The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Reprinted in its entirety with
[ The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Reprinted in
its entirety with the exception of part III, a short polemic against certain
political groups of their time (1847) with whom Marx and Engels disagreed. ]
Manifesto of the Communist Party
A specter is haunting Europe -- the specter of Communism. All the
powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this
specter: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as
communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not
hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced
opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact:
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be
itself a power.
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the
whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this
nursery tale of the specter of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in
London, and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English,
French, German, Italian, Flemish, and Danish languages.
I. Bourgeois and Proletarians
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class
struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-
master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant
opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open
fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution
of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a
complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation
of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians,
slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen,
apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal
society, has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new
classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this
distinctive feature: It has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a
whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two
great classes directly facing each other -- bourgeoisie and proletariat.
From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the
earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie
The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh
ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the
colonization of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of
exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to
industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary
element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.
The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was
monopolized by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of
the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters
were pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class; division of labor between
the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labor in
each single workshop.
Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even
manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized
industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant,
modern industry, the place of the industrial middle class, by industrial
millionaires -- the leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.
Modern industry has established the world market, for which the
discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense
development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This
development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in
proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same
proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into
the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a
long course of developement, of a series of revolutions in the modes of
production and of exchange.
Each step in the development of the was accompanied by a corresponding
political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the
feudal nobility, it became an armed and self-governing association in the
medieval commune; here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany),
there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in
the period of manufacture proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the
absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, the
corner-stone of the great monarchies in general -- the bourgeoisie has at
last, since the establishment of modern industry and of the world market,
conquered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political
sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the
common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie has played a most revolutionary role in history.
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to
all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder
the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and has left
no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash
payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of
chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of
egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value,
and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up
that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word for
exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted
naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto
honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician,
the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and
has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal
display of vigor in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found
its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first
to show what man's activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far
surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has
conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former migrations of nations
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the
instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and of
production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of
existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of
production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting
uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier
ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and
venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become
antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that
is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses
his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the
bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere,
settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.
The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a
cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the
great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feed of industry
the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national
industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are
dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death
question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up
indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones;
industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter
of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the
country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of
distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion
and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-
dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual
production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common
property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more
impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises
a world literature.
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of
production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all
nations, even the most barbarian, into civilization. The cheap prices of its
commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese
walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of
foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to
adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it
calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In
a word, it creates a world after its own image.
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rules of the towns. It
has created the enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as
compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the
population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country
dependent on the towns, so it has made the barbarian and semi-barbarian
countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of
bourgeois, the East on the West.
More and more the bourgeoisie keeps doing away with the scattered state
of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has
agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and has
concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was
political centralization. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces,
with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became
lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one
national class interest, one frontier and one customs tariff.
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has
created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all
preceding generations together. Subjection of nature's forces to man,
machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-
navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for
cultivation, canalization of rivers, while populations conjured out of the
ground -- what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive
forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?
We see then that the means of production and of exchange, which served
as the foundation for the growth of the bourgeoisie, were generated in feudal
society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production
and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and
exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and manufacturing industry,
in a word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with
the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They
had to burst asunder; they were burst asunder.
Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and
political constitution adapted to it, and by the economic and political sway
of the bourgeois class.
A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois
society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a
society that hs conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange,
is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether
world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past history of
industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive
forces against the modern conditions of production, against the property
relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and its
rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical
return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on trial, each time
more threateningly. In these crises a great part not only of the existing
products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are
periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in
all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity -- the epidemic of over-
production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary
barbarism; it appears as if famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off
the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be
destroyed. And why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means
of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces
at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the
conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too
powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and no sooner do
they overcome these fetters than they bring disorder into the whole of
bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The
conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created
by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand
by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the
conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old
ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more
destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground
are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.
But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to
itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those
weapons -- the modern working class -- the proletarians.
In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the
same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed -- a
class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find world
only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell
themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce,
and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all
the fluctuations of the market.
Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labor, the
work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently,
all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is
only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is
required of him. hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted,
almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his
maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a
commodity, and therefore also of labor, is equal to its cost of production.
in proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage
decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of
labor increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases,
whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of the work exacted
in a given time, or by increased speed of the machinery, etc.
Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal
master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. masses of
laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates
of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect
hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the
bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly
enslaved by the machine, by the over-looker, and, above all, by the individual
bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain
to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more
embittering it is.
The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labor, in
other words, the more modern industry develops, the more is the labor of men
superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any
distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of
labor, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.
No sooner has the laborer received his wages in cash, for the moment
escaping exploitation by the manufacturer, than he is set upon by the other
portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker,
The lower strata of the middle class -- the small tradespeople,
shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants
-- all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their
diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which modern industry is
carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists,
partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of
production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the
The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With the
birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is
carried on by individual laborers, then by the work people of a factory, then
by the operatives of one trade, in one locality, against the individual
bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against
the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of
production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their
labor, they smash machinery to pieces, they set factories ablaze, they seek to
restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.
At this stage the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over
the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere
they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of
their own active union, but the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in
order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole
proletariat in motion, and is moreover still able to do so for a time. At
this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the
enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners,
the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus the whole historical
movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so
obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.
But with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases
in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and
it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life
within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalized, in proportion
as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labor and nearly everywhere
reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the
bourgeois and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers
ever more fluctuating. The unceasing improvement of machinery, ever more
rapidly developing, make their livelihood more and more precarious; the
collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and
more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon the workers
begin to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeoisie; they club
together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent
associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional
revolts. Here and there the contest breaks out into riots.
Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real
fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever
expanding union of the workers. This union is furthered by the improve means
of communication which are created by modern industry, and which place the
workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this
contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the
same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class
struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the
burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required
centuries, the modern proletarians, thanks to railways, achieve in a few
This organization of the proletarians into a class, and consequently
into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition
between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer,
mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the
workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself.
Thus the ten-hour bill in England was carried.
Altogether, collisions between the classes of the old society further
the course of development of the proletariat in many ways. The bourgeoisie
finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy;
later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself whose interests have
become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all times with the
bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles it sees itself
compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for its help, and thus, to drag
it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the
proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other
words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.
Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling classes
are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at
least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the
proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.
Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the
process of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the
whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a
small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the
revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as,
therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the
bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised
themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement
as a whole.
Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today,
the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes
decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry; the proletariat is
its special and essential product.
The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the
artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from
extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are
therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are
reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance
they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending transfer
into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future
interests; they desert their own standpoint to adopt that of the proletariat.
The "dangerous class," the social scum (Lumpenproletariat), that
passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may,
here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its
conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool
of reactionary intrigue.
The social conditions of the old society no longer exist for the
proletariat. The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife
and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family
relations; modern industrial labor, modern subjection to capital, the same in
England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every
trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many
bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois
All the preceding classes that got the upper hand, sought to fortify
their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their
conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of the
productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of
appropriation, and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation.
They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to
destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property.
All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in
the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious,
independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense
majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot
stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of
official society being sprung up into the air.
Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat
with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each
country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.
In depicting the most general phases of the development of the
proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within
existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open
revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the
foundation for the sway of the proletariat.
Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen,
on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to
oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can,
at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom,
raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois,
under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The
modern laborer, on the contrary, 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 it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is
unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its
conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to
rule because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to
feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under the
bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with
The essential condition for the existence and sway of the bourgeois
class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital
is wage-labor. Wage-labor rests exclusively on competition between the
laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the
bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by
their revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of
modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on
which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the
bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its
fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
II. Proletarians and Communists
In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?
The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working
They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat
as a whole.
They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to
shape and mold the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other working class parties by
this only: 1. in the national struggles of the proletarians of the different
countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the
entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various
stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the
bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the
interests of the movement as a whole.
The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most
advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country,
that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand,
theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage
of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate
general results of the proletarian movement.
The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other
proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of
bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on
ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that
would-be universal reformer.
They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from
an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very
eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a
distinctive feature of Communism.
All property relations in the past have continually been subject to
historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.
The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favor
of bourgeois property.
The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property
generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois
private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of
producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on
the exploitation of the many by the few.
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the
single sentence: Abolition of private property.
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the
right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own labor,
which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom,
activity and independence.
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property
of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that
preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that, the
development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is
still destroying it daily.
Or do you mean modern bourgeois private property?
But does wage-labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It
creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labor, and
which cannot increase except upon the condition of begetting a new supply of
wage-labor for fresh exploitation. property, in it present form, is based on
the antagonism of capital and wage-labor. let us examine both sides of this
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social
status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only the united
action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of
all members of society, can it be set in motion.
Capital is therefore not personal, it is a social, power.
When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the
property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby
transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the
property that is now changed. It loses its class character.
Let us now take wage-labor.
The average price of wage-labor is the minimum wage, i.e. that quantum
of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer
in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage-laborer
appropriates by means of his labor, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a
bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation
of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance
and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to
command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the
miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives
merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only insofar as the
interest of the ruling class requires it.
In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase
accumulated labor. In Communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to
widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer.
In bourgeois society, therefore, the pas dominates the present; in
Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society
capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is
dependent and has no individuality.
And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeoisie,
abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of
bourgeois individuallity, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is
undoubtedly aimed at.
By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of
production, free trade, free selling and buying.
But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying disappears
also. This talk about free selling and buying, and all the other "brave
words" of our bourgeoisie about freedom in general, have a meaning, if any,
only in contrast with restricted selling and buying, with the fettered traders
of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when opposed to the Communist
abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production,
and of the bourgeoisie itself.
You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property.
But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for
nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its
non-existence in the hands of the nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore,
with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for
whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority
In a word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property.
Precisely so; that is just what we intend.
From the moment when labor can no longer be converted into capital,
money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolized, i.e., from
the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into
bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say, individuality
You must, therefore, confess that by "individual" you mean no other
person than the bourgeois, than the middle class owner of property. This
person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible.
Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of
society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the
labor of others by means of such appropriation.
It has been objected, that upon the abolition of private property all
work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.
According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the
dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire
noting, and those who acquire anything, do not work. The whole of this
objection is but another expression of the tautology: There can no longer be
any wage-labor when there is no longer any capital.
All objections urged against the Communist mode of producing and
appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged against the
Communist modes of producing and appropriating intellectual products. Just
as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance
of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him
identical with the disappearance of all culture.
That culture, the loss of which he laments is, for the enormous
majority, a mere training to act as a machine.
But don't wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended
abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of
freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the
conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your
jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will
whose essential character are determined by the economic conditions of
existence of your class.
The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal
laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing from your present
mode of production and form of property -- historical relations that rise and
disappear in the progress of production -- this misconception you share with
every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of
ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of
course forbidden to admit in the case of your own bourgeois form of property.
Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this
infamous proposal of the Communists.
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based?
On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family
exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its
complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and
in public prostitution.
The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its
complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.
Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by
their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.
But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we
replace home education by social.
And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the
social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention of society,
dire or indirect, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented
the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the
character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of
the ruling class.
The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the
hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the
more, by the action of modern industry, all family ties among the proletarians
are torn asunder, and their children are transformed into simple articles of
commerce and instruments of labor.
But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole
of the bourgeoisie in chorus.
The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production. He
hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and,
naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of being common
to all will likewise fall to the women.
He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away
with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
For the rest, noting is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of
our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly
and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to
introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial.
Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their
proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the
greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives.
Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus,
at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that
they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an
openly legalized community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident, that
the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the
abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of
prostitution in both public and private.
The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries
The workingmen have no country. We cannot take from them what they have
not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy,
must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the
nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of
National differences and antagonisms between peoples are vanishing
gradually from day to day, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to
freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of
production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto.
The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster.
united action, of the leading civilized countries at least, is one of the
first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.
In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put an
end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to.
In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes,
the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end.
The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philosophical,
and, generally, from an ideological standpoint, are not deserving of serious
Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas, views,
and conceptions, in one word, man's consciousness, changes with every change
in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in
his social life?
What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual
production changes its character in proportion as material production is
changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling
When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but
express the fact that within the old society the elements of a new one have
been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with
the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.
When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient religions
were overcome by Christianity. When Christian ideas succumbed in the 18th
century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its death-battle with the
then revolutionary bourgeoisie. The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of
conscience, merely gave expression to the sway of free competition within the
domain of knowledge.
"Undoubtedly," it will be said, "religion, moral, philosophical and
juridical ideas have been modified in the course of historical development.
But religion, morality, philosophy, political science, and law, constantly
survived this change.
"There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc.,
that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal
truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting
them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all pas historical
What does this accusation reduce itself to? The history of all past
society has consisted in the development of class antagonisms, antagonisms
that assumed different forms at different epochs.
But whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all past
ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the other no wonder,
then, that the social consciousness of past ages, despite all the multiplicity
and variety it displays, moves with certain common forms, or general ideas,
which cannot completely vanish except with the total disappearance of class
The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional
property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical
rupture with traditional ideas.
But let us have done with the bourgeois objections to Communism.
We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working
class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees,
all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production
in the hands of the state, i.e. of the proletariat organized as the ruling
class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of
despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois
production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically
insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip
themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are
unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.
These measures will of course be different in different countries.
Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will be
pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a
national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands
of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state;
the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the
soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies,
especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual
abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable
distribution of population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of child
factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with
industrial production, etc.
When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared,
and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of
the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.
Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one
class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the
bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as
a class; if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and,
as such sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will,
along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence
of class antagonisms, and of classes generally, and will thereby have
abolished its own supremacy as a class.
In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class
antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of
each is the condition for the free development of all....
[ Section III is omitted. ]
IV. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing
Section II has made clear the relations of the Communists to the
existing working class parties, such as the Chartists in England and the
Agrarian Reformers in America.
The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the
enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the
movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of
that movement. In France the Communists ally themselves with the Social-
Democrats, against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, reserving,
however, the right to take up a critical position in regard to phrases and
illusions traditionally handed down from the great Revolution.
In Switzerland they support the Radicals, without losing sight of the
fact that this party consists of antagonistic elements, partly of Democratic
Socialists, in the French sense, partly of radical bourgeois.
In Poland they support the party that insists on an agrarian revolution
as the prime condition for national emancipation, that party which fomented
the insurrection of Cracow in 1846.
In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a
revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squirearchy, and
the petty bourgeoisie.
But they never cease, for a single instant, to instill into the working
class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between
bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the German workers may straightway
use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the social and political
conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce along with its
supremacy, and in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in
Germany, the fight against the bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin.
The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because that
country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be carried
out under more advanced conditions of European civilization and with a much
more developed proletariat than what existed in England in the 17th and in
France in the 18th century, and because the bourgeois revolution in Germany
will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian revolution.
In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement
against the existing social and political order of things.
In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question
in each case, the property question, no matter what its degree of development
at the time.
Finally, they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the
democratic parties of all countries.
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly
declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all
existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist
revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They
have a world to win.
Workingmen of all countries, unite!
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank