Karl Marx And The Communist Manifesto

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Karl Marx And The Communist Manifesto

Because the first printing of the Communist Manifesto was limited and the circulation restricted, the Manifesto did not have much impact on society after it was written in 1848. This meant that there were not many people who had access to the document. It wasn’t until 1871, when the Paris Commune occurred, that the Communist Manifesto began to have a huge impact on the working class all over the world.[i]

The Paris Commune, which was the insurrection of Paris against the French government, resurrected the idea of communism that had been banished for good just a few years after the Manifesto’s publishing. It created widespread interest of the Manifesto among the dominant classes as well as in the labor movement. In their 1872 introduction to the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels acknowledged the important influence of the Paris Commune on their thinking:

“One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.’"[ii]

The Manifesto would soon become the most widely read publication of the modern working class (Proletariat) movement. By the late 19th century, through the influence of the Internationals (communist organizations), Marx’s ideas had become popular with the European trade movement, and the major socialist parties were committed to his ideas in theory if not in practice. A major separation occurred, however, between those socialists who believed that violent revolution was inevitable, and those, most notably Eduard Bernstein, who argued that socialism could be achieved by evolution. Both groups could cite Marx as their a...

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... on humans all over the world.


[i] Bob Jessop, The Communist Manifesto as a Historical Document,

<http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/katori/Jessop_on_CM.html> (21 March 2002).

[ii] Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Preface to the German Edition of 1872, in

Manifesto of the Communist Party, (New York: Pathfinder, 1987), 13.

[iii] Paul Dorn, Two Months of Red Splendor: The Paris Commune and Marx’ Theory of

Revolution, <http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~pdorn/Marx.html> (21 March 2002)

[iv] Dorn

[v] Dorn

[vi] Paul Lewis, For Many, Marx’s Manifesto Remains Relevant, The New York Times

(Sept. 21, 1997).

[vii] Lewis

[viii] Jessop

[ix] Philip J. Kain, Marx and Modern Political Theory, (Maryland: Rowman and

Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1993), 360.

[x] Kain, 360
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