The Communist Manifesto To some people, the Industrial Revolution only seemed to cause greater inequality between social classes. While factory owners made profit, workers fell into poverty. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were two radical thinkers from Germany. They argued that capitalism causes social inequality. They wrote the Communist Manifesto to express their ideas on society. The following excerpt is taken from that book.
The bourgeoisie (middle class) has left no remaining link between man and man other than shameless self-interest and the heartless desire for cash payment.
The work of the proletarians (working class) has lost all individual value and all charm because of the widespread use of machinery and the conditions of factory labor. The modern working class lives only so long as they can find work, and finds work only so long as their labor increases the capital (money) of the bourgeoisie. These laborers must sell themselves little by little. They are a commodity (product), like every other item that is bought and sold.
Modern industry has converted (changed) the little workshop into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers are crowded into factories. They are organized like slave-soldiers in the industrial army of the bourgeoisie. Not only are these laborers slaves to the bourgeoisie, they are enslaved daily by the machines they work with.
The Communists do not wish to conceal (hide) their views and aims. The theory of the Communists can be summed up in a single sentence: the abolition (elimination) of private property (possessions). The hard-won, self-earned property of the small peasant has already been destroyed by the development of industry. Private property is already done away with for 90% of the population. Modern bourgeoisie private property only exploits the working class. Bourgeoisie property must be swept out of the way. It must be converted into common property for use by all members of society.
The Communists openly declare that their goals can be only attained by the forcible (violent) overthrow of all current social conditions. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie. Its existence is no longer compatible (it no longer fits) with society. Let the ruling classes tremble at the Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!
Interpret: How does Marx seem to view the idea of self-interest in the first paragraph (ie. a good or bad thing)? How is this similar or different to Adam Smith?
Close Reading: What are some of the words, phrases, metaphors, descriptions, etc Marx uses in the second and third paragraphs to explain the current condition of the proletarians (working class). Does the working class seem to be valued by society? Explain.
Close Reading: Please re-read the fourth paragraph. How does Marx justify his idea that all private property/possessions should be eliminated? Do you find this convincing? Explain.
Analyze: Re-read the last paragraph. What does Marx believe needs to happen to create a more equal society? Considering the context (ie. what was going on at this point in history), do you think Marx was justified in believing this? Explain.