The Communist Manifesto.doc

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Political Science
POL 1201
Elizabeth Beaumont

The Communist Manifesto Year of the Revolutions (1848) • At least 50 countries across Europe and S. America experience an uprising or revolution involving political and economic demands, but all are quelled ◦ In France, Parisian unpromising leads to 2nd Republic, a "right to work", "National Workshops" for the unemployed, and efforts to organize labor, followed by a conservative "Thermidorian" reaction or backlash • The Communist Manifesto did not influence these, but it identifies critiques and goals of communists that were shaping the era The History of Class Struggle "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." • The arguments are similar to The German Ideology • Each period and its class truffle is shaped by the reigning types of ownership, division of labor, forces of production, etc. Freeman vs. Slaves/ Ruling and Owning vs. Laboring and Oppressed Roman Antiquity • Patrician vs. Plebeian Middle Ages • Lord vs. Serf • Guild master vs. Journeyman Modern Capitalism • Bourgeoisie vs. Proletariat Marx's definition of class: Bourgeoisie/Capitalists • Capitalism is a mode of production based on private ownership of the means of production • The bourgeoisie are those who own the means of production and control labor, and therefore can keep profits of others' labor • The possess expendable "reproductive" wealth or "capital" that can be invested • They are the ruling class: they control the economy, government, law, culture, ideology • They challenged and helped destroy feudalism and absolute monarchy -- so they were formerly (Lockean?) revolutionaries themselves Marx's definition of class: Proletarians • They modern working class • They sell their labor to live, own no expendable property, and receive none of the profits that they help create • They are the oppressed nd exploited class under industrial capitalism • They are the only "really revolutionary" class -- because they have nothing to lsoe • Marx suggests they can include those in salaried jobs (lawyers, teachers, poets, etc) -- but he also suggests that people in middling positions then to be conservative if/when they don't identify as proletarian Marx's description of the rise of the Bourgeoisie and modern industrial capitalism • Marx views the Industrial Revolution as a key precursor to setting the stage for communist revolution: ◦ Emergence of colonization and navigation ▪ Leads to expansion of commerce and trade ▪ Rise of technologies from machinery production, transportation, industry ▪ Creation of "world markets" ◦ End of feudal and patriarchal relations ◦ "Wonders of human activity" revolutionize instruments of production, relations of production Marx's View of Capitalism as Engendering Class Struggle • The problem, as Marx sees it, is not that capitalists are evil; they simply operate according to the logic of the system • Capitalists produce commodities for the exchange market. To stay competitive, they must extract as much labor from workers as possible at the lowest possible cost. This means paying the worker as little as possible, just enough to keep him alive and productive • Some workers, in turn, will come to understand that their interest lies in preventing this exploitation of their labor • Thus, the relations of production in capitalism are inherently antagonistic, giving rise to a class struggle The inevitability of Capitalism's demise due to its own contradictions • Capitalism is the final, conflicted phase of the dialectic of history • It is global, constantly acquiring more raw materials, more labor, developing new means of production, but laborers suffer ◦ "The modern laborer . . . instead of rising with the progress 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 . . . " • Because capitalism is no longer being fed by the workers, but feeding them, i
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