The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Transcribed by Allen Lutins with assistance from Jim Tarzia.
MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
[From the English edition of 1888, edited by Friedrich Engels]
A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of Communism.
All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to
exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot,
French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as
Communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition
that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism,
against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against
its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact.
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers
to be itself a Power.
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the
face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their
tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of
Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have
assembled in London, and sketched the following Manifesto, to be
published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and
I. BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS
The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history
of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf,
guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed,
stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an
uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time
ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at
large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a
complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a
manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have
patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages,
feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices,
serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins
of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It
has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression,
new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the
epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive
feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms: Society as a
whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps,
into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie
From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers
of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements
of the bourgeoisie were developed.
The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up
fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and
Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the
colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in
commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to
industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the
revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid
The feudal system of industry, under which industrial production
was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the
growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took
its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the
manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the
different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of
labour in each single workshop.
Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising.
Even manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and
machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of
manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry, the place of
the industrial middle class, by industrial millionaires, the
leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.
Modern industry has established the world-market, for which the
discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an
immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication
by land. This development has, in its time, reacted on the
extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce,
navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the
bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the
background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the
product of a long course of development, of a series of
revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.
Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied
by a corresponding political advance of that class. An
oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed
and self-governing association in the mediaeval commune; here
independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany), there
taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France),
afterwards, in the period of manufacture proper, serving either
the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise
against the nobility, and, in fact, corner-stone of the great
monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the
establishment of Modern Industry and of the world-market,
conquered for itself, in the modern representative State,
exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern State is
but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole
The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary
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," and has left remaining no other nexus
between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash
payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of
religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine
sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It
has resolved personal worth into exchange value. And in place of
the numberless and feasible chartered freedoms, has set up that
single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word, for
exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked,
shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation
hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has
converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the
man of science, into its paid wage labourers.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental
veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money
The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the
brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which Reactionists
so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful
indolence. It has been the first to show what man's activity can
bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian
pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has
conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses
of nations and crusades.
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising
the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of
production, and with them the whole relations of society.
Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form,
was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all
earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of
production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions,
everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois
epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations,
with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and
opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated
before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all
that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face
with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his
relations with his kind.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products
chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It
must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions
The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market
given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in
every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has
drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on
which it stood. All old-established national industries have
been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged
by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death
question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer
work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the
remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only
at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old
wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new
wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant
lands and climes. In place of the old local and national
seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every
direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in
material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual
creations of individual nations become common property. National
one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more
impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures,
there arises a world literature.
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of
production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication,
draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation.
The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with
which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the
barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to
capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to
adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to
introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to
become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world
after its own image.
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the
towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the
urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued
a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural
life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so
it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on
the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois,
the East on the West.
The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the
scattered state of the population, of the means of production,
and of property. It has agglomerated production, and has
concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence
of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but
loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws,
governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into
one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national
class-interest, one frontier and one customs-tariff. The
bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has
created more massive and more colossal productive forces than
have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's
forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry
and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs,
clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of
rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground -- what
earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive
forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?
We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose
foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in
feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these
means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which
feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of
agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal
relations of property became no longer compatible with the
already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters.
They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.
Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a
social and political constitution adapted to it, and by the
economical and political sway of the bourgeois class.
A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern
bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange
and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic
means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is
no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he
has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history
of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of
modern productive forces against modern conditions of production,
against the property relations that are the conditions for the
existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is enough to
mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put
on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the
entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only
of the existing products, but also of the previously created
productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises
there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would
have seemed an absurdity -- the epidemic of over-production.
Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary
barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of
devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence;
industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because
there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence,
too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at
the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development
of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they
have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are
fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring
disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the
existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois
society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them.
And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one
hand inforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the
other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough
exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way
for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by
diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the
ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.
But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring
death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who
are to wield those weapons -- the modern working class -- the
In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed,
in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working
class, developed -- a class of labourers, who live only so long
as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour
increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves
piece-meal, are a commodity, like every other article of
commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of
competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of
labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual
character, and consequently, all charm for the workman. He
becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most
simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is
required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is
restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he
requires for his maintenance, and for the propagation of his
race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of
labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion
therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage
decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and
division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden
of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working
hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time or by
increased speed of the machinery, etc.
Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the
patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial
capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are
organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they
are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers
and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class,
and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by
the machine, by the over-looker, and, above all, by the
individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this
despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty,
the more hateful and the more embittering it is.
The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual
labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes
developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of
women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive
social validity for the working class. All are instruments of
labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age
No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the
manufacturer, so far at an end, that he receives his wages in
cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the
bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.
The lower strata of the middle class -- the small tradespeople,
shopkeepers, retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and
peasants -- all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly
because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale
on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the
competition with the large capitalists, partly because their
specialized skill is rendered worthless by the new methods of
production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes
of the population.
The proletariat goes through various stages of development.
With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At
first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by
the workpeople of a factory, then by the operatives of one trade,
in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly
exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the
bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments
of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that
compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they
set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished
status of the workman of the Middle Ages.
At this stage the labourers still form an incoherent mass
scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual
competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies,
this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of
the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its
own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in
motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this
stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies,
but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute
monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty
bourgeoisie. Thus the whole historical movement is concentrated
in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a
victory for the bourgeoisie.
But with the development of industry the proletariat not only
increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses,
its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various
interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the
proletariat are more and more equalised, in proportion as
machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly
everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing
competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial
crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The
unceasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing,
makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions
between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and
more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon
the workers begin to form combinations (Trades Unions) against
the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of
wages; they found permanent associations in order to make
provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and
there the contest breaks out into riots.
Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time.
The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate
result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers. This
union is helped on by the improved means of communication that
are created by modern industry and that place the workers of
different localities in contact with one another. It was just
this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local
struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle
between classes. But every class struggle is a political
struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the
Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries,
the modern proletarians, thanks to railways, achieve in a few
This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and
consequently into a political party, is continually being upset
again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it
ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels
legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers,
by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie
itself. Thus the ten-hours' bill in England was carried.
Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society
further, in many ways, the course of development of the
proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant
battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those
portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become
antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all times, with the
bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles it sees
itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for its
help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The
bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its
own instruments of political and general education, in other
words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting
Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling
classes are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the
proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of
existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements
of enlightenment and progress.
Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive
hour, the process of dissolution going on within the ruling
class, in fact within the whole range of society, assumes such a
violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling
class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the
class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at
an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the
bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the
proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois
ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of
comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.
Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie
today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class.
The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of
Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential
product. The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the
shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the
bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions
of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but
conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to
roll back the wheel of history. If by chance they are
revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending
transfer into the proletariat, they thus defend not their
present, but their future interests, they desert their own
standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.
The "dangerous class," the social scum, that passively rotting
mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here
and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian
revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more
for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.
In the conditions of the proletariat, those of old society at
large are already virtually swamped. The proletarian is without
property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer
anything in common with the bourgeois family-relations; modern
industrial labour, modern subjection to capital, the same in
England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him
of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion,
are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in
ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
All the preceding classes that got the upper hand, sought to
fortify their already acquired status by subjecting society at
large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletarians
cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except
by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and
thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation. They
have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission
is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of,
All previous historical movements were movements of minorities,
or in the interests of minorities. The proletarian movement is
the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority,
in the interests of the immense majority. The proletariat, the
lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise
itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official
society being sprung into the air.
Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the
proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle.
The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all
settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.
In depicting the most general phases of the development of the
proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging
within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks
out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the
bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.
Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have
already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed
classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions
must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its
slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised
himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty
bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to
develop into a bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the contrary,
instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and
deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He
becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than
population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the
bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in
society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society
as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is
incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his
slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a
state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him.
Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other
words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.
The essential condition for the existence, and for the sway of
the bourgeois class, is the formation and augmentation of
capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour
rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The
advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the
bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to
competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to
association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts
from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie
produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie,
therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its
fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
II. PROLETARIANS AND COMMUNISTS
In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a
The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other
They have no interests separate and apart from those of the
proletariat as a whole.
They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own,
by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class
parties is only: (1) In the national struggles of the
proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring
to the front the common interests of entire proletariat,
independently of nationality. (2) In the various stages of
development which the struggle of the working class against the
bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere
represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically,
the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class
parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all
others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the
great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly
understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate
general results of the proletarian movement.
The immediate aim of the Communist is the same as that of all
the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into
a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of
political power by the proletariat.
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way
based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or
discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They
merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from
an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on
under our very eyes. The abolition of existing property
relations is not at all a distinctive feature of Communism.
All property relations in the past have continually been subject
to historical change consequent upon the change in historical
The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in
favour of bourgeois property.
The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of
property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But
modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete
expression of the system of producing and appropriating products,
that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the
many by the few.
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in
the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing
the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a
man's own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork
of all personal freedom, activity and independence.
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the
property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of
property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to
abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent
already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.
Or do you mean modern bourgeois private property?
But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not
a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which
exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon
condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh
exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the
antagonism of capital and wage-labour. Let us examine both sides
of this antagonism.
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a
social status in production. Capital is a collective product,
and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last
resort, only by the united action of all members of society,
can it be set in motion.
Capital is, therefore, not a personal, it is a social power.
When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into
the property of all members of society, personal property is not
thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social
character of the property that is changed. It loses its
Let us now take wage-labour.
The average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage, i.e.,
that quantum of the means of subsistence, which is absolutely
requisite in bare existence as a labourer. What, therefore, the
wage-labourer appropriates by means of his labour, merely
suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no
means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the
products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the
maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no
surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that we
want to do away with, is the miserable character of this
appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase
capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of
the ruling class requires it.
In bourgeois society, living labour is but a means to increase
accumulated labour. In Communist society, accumulated labour
is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence
of the labourer.
In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present;
in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In
bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality,
while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
And the abolition of this state of things is called by the
bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly
so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois
independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.
By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of
production, free trade, free selling and buying.
But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying
disappears also. This talk about free selling and buying, and
all the other "brave words" of our bourgeoisie about freedom in
general, have a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted
selling and buying, with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages,
but have no meaning when opposed to the Communistic abolition of
buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production,
and of the bourgeoisie itself.
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; its
existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the
hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with
intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary
condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any
property for the immense majority of society.
In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your
property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.
From the moment when labour can no longer be converted into
capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being
monopolised, i.e., from the moment when individual property can
no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital,
from that moment, you say individuality vanishes.
You must, therefore, confess that by "individual" you mean no
other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of
property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and
Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the
products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the
power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such
It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property
all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.
According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone
to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who
work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything, do not
work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of
the tautology: that there can no longer be any wage-labour when
there is no longer any capital.
All objections urged against the Communistic mode of producing
and appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been
urged against the Communistic modes of producing and
appropriating intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois,
the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of
production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to
him identical with the disappearance of all culture.
That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous
majority, a mere training to act as a machine.
But don't wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended
abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois
notions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but
the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and
bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of
your class made into a law for all, a will, whose essential
character and direction are determined by the economical
conditions of existence of your class.
The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into
eternal laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing
from your present mode of production and form of
property-historical relations that rise and disappear in the
progress of production -- this misconception you share with every
ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the
case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal
property, you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of
your own bourgeois form of property.
Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this
infamous proposal of the Communists.
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family,
based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed
form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this
state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of
the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.
The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its
complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of
Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of
children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.
But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations,
when we replace home education by social.
And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by
the social conditions under which you educate, by the
intervention, direct or indirect, of society, by means of
schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the
intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter
the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from
the influence of the ruling class.
The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about
the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the
more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all
family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their
children transformed into simple articles of commerce and
instruments of labour.
But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams
the whole bourgeoisie in chorus.
The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production.
He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited
in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than
that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the
He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away
with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the
virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women
which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established
by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce
community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial.
Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters
of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common
prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's
Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and
thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be
reproached with, is that they desire to introduce, in
substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised
community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the
abolition of the present system of production must bring with it
the abolition of the community of women springing from that
system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.
The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish
countries and nationality.
The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what
they have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all
acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of
the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far,
itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.
National differences and antagonisms between peoples are daily
more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the
bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world-market, to
uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of
life corresponding thereto.
The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still
faster. United action, of the leading civilised countries at
least, is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of
In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another
is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will
also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between
classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation
to another will come to an end.
The charges against Communism made from a religious, a
philosophical, and, generally, from an ideological standpoint,
are not deserving of serious examination.
Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas,
views and conceptions, in one word, man's consciousness, changes
with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in
his social relations and in his social life?
What else does the history of ideas prove, than that
intellectual production changes its character in proportion as
material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age
have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.
When people speak of ideas that revolutionise society, they do
but express the fact, that within the old society, the elements
of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the
old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old
conditions of existence.
When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient
religions were overcome by Christianity. When Christian ideas
succumbed in the 18th century to rationalist ideas, feudal
society fought its death battle with the then revolutionary
bourgeoisie. The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of
conscience merely gave expression to the sway of free competition
within the domain of knowledge.
"Undoubtedly," it will be said, "religious, moral, philosophical
and juridical ideas have been modified in the course of
historical development. But religion, morality philosophy,
political science, and law, constantly survived this change."
"There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice,
etc. that are common to all states of society. But Communism
abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all
morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it
therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical
What does this accusation reduce itself to? The history of all
past society has consisted in the development of class
antagonisms, antagonisms that assumed different forms at
But whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all
past ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the
other. No wonder, then, that the social consciousness of past
ages, despite all the multiplicity and variety it displays,
moves within certain common forms, or general ideas, which
cannot completely vanish except with the total disappearance of
The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with
traditional property relations; no wonder that its development
involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.
But let us have done with the bourgeois objections to Communism.
We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the
working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of
ruling as to win the battle of democracy.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by
degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all
instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the
proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the
total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by
means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the
conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures,
which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which,
in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate
further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable
as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.
These measures will of course be different in different
Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will
be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents
of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means
of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport
in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by
the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and
the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of
industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries;
gradual abolition of the distinction between town and
country, by a more equable distribution of the population
over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools.
Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form.
Combination of education with industrial production, &c., &c.
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. Political power, properly so
called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing
another. If the proletariat during its contest with the
bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to
organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it
makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force
the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these
conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of
class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have
abolished its own supremacy as a class.
In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and
class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the
free development of each is the condition for the free
development of all.
III SOCIALIST AND COMMUNIST LITERATURE
1. REACTIONARY SOCIALISM
A. Feudal Socialism
Owing to their historical position, it became the vocation of
the aristocracies of France and England to write pamphlets
against modern bourgeois society. In the French revolution of
July 1830, and in the English reform agitation, these
aristocracies again succumbed to the hateful upstart.
Thenceforth, a serious political contest was altogether out of
the question. A literary battle alone remained possible. But
even in the domain of literature the old cries of the restoration
period had become impossible.
In order to arouse sympathy, the aristocracy were obliged to
lose sight, apparently, of their own interests, and to formulate
their indictment against the bourgeoisie in the interest of the
exploited working class alone. Thus the aristocracy took their
revenge by singing lampoons on their new master, and whispering
in his ears sinister prophecies of coming catastrophe.
In this way arose Feudal Socialism: half lamentation, half
lampoon; half echo of the past, half menace of the future; at
times, by its bitter, witty and incisive criticism, striking the
bourgeoisie to the very heart's core; but always ludicrous in
its effect, through total incapacity to comprehend the march of
The aristocracy, in order to rally the people to them, waved the
proletarian alms-bag in front for a banner. But the people, so
often as it joined them, saw on their hindquarters the old feudal
coats of arms, and deserted with loud and irreverent laughter.
One section of the French Legitimists and "Young England"
exhibited this spectacle.
In pointing out that their mode of exploitation was different to
that of the bourgeoisie, the feudalists forget that they
exploited under circumstances and conditions that were quite
different, and that are now antiquated. In showing that, under
their rule, the modern proletariat never existed, they forget
that the modern bourgeoisie is the necessary offspring of their
own form of society.
For the rest, so little do they conceal the reactionary
character of their criticism that their chief accusation against
the bourgeoisie amounts to this, that under the bourgeois regime
a class is being developed, which is destined to cut up root and
branch the old order of society.
What they upbraid the bourgeoisie with is not so much that it
creates a proletariat, as that it creates a revolutionary
In political practice, therefore, they join in all coercive
measures against the working class; and in ordinary life,
despite their high falutin phrases, they stoop to pick up the
golden apples dropped from the tree of industry, and to barter
truth, love, and honour for traffic in wool, beetroot-sugar, and
As the parson has ever gone hand in hand with the landlord,
so has Clerical Socialism with Feudal Socialism.
Nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist
tinge. Has not Christianity declaimed against private property,
against marriage, against the State? Has it not preached in the
place of these, charity and poverty, celibacy and mortification
of the flesh, monastic life and Mother Church? Christian
Socialism is but the holy, water with which the priest
consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat.
B. Petty-Bourgeois Socialism
The feudal aristocracy was not the only class that has ruined by
the bourgeoisie, not the only class whose conditions of existence
pined and perished in the atmosphere of modern bourgeois society.
The mediaeval burgesses and the small peasant proprietors were
the precursors of the modern bourgeoisie. In those countries
which are but little developed, industrially and commercially,
these two classes still vegetate side by side with the rising
In countries where modern civilisation has become fully
developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed,
fluctuating between proletariat and bourgeoisie and ever renewing
itself as a supplementary part of bourgeois society. The
individual members of this class, however, are being constantly
hurled down into the proletariat by the action of competition,
and, as modern industry develops, they even see the moment
approaching when they will completely disappear as an independent
section of modern society, to be replaced, in manufactures,
agriculture and commerce, by overlookers, bailiffs and shopmen.
In countries like France, where the peasants constitute far more
than half of the population, it was natural that writers who
sided with the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, should use,
in their criticism of the bourgeois regime, the standard of the
peasant and petty bourgeois, and from the standpoint of these
intermediate classes should take up the cudgels for the working
class. Thus arose petty-bourgeois Socialism. Sismondi was the
head of this school, not only in France but also in England.
This school of Socialism dissected with great acuteness the
contradictions in the conditions of modern production. It laid
bare the hypocritical apologies of economists. It proved,
incontrovertibly, the disastrous effects of machinery and
division of labour; the concentration of capital and land in a
few hands; overproduction and crises; it pointed out the
inevitable ruin of the petty bourgeois and peasant, the misery of
the proletariat, the anarchy in production, the crying
inequalities in the distribution of wealth, the industrial war of
extermination between nations, the dissolution of old moral
bonds, of the old family relations, of the old nationalities.
In its positive aims, however, this form of Socialism aspires
either to restoring the old means of production and of exchange,
and with them the old property relations, and the old society, or
to cramping the modern means of production and of exchange,
within the framework of the old property relations that have
been, and were bound to be, exploded by those means. In either
case, it is both reactionary and Utopian.
Its last words are: corporate guilds for manufacture,
patriarchal relations in agriculture.
Ultimately, when stubborn historical facts had dispersed all
intoxicating effects of self-deception, this form of Socialism
ended in a miserable fit of the blues.
C. German, or "True," Socialism
The Socialist and Communist literature of France, a literature
that originated under the pressure of a bourgeoisie in power, and
that was the expression of the struggle against this power, was
introduced into Germany at a time when the bourgeoisie, in that
country, had just begun its contest with feudal absolutism.
German philosophers, would-be philosophers, and beaux esprits,
eagerly seized on this literature, only forgetting, that when
these writings immigrated from France into Germany, French social
conditions had not immigrated along with them. In contact with
German social conditions, this French literature lost all its
immediate practical significance, and assumed a purely literary
aspect. Thus, to the German philosophers of the eighteenth
century, the demands of the first French Revolution were nothing
more than the demands of "Practical Reason" in general, and the
utterance of the will of the revolutionary French bourgeoisie
signified in their eyes the law of pure Will, of Will as it was
bound to be, of true human Will generally.
The world of the German literate consisted solely in bringing
the new French ideas into harmony with their ancient
philosophical conscience, or rather, in annexing the French ideas
without deserting their own philosophic point of view.
This annexation took place in the same way in which a foreign
language is appropriated, namely, by translation.
It is well known how the monks wrote silly lives of Catholic
Saints over the manuscripts on which the classical works of
ancient heathendom had been written. The German literate
reversed this process with the profane French literature. They
wrote their philosophical nonsense beneath the French original.
For instance, beneath the French criticism of the economic
functions of money, they wrote "Alienation of Humanity," and
beneath the French criticism of the bourgeois State they wrote
"dethronement of the Category of the General," and so forth.
The introduction of these philosophical phrases at the back of
the French historical criticisms they dubbed "Philosophy of
Action," "True Socialism," "German Science of Socialism,"
"Philosophical Foundation of Socialism," and so on.
The French Socialist and Communist literature was thus completely
emasculated. And, since it ceased in the hands of the German to express
the struggle of one class with the other, he felt conscious of having
overcome "French one-sidedness" and of representing, not true
requirements, but the requirements of truth; not the interests of the
proletariat, but the interests of Human Nature, of Man in general, who
belongs to no class, has no reality, who exists only in the misty realm
of philosophical fantasy.
This German Socialism, which took its schoolboy task so seriously
and solemnly, and extolled its poor stock-in-trade in such
mountebank fashion, meanwhile gradually lost its pedantic
The fight of the German, and especially, of the Prussian bourgeoisie,
against feudal aristocracy and absolute monarchy, in other words, the
liberal movement, became more earnest.
By this, the long wished-for opportunity was offered to "True"
Socialism of confronting the political movement with the
Socialist demands, of hurling the traditional anathemas against
liberalism, against representative government, against bourgeois
competition, bourgeois freedom of the press, bourgeois
legislation, bourgeois liberty and equality, and of preaching to
the masses that they had nothing to gain, and everything to lose,
by this bourgeois movement. German Socialism forgot, in the nick
of time, that the French criticism, whose silly echo it was,
presupposed the existence of modern bourgeois society, with its
corresponding economic conditions of existence, and the political
constitution adapted thereto, the very things whose attainment
was the object of the pending struggle in Germany.
To the absolute governments, with their following of parsons,
professors, country squires and officials, it served as a welcome
scarecrow against the threatening bourgeoisie.
It was a sweet finish after the bitter pills of floggings and
bullets with which these same governments, just at that time,
dosed the German working-class risings.
While this "True" Socialism thus served the governments as a
weapon for fighting the German bourgeoisie, it, at the same time,
directly represented a reactionary interest, the interest of the
German Philistines. In Germany the petty-bourgeois class, a
relic of the sixteenth century, and since then constantly
cropping up again under various forms, is the real social basis
of the existing state of things.
To preserve this class is to preserve the existing state of
things in Germany. The industrial and political supremacy of the
bourgeoisie threatens it with certain destruction; on the one
hand, from the concentration of capital; on the other, from the
rise of a revolutionary proletariat. "True" Socialism appeared
kill these two birds with one stone. It spread like an epidemic.
The robe of speculative cobwebs, embroidered with flowers of
rhetoric, steeped in the dew of sickly sentiment, this
transcendental robe in which the German Socialists wrapped their
sorry "eternal truths," all skin and bone, served to wonderfully
increase the sale of their goods amongst such a public.
And on its part, German Socialism recognised, more and more, its
own calling as the bombastic representative of the petty-
It proclaimed the German nation to be the model nation, and the
German petty Philistine to be the typical man. To every
villainous meanness of this model man it gave a hidden, higher,
Socialistic interpretation, the exact contrary of its real
character. It went to the extreme length of directly opposing
the "brutally destructive" tendency of Communism, and of
proclaiming its supreme and impartial contempt of all class
struggles. With very few exceptions, all the so-called Socialist
and Communist publications that now (1847) circulate in Germany
belong to the domain of this foul and enervating literature.
2. CONSERVATIVE, OR BOURGEOIS, SOCIALISM
A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social
grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of
To this section belong economists, philanthropists,
humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class,
organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of
cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner
reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of Socialism has,
moreover, been worked out into complete systems.
We may site Proudhon's Philosophie de la Misere as an example of
The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern
social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily
resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society
minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish
for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie
naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the
best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable
conception into various more or less complete systems. In
requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby
to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but
requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within
the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its
hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.
A second and more practical, but less systematic, form of this
Socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in
the eyes of the working class, by showing that no mere political
reform, but only a change in the material conditions of
existence, in economic relations, could be of any advantage to
them. By changes in the material conditions of existence, this
form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of
the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can be
effected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based
on the continued existence of these relations; reforms,
therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between
capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and
simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government.
Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate expression, when, and only
when, it becomes a mere figure of speech.
Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective
duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for
the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the
only seriously meant word of bourgeois Socialism.
It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois --
for the benefit of the working class.
3. CRITICAL-UTOPIAN SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM
We do not here refer to that literature which, in every great
modern revolution, has always given voice to the demands of the
proletariat, such as the writings of Babeuf and others.
The first direct attempts of the proletariat to attain its own
ends, made in times of universal excitement, when feudal society
was being overthrown, these attempts necessarily failed, owing
to the then undeveloped state of the proletariat, as well as to
the absence of the economic conditions for its emancipation,
conditions that had yet to be produced, and could be produced by
the impending bourgeois epoch alone. The revolutionary
literature that accompanied these first movements of the
proletariat had necessarily a reactionary character. It
inculcated universal asceticism and social levelling in its
The Socialist and Communist systems properly so called, those of
Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen and others, spring into existence in
the early undeveloped period, described above, of the struggle
between proletariat and bourgeoisie (see Section 1. Bourgeois
The founders of these systems see, indeed, the class antagonisms, as
well as the action of the decomposing elements, in the prevailing form
of society. But the proletariat, as yet in its infancy, offers to them
the spectacle of a class without any historical initiative or any
independent political movement.
Since the development of class antagonism keeps even pace with
the development of industry, the economic situation, as they find
it, does not as yet offer to them the material conditions for the
emancipation of the proletariat. They therefore search after a
new social science, after new social laws, that are to create
Historical action is to yield to their personal inventive
action, historically created conditions of emancipation to
fantastic ones, and the gradual, spontaneous class-organisation
of the proletariat to the organisation of society specially
contrived by these inventors. Future history resolves itself, in
their eyes, into the propaganda and the practical carrying out of
their social plans.
In the formation of their plans they are conscious of caring
chiefly for the interests of the working class, as being the most
suffering class. Only from the point of view of being the most
suffering class does the proletariat exist for them.
The undeveloped state of the class struggle, as well as their
own surroundings, causes Socialists of this kind to consider
themselves far superior to all class antagonisms. They want to
improve the condition of every member of society, even that of
the most favoured. Hence, they habitually appeal to society at
large, without distinction of class; nay, by preference, to the
ruling class. For how can people, when once they understand
their system, fail to see in it the best possible plan of the
best possible state of society?
Hence, they reject all political, and especially all
revolutionary, action; they wish to attain their ends by
peaceful means, and endeavour, by small experiments, necessarily
doomed to failure, and by the force of example, to pave the way
for the new social Gospel.
Such fantastic pictures of future society, painted at a time
when the proletariat is still in a very undeveloped state and has
but a fantastic conception of its own position correspond with
the first instinctive yearnings of that class for a general
reconstruction of society.
But these Socialist and Communist publications contain also a
critical element. They attack every principle of existing society.
Hence they are full of the most valuable materials for the
enlightenment of the working class. The practical measures
proposed in them -- such as the abolition of the distinction
between town and country, of the family, of the carrying on of
industries for the account of private individuals, and of the wage
system, the proclamation of social harmony, the conversion of the
functions of the State into a mere superintendence of production,
all these proposals, point solely to the disappearance of class
antagonisms which were, at that time, only just cropping up, and
which, in these publications, are recognised in their earliest,
indistinct and undefined forms only. These proposals, therefore,
are of a purely Utopian character.
The significance of Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism
bears an inverse relation to historical development. In
proportion as the modern class struggle develops and takes
definite shape, this fantastic standing apart from the contest,
these fantastic attacks on it, lose all practical value and all
theoretical justification. Therefore, although the originators
of these systems were, in many respects, revolutionary, their
disciples have, in every case, formed mere reactionary sects.
They hold fast by the original views of their masters, in
opposition to the progressive historical development of the
proletariat. They, therefore, endeavour, and that consistently,
to deaden the class struggle and to reconcile the class
antagonisms. They still dream of experimental realisation of
their social Utopias, of founding isolated "phalansteres," of
establishing "Home Colonies," of setting up a "Little Icaria" --
duodecimo editions of the New Jerusalem -- and to realise all
these castles in the air, they are compelled to appeal to the
feelings and purses of the bourgeois. By degrees they sink into
the category of the reactionary conservative Socialists depicted
above, differing from these only by more systematic pedantry, and
by their fanatical and superstitious belief in the miraculous
effects of their social science.
They, therefore, violently oppose all political action on the
part of the working class; such action, according to them, can
only result from blind unbelief in the new Gospel.
The Owenites in England, and the Fourierists in France,
respectively, oppose the Chartists and the Reformistes.
IV. POSITION OF THE COMMUNISTS IN RELATION TO THE
VARIOUS EXISTING OPPOSITION PARTIES
Section II has made clear the relations of the Communists to the
existing working-class parties, such as the Chartists in England
and the Agrarian Reformers in America.
The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims,
for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working
class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent
and take care of the future of that movement. In France the
Communists ally themselves with the Social-Democrats, against the
conservative and radical bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the
right to take up a critical position in regard to phrases and
illusions traditionally handed down from the great Revolution.
In Switzerland they support the Radicals, without losing sight
of the fact that this party consists of antagonistic elements,
partly of Democratic Socialists, in the French sense, partly of
In Poland they support the party that insists on an agrarian
revolution as the prime condition for national emancipation, that
party which fomented the insurrection of Cracow in 1846.
In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a
revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal
squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie.
But they never cease, for a single instant, to instil into the
working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile
antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the
German workers may straightaway use, as so many weapons against
the bourgeoisie, the social and political conditions that the
bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce along with its supremacy,
and in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in
Germany, the fight against the bourgeoisie itself may immediately
The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because
that country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is
bound to be carried out under more advanced conditions of
European civilisation, and with a much more developed
proletariat, than that of England was in the seventeenth, and of
France in the eighteenth century, and because the bourgeois
revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately
following proletarian revolution.
In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary
movement against the existing social and political order of
In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading
question in each, the property question, no matter what its
degree of development at the time.
Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of
the democratic parties of all countries.
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims.
They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by
the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.
Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win.
WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!
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