The Communist Manifesto

by: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Capitalism

1

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.

The authors explain that the goal of the bourgeoisie capitalists, who control trade and industry, is simple: to increase wealth and profit. To succeed, they must continually figure out ways to outpace their competition and increase production, such as inventing more efficient tools for manufacturing. Changes in industry push the workers in new directions, which affects both how they perform their job and how feel about their tasks. Further, the conditions of the workplace filter into every sphere of society. For example, laborers pushed to work harder and faster lose human dignity, becoming mere cogs in the machine that drives capitalism instead of active participants in society.

2

These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, . . . exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

In capitalist society, the authors believe that the proletarians possess little of value except their ability to labor. The workers themselves become a product, most akin to an object like a new piece of machinery. The workers must sell their service but hold no power over their own working conditions or wages. Since capitalists seek to optimize profit, they want to pay as little as possible. If the proletarians refuse to work, they earn no money. If they demand more wages, the owner can hire someone else. As such, the workers, who are the backbone of the economy, hold the least amount of power under capitalism.

3

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[.]

According to the authors, wage labor leads to exploitation on the part of the workers and an increase in wealth on the part of the capitalist. The primary goal of the capitalist is to earn more money. The capitalist will do whatever seems necessary to increase profits. The laborer, however—the means by which the capitalist earns wealth—gains nothing substantial for his efforts. For instance, the wage laborer will never be able to own property. Instead, the wage laborer, the authors imply, will only be paid enough money to continue to live so he can continue to earn for the capitalist.

4

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 appropriation.

Under capitalism, the minority bourgeoisie have reaped the benefits of economic production for themselves by exploiting the workers, but here the authors argue that communism will allow everyone to partake of the goods and riches produced by society. Communism serves as a means to equalize power and prosperity among the mass of people, making communism a counterpoint to capitalism, in which all riches flow to just a few. Under this new system, capitalist industrialists will no longer exist and thus will not be able to enrich themselves from the labor of others.