Society at the Time of the Communist Manifesto
Much was going on in society at the time the Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Society was undergoing many changes and issues, and many events took place as a result of this. To many people in England it seemed that the middle class was taking control—and Marx and Engels agreed in the Communist Manifesto. They stated, “The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part. The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’…”1 There was much anger in Europe over numerous political issues and there was also frustration over the conditions in Europe. At the time the Communist Manifesto was written, there was a lack of food in many areas of Europe, especially Ireland. Citizens felt that middle class had taken rule over society and that others were being overlooked. These reasons combined to add up to the events that occurred in the year 1848.
There were numerous revolts in Europe in 1848, and in general they were poorly organized. While they did come quickly and gather enormous movement quickly, they also collapsed quickly.2 There were a number of reasons the movement was weakened. The radical social reformers were looking for justice for the peasants and workers, while the moderate political reformers wanted to protect the influence of the middle class.3 Also, radicals favored a republican government while moderates wanted a constitutional monarchy. Radicals wanted to collect all private property (including property of the Catholic Church), while the moderates respected private property.4 In addition, a business depression had hit, and it lasted from 1834 to 1843, leading to widespread unemployment.5 After the business depression, crop failures hit hard, especially in Ireland, where the potato harvest was destroyed in 1845 and 1846, and in Germany, where rye, wheat, fruit, and potato crops failed.6 As a result of these issues, combined with many others, revolts occurred all over Europe, beginning in France and ending in France, mostly due to the work of Napoleon Bonaparte.7 It is estimated that there were over 50 revolts in 1848.8
The revolts began in Paris with the February Revolution.9 Opponents of Francois Guizot, a member of the cabinet who refused to take action on many issues that troubled the French, scheduled a banquet to oppose him for February 22, 1848.10 Authorities forbade it, but crowds marched and the National Guard couldn’t keep order. On February 23, a shot was fired from the crowd, and the soldiers responded. In the end, 16 people were killed.11 There was also street fighting in Paris after the dissolutions of National Workshops.12 In Germany, the industrial...