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
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by
its opponents in power? Where is 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
- 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 Danish languages.
BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS
The history of
all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
slave, patrician and plebian, 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
reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending
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 gradations.
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
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct
feature: it has simplified 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 and proletariat.
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
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 development.
The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolized
by closed guilds, now no longer suffices for the growing wants of the new
markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed
aside by the manufacturing middle class; division of labor between the different
corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labor in each single
Meantime, the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even
manufacturers no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized
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 the 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 turn, 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
Each step in
the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political
advance in that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility,
an armed and self-governing association of medieval commune; here independent urban republic (as in Italy and
Germany); there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France);
afterward, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal
or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact,
cornerstone 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 bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.
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 no
other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash
payment". It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, 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 indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that
single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation,
veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked,
shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored
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 laborers.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has
reduced the family relation into a mere money relation.
The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of
vigor in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries 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 revolutionizing 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 revolutionizing 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 condition of life and
his relations with his kind.
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 connections everywhere.
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 reactionaries, 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
civilized 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 production 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 civilization. The cheap prices of commodities are the
heavy artillery 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 civilization 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
civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the
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
population, centralized the means of production, and has concentrated property
in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization.
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,
canalization or 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 labor?
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
organization 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 in it, and the economic and political sway of the
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 bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to
mention the commercial crises that, by their periodical return, put the
existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more
threateningly. 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 civilization, 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? One the one hand, by enforced 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 proletarians.
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
laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so
long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves
piecemeal, 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 the division of labor, 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 maintenance,
and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore
also of labor, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as
the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. What is more, in
proportion as the use of machinery and division of labor increases, in the same
proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the
working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time, or by
increased speed of machinery, etc.
Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master
into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded
into the factory, are organized 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 overlooker,
and, above all, in 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 labor, in other
words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labor 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 labor,
more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.
No sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far at
an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other
portion of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.
The lower strata of the middle class -- the small tradespeople, shopkeepers,
and 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 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 laborers, then by the work of people of a factory, then by the
operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who
directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois
condition of production, but against the instruments of production themselves;
they destroy imported wares that compete with their labor, 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 laborers 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 bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the
hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the
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 equalized, in proportion as
machinery obliterates all distinctions of labor, 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 increasing 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 (trade 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 lie 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 centralize 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
proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.
This organization 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 time with the bourgeoisie of
foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to
the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus to drag it into the political arena.
The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own
elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the
proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.
Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the
ruling class 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 progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in
fact within the whole range of old 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 genuinely 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 only so 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 the 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
In the condition 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 industry labor, 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
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, individual property.
All previous historical movements were movements of
minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the
self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest 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 the feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a
bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the
process 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 overriding 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 conditions for the existence and for the
sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the
condition for capital is wage labor. Wage labor rests exclusively on competition
between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the
bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by the
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, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the
proletariat are equally inevitable.
PROLETARIANS AND COMMUNISTS
In what relation do the Communists stand to the
proletarians as a whole? The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to
the other working-class parties.
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 mold the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other
working-class parties by this 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 the entire proletariat, independently of all 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 lines of march, the conditions, and the
ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.
The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that
of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class,
overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the
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 favor 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 labor, 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 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 the modern bourgeois private property?
But does wage labor create any property for the laborer?
Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage
labor, and which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new
supply of wage labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is
based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor. Let us examine both sides of
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 only personal; it is a social
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 class character.
Let us now take wage labor.
The average price of wage labor is the minimum wage,
i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to
keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage
laborer appropriates by means of his labor merely suffices to prolong and
reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal
appropriation of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the
maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith
to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the
miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer 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 labor is but a means to
increase accumulated labor. In communist society, accumulated labor is but a
means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer.
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 bourgeois 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 communist
abolition of buying and selling, or 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 labor can no longer be converted
into capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolized,
i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into
bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say, individuality
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 made
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 labor of others by means of such appropriations.
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 who acquire anything, do
not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the
tautology: There can no longer be any wage labor when there is no longer any
All objections urged against the communistic mode of
producing and appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged
against the communistic mode 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 stringing 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 proletarians, and in
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 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 intended 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 claptrap about the family and education,
about the hallowed correlation of parents and child, becomes all the more
disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties
among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into
simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor.
But you Communists would introduce community of women,
screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.
The bourgeois sees 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 that the lot of being
common to all will likewise fall to the women.
He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at
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 free love; it has existed almost from time
Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and
daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common
prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives. (Ah,
those were the days!)
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 legalized system of free love. For the rest, it is
self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring
with it the abolition of free love 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 antagonism 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 civilized countries at least
is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.
In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by
another will also be 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
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 conception, 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 the ideas that revolutionize
society, they do but express that 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 eighteenth 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
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 different epochs.
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 class antagonisms.
The communist revolution is the most radical rupture
with traditional relations; no wonder that its development involved the most
radical rupture with traditional ideas.
But let us have done with the bourgeois objections to
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 class
to win the battle of democracy.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to
wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all
instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat
organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total 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, therefore, 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 revolutionizing the mode of
These measures will, of course, be different in
Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following
will be pretty generally applicable.
- Abolition of property in land and application of all
rents of land to public purposes.
- A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and
- Centralization of credit in the banks of the state,
by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
- Centralization of the means of communication and
transport in the hands of the state.
- 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 common plan.
- Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of
industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combination of agriculture with manufacturing
industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country
by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
- Free education for all children in public schools.
Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of
education with industrial production, etc.
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
organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during
its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to
organize 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.
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 struggle 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 was obliged
to lose sight, apparently, of its own interests, and to formulate its 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
masters and whispering in his ears sinister prophesies of coming catastrophe.
In this way arose feudal socialism: half lamentation,
half lampoon; half an 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 modern history.
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 bourgeois
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 proletariat.
practice, therefore, they join in all corrective 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 honor, for traffic in wool, beetroot-sugar, and potato spirits.
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
aristocracy was not the only class that was ruined by the bourgeoisie, not the
only class whose conditions of existence pined and perished in the atmosphere of
modern bourgeois society. The medieval 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 bourgeoisie.
In countries where modern civilization has become fully
developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed, fluctuating between
proletariat and bourgeoisie, and ever renewing itself a supplementary part of
bourgeois society. The individual members of this class, however, as 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 labor; 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
In it 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
c. German or "True" Socialism
and communist literature of France, a literature that originated under the
pressure of a bourgeoisie in power, and that was the expressions 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 (men of letters), 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 laws of
pure will, of will as it was bound to be, of true human will generally.
The work of the German literati 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 literati
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 a
mountebank fashion, meanwhile gradually lost its pedantic innocence.
The fight of the Germans, 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 socialistic
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 those
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
flogging and bullets, with which these same governments, just at that time,
dosed the German working-class risings.
While this "True" Socialism thus served the government
as a weapon for fighting the German bourgeoisie, it, at the same time, directly
represented a reactionary interest, the interest of German philistines. In
Germany, the petty-bourgeois class, a relic of the sixteenth century, and since
then constantly cropping up again under the 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 to kill these two birds with one stone. It spread like an
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 recognized, more and more, its
own calling as the bombastic representative of the petty-bourgeois philistine.
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
A part of the
bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the
continued existence of bourgeois society.
To this section belong economists, philanthropists,
humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers 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 cite Proudhon's Philosophy of Poverty as an example of this form.
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 straightaway 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
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 economical 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 affected 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
labor, 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.
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, 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 leveling
in its crudest form.
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 and Proletarians).
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
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 these conditions.
Historical action is to yield to their personal
inventive action; historically created conditions of emancipation to fantastic
ones; and the gradual, spontaneous class organization of the proletariat to an
organization of society especially 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 favored. Hence, they habitually
appeal to society at large, without the 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,
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 function of the state
into a more 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 recognized in their earliest
indistinct and undefined forms only. These proposals, therefore, are of a purely
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 justifications. 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, endeavor, and that consistently, to deaden the
class struggle and to reconcile the class antagonisms. They still dream of
experimental realization of their social utopias, of founding isolated
phalansteres, of establishing "Home Colonies", or setting up a "Little
Icaria" -- pocket editions of the New Jerusalem -- and to realize 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.
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.
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 with the Social Democrats against the conservative
and radical bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the right to take up a critical
position in regard to phases and illusions traditionally handed down from the
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 radical
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 Krakow 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 instill
into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile
antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the German workers
may straightway 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 begin.
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 civilization and with a
much more developed proletariat than that of England was in the seventeenth, and
France in the eighteenth century, and because the bourgeois revolution in
Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian
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 labor 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
communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win.
Working men of all countries, unite!