Category: Communism

Summary of The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto

Extract 1: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

The bourgeoisie, wherever is has got the upper hand, has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’.

It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, 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 and indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom–Free Trade.

In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured 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 labourers.

Extract 2: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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 a sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.

Extract 3: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

The epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistance; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistance, 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……..This is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

Extract 4: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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 labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piece-meal, 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.

Extract 5: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of
labour, 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 his maintenance, and for the propagation of his
race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of
labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion
therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage
decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and
division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden
of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working
hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time or by
increased speed of the machinery, etc.

Extract 6: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

The lower strata of the middle class–the small tradespeople,
shopkeepers, retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and
peasants–all these sink gradually into the proletariat, 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 the new methods of
production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes
of the population.

Extract 7: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie
today, the proletariat alone is a really 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. 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 so only 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.

Extract 8: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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 insurances of,
individual property.

Extract 9: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

The modern laborer, on the contrary,
instead of rising with the progress 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.

Extract 10: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces,
above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of
the proletariat are equally inevitable.

Extract 11: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not
a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which
exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon
condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh
exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the
antagonism of capital and wage-labour.

Extract 12: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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

Extract 13: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

The average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage, i.e.,
that quantum of the means of subsistence, which is absolutely
requisite in bare existence as a labourer. What, therefore, the
wage-labourer appropriates by means of his labour, merely
suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no
means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the
products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the
maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no
surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that we
want to do away with, is the miserable character of this
appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase
capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of
the ruling class requires it.

Extract 14: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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.

Extract 15: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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 labour of others by means of such

Extract 16: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about
the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the
more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all
family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their
children transformed into simple articles of commerce and
instruments of labour.

Extract 17: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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

Extract 18: The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

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. Political power, properly so
called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing
another. If the proletariat during its contest with the
bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to
organise 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.

Source: Gutenberg Free Ebooks

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