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Communist Manifesto

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The Communist Manifesto Section I: bourgeoisie and proletariats Main aim of the manifesto: to publicize the view, aims and tendencies of the communists. Bourgeois - Throughout history the oppressor and oppressed are in constant opposition to each other- the fight always ends in a revolutionary reconstruction of society or in the classes’ common ruin. - Modern bourgeois society sprouted from the ruins of feudal society and is a product of several revolutions in mode of productions and of exchange. - Class antagonisms have become simplified to Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. - Markets kept growing and demand kept increasing, manufacture couldn’t keep up which led to the Industrial Revolution - The modern bourgeois became powerful, taking over industrial middle class, pushing medieval classes into the background. They came up with a series of political developments (bourgeoisie gained exclusive political power and the state serves solely the bourgeoisies interests) When bourgeoisie gained power: - put an end to all “feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations” - Eliminated relationships that bound people to their superiors - All remaining relations between men are characterized by self-interest alone - Changed all occupations into wage-laboring professions, even those that were previously honored Bourgeoisie are unique in that they can’t continue to exist without revolutionizing the instruments of production - this implies revolutionizing relations of production and all relations in society - Thus, unique uncertainties and disturbances of modern age have forced Man to face his real condition in life, and his true relations with others - Bourgeoisies need a constantly expanding market, so it establishes connections all over the globe At a certain stage, feudal relations ceased to be compatible with developing productive forces thus, free competition replaced the old system and bourgeoisie rose to power The key ideas of Marx’s theory: 1. All of history until now is the story of a series of class struggles - underlying all of history is this fundamental economic concept that each society has a characteristic economic structure. This structure breeds different classes, which are in conflict (however, not permanent). History “marches” on and eventually the means of production cease to be compatible with the class structure as-is - As the existing structure impedes the development of productive forces, then this structure must be destroyed. This explains the emergence of bourgeoisie out of feudalism, but also explains eventual destruction of bourgeoisie - Marx believes that all of history should be understood as the process in which classes realign themselves in compliance with changing means of production. In Marx’s theory - history is shaped by economic relations alone - History moves according to impersonal forces- the general direction is inevitable - Later argues that modern class conflict is the final class conflict- the end of this conflict will mark the end of all class relations Positions some of the ways why the modern era is unique: 1. Class antagonism have simplified as 2 opposing classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat 2. Exploitative relationships were previously hidden behind ideology… now the veil has lifted and everything is seen in terms of self-interest 3. In order for bourgeoisie to exist, they must continually revolutionize instruments of production, leaving social relations in an unprecedentedly unstable state Proletariats As the bourgeoisie developed, so did the Proletariat. The notion that this class will eventually destroy the bourgeoisie, is a concept/idea that must be accepted, or they will run into problems. Proletarians live as long as they can find work - can only find work as long as their labour increases capital - They are a commodity and vulnerable to all fluctuations of market - Because of developments of machines and divisions of labor the proletarian’s work has lost all charm Marx describes workers as soldiers and slave: - distinctions of age/gender are becoming less important as all people are instruments of labor - As soon as workers get wages from an exploitative boss, they are exploited by other bourgeoisie such as his landlord Past history of Proletariats: - always struggled with bourgeoisie (rebelling against those who exploited them) - Workers hoped to revive medieval status of workers. At the moment, workers were disorganized, divided by geography and by competition with one another - When they formed unions, they were under influence of bourgeoisie and actually served to further the objectives of the bourgeoisie However, with modern development of industry, the proletariat increased in number and became stronger and more concentrated - distinctions among laborers began to dissolve as all shared equally low wages and equally unsure livelihoods - Workers formed trade unions and other associations - Proletariat’s unification is further helped by increased means of communication made possible by modern industry, allowing struggles to take on national character - Other classes try to use proletarians to forward politically their own ends, they give them tolls to fight bourgeoisie Marx explains that only revolutionary class today is the proletariat Historically unique proletariats: 1. Proletariats lack any property of their own to retain or expand. Rather, they must destroy all ways of securing property at all 2. While past movements were started by minorities, proletariats are a vast majority and are acting in the interest of that majority Proletarian’s struggle is first and foremost national struggle. In order for a class to be oppressed, its slavish existence must be sustainable, held steady. However, laborers in modern industrial society are continually suffering a deterioration of their status; they become poorer and poorer. The bourgeoisie are thus unfit to rule because they cannot guarantee “an existence to its slave within its slavery.” Bourgeoisie in Modern Industry produces its own “grave-diggers.” Its fall and the victory of proletariat are equally inevitable. This is also the reason why the proletariats will be the fall of bourgeoisie. Marx argues: the worker is commodified and seen as part of the machinery. He only matter
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