Al Bità's Reviews > The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
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's review
Oct 19, 2011

really liked it

With the world coming to an end (again!) and the excesses of unrestrained, exploitative Capitalism tottering worldwide, threatening to destroy not only the current, modern proletariat, but itself as well, I thought it would be a good thing to read up on Marx's Communist Manifesto (republished by Vintage in 2010).

Despite never having read this work before, I was quite familiar with its propositions: it is said that its influence worldwide is second only to the Bible. True, the writing has many of the hallmarks of the Victorian times which generated it, giving it the 'feel' of being outdated, but the insights regarding the cyclical 'revolutions' Marx identified still ring astonishingly true; and in some ways, is even more remarkably accurate for our own times. The West declared Communism to be dead at the end of the twentieth century (not true, since it was only the Russian version which collapsed), and the Capitalists interpreted that as giving them the green light to proceed full speed ahead: and within a few decades they had managed to stuff up everything even more completely.

I was surprised to understand that for Marx, 'communism' does not have any one specific structure, and can be represented differently in different countries and cultures. The current uprisings and 'revolutions' of 'the Arab Spring' in many oppressive Arab regimes is an example. From this perspective, any specific communist group that forms itself into a ruling, controlling, exploitative organisation will itself suffer its own destruction by those it exploits. It is perhaps this paradox that will ensure that 'revolutions' will always occur while such structures are in place.

The core message of the Manifesto is one of freedom from exploitation, and as such it will always appeal.
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October 1, 2011 – Finished Reading
October 19, 2011 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Wayne (new)

Wayne I was wondering exactly Engels came in. He didn't do the dirty on Marx the way Jung did with Freud, did he??
I saw a documentary on Engels a few years ago and as I really knew nothing except his name found it very interesting.I believe Marx despised the working classes.The poor wretches probably did not present well being underfed, uneducated and overworked, ill and ignorant with no holidays and no money to take one, it would have ground any spark out of you.
I must say I admire the courage of these Arabs as one must the French and the Chartists and other English movements.

I have never read The Manifesto either although I have Tom Paine's works which are wonderful tracts on Freedom.

message 2: by Al (new) - rated it 4 stars

Al Bità I'm not sure what you mean by Jung 'doing the dirty' on Freud; Jung certainly ended up disagreeing with Freud and splitting from him, but as far as I am aware Engels did not split with Marx... The introduction to my copy (by David Aaronovitch) tells us that both Marx and Engels were commissioned to write the Communist Manifesto, and that essentially Marx wrote it, and it was submitted in 1848; and then rather enigmatically tells us "despite Marx's virtually sole authorship, [by 1872] Engels was sufficiently influential to be credited with having been its co-writer..." Since they were supposed to be friends, it is possible that the ideas contained in the Manifesto were shared...

No doubt the poor miserable working classes in mid-19th-c Europe were despicable... but at least Marx recognised that all the wealth and associated privileges of those higher up came from their labour and exploitation, and transmitted the message that the providers, the source of all that wealth should understand this and take some form of control over it.

Our societies, even today, still has these 'levels'; and some of the poor and powerless still believe they 'deserve' their lower status (just as some of the rich and powerful believe they 'deserve' their status). Even so, the message is still clear: any system that exploits unilaterally should know that eventually it will be 'destroyed'... and that we must either acknowledge that such systems will always include 'revolutions', over and over again — or else we must come up with something different. Maybe the latter is only an idealistic concept, but it is, in my opinion, an ideal worth fighting for (as, indeed, did Tom Paine...)

message 3: by Wayne (new)

Wayne The Russians certainly gave Communism a bad name.But then the Upper Classes always seemed to be terribly afraid of the Working or Poorer Class.The French Revolution's descent into violence also tended to give revolutions a bad name but one can hardly say that the American and its godchild the French Rev were working class movements. Lawyers, who are not working class but have a rotten reputation, only added more dirt to their name for their role in the French Rev.Many aristocrats supported the Rev including the King's brother.A VERY across-class movement indeed.
Industry and Corporations are now becoming the targets of democratic movements as in Wall St.It's about time.
Qantas is really getting it today from both its shareholders and employees.A Joy to behold!!1

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