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Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto

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Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx explains the history of all societies as the history of class conflicts, he claims that the power and direction of all societies is determined by the modes of production, as such when the mode of production no longer suits the relations of society there is a revolution. He predicts that a revolution is coming between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and calls its coming inevitable. Marx argues that the bourgeoisies are no longer fit to rule, nor is their rule sustainable, as such the proletariat will overthrow them and end all class antagonisms with the creation of a classless society. However, Marx does not give enough credit to nationalism, nor does he ascribe to the possibility of compromise between the classes. Due to this he predicts a class war which never, and might never, take place.

The first section of the Communist Manifesto describes the history of all society as the history of class conflicts. Claiming, that every society is essentially divided into, the oppressors and the oppressed. Furthermore, Marx adds, in the past, societies were organized in more complex combinations and hierarchies, but modern society is being split into two ‘hostile camps’. There has always been a continuous conflict between the different classes; the end result of these conflicts is always, either the total suppression of the oppressed classes, or a revolution, which leads to an overhaul of society. He blames the cause for the separation of modern society into only two groups, on the fall of feudalism. These new class antagonisms are between the proletariat, and the bourgeoisie.

Marx views the rise of the bourgeoisie in Europe as the result of a couple of factors; firstly, he believes that, the initial elements of the bourgeoisie, were developed by the chartered burghers who evolved from the serfs of the medieval ages. Next, following the great colonization of the 16th and 17th centuries the market expanded, leading to a great need for increased production. This great demand could not be sufficed by the feudal guilds, as such they were replaced with manufacturing. However, the markets and the demand kept increasing and the manufacturing system could no longer keep up, as such it also was replaced, by Modern Industry. The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century and th...

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... the revolutionary parties. These sorts of compromises happened, and different socialist parties left behind the ideas of radical revolution and instead pursued gradual improvement through unions and parliament. Thus the previously constant decrease in workers state did not continue, rather the workers started getting more rights, for example universal male suffrage. Also they fought for, and won, social and economic improvements, for example more employment stability, higher wages and laws such as the Ten Hour Act of 1847 and the Factory Act of 1833. Such reformations, the increase in the power of Unions and the ability of the workers to vote led to sustainable compromises between the classes, as such no class war took place.

Marx’s description of European society as driven by economics and divided by class lines is correct. However he fails to see the great influence of nationalism and he does not entertain the idea of compromise between the classes, because of this he wrongly predicts the destruction of the capitalist system and the bourgeoisies by the proletariat.

Works Cited:

McLellan, David. Karl Marx: Selected Writings (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1977)
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