Chapter I: Bourgeois and Proletarians
Chapter II: Proletarians and Communists
Chapter III: Socialist and Communist Literature
Chapter IV: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing
“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 Tsar,
Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies”
The Communist manifesto begins with the significant statement that Communism
has already taken root on the soil of Europe, and that the established
powers of the continent are already (in 1848) straining every nerve to
device ways and means of increasing it.
Its first thesis is that since communism is by now acknowledged to be a
power to be reckoned with, the Communists of all Europe should now get
together and make their views public. The occasion of the Manifesto, was in
fact such a conference in London, when it was published in the English,
French, German, Italian, and Flemish and Danish languages.
I. Bourgeois and Proletarians
The history of all existing societies is the history of class struggles.
In every epoch of history, there is a gradation of society into ranks or
classes. In the middle ages, for example, there were the feudal lords,
vassals, guild masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs etc., with further
gradation within each class.
Our epoch is the epoch of the bourgeois, the class of modern capitalists, or
owners of social production, and employers of wage-labor, a class that
sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, and grew fat by industrialization
and colonization. In this epoch the class struggle has been greatly
simplified. There are only two great classes directly facing each other--
Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. Industry is the tool of the middle class to
come to power. Its coming to power marked the end of all the old class
distinctions and established a new principle of life-- naked self interest.
It has sacrificed all the other freedoms of life in favor of one single
freedom-- Free Trade. In place of the old exploitation veiled by religions
and political illusions, it has substituted a naked, shameless, direct,
brutal exploitation. It has brought down all the old haloed professions to
the level of ordinary wage-earning servants including physician, lawyer and
priest. Even the family had been made into a money relation.
“The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the
bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere,
settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere”
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 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.”
They urbanize the country. It agglomerates population and centralizes the
means of production, thus centralizing property ownership and political
power too in the process. Independent and loosely connected states and
provinces become integrated to form single units.
But modern bourgeois society, which has created more massive and more
colossal productive forces than have all the preceding generations together,
now finds itself no longer able to control the powers it has conjured up.
Overproduction is one of these terrific factors that came up in society
periodically like a famine or an epidemic. The conditions of the bourgeois
society became too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them.
How does the bourgeoisie get over the crises? On the one hand, by enforced
destruction of a mass of production forces, and on the other, by the
conquest of new markets and by the more thorough exploitation of the old
In proportion as capital develops, the modern working class also develops.
These laborers are a commodity who must sell themselves piecemeal and are
hence exposed to all the vicissitudes of a competitive market. The cost of
production of a commodity determines its price in the long run, and
similarly the cost of a laborer is dependent on the barest minimum for his
subsistence and propagation.
The Proletariat keeps growing as labor becomes less and less skilled owing
to the advent of machinery. Women join the labor force. The lower strata of
the bourgeoisie themselves, unable to bear the competition of wealthier
capitalists sink gradually into the proletariat.
The Proletariat also goes through various stages of development. First the
struggle is directed against machinery itself which has deprived the laborer
of the dignity of his profession. But they are an incoherent mass scattered
all over the country and if there is any union in any area it is sponsored
by the capitalist for the own ends.
But as it grows, it feels its own strength more. Machinery abolishes all
distinction between laborers by more or less flattening out the wage scale.
Slowly they begin to form trade unions. There are occasional riots. The
struggle is directed more against the bourgeoisie now.
Industrial Trade Unions get organized as communication develops and the
class struggle becomes no longer an isolated phenomenon. In spite of the
threat of competition among the workers themselves, the organization grows
stronger further, mightier. They even get legislative enactments in their
The bourgeoisie meanwhile has to face keen competition among themselves,
with the aristocracy and also with the bourgeoisie of other lands. They
appeal to the proletariat for help in these cases, the latter becoming
stronger in the process of helping the former.
At this point, the dissolution in the old society has reached a crisis and a
section of the bourgeoisie that has comprehended the nature of the
historical movement goes over to the proletariat. Of all the groups that
struggle against the bourgeoisie, only the proletariat is revolutionary
because all the other groups are merely trying to conserve themselves, and
are hence reactionary. The “social scum” that does not form part of the
proletariat are for the most parts, the bribed tools of reactionary
intrigue. The proletariat on the other hand has no interest in conserving
any of the values of the bourgeoisie, including their law, morality and
religion. Their mission therefore is clearly destructive.
So far in history all previous movements have been movements of minorities.
The proletariat movement is the only movement in the interest of the immense
majority. When this huge lower stratum of present society raises itself up,
it cannot but throw off the whole super strata.
This raising itself is at first a national phenomenon in each country – but
it is inevitable. Bourgeois society has not been able to maintain even the
minimum for the slavish existence for its under-dogs. Hence the existence of
the bourgeois is not longer comparable with the existence of the society.
“Its fail and victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
Proletarians and Communists
What is the
relationship of the Communist to the Proletariat as a whole?
The communists are distinguished from other working class parties only in
that it is independent of all nationality, and that they represent the
interests of the working class movement as a whole. They are, for that
reason, that section of the working class which pushes all others in every
country; they understand the line of march, the conditions and the ultimate
general results of the movement.
“The immediate aim of the Communists 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 distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property
generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property – it is in this sense
that the theory of the Communists can be summed up in the single phase--
Abolition of private property. We Communists do not desire to abolish the
right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labor,
but bourgeois private property is not acquired as the fruit of a man’s own
Capital is a collective product, set in
motion by the united action of many members of a society. It is therefore
not a personal, but a social power. So when this power which belongs to many
members of society is converted into the property of all members, it does
not lose its character of personal property. It merely loses its class
Wage labor on the other hand, gets merely just enough to continue his
existence – a minimum wage. In bourgeois society the surplus of the
laborers’ produce is used merely to command more labor and so on. It is this
vicious circle that we want to do away with – not the surplus labor as such,
but its use to save the ends of the ruling class. In Communist society the
surplus will be used to widen, enrich and promote the existence of the
This means the abolition of
individuality – yes, bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and
bourgeois freedom. The freedom of buying and selling has any meaning only in
comparison with the restricted selling and buying of the Middle ages. In
Communism, we abolish buying and selling as much. All the other freedom that
you are talking about are freedom of the bourgeoisie – freedom that are
denied to 9/10 of the humanity. We plan to destroy the individual, the
bourgeoisie individual, who stands in the way of the masses of humanity.
You say, abolition of private property will lead to universal laziness. If
that were true, bourgeois society ought to have gone to the dogs long ago;
for those who work get nothing, and those who get anything do nothing.
Your culture, your family, your education, your law-- everything is merely
the projection of the will of your class, and we expect all of it to vanish
with the vanishing capital; your clap – trap about the family and education
is so much nonsense, for under the present system they are being asunder
You accuse us with trying to establish the community of women. Well, what do
you have in your bourgeois society? Your wives to you are merely tools of
production. You use the wives of your proletarians as prostitutes, besides
you seduce each others’ wives. We are merely expressing your hypocrisy and
establishing an openly legalized community of women in place of your
You accuse us of abolishing country and nationality. Yes we plead guilty.
When exploitation of man by man disappears, exploitation of nation by nation
must also disappear.
Your religious and philosophical charges against Communism do not even merit
an answer. Christianity won its victory over ancient religions because they
were rotten. Rationalist ideas won the victory over Christianity in the 18th
century for the same reason. Each successful idea was the tool of the
victorious class. Communism being radical, departs from all traditional
So all your bourgeois objections to Communism are without any basis.
So the first step in the working class revolution is to raise the
proletariat to the position of the ruling class; to win the battle of
democracy. Then the proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest by
degrees, all capital from the bourgeois, to centralize all instruments of
production in the hands of the state and then to increase the total of
It might be necessary in the beginning to use some despotic methods for this
purpose. These methods will be different in different countries. In the most
advanced countries the following will be pretty generally applicable:-
of property in land and use of all land rents for public purposes
2. Heavy graduated income tax
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance
4. Confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels
5. Centralized national state banking
6. Centralized state owned communication
7. Extension of state owned production machinery
8. equal liability of all to labor -- industrial armies
9. Gradual abolition of distinction between town and country by more equal
population distribution and integration of agriculture with manufacturing
10. Free education for all children.
distinctions finally disappear, political power, which is the organized
power of one class to oppress another will also disappear.
Socialist and Communist Literature
its origin in the feudal aristocracy that succumbed to the bourgeois, and
used the working class as a tool to lampoon the new boss and to whisper in
his ears sinister prophecies of impending doom. Its real motive was
vengeance and vexation at its own loss of status. The aristocracy, in order
to rally the people to them waived the proletarian alms bag in front for a
banner. ”Christian socialism is but the Holy water with which the priest
consecrates the heart burnings of the aristocrat.
This is a
socialism brought up by the lower strata of the bourgeois who find
themselves constantly hurled into the proletariat and have to continuously
struggle to keep themselves in the middle class. Sismondi was the head of
this school. It is correct in its evaluation of the contemporary economic
system, but its positive aims are reactionary and utopian.
A form of
literary socialism which philosophized on the French revolutionary ideas-- a
pedantic emasculation of socialism and communism masquerading under the name
of “true” socialism.
2. Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism
A part of the
Bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances; in order to secure
the continued existence of bourgeois society. To this class belong the hole
and corner reformers of every imaginable kind. They wish for a bourgeois
without a proletariat.
Bourgeois Socialism attained adequate expression when and only when it
becomes a mere figure of speech. Free Trade – for the working class.
Protective duties-- for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform--
for the benefit of the working class. In other words, bourgeois – for the
benefit of the working class
3. Critical Utopian socialism and Communism
Socialism of the Owenite-Fourier type does not recognize the class struggle
or other inevitable historical forces but tries to make society conform to a
certain pattern invented by them. They appeal to society as a whole and not
to any one class in particular. They reject all revolutionary actions, they
wish to attain their ends by peaceful means. They propose the abolition of
class antagonism without recognizing their existence – again reducing their
philosophy to systematic pedantry.
of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties
ally themselves temporarily with any opposition party whose present program
is in accord with Communist objectives. In other words, the Communists
everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social
and political order of things.
Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians
have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
“Workers of all lands, unite!”