The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto was written as a guide to the idea of Communism. Communism, to them, was the struggle of the working class under the ruling class. The two different classes mentioned within the document were the ruling bourgeoisie class, and the working proletariat class. The main point stressed within the document is that the bourgeoisie class is oppressive and takes advantage of the proletariat’s work. They also outline how they would like society to be set up in a successful communist future. The document shows the pros and cons of industrialization and how it sets the standards on which the classes are built. Free trade is an important topic in the first section and how it ruins the means of production. During the time that this was written, Europe was experiencing the Industrial Revolution which separated classes more than ever. They also outline how they would like society to be set up in a successful communist future. In the first section, Marx and Engels provide quite a few specific examples of historic class struggles as a way to be able to relate to people all across the globe. They wanted to be able to spread their word as far as they could and translate it into as many languages as possible. The idea behind this was that if anything were to change, it would have to be the result of a mass uprising of all people united against the ruling class of society. The ideal future of communism in the eyes of Marx and Engels is one where the playing field is evened out. The education systems would all be public, there would be no free trade market, and the ruling class would not capitalize off the working class.
The Industrial revolution started a drastic shift in how society was structured. Instead of products being made from local raw goods, the raw goods could be shipped into factories to have products mass produced. Due to mass production, the lower classes were taken advantage of and the upper classes became richer. People moved from the rural areas of society in hopes of a better life in an urban setting working in a factory, but cities were crowded and full of disease. The work in the factories was dangerous and strenuous, child labor was also fairly common during the time.
Going back to the ideal future for Communism in the eyes of the authors they would have an equal and public education system. Children would no longer need to work in factories to help their families afford to live so they could attend school. They also wanted to abolish the idea of free trade. Free trade focuses on an individual gaining wealth instead of shared wealth throughout the nation. When they talk about the abolishment of private property, they are talking about it in relation to free trade. So, it refers to a private business that one owns and makes a profit off of others. They also express the idea that there are people who can side with either one of the classes depending on the state of the nation. They are typically ones who work for themselves but are hoping to build their business more such as artisans.
The historical impact of this document is the legacy that communism has spread. Many countries in eastern Europe, Asia, The Middle East, and Africa have been communist states. When most people think of communism they think of the Soviet Union where Lenin popularized the idea of communism. Lenin had the most success with the political side of communism where he had the workers come together under his political party and revolt against the powers above them at the time. Though today, modern communist nations do not fit the mold of the idea of communism in the Communist Manifesto.
In my opinion, I believe one of the main pros of this document is that, in a sense, is almost timeless. A perfect example of how it can be related to the current state of our society today, we see people struggling for a livable wage, compared to the owners of companies make more than enough money to live comfortably. One of the issues that I have with this document though is that the idea of communism is impractical. Things will never be equal between the classes because of the current mindset of humanity. The ruling class will always find a way to exploit the working class. Today, people try to find the best deal when it comes to buying goods and services. They do not account for the time and effort that it takes to make something. This relates to the idea that the means of production are lowered to such a minimum due to the free markets. This shows how easily people in different nations are taken advantage of due to capitalism. A good example would be how manufacturing labor has been outsourced to different countries so businesses can keep labor costs down. Even if people changed their mindset, it would still be a nearly impossible task to get the entire population of the world on board. Though advancements have been made in many other nations, there are still underdeveloped nations where communist ideals wouldn’t work. In an ideal communist society education would be public and equal, but even today it is not. School funding varies depending on your region and typically if you live in a poorer area, your education is worse. For example, I came from a rural school where we were offered a very basic education with the option to take only a few college classes from the local community college. In more urban areas where schools have more money, they are able to offer more specialty classes, and have even more college classes offered to the students to set them up better with a good future.
Another part of the document that I do not necessarily agree with is the political side of communism. With the idea of equal things needing to be spread out among all people, the government would have to control and regulate all the goods produced. I can’t conceive how this would work, unless they did something along the lines of ration cards or all the stores being state regulated. One of the things that I do agree with in the document is the idea that the bourgeoisie will inevitably be their own ruin with their own greed. As companies make more and more to try to expand their market all over the globe, they put themselves in a precarious position. They will eventually ruin themselves with overproduction when the demand lowers and the supply chains back up. A personal example I have with this is at my previous job, where the company I was working for expanded too quickly and was then forced to close numerous locations across the nation.
Though in all, I thought that this document was well thought out. It offered specific examples that even the lowest classes in different nations could relate to. It also provides a new set of ideas where those who are in the working class should join together to demand a more equal society, which is something that we need more now than ever. I