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The Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Section 2, Proletarians and Communists

Section 1, Bourgeois and Proletarians (Part 2)

Section 2, Proletarians and Communists, page 2

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Summary

The Manifesto then discusses the relationship of the Communists to the proletarians. The immediate aim of the Communists is the "formation of the proletariat into a class, [the] overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, [and the] conquest of political power by the proletariat." The Communists' theory simply describes a historical movement underway at this very moment. This includes the abolition of private property.

Marx says that Communists have been "reproached" for desiring to abolish the "right" of acquiring private property through the fruits of one's labor. However, he points out, laborers do not acquire any property through their labor. Rather, the "property" or capital they produce serves to exploit them. This property, controlled by the bourgeoisie, represents a social--not a personal--power. Changing it into common property does not abolish property as a right, but merely changes its social character, by eliminating its class character. In a Communist society, then, labor will exist for the sake of the laborer, not for the sake of producing bourgeois-controlled property. This goal of communism challenges bourgeois freedom, and this is why the bourgeois condemn the Communist philosophy. Marx writes, "You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population." Despite what the bourgeois claim, Communism doesn't keep people from appropriating the products of labor. Rather, it keeps them from subjugating others in the process of this appropriation.

The Manifesto then addresses some objections to Communism. Many dissenters maintain that no one will work if private property is abolished. However, by this logic, bourgeois society should have been overcome with laziness long ago. In reality, it is presently the case that those who work don't acquire anything, and those who acquire things don't work. Other opponents hold that Communism will destroy all intellectual products. However, this reflects a bourgeois misunderstanding. The disappearance of "class culture" is not the same thing as the disappearance of all culture.

Marx moves to the arguments against the "infamous" Communist proposal of abolishing the family. He says the modern family is based on capital and private gain. Thus he writes, the Communists "plead guilty" to wanting to do away with present familial relations, in that they want to stop the exploitation of children by their parents. Similarly, they do not want to altogether abolish the education of children, but simply to free it from the control of the ruling class. Marx complains that the bourgeois "clap-trap" about family and education is particularly "disgusting" as Industry increasingly destroys the family ties of the proletarians; thus it renders family and education as means for the transformation of children into articles of commerce.

Communists are also criticized for their desire to abolish country and nationality. Marx replies that workingmen have no country; and we can't take from them what they don't have. National differences and antagonisms lose significance as industrialization increasingly standardizes life.

Marx then says that those charges against Communism based on religion, philosophy, or ideology "are not deserving of serious examination." Man's consciousness changes with the conditions of his material existence. "The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class." In response to the claim that there are certain universal ideas, such as that of Justice, that have transcended the vicissitudes of history, Marx replies that this universality is only an apparent one, reflecting an overriding history of exploitation and class antagonism. The Communist revolution is a radical rupture in traditional property relations. It should be no surprise that it accompanied by radical changes in traditional ideas.

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Class Notes

by werewoofsANDvampies, August 22, 2012

-Feuerbach and etc *(copy notes from class)*

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