Book Reviews

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels – Book Review

How do you start reviewing this book? Let me just start that I read a version which gave a pretty extensive introduction into the many influences which helped shape the Communist Manifesto. The book gave a clear distinction into what the contribution of Marx was and what the contribution of Engels was. It is clear that this was primarily a text from Marx with extra points from Engels.

            The first thing that quite surprised me in the Manifesto was the praise Marx gives to the Bourgeoisie. He praises the fact that they have brought more prosperity and freedom than any other society before it. Only it was time in the historical evolution for a new society to emerge: Communism. Communism is just the next stage into the higher order of things, according to Marx. Marx even believed that it was necessary for a society to have a Bourgeois system at one point, because only then could it evolve to a communist society. It was only later in his life, when he hears that his magnum opus Capital was heavily studied in Russia, which didn’t have a bourgeois society, that he thought of the possibility of going to a communist society without having a bourgeois society first.

            What Marx does is making the relations between people solely based upon capital or easier said money. Family relationships have become money relationships. The only reason people exist is to increase the capital of bourgeoisie. He states clearly that laborers live as long as they work and work as long as they create capital. It is because everything is about capital, that laborers are estranged from the products they produce. They can no longer fulfill themselves. I believe this is an oversimplification. Marx claims that bourgeois society is only concerned about creating capital. But there are many other values and virtues which people value than just profit. This bourgeois society which Marx presents is a bit too simple to be fully believable.

            But what is the solution for a society bend on achieving more capital? Centralizing capital into one state, which has been chosen by the people. This can only come forth through a revolution according to Marx. Engels still believed that there was a possibility of going to a communist society through peaceful means, but Marx believed this to be an illusion. In a society where the oppressors oppress the oppressed, there is no way we can achieve the communist utopia through ‘peaceful’ means. The proletariat need to seize the means of production and reinstate the communist society themselves.

            One crucial mean of trying to go away from the bourgeois society is the abolition of private property. According to Marx private property is the evil that hold the bourgeois society in place, and it should be dealt with. Marx believed that those who work get nothing, while those who don’t work get everything. This is because when you have a large capital, you can invest this into increasing your production and so create even more capital. While the laborers are just scraping by. According to Marx the bourgeois purposefully lowered the salaries of laborers just low enough that they could barely survive. This way they couldn’t accumulate wealth and start of on their own.

            These are just some of the points which are present in the Communist Manifesto. There is much more, but I believe I need to learn more about the teachings of Marx to fully comprehend them. Nonetheless, my view about communist is now clearer than ever. I believe there are some good aspects we can take from the theory in order to give people equal opportunities. But what Marx’ communism supposes is equality of outcome. I do not believe that this doctrine of equality of outcome is beneficial for humanity. I believe those who aspire this have no love for the poor but a hatred for the rich. I think history has shown that Marx theory about economics doesn’t hold. That’s why I read Marx as a philosopher and not as an economist. I believe his views are philosophically valuable but that economically speaking, he was mostly wrong.

            I do believe that we can still learn from Marx is a sociological way. But I do hope that people look at this document and place it in its respective time. Using the document now to fuel your ideological beliefs, while knowing what happened in the twentieth century would be a mistake in my opinion. To say the least, it needs some revision to be applicable to this day and age. Because following it fundamentally, like the fundamental Christians meaning that believing every word to be literally true, would be dangerous. If the twentieth century showed is anything, it showed us it could be very dangerous indeed.

By elenchusphilosophy

Philosophy student from Ghent, Belgium. I write about what I find interesting which is about nearly anything. Though my guiding question in life is how to be a good person.

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