sense that they have no part of the nation’s property.
We cannot take from them what they have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.
National differences and antagonism between peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto.
The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster. United action of the leading civilized countries at least is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.
In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end.48
48In the condition of contemporary world capitalism it is perhaps better to reverse this: i.e. the ending of the exploitation of the individual by the individual is a pre-condition for the ending of the exploitation of one nation by another nation. The struggle against the national bourgeoisie is made more difficult by international military forces which ensure the security of multinational capital.
The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philosophical, and, generally, from an ideological standpoint, are not deserving of serious examination.
Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas, views and conceptions, in one word, man's consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?
What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed?
The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.
When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact, that within the old society, the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.
When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient religions were overcome by Christianity. When Christian ideas succumbed in the 18th century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its death battle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie. The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of conscience merely gave expression to the sway of free competition within the domain of knowledge.
"Undoubtedly", it will be said, "religious, moral, philosophical and juridical ideas have been modified in the course of historical development.
But religion, morality philosophy, political science, and law, constantly survived this change. There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc. that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience."
What does this accusation reduce itself to? The history of all past society has consisted in the development of class antagonisms, antagonisms that assumed different forms at different epochs.
But whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all past ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the other. No wonder, then, that the social consciousness of past ages, despite all the multiplicity and variety it displays, moves within certain common forms, or general ideas, which cannot completely vanish except with the total disappearance of class antagonisms.
The Communist revolution49 is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.
49According to a later analysis by Marx, there is a chance of peaceful revolution in those countries where the centralization of the political state has not eliminated local self-government and self-organization. To this can be added Engels’ view that the English would start setting up individual colonies with which everyone who wished could associate themselves.
But let us have done with the bourgeois objections to Communism.
We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling as to win the battle of democracy.50
50Democracy is couched in terms of "the rule of the people" -- meaning the power of the majority over the minority. Only the ideology of the modern state interprets this to mean the democracy of the wealthy: the political rule of those who possess more property over those with less or none.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy top wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.51
51 "From early on we were decidedly of the opinion that the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself" emphasized Engels. However, the historical failure of the so-called ‘really existing socialisms’ are derived from their pursuit of an entirely different path. They did not achieve democracy (in the sense of direct rule by the people), and attempts at this (Soviet council democracy, Hungarian workers’ councils, Polish Solidarity) were consistently suppressed. The state apparatus of the ‘really existing socialisms’ remained the bourgeois type of bureaucratic institutions. The expropriation of capital from the bourgeoisie did not occur gradually in the course of economic competition but essentially as the result of a single political decision. The wage laborer situation of the proletariat ---- remained the same. The political leadership forced the workers into economic, social and political passivity. Therefore, the proletarians did not feel the system to be their own and became indifferent or even hostile towards it. This explains why workers did not try and protect state property during the change of system, even though the Constitution stated that it was theirs.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.
These measures will of course be different in different countries.
Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.52
52 "This passage would, in many respect would be worded very differently today. In view of the gigantic strides of modern industry since 1848, and of the accompanying improved and extended organizations of the working class, in view of the practical experience gained, first in the February Revolution, and then, still more, in the Paris Commune, where the proletariat for the first time held political power for two whole months, this program has in some details become antiquated. One thing was especially proved by the Commune: that the working class cannot simply lay hold of ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes" (Preface to the German edition of 1872)
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 right of inheritance.53
53I.e. preventing the inheritance of private property in the interest of avoiding arevival of capitalist relations.
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;54 the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
54 Marx later wrote, with reference to the association of industrial workers, that cooperative factories create the opportunity to break down older forms. Factories demonstrate how, at a certain level of development, material productive forces and the social form of production appropriate to them bring about and develop a new mode of production. "To save the industrial masses, cooperative labor ought to be developed to national dimensions and, consequently, to be fostered by national means."
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.55
55The artificial discrimination between intellectual and physical work makes the individual one-sided. With regard to this Marx stressed that, in order to enjoy life to the full, workers have to be well-educated, highly cultured.
When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.56
56This means the political power and political activity which is separated from and established in opposition to society will come to an end. The association which possesses all economic resources does not maintain a state or the independence of the politicians belonging to it.
Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.
In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.