Karl Marx And The Communist Manifesto
Because the first printing of the Communist Manifesto was limited and the circulation restricted, the Manifesto did not have much impact on society after it was written in 1848. This meant that there were not many people who had access to the document. It wasn’t until 1871, when the Paris Commune occurred, that the Communist Manifesto began to have a huge impact on the working class all over the world.[i]
The Paris Commune, which was the insurrection of Paris against the French government, resurrected the idea of communism that had been banished for good just a few years after the Manifesto’s publishing. It created widespread interest of the Manifesto among the dominant classes as well as in the labor movement. In their 1872 introduction to the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels acknowledged the important influence of the Paris Commune on their thinking:
“One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.’"[ii]
The Manifesto would soon become the most widely read publication of the modern working class (Proletariat) movement. By the late 19th century, through the influence of the Internationals (communist organizations), Marx’s ideas had become popular with the European trade movement, and the major socialist parties were committed to his ideas in theory if not in practice. A major separation occurred, however, between those socialists who believed that violent revolution was inevitable, and those, most notably Eduard Bernstein, who argued that socialism could be achieved by evolution. Both groups could cite Marx as their authority because he was inconsistent in his writings on this question.[iii]
An authoritarian Communist state in Russia permanently split the movement. In disassociating themselves from dictatorial Russian Communism, many of the democratic socialist parties also moved slowly away from Marxist theory. Communists, however, regarded Marxism as their official doctrine, and it is chiefly under their protection that it spread through the world, although its concepts of class struggle and exploitation have helped to determine other policies of welfare and development in many nations besides those sticking to Communism.[iv]
The Soviet, Chinese, and other Communist states were partly structured along Marxist classless lines, and while Communist leaders such as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin , Joseph Stalin , and Mao Zedong claimed Marxist beliefs for their assertions, they in fact greatly stretched the doctrine in attempting to form it to their own uses.[v]
Marxism has had a profound influence on Russia, China, and many countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, Angola, Kenya and Senegal. In recent years, however, Marx’s influence has weakened and will continue to weaken as a result of the decline...