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Karl Marx (1818-1883) has been established (post-mortem of course, like almost all greats, it seems) as one of the most influential thinkers and writers of modern times. The Communist Manifesto published in 1848, lays down his theories on socialism. This manifesto was used to establish Communist Russia. Although that "experiment" failed, there are still points in his work that I find relevant in today's society.
One of Marx's arguments is that the society created by the bourgeois is so powerful and out of control that it can no longer be controlled. The modern bourgeois society, he explains "a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, [it] is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world when he has called up by his spells" (217). His remedy for this situation was an overthrow of the ruling bourgeois society and the beginning of the proletariat society. This can be loosely compared with the current situation with Microsoft and the monopoly argument. Bill Gates has brought a problem with our free market system to the attention of the American public. However, how answer will not be to overthrow the current government, but rather more regulations.
Another argument that Marx brings out that is relevant in today's society is the distinct class differences. He mentions how 10% of the people have virtually all the property. This is extremely relevant. However, in today's society, wealth is not so much measured by property but by total addition of all one's assets. In the United States today, 20% of the population has 85% of the wealth. This is evidence of the enormous class differences that we experience in today's society, which are comparable to the stratification that Marx emphasizes.
Although Karl Marx is able to make some relevant points in his The Communist Manifesto, he also makes some points that are just not applicable today, and in my view in any time period. On page 230, he mentions that top-ten list of measures that will be applicable in communist countries. Number 9 is just plain lunacy. "Combination of agriculture and manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country" (230). The reason the so-called "country" is less populated is because there has to be room for the crops to grow.
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Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto is one of the most influential works in the last two centuries. Many of the points made are still relevant in today's society. It's obvious after reading this, how it inspired the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. However, Marx also makes some points, which are difficult to comprehend in today's society.