Theories and Aims of The Communist Manifesto
The ideas presented by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto, while widely controversial, are some of the most influential political philosophies ever written. Most importantly, their political aims and theory on historical change provide a chronicle on how historical stages, class struggle and the monumental events of the mid-nineteenth century were the catalysts that ignited the birth of communism out of the ruins of capitalism.
To begin with, Marx believes all of history should be comprehended in a way that history advances in determined, inevitable stages. It is a process in which classes are in constant realignment due to the ever-changing means of production. The key idea is that the means of production is the sole contributor to history and not religion, culture, or ideology. Overall, his theory is a comprehensive master narrative, beginning with the primitive stage, and the start of humanity, where society was a leaderless democracy that maintained a communal ownership of property. The development of private property and agriculture produced a society that revolved around slavery, which was the beginning of classes and authoritarianism. Citizens began owning humans, along with land, and forced the slaves to work for no money. However, large-scale slavery eventually became impossible to maintain. Out of the collapse of slavery came feudalism, which was the beginning of monarchs, religious rule, mercenaries and a division between nobles and peasants. When the monarch’s power was preventing the merchant’s modes of production it too collapsed into the fourth stage, capitalism. Capitalism became mainstream during the industrial revolution. This is where we see a market economy and how profit motives ruled citizens. Wages rewarded laborers for their work for the first time; however, Marx believes the pitfall is that the working class was not being paid what they were worth. Competition and monopolies inhibited the earnings of the working class, to which he describes as “the unpaid labour of the working class.” Although Marx theorizes that history has always been dependent upon means of production, the state is not permanent, and eventually the means of production will one day be unable to compete with the class structure. Furthermore, he believes that when the fourth stage, capitalism, begins to hinder the advancement of the means of production, it will be destroyed through a violent revolution or the creation of unions. Then, Marx predicts that out of the ashes communism, the final stage, will rise and abolish class structure.
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” Marx writes as he describes the freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, as consistent relationships throughout time between the ruling working classes. The mode of production, or the revolution of...