The Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx with the help of Friedrich Engels in the year 1848. It has been acclaimed as one of the world’s most influential writings. In the manifesto, Marx analyses the historical class struggle and the problems that have been brought by capitalism. He also presents his theories on the nature of society and its political intrigues. These theories should be looked at in the context of people suffering because of the hardships they had to face in order to survive. This happened in the18th and 19th century England, France and Germany. The industrial revolution that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries led to the formation of classes of people, many of whom fell in the lowest class which was characterized with poverty and the few high class who called the shots. The poor worked and lived in terrible conditions and had minimum political representation. Through the Communist Manifesto, Marx puts a lot of emphasis on the issue of class struggle and its historical impact on the way people lived.
Marx begins by stating that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle” (Jacobus 453). He believed that the animosity that existed between the various classes of people was due to human history. This history gave rise to classes of people, the ruling those who are ruled. This made people feel content with the levels they were defined to belong to because they thought the other to be who they were. The ruling classes made the lower class feel inferior and therefore feel like they belonged to the lower class. The lower class on the other hand made the ruling class feel superior and therefore call the shots. These two classes were distinctively called the Bourgeois and the Proletariat. With regard to this two groups of people, Marx’s main argument that they were just a creation of the people, more so the ruling class in order to remain at the top and own everything, from properties to the lower class, who were their slaves. This did not happen overnight but over a very long period of time.
According to Marx, history plays a hand in all these in that, the Bourgeois are the direct descendants of the feudal society that existed a long time ago (Jacobus 454). He goes on to state that the moment America was discovered, there arose a fresh ground that fueled further strengthening of the Bourgeois (Jacobus 453). Better still, the ruling class came as a result of a series of historical revolutions that were the genesis of production and exchange of goods and services. On the other hand, the Proletariat who were the laborers depended on their bodies for survival. They needed to work in order to earn a living and were seen as mere machines by the Bourgeois. The funny thing is that they belong to all classes of the population.
In the Communist Manifesto, it is clear that historical developments are as a result of the exploitation of people belonging to lower classes. Marx argues that class struggles define how society develops. These struggles were the reason why civilization came up and no one was left behind including the barbarians. This led to the destruction of the Bourgeois themselves because they received o much competition from the rest of the population that had been undermined for centuries. In fact this is what led to the formation of the communist movement so as to abolish these struggles that had made some people slaves throughout history. Communism and their style of liberation were supposed to transform society and that it had been historically proven that it could lead to social change. His argument was that just like feudalism had led to the development of capitalism, capitalism would give way to the development of socialism due to the struggle that was ongoing in the various classes.
Communism had the same interests as proletariat and Marx sought to elaborate further that they all sought to develop a consciousness that would lead to eventual emancipation of the affected classes of people. This is the reason why there had to be an abolition of private property because this is what made some people own property and therefore become richer than others. The Bourgeois sought to compensate their subjects in such a manner that they would always work in order to earn a living. This was out rightly unfair according to Marx, because here was unequal distribution of resources. The argument here is that the only way by which the Proletariat would free them from this form of inequality was by destroying capitalism. These forms of capitalism that needed to be eradicated included among others, family organizations, religion and even jurisprudence. This would then lead to “an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the development for all” (Jacobus 469).
The only way out of this slavery and social injustice was to be part of a revolutionary process which would ensure that the belief systems were overthrown and in their place a communism and socialism stand. The raising of the property question was a sure way of ensuring that the people are enlightened on how this ideology was wrong. In order to rescue the people from these long standing injustices, the only way out was to start a revolutionary movement that would seek to address the problem at hand. The previous modes of social organizations may have failed in one way or another to see that this changed but then according to Marx, time had come for them to change the status quo. According to him, it was only communism that would ensure that the long standing differences between these two groups would dissolve and bring justice to the underprivileged in society.
Marx’s main argument encompasses the means by which the Proletariat would unchain themselves from a society that had degraded them for many years. A revolution, according to him, was the only way out of the existing social order. That is why he went on to conclude the manifesto with the remarks, "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!” ( Jacobus 479)This statement echoes the strong desire by the communists to stand up and defend the rights of the down trodden in society. His main theory of history acts as a reminder that time changes and with it changes in the social structure can change. He foresees a situation where the Bourgeois and Proletariats occupy the same space in society, where none of them is superior to the other. This change can only come if the communists stand up to the challenge and fight the social structures that have come with capitalism.
Jacobus, Lee. A World of Ideas. New York: Bedford Books. 2013