The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto, also known as The Manifesto of the Communist Party, first published on February 21, 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, is one of the world's most historically influential political tracts. Commissioned by the Communist League and written by founding Communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it laid out the League's purposes and program. The Manifesto suggested a course of action for a proletarian revolution to overthrow capitalism and, eventually, to bring about a classless society.
- 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 Tsar, 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 is 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?
- 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 organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize 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.
Modern Marxists respond to this by pointing out that the socialist state must always be a democratic one, and that it "withers away" by assigning increasing amounts of its power directly to the people (power that was previously held by the people's elected representatives in government). In other words, socialism fades into communism when the representative democracy of socialism fades into the direct democracy of communism.
The Manifesto went through a number of editions from 1872 to 1890. Written for a lay audience -- indeed, addressed to the common workers -- it is one of the most readable works of Marx. Historically speaking, it provides a foundation for understanding the motives and policies of the Communists at the beginning of their movement.
- The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
- Working men of all countries, unite!