May not be available. Please call (206) 366-3333 for info.
Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. The Communist Manifesto is divided into a preamble and four sections, the last of these a short conclusion. The introduction begins by proclaiming "A spectre is haunting Europe-the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre." Pointing out that parties everywhere-including those in government and those in the opposition-have flung the "branding reproach of communism" at each other, the authors infer from this that the powers-that-be acknowledge communism to be a power in itself. Subsequently, the introduction exhorts Communists to openly publish their views and aims, to "meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself." The first section of the Manifesto, "Bourgeois and Proletarians," elucidates the materialist conception of history, that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Societies have always taken the form of an oppressed majority living under the thumb of an oppressive minority. In capitalism, the industrial working class, or proletariat, engage in class struggle against the owners of the means of production, the bourgeoisie. As before, this struggle will end in a revolution that restructures society, or the "common ruin of the contending classes." The bourgeoisie, through the "constant revolutionising of production and] uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions" have emerged as the supreme class in society, displacing all the old powers of feudalism. The bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat for its labour power, creating profit for themselves and accumulating capital. However, in doing so, the bourgeoisie serves as "its own grave-diggers"; the proletariat inevitably will become conscious of their own potential and rise to power through revolution, overthrowing the bourgeoisie.