Warren T. Myers II
Professor Bob Millar
30 April 2014
Workers of the World Unite: A Critical Review of The Communist Manifesto
Throughout Human history, man has struggled for freedom and dignity in a world dominated by oppression, exploitation, and the aggressive use of force. The modern day American experiment with self-rule is the exception in a long, dark, and bloody history dominated by Monarchies and the ruling class. Socialist theories had been around for hundreds of years before Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels finally sat down to put these theories into words. The result of their collaborative work was The Communist Manifesto. The manifesto is Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels attempt to explain the theory of Communism, as well as the goals of the movement. The manifesto was published in London, England on 21 February 1848 by the Communist League. Marx originally studied law at universities of Bonn and Berlin, and eventually received his doctorate in philosophy. His initial desire was to teach, however, he had already begun to gain a reputation as a radical, and there were little opportunities offered in academia to such men. Soon, Marx would become involved in journalism, focusing on economic, political, and social issues. Marx would go on to have many of his economic and philosophical manuscripts published. Although Marx is most famous for The Communist Manifesto, many would argue that several of his other main works such as Capital Volume 1, and Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy more clearly reflect Marx’s ideas.
Friedrich Engels, on the other hand, was not formally educated. He dropped out of secondary school against his father’s wishes, and began writing under the pseudonym of Friedrich Oswald. His relationship with his father, a textile factory owner, was strained. His father symbolized many of the ideas that Friedrich would spend his life fighting against. However, Friedrich would work for his father from time to time, drawing experience from, and studying the general economic and political climate of the time. He would go on to study the conditions and environment surrounding the lives of the laborers, especially child labors. This experience would inspire Engels to write The Condition of the Working Class, as well as several other major works. The Communist Manifesto is more philosophically driven rather than data driven. The authors neither gathered statistics nor conducted any surveys or experiments. Many of the ideas contained in the manifesto are derived from earlier German philosophers such as Hagel, and earlier socialist writings. The author’s observations of society, along with their study of history and economics, build upon many intersecting philosophies to develop a new revolutionary theory concerning the nature of politics and society. The main conclusions of Marx and Engels manifesto are that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Marx & Engels 17). The authors argue that all major economic advancements and stages of progress in history are driven by class struggle and the exploitation of one class by another. They claim that society is structured around economic production and that these modes of production outpace the structure of society. The authors claim that modern capitalism is now incompatible with this exploitive relationship, and that the oppressed, or proletariat, are destined to rise up against the oppressors, or bourgeoisie. After taking over, the proletariat will abolish private property and establish a classless society where the means of production are in the hands of the people. Marx and Engels claim that this revolution will be worldwide, for “the oppressed class (the proletariat) can no longer emancipate itself from the class which exploits and oppresses it (the bourgeoisie), without at the same time forever freeing the whole of society from exploitation, oppression and class struggles” (8)....
Cited: Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto.New York: Bantam Books, 1992. Print.
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