A rousing call to arms whose influence is still felt today
Originally published on the eve of the 1848 European revolutions, The Communist Manifesto is a condensed and incisive account of the worldview Marx and Engels developed during their hectic intellectual and political collaboration. Formulating the principles of dialectical materialism, they believed that labor creates wealth, hence capitalism is exploitive and antithetical to freedom.
This new edition includes an extensive introduction by Gareth Stedman Jones, Britain's leading expert on Marx and Marxism, providing a complete course for students of The Communist Manifesto, and demonstrating not only the historical importance of the text, but also its place in the world today.
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In 1820, Friedrich Engels was born in Germany into a wealthy family. Managing a branch of his father's business in Manchester, England, from 1842-1845, Engels became appalled at the poverty of the workers. He wrote his first socialist work, Conditions of the Working Class in England. After their meeting in 1844, Engels and Karl Marx became lifelong colleagues. While co-writing an article with Engels called "The Holy Family," Marx was expelled from France at Prussian insistence. Engels followed him to Belgium. They founded the Communist League in London in 1846 and co-wrote The Communist Manifesto. A month after it was published in 1848, Marx was expelled from Belgium. Engels became a primary financial supporter of the Marx family, returning to work in Germany with his father while Marx lived in England. Prime Minister John Russell had refused to expel Marx or Engels on principles of freedom of thought. Engels' books include Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. After Marx's death in 1883, Engels edited and translated his writings. According to freethought encyclopedist Joseph McCabe, Engels' acquaintance, Ernest Belfort Bax, called him "the devout Atheist" (A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists).
The very famous German political theorist, sociologist and economist who wrote The Communist Manifesto with Friederich Engels and Das Capital, Marx is not technically speaking a philosopher but a social theorist although he has had great influence in certain political and philosophical circles. He studied both history and philosophy and was influenced by Hegel but also by socialist writers and ideas especially when he went to Paris. While in exile in Brussels, he wrote The Communist Manifesto containing his whole social philosophy. He then returned to Germany for a while where, as a result of the Socialist Revolution of 1848, his ideas had become somewhat more acceptable. But soon he was forced to leave Germany again this time for England where he spent the rest of his life and where he wrote his magnum opus, Das Capital, which is the analysis of the economics of capitalism.
In this work Marx developed the idea that man's existence is based on his creativity to exert labor upon the objects of nature and to produce goods~ therefore, the whole species should enjoy the fruit of this labor. According to Marx, this has not, however, been the case since the work- ing class is oppressed by those who possess capital. There is, therefore, a constant class warfare between the workers who perform the labor and the "bourgeoisie" who possess the capital. Marx asserted that the goal of history is the creation a classless society, a goal which must be brought about through revolution. He asserted that the whole process of history has been based on the struggle between various classes on the basis of economic factors. Marx believed that he had corrected the Hegelian idea of dialectical philosophy by considering the dialectical process to be purely material. He thereby developed what is now so well-known as dialectical materialism which was the philosophical foundation of Communism and still remains so for those who follow the Communist ideology or are philosophical Marxists. Although he showed great care and compassion towards the poor, Marx was virulently anti-religious and atheistic and believed that religion, which he called "the opium of the people" was one of the main elements that caused the subjugation of one class and one group of people by another and was therefore the source of injustice in society.
(Seyyed Hossein Nasr)