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The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
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really liked it
bookshelves: heresy, history, liberty, philosophy, political-theory, authoritarianism, 1840s

Rough, muscular verses from Mr. Marx over here. There are a bunch of good one liners in this well written work. Most of the ideas in it rub me the wrong way, but it explains the theory's political side pretty well. Even this would be a poor introduction to Marxism though. I remember trying to read this without any background knowledge and it came off as bald assertions. The lack of much economics in here sort of limits its explanatory power.

The most interesting part of this is part III wherein he addresses the other socialist schools of the day. His critique of Proudhon's mutualist anarchism as conservative or petty bourgeois socialism was interesting, as was his critique of the Christian socialists as band aids for the aristocracy, Aristsocratic socialists as failed tyrants who are just hopping on with the proletarians to sack the bourgeoise, and Saint-Simonians/Owenites as paternalistic chumps who lived too early to see what the workers are capable of in a class war.

Not the densest or most brainy book, but basically a fun extended blog post by Marx.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 11, 2012 – Shelved
September 11, 2012 – Shelved as: heresy
September 11, 2012 – Shelved as: history
September 11, 2012 – Shelved as: liberty
September 11, 2012 – Shelved as: philosophy
September 11, 2012 – Shelved as: political-theory
September 11, 2012 – Finished Reading
March 3, 2013 – Shelved as: authoritarianism
July 13, 2016 – Shelved as: 1840s

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Traveller (last edited Sep 12, 2012 03:32AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller Hmm, at least one person who commented negatively on my review of this document who at least himself wrote a fairly intelligent and insightful review of this document. (No sarcasm, i do like your review.) :)

There is a little something that i hope you will forgive me for mentioning here: I had a quick look at your profile, and i hope you will excuse me marveling at the irony of you having Ayn Rand marked as a favorite. That was not intended to be nasty, honestly - i just simply do find it... a bit incongruous.

Nick Ha, yeah I had a problem with that one part of your review regarding Marx's view of women. Although I think what I commented on was a truncated or older version of your review because the one I just saw was much larger and more fleshed out.

Also, hahah yeah I do enjoy some Ayn Rand every now and again. I'm generally interested in fringe beliefs and ideologies, and I do think that there is a lot to be gained from Rand's philosophy, as there is to be gained from Fascist writers, Anarchist writers, and other radicals (like Marx). I like authors who don't pull any punches or make weak appeals to the middle ground. I enjoy reading writers who are willing to take their philosophies to their farthest logical conclusions.

How about yourself? Why did you decide to read Marx in the first place? What are your thoughts on Rand?

Traveller Oh, well I too like to know what the gossiped about radicals and revolutionaries really said, you know, i prefer reading them in the original, because such a lot can get lost through making use of secondhand accounts.

I'd read Marx long a go, but you know how romantic everything seems when you are a teen. Especially if it has the tag "revolutionary" on it, it positively sparkles and pops. There are a lot of books that i pick up now years later, and see myself as a gullible, easily-impressed young girl the way i received them back then. i felt i needed a more mature perspective on Marx than what i remember, and yes, I still need to read more; but the reason why really now specifically, is that i've become somewhat of a fan of China Mieville, and thought i'd better polish up on my pure Marx before trying to figure out where Mieville is coming from with his Marxist activities.

Re Rand..- ugh that's quite a long story, and i have to go right now - i hope you don't mind if i address her tomorrow in a new post.

message 4: by Traveller (last edited Sep 15, 2012 11:30AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller I disliked Ayn Rand even when i read her as a teen- and that's saying a lot when you see from my other comments how easily impressed i was back then.

The fact that she was compulsory reading if you wanted to be well-read, didn't even help to take away the bitter taste of the egotism shouting itself from the rooftops in her works.

..but the biggest problem with her is, that, being a Capitalist apologist, she seems to be the direct opposite of Marx. (Which was why i was surprised to see that you enjoy her, since i took you for a Marxist apologist).

Your explanation greatly reduces the mystery of the apparent paradox, though. :P

I again, am very boring and middle-of the road, especially these days, so i'm sort of somewhere inbetween Marx and Rand.

Nothing exciting going in my corner, i know, i know.

Nick Hahaha, I know what you mean about the romanticism of revolutionary stuff when you are a teen. At that point I was fascinated by Fascism, although from a pretty uninformed perspective. Lately I too have been returning to those works of bygone days to see what substance there is to glean from them.

I've read 2 works of China Mieville in the past few months as well, and its true, knowing some far leftist political theory does help with understanding where he is coming from. Maybe after I bulk up on my Marx I'll take another dive in the Mieville pool. I've been reading him pretending that he is an anarcho-syndicalist just because I'm more sympathetic towards that, and they are pretty similar so it sort of "works" well enough for interpretive purposes.

As for Rand: I've never heard that you had to read her in order to be well read! Although its pleasing to my easily flattered ears (yessss, some social credit for those long hours). You mentioned her egotism (or egoism as she would prefer) as one of the major turnoffs you had while reading it, which is a common sentiment. I actually found that to be one of the philosophically valuable points of the book, although I don't think that Rand takes it nearly far enough. I very much like the idea that it is good to live for one's own values regardless of how virulently authority figures and/or the general society may condemn you as "selfish".

The only thing is that Rand tempers that with a concern for "property rights" and whatnot. If her egoism pisses you off, check out Max Stirner, the egoist anarchist who makes Rand seem like a bleeding heart altruist. He advocates complete egoism unrestrained by any morality whatsoever. That is the more logically consistent version of Rand's position in my evaluation.

Also yeah Rand was a total apologist for Capitalism, which is really absurd IMO. What she calls Capitalism is totally dependent on statist interference in the economy, and is historically predicated on violating the property rights of the poor. A totally free market would destroy Capitalism as she conceives of it. Her system is a contradiction.

message 6: by Traveller (last edited Sep 16, 2012 08:37AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Traveller I used to be a proponent of a totally free market in my rash youth, but never discounting the humanitarian aspect of Socialism, mind, and i've started leaning a lot more towards Socialism and fiscal control lately.

..but not because i believed in the theory of egoism, - rather, i believed that the forces would eventually balance themselves out to the benefit of all. (Oh, the naivete of youth!)

I think back then, when i first started learning about economic theory, in my little ideal world of theory, market forces would be left to their own devices, with minimal fiscal interference, but taking into account that Trade Unionism would be an essential part of those market forces, and also that the indigent would be taken care of out of taxing the super-rich. (Something like the Scandinavian systems, but with a market close to that of Hong Kong)

... but i think the more we progress into the 21st century, the more confussed my brain becomes, when trying to compute what has been happening in reality in systems like first Russia, on the left, and now the US on the right...

I guess in the end there is no 'ideal' system; there are too many variables at play, like for instance, nobody back in the 1970's, 80's and even 90's factored in the impact that the information revolution would have on how our economies work.

Traveller Oh, and thanks for the pointer to Max Stirner- i've not read him before, and he sounds interesting... like one of the items that would end up one my one-star shelf accompanied by some ranting and raving. XD
Those are also essential reading, i feel though, to round out one's world view a bit.

Nick I'm probably closer to the position you had in your naive youth. I'm in favor of a "totally free market", accompanied by strong trade unions. And I mean totally free as in no state. You might call it market anarchism, or mutualist socialism. It is because I think that a totally free market would lead to the abolition of modern Capitalism that I think Rand's theory is a contradiction. I'm still sympathetic to the Scandinavian and Hong Kong models. If I had to pick from a model within the Statist paradigm, I'd probably enjoy the one you favored in your youth! Hohoho.

Of course none of this is to imply that markets are perfect equilibrating machines which will solve every conceivable human problem. I just think the alternative of monopolizing social and economic power within one firm (call it a "state") leads to even worse outcomes, primarily by insulating the wealthy and powerful from any competition and bolstering their ability to wreak havoc on society for the sake of their own profits. Thats the 3 sentence summary version anyway.

message 9: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Lol, the only thing is, if Marx was writing this as a blog post, he'd be dead serious about it.
One liners ftw!

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