The Communist Manifesto

by: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Power

1

The bourgeoisie . . . has agglomerated population, centralized means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization.

The authors claim that the bourgeoisie as a class gained the reigns of political power by keeping the means of production for themselves and thus becoming the sole possessor of wealth. Since the workers depend on the bourgeois class for the ability to earn a living, the proletariat must accede to any conditions imposed upon it. Further, as the bourgeoisie continue to hold sway over the rest of the population, they consolidate even more wealth and political power. The authors argue that unless drastic measures are taken, like a class revolution, the proletarians will remain locked out of political and economic structures.

2

Thereupon the workers begin to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages[.]

As workers amass together in factories, they form unions that give them more collective power than any single worker on his or her own could possess. The authors believe that if all workers unite, they possess the power to create more favorable working conditions, like driving up wages or revolting against the demands of the factory owners. While the proletarians still possess little political power, as they seize more economic power from the bourgeoisie, they will increasingly gain in strength and be able to effect more widespread change.

3

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.

The authors believe that after the revolution, when the proletariat takes power, the class structure will fall away and eventually so too will the need for a statewide political government. Instead of being exploited and subjugated, the proletariat will share in the collective wealth and power equally. In such an egalitarian society, class conflict will cease to exist, rendering the governmental power structure—which they call “the public power”—moot. The government, no longer necessary, will then dissolve on its own.

4

Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Here, the authors continue to encourage the proletariat to cease power and throw off its oppressors. The Communist Manifesto has already outlined how the proletariat actually holds power in numbers and shared goals. Now the authors explain that proletarians must refuse to continue conceding power to the minority bourgeois. Already occupying the lower strata of society and experiencing constant exploitation for their labor, the proletarians have nothing to lose and all to gain. The authors, knowing that the bourgeoisie will never willingly share power or wealth, describe such a class conflict as inevitable in an attempt to give the proletarians the courage to seize the power of the masses.