The Communist manifesto

by Karl Marx

Other authorsFriedrich Engels
Paper Book, 1992


Politics. Nonfiction. HTML: Commonly known as The Communist Manifesto, the Manifesto of the Communist Party (in German "Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei") has been one of the most influential political documents in the world, having a far-reaching effect on twentieth-century political organization. In this 1848 publication, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels expound the program and purpose of the Communist League who commissioned the work. A critique of the Capitalist order of the time, the Manifesto gives a vision of a stateless, classless society, achieved through the overthrow of bourgeois social systems and the abolition of private property - the revolution of the proletariat..



Call number



New York : Bantam, c1992.

User reviews

LibraryThing member gbill
A thought provoking and landmark book. The Manifesto was a reaction against the industrial revolution and untethered capitalism, which resulted in extraordinarily unfair labor practices and a heavy skew between those few at the top of the economic pyramid, and those at the bottom who were
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shouldering the load. Perhaps that was always true throughout history, but post-Enlightenment, and in the 19th century in particular, leading thinkers and artists said, “enough.” Marx and Engels just took it a step further than others, by stating that all private property needed to be abolished and made collective.

How could they have taken such an extreme position? As Pozner says in the introduction: “Few people today have even the remotest idea of the horrors of mid-nineteenth-century labor. … Marx was sickened by what he saw, as were many others, among them Charles Dickens. But differing from everyone else, Marx set out to discover whether there was any rhyme or reason for this situation, any basic underlying motive for this state of affairs, anything resembling a law. … Where Marx differed from Thomas Jefferson and most other thinkers was in his certainty that a decent livelihood (the pursuit of happiness) was not possible without two basic elements: political equality and economic equality. … He may have been an idealist in believing that once the conditions of human existence were changed, once private ownership of property was abolished, once exploitation disappeared, people would change as well. He believed that in a society where there were no have-nots, where one’s livelihood did not depend on struggling to make money, where instead of competing against one another people worked together…”

In his list of ten measures to be taken by all nations, there are some that I agree with unequivocally and which you may take for granted today (progressive income tax, free education for all children in public schools), some that are arguable (abolition of inheritance, equal liability to all in labor), and some that I disagree with (abolition of private property, centralization of production by the State).

As Capitalism was extreme in 1848, so was Marx and Engel’s counter. They swung the pendulum too far the other way, and were too idealistic in doing so. Furthermore, they could not have foreseen what perverted forms their theories were to take in practice in the following century, where private ownership was replaced by state ownership, not public, and individual liberties were crushed by totalitarianism.

It was dangerous in its time to declare “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!.”, and it was dangerous more than a century later. Being branded a communist during the Cold War in America led to loss of work, black balling and exportation; the communists were “the enemy”, without much thought outside of intelligentsia as to what communism actually stood for. Read it for that.

“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 those 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 of society.”

“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 labour of others by means of such appropriation.”
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LibraryThing member amandacb
I took a graduate-level literary theory class and picked socialism as my topic of choice over which to complete a semester-long project and presentation. Boy, am I ever glad I did.

I remember in high school I had heard so much negativity about communism and socialism; I cracked open my textbook to
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the glossary to find the actual definitions, and was left only with vague impressions and more questions.

Finally, I had some answers. This is a volume that I think everyone should read before they spout off misinformed ideas and opinions over communism and socialism. So many base their opinions off of fundamentalists--after all, we don't judge all Christians on the slight margin of fundamentalist Christians, don't we? (Well, we shouldn't.) And so on. Many have taken Marx's ideas and twisted and distorted them to their own agendas. This has led people to mistrust and dislike communism and socialism upon just hearing the words.

However, if you read Marx's ideas, they are fundamentally logical and sound. Maybe not exactly plausible, but definitely something worth thinking about.
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LibraryThing member RobertDay
What to make of this slim volume that everyone has heard of but few have read? (And even fewer have read properly.) First, it's essential to dump your preconceptions, and forget world history since 1917. Marx (with the support of Engels) was describing the economic world as he saw it, based on his
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studies of history and economy; and then he looked forward to what he saw as the inevitable outcome of that system. Though his analysis was ultimately flawed because history turned out differently, his analysis remains incontrovertible. Even though our world and our working lives are totally changed from that of 1848, it remains true that those who do not have independent means have to sell the only thing at their disposal, that is their labour. That is true whether those people (call them workers, call them the proletariat, the names are unimportant) sell the labour of their muscles, their hands and eyes, or their brains. And if those people cannot alleviate the conditions under which they have to sell that labour, if they cannot get a fair deal or a fair price for that labour, then they will eventually revolt. When Marx wrote the Manifesto, that revolution had to take place in a physical way because the bulk of workers did not have a franchise. Now, the 'revolt' takes the form of our voting a new Government into power every five years or so - though we are now seeing, in the early years of the 21st Century, that exercising a limited vote for political groupings that offer very similar things to each other - or worse still, only offer least worst options - is a route fraught with dangers.

That those who brought about socialist revolution in the 20th Century took this book as their guide has closed many minds to it. Of course, if you are starting a revolution, you can point to things in this book and claim you are acting in accordance with Marxist thought. It is more honest to acknowledge your debt to those who have gone before and stand in the name of your own ideology (as indeed Marx did); but people don't do that, because it means that they might have to take responsibility for their actions. It is far easier to say 'I only did what it said in the Manifesto/the Bible/the Qur'an/Mein Kampf/(insert other sacred text of choice)". So this book and Karl Marx gets wrongly blamed for much that happened long after he died.

Do not let that colour your reading of 'The Communist Manifesto'. Rather, read it, challenge its application to our times, use what seems appropriate and disregard what seems inappropriate. And yes, cry "Working men of all countries, unite!"
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LibraryThing member Goodwillbooks
It's shocking to realize that this book created such a huge movement which has led to such misery for so many. And from such simplistic ideas - as I read the book the main idea is that the lower classes should revolt against the upper and middle classes. In my volume, the manifesto itself consumes
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only about 43 pages. The remainder of the book is the Introduction (40 pages) and the various prefaces (mostly written by Engels) for various editions of the book. The Introduction, though not beautifully written (neither is the Manifesto), is actually the more illuminating part of the book, providing history and context (in a clearly partisan fashion - he doesn't agree with Marx). Chief points: Marx and Engels were members of the bourgeoisie - the middle class - and that is typical - revolutionary angst more typically arises from restless, dissipated middle classes rather than the lower classes (look at the "activists" on many college campuses; look at Osama Bin Laden, a child of privelege in Saudi Arabia). And further Marx's ideas really only took hold in the less developed countries, like Russia. The higher developed countries, with rising standards of living - for upper and lower classes - did not seek to overturn their systems - especially once universal suffrage was achieved. Important to read to better understand the source of much of the conflict of the last century.
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LibraryThing member Andjhostet
Finally got around to reading this and I can see why it's one of the most influential works of all time. It proposes a new economic system that the world had never seen before in mid 1800s. It explains a lot of class dynamics that's amazingly still relevant 170 years later, and it makes predictions
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that are incredibly interesting, and in a few places, amazingly accurate. Marx is also just a really good writer. I was very impressed with the quality of the writing and prose at times. He is also very good at breaking down concepts to the reader, and both over-explaining something, but also giving a blunt summary, ensuring that the reader takes away at least something, from each point he makes.
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LibraryThing member ironicqueery
This reading brings up more questions than it answers. Part I is really good about explaining current conditions of the "proletariat". However, Part II, which seems like an attempt to explain why Communism is in the best interest for the masses, seems to be all dogma with little supporting fact
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behind it. Here is where are the questions are left unanswered. Part III and IV talk about opposing forms of changing the status quo, ie socialism, etc. However, since Part II left so many unanswered questions, it's hard to reject the status quo or alternative options to the revolutation the Manifesto is urging.

The writing overall was fabulous - easy to understand and follow for the most part. But more writing is needed to fully understand the concepts Mark and Engels are advocating.
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LibraryThing member Allovertheboard
If you are an advocate for mass poverty, mass curtailment of all civil rights, destruction of the environment, genocide and ethnic cleansing, the destruction of religious institutions, mass alcoholism, depression and checmical dependency, and complete technological stagantion, then this is the book
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for you. On the other hand, you are very likely to inadvertently create an underground artistic-protest movement. I say communism has only killed 100 million people, let's give it another chance! Look how many "useful idiots" are recommending this book on this page alone.
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LibraryThing member BeeQuiet
Marx, it's nice, like victoria sponge, but I prefer gateau, such as Foucault and Adorno and Horkheimer. They further advance the ideas started by marx (like gateau advances the idea of cake). Marx is naive (here ends cake metaphor), but then he was relying on historical context...ah the benefit of
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Really, if you like Marx, read The Culture Industry, in Dialectic of Enlightenment, by Horkheimer and Adorno (of the Frankfurt School).
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LibraryThing member Redthing
Being a book with tremendous political impact, how could I not read it? What I found was a collection of very interesting ideas. It would be nice if these ideas would work, but it would also be nice if I had my own space shuttle. They just wouldn't work. Anyways, the thirty page introduction is
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boring and drawn out. It detracts from my rating of the manifeso.
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LibraryThing member sharrison
A book famous for many reasons, the most obvious being its simple political impact. This book by Karl Marx, has affected the lives of millions of people in the world, and its impact is monumental. Now you have most likely heard of this book, but if you further wish to understand the thing that is
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Communism, and revolution which brings upon it, I strongly recommend you read this book. This book is not an easy read per say, and could most likely be summarized in about a page, but it is still a great book to skim through to further educate oneself on politics.
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LibraryThing member chellinsky
Do not go looking here for a lengthy explanation about why Marx believes what he does. Rather, read the Manifesto to learn how he sold his ideas. For what it was designed to do, this book is excellent. For actually understanding Marx, the Manifesto is lacking. A closer look at some of his other
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works is required.
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LibraryThing member Terpsichoreus
It is an error to assume that the problem with humanity is an inability to recognize our own problems. While it's true that we constantly look outside for answers, this is just because we are unhappy with the answers we have. We know that success requires hard work and knowledge, but we want
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something easier. We will accept an easier answer even when it isn't true. We are not motivated by what is true or likely, but by frightening or enticing stories.

We are driven away from the necessary and the difficult by our inadequacies and fears, and so rarely move ourselves any closer to fulfillment. In a perversity of justice, those who do achieve the things which we imagine would fulfill us (wealth, fame, beauty, genius) are no more fulfilled than the average man, and just as beset by inadequacy and fear. Often, more so.

Transhumanism represents a hope that we can escape this pattern of ignorance and self-destruction but only by escaping the human bodies and minds that cannot control themselves.

The Manifesto always seemed little more than a sad reminder of our failings, though it did motivate people and provided a test of the mettle of humanity. Beyond that, it does more to rile than to increase understanding of the economy and our role within it. It is sad that a work which is at least based on some worthwhile principles falls to the same simple fears and ideals that plague our everyday lives.

The manifesto tries to take all of the economic theory of its authors and create from it a story that will excite the common man. They did not expect that most of them would pick up Das Kapital and start really thinking about their role in things. It was enough to engage their greed and sense of injustice without intruding much on their understanding.

The average man does not want to understand, he would prefer to believe. It is unfortunate that the main effect proven by the Communist movement is that any and every political system simply shifts wealth and power from one group to another, and little aids the serf or the unlucky.

We Americans are in little position to stand over the 'failure of Communism', since democracy has not proven any kinder to mankind, nor can it deliver justice equally to the poor and the rich.
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LibraryThing member McCarthys
The rantings of a man who's ideology would work only in the smallest of settings, or perhaps in a utopia. Attempts at implementing the policies laid out in this work have killed millions outright and millions more from starvation and poverty.

Reading this is a matter of knowing your enemy.
LibraryThing member ts.
The Manifesto itself, is a profound and masterful work.

What undoes this book, however, is the pitiful introduction by A.J.P Taylor. This introduction, unlike Marx's work, is an unimportant quibble of its time (1967). He rails on and on for 47 pages (longer than the manifesto itself!) about how 2
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buddies from Germany managed to fool millions of people into believing their crazy deluded message, and how these two lads, working completely and always alone, utterly misunderstood history and economics and sociology down to the core. The work itself is a classic simply because millions of people have been deluded into worshipping it, but the men themselves were self-obsessed and narcissistic and thought themselves gods among men, when in fact they were poor economists, and even poorer historians.

A.J.P. Taylor wrote this in 1967, and one cannot understand why on earth such an introduction could be commissioned or approved to accompany the Manifesto. I can only imagine what the public opinion of communism must have been like at the time - fear and loathing of the USSR alongside complete and total faith in capitalism. In an amusing passage, Taylor takes a break from criticizing Marx to "disprove" his critique of capitalism in the light of modern history, arguing that capitalism has proven itself after the little hiccup of the '30s. Well, it's 2011, and today economists like Nouriel Roubini are questioning capitalism altogether and the world is mired in collective contemplation on how to save the world economy. It seems that despite all of Taylor's fluff, Marx and Engels turned out to be far more timeless thinkers than he was.

Read the Manifesto, just don't read this version. It is nothing more than publishers wanting to make more pennies by pawning Marx's writings off with fluff-filler as an addendum.
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LibraryThing member SashaM
Reading this with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see the many flaws in the communist theory. On the other hand I can see how so many could have been persuaded that it was a good idea in the 19th & early 20th centuries - if you were working all your life and getting nowhere, with no hope of
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an improvement of life for yourself or your children the communist ideals would have sounded attractive.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
I found this book among a stack my daughter no longer wanted and since I had never read it, I decided to see what all the fuss has been about. I was surprised that it was written in 1848. I thought it was a 1900s document. I found it to be fascinating. The fact that Marx really saw the discovery of
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America and the Industrial Revolution as the beginning of the problem was something I had not known. I was also impressed at Marx's foresight in terms of the process of capitalism. Frankly, I agree with much of his interpretation of the problems of capitalism and rampant materialism, which has continued to progress as he predicted. The problem for me is that his solution does not seem viable to me. I am no great philosopher or economist, but my sense is that there will always be leaders, and as the world population grows there will just be more of them. I may just be cynical, but I think that putting any group in power, even the righteous proletariat, will eventually lead to greed and power struggle. Glad to have read this.
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LibraryThing member stargazerfish0
Jones does a great job contextualizing the Manifesto beforehand (with a whopping 184-page introduction, not to mention footnotes for the actual text of the Manifesto), and connects the reader to many other philosophers and social theorists in Marx's influential circle. In fact, this edition seems
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more like a history book than simply another published copy of the Manifesto. As for Marx, his opinions on the harm of capitalism are very well elucidated, but when it comes to his solutions, they are very vague and seem to be merely based on what happened in the French Revolution. His thoughts on capitalism make it all worth it, however, and thus I will move on to his other works, especially [b:Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844|85954|Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844|Karl Marx||82945].
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LibraryThing member ambidexterous
According to Adler, must only be read after reading the Capital
LibraryThing member dsc73277
I'm not a communist, but it seems like a good idea to know about one of the ideologies that dominated the twentieth century. Having said that, I haven't actually read this book in full. Ironically, given that Marx was hostile to religion, I actually picked my Moscow-published edition at a church
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fair! My edition does not have an ISBN, so I've had to select the wrong edition to put in my catalogue here. Did Communist Russia not participate in the ISBN system I wonder?
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LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
The original and still the best. Fuck Capital; my Marxism is about people. And feelings, and I challenge you to find a more inspirational, quotable piece of reductive ideological propaganda anywhere, including the Bible. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE! Yeah?

This version comes with a bunch of
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prefaces to later editions, mostly by Engels, and as well as geenrally interesting also kind of a laff riot. "Polish independence! Italian Renaissance! I know one thing about each of your countries!" Good times.
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LibraryThing member Ramirez
For many people through the years this book has been something similar to the Qur'an.
It's a compelling and fascinating though short text, a look backward in time.
LibraryThing member HanoarHatzioni
In 1848, two young man published what would become one of the defining documents of modern history. The Communist Manifiesto, as it was called, rapidly realigned political faultlines all over the world, and its aftershock resonates to this day.
LibraryThing member krisiti
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx (1998)
LibraryThing member vibrantminds
Despite its intended purpose, the manifesto in practice is an utter disaster. The idea of a utopian society where all the classes are equal and all rights are shared unanimously, in writing sounds fine, but in reality given the conduct of human nature, it is a calamity waiting to happen. The
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critique given of capitalism reaches all aspects of society. The basis being that the exploitation of labor from the lower class workers will cause an uprising against the middle and upper class that tend to control all the assets and wealth. The difficulty with what became of this document isn’t necessarily the ideas that were stated, it is how gluttonous leaders interpreted it and took advantage of the less privileged disregarding what was ultimately intended.
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LibraryThing member StigE
It will never catch on :)

Revolutionary ideas wrapped in tortured prose



Original publication date



0553214063 / 9780553214062

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