of the Communist Party –
(usually known as the Communist Manifesto. A
full version may be found here.)
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, 1848
The Manifesto is a work of rhetoric far more than a
work of reason. It was written the year before the papal encyclical, Nostis
- 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.
The history of all hitherto existing society is the
history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, 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.
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.
[...] 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.
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.
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.
In a sense, the theory of the Communists
may be summed up in the single sentence:
Abolition of private property.
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
Then the Manifesto rants on fairly
incoherently about the abolition of family and prostitution.
However, this bit is worth looking at for a laugh, see end note 1. This is then followed by
a rather tedious section the abolition of countries.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to
wrest, by degree, 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 productive
forces as rapidly as possible.
[...] the following will be pretty generally applicable.
- Abolition of property in land and application of
all rents of land to public purposes.
- A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and
- Centralization of credit in the banks of the state,
by means of a national bank with state capital and
an exclusive monopoly.
- Centralization of the means of communication and
transport in the hands of the state.
- Extension of factories and instruments of production
owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation
of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally
in accordance with a common plan.
- Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of
industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries;
gradual abolition of all the distinction between town
and country by a more equable distribution of the
populace over the country.
- Free education for all children in public schools.
Abolition of children's factory labor in its present
form. Combination of education with industrial production,
A sloppy ‘history’.
Chapter 4, to the end of the document
In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary
movement against the existing social and political order
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims.
They openly declare that their ends can be attained
only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social
conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist
revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but
their chains. They have a world to win.
Workers of all countries unite!