Joseph Spuckler's Reviews > The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
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2011 thoughts

A very important book at the time it was written. Some would conclude that it was the threat of the Communist that reformed the system to allow for leisure time for the working class. Organized labor reformed American business and transformed Europe. Americans still greatly oppose communism/socialism in all it forms (except for social security, medicare, public roads and parks, pork projects that benefit their neighborhoods, OSHA, veteran affairs......).


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Update for 2015

Reread this today and reminded myself how in the historical context this work was important and how so many today have little idea what it really says. Marx and Engels were not hell bent on Soviet type domination. They would never expect communism to take root in Russia a vast agrarian society. Oddly though that is the only place communism or a totalitarian state calling itself communism ever did take hold.

Marx and Engels saw the problem in industrialized societies. People flooded the cities for jobs, wages went down, young children needed to work to help support the family. There were no safety nets that we enjoy today like 40-hour work weeks, minimum wages, and child labor laws, let alone any benefits. Industrialization had destroyed society and divided the population. The skilled labor class was displaced by mass produced goods. The population became two classes the very small property owning bourgeois and the huge working class proletariat. Skilled labor was absorbed by the proletariat. The bourgeois became the ruling class; they even used the proletariat to help rid them of the aristocracy.

The movement Marx and Engels documented in the Manifesto was to end the deplorable conditions in the mid-19th century industrial world. They saw no way to do this except for revolution. As the unrest grew in Europe the bourgeoise and industry saved themselves. Rather than risk losing everything compromise came about. Government and labor unions worked to increase factory safety, labor, child labor. Education expanded, England reformed the Poor Law, and something unheard of developed --leisure time for the common man. A middle class developed. The middle class is important to capitalism because they are the consumers, and in order for capitalism to grow it must create new markets or it will stagnate. These reforms created a consumer class that allowed the bourgeoisie to continue in their ways making up for their losses at the factory with new markets. The middle-class saw it possible to advance and the unskilled worker pool shrank with new oppurtunity.

Communism did fail, but not in the way most people think. It became a threat and it was appeased. The industrial world reformed to relieve the threat of violent takeover. The proletariat did have a steep numerical advantage over the bourgeoisie (much like today's 99%). Communism never took hold in the areas it was intended to. It could be reforms or the entrance into the world of consumption that allowed this either through availability of affordable housing, plentiful food, and material goods. People who own tend to be more content than those who long. Even if what they own is a tiny fraction of what others own. The failure of communism came in the form of social democrats in Europe and liberalism in America. Marx and Engels believed that capitalism could not be reformed and needed to be destroyed. History has shown otherwise. Reformed and regulated capitalism has created the greatest wealth for the greatest number of people on Earth. America, Europe, and Japan have regulated capitalism. Even "communist" China has jumped on the bandwagon. (Now what all this creation of wealth is doing to the planet and environment is another story.)

I'll mention this again because it deserves mentioning. The Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, and others were/are not communist. They never met the criteria; they never developed the system. Very little separated them from right wing dictatorships in reality. You can call a cat a dog all you want, but its not going to bark.
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Reading Progress

August 10, 2011 – Started Reading
August 10, 2011 – Shelved
August 11, 2011 – Shelved as: political-science
August 11, 2011 – Shelved as: philosophy
January 27, 2015 – Finished Reading

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