Communist Manifesto is a calling by German philosopher Karl Marx to the working class to rise up and take power over his or her own working lives. The Communist Manifesto is both a political discourse as well as a battle cry for the Communist cause. Communists believe that democracy, and every other form of government, will naturally run its course and eventually the huge income disparity present between the upper classes and the working class will create enough societal friction that the masses will simply claim the entire state for themselves, and rule without division in the ranks of civilians.
This paper discusses the Communist Manifesto and the ideas of Karl Marx by exploring some of the unique features of Marx's political philosophy of Communism. The first is historical materialism, which is the belief that property and the control over certain functions of the state is what has traditionally determined the human condition. Second is the idea of the base/superstructure, which is Marx's way of analyzing the state functions between all states in order to see where power is concentrated. The 'base' was once the aristocracy of Europe, but in Marx's time had become the capitalists who held all of the wealth of Germany's Industrial Revolution to them. The third idea is the distinction between the proletariat and the bourgeois. The proletariat was the lowest class, without wealth or property, and depended on their own labor power to survive. The Bourgeois was the one who made the decisions for society, and who controlled political power and the wealth of the nation. The law of the land was determined by the economic conditions of the bourgeois, and the laws over property and labor was created in order to benefit the bourgeois, not the proletariat.
The entire 'history of man' for Karl Marx was dependent on the 'means of production'. This concept meant that through time, as agricultural understanding spread around Europe, first the Romans and then the various Kings of Europe controlled all of the wealth of the territory. This absolutism was necessary when interstate conflict was at its fiercest. Slowly, however, another class rose to challenge the power of the privileged class, and the configuration of the world shifted away from the 'old regime' and into a new age of the bourgeoisie, where the means of production were under control of the capable capitalist.
Karl Marx saw the change in power from the upper class to the bourgeoisie as a natural progression in human history. Marx foresaw saw a new type of state emerge after the common man, the working class, would finally rise up against their bourgeoisie masters. To Marx, the 'means of production' would simply shift hands away from the owners and settle in the hands of the worker, as an inevitable timeline of human progress. Marx believed this shift was imminent during the mid 19th century because he saw how horribly the working class was treated, and believed that he could be the one who would finally put an end to the proletariat suffering. Karl Marx lived in Germany at this time, which had yet to be unified under Otto Von Bismarck. This meant that Marx would have lived in simply a Germanic province, which was itself held by a controlling regional "Yunker," who was the name for the German aristocracy. In combination with the Yunker would be the state functionaries who were the bourgeoisie representatives selected based on their wealth and influence, rather than their merit.
Interestingly, Marx did not believe that Communism would come about with a simple vote by the people, or by some gaining of socialist values in Capitalist governments, but rather Marx advocated for armed revolution. Only in this way, argued Marx, could the proletariat truly be free of the Capitalist that would seek to oppress them. Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto to be a small piece that was easily understood by the proletariat in order to rally them to the cause of Communism. Later, Marx would write a more in-depth book, called Das Kapital, which would outline in detail his problems with capitalism and the historical shift in property rights and the means of production that made up the modern world of "Capitalism."
Unfortunately for Marx, Communism never took hold in Germany or the West, and no developed democracy has given up power from the bourgeois to the proletariat except in Russia and China. Both of these countries were agrarian societies at the time of the Communist uprisings, and therefore were not the type of countries that Marx thought would typically become Communist, since they did not have a strong working class. Despite this, these countries followed the basic ideas of Marx because they had historical problems with small elites controlling the mass of the country, and the bourgeois in these countries was not trusted to be looking out for the best interests of the countrymen involved. Communism hinges on highly advanced technology in order to maintain order between all people. In contrast to bourgeois societies, where the upper class only interacts with the bottom in a one-directional manner, in Communism, there would still be a political class, but they would be selected from among the proletariat. In this way, the Communists would remove corruption and dynasties from their form of government, which was seen as far more egalitarian and fair than any government that had come before.
In Karl Marx's worldview, all of human society is made up of the base and the superstructure, which is quite simply those who control the levers of society, and those who are intended to support this society. An example of what Marx is talking about is the rules, rituals, and state that is arranged in a way for the base to take advantage of the superstructure. In this way, each nation can be though of simply as a state with a core purpose, and those who are meant to fulfill this purpose by laboring for society without ownership of that society's workings. Marx believed that if states would stop competing, as was constantly being conducted between capitalist and colonial powers, particularly London where Marx was writing the Communist Manifesto, under a Communist regime, war would cease to exist. War was to Marx not necessary, but rather a society request placed on the proletariat by the bourgeois that is undeserving of a place under a Communist egalitarian society.
Marx saw property rights as most deserving of change under Communism, because property rights were the driving force of history, as property determines who is in power. Property rights are defined by the legal relations between those who have property and those that do not. It is up to the proletariat to gain the economic determinism necessary to revolt against the bourgeoisie. Marx did not see the different nations of Europe to require different types of governments, led by different elites or different base-superstructure arrangements. Marx instead believed that Communism was a 'spectre of Europe' that would sweep the entire continent in one fell swoop as workers realized that they had no more need for borders or limitations set between them. To Marx, all of man is a proletariat, and therefore internationalism has traditionally been a big part of Communism.
The proletariat is simply the lowest class of citizen in a segregated society. The proletariat is directly related to the idea of property, and the lack thereof for this class. In Marxist labor theory, the proletariat has no wealth and nothing to offer to the means of production except their labor power, and therefore will never be able to gain any power as an individual, only as a union of workers. The proletariat is the hero of the Marx story because it is they who have created the triumphs that the leaders of nations enjoy, and it is the proletariat that works endlessly without fair rights and fair access to wealth, in order to advance the causes of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat was different from a serf, in that the proletariat had access to education and was capable on its own of making decisions concerning its well being. This is what separated the advanced capitalist societies and the rest of the world, in Marx's viewpoint. The proletariat never meant less capable of leadership or critical thinking, but simply were those who were out of power and without property.
The bourgeoisie is the capitalist class, typically represented by merchants, factory owners, property owners, political elite, and those with large amounts of accumulated wealth. In Marx's time, the Bourgeoisie had gained incredible amounts of wealth due to colonization and the Industrial Revolution that had not been so widespread in the history of man. This class emerged out of the merchant ships that traveled the world while the Aristocracy sat in their dark palaces. The Merchants were able to learn about economics, money, and trade, and began gaining large sums of wealth from ventures like railroads and ship production and coal mining that created a disruption to the established…