The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition

The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition

Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx

Language: English

Pages: 96

ISBN: 1844678768

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the two decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall, global capitalism became entrenched in its modern, neoliberal form. Its triumph was so complete that the word “capitalism” itself fell out of use in the absence of credible political alternatives. But with the outbreak of financial crisis and global recession in the twenty-first century, capitalism is once again up for discussion. The status quo can no longer be taken for granted.

As Eric Hobsbawm argues in his acute and elegant introduction to this modern edition, in such times The Communist Manifesto emerges as a work of great prescience and power despite being written over a century and a half ago. He highlights Marx and Engels’s enduring insights into the capitalist system: its devastating impact on all aspects of human existence; its susceptibility to enormous convulsions and crises; and its fundamental weakness.

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strictly correct translation of the original text: ‘Mögen die herrschenden Klassen vor einer kommunistischen Revolution zittern. Die Proletarier haben nichts in ihr [‘in it’, i.e. ‘in the Revolution’; emphases added] zu verlieren als ihre Ketten.’ 13 For a stylistic analysis, see S.S. Prawer, Karl Marx and World Literature (Verso, New York 2011), pp. 148–9. The translations of the Manifesto known to me do not have the literary force of the original German text. 14 In ‘Die Lage Englands. Das

is ‘Stand’, which is misleading today. 22 Published as Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy in 1844 (Collected Works, vol. 3, pp. 418–43). 23 ‘On the History of the Communist League’ (Collected Works, vol. 26, 1990), p. 318. 24 ‘Outlines of a Critique’ (Collected Works, vol. 3, pp. 433 ff). This seems to have been derived from radical British writers, notably John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes (London 1835), to whom Engels refers in this connection. 25 This is

even clearer from Engels’s formulations in what are, in effect, two preliminary drafts of the Manifesto, ‘Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith’ (Collected Works, vol. 6, p. 102) and ‘Principles of Communism’ (ibid., p. 350). 26 From ‘Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation’, in Capital, vol. I (Collected Works, vol. 35, 1996), p. 750. 27 Lichtheim, Marxism, pp. 58–60. 1 Clemens Lothar, Prince Metternich, was the leading Austrian statesman from 1809 to 1848 and the architect of

Revolution some of the tendencies they observed were plainly having substantial effect – for instance, the decline of ‘independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation’ before nation-states ‘with one government, one code of laws, one national class interest, one frontier and one customs tariff’. Nevertheless, by the late 1840s what ‘the bourgeoisie’ had achieved was a great deal more modest than the miracles ascribed to it in the

historical change. V In the Marxian view, however we describe that historic moment when ‘the integument is burst asunder’, politics will be an essential element in it. The Manifesto has been read primarily as a document of historical inevitability, and indeed its force derived largely from the confidence it gave its readers that capitalism was inevitably destined to be buried by its gravediggers, and that now – and at no earlier era in history – the conditions for emancipation had come

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