"A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Communism." So begins one of history's most important documents, a work of such magnitude that it has forever changed not only the scope of world politics, but indeed the course of human civilization. The Communist Manifesto was written in Friedrich Engels's clear, striking prose and declared the earth-shaking ideas of Karl Marx. Upon publication in 1848, it quickly became the credo of the poor and oppressed who longed for a society "in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."The Communist Manifesto contains the seeds of Marx's more comprehensive philosophy, which continues to inspire influential economic, political, social, and literary theories. But the Manifesto is most valuable as an historical document, one that led to the greatest political upheaveals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and to the establishment of the Communist governments that until recently ruled half the globe.
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August 30, 2004
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Excerpt from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
A SPECTRE is haunting Europe ' the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, 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 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.
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.
I. BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS
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 re-constitution 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 distinctive feature: it has simplified the 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.
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.