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The Communist Manifesto
by Frank de Leeuw Van Weenen
2009-02-21 08:17:18
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This day in history, 21 February 1848 to be precise, Karl Marx, with the help of Friedrich Engels, published their ground-breaking, earth-shattering and ultimately extremely influential pamphlet The Communist Manifesto.

Back then, much as it is now, Communism was feared because it was not understood and ruling classes (or Old Europe) were of course not keen to let their workers take control of what they claimed to be their own. But Communism has some interesting fundamentals and should work rather well in theory (with the emphasis on “in theory”) but has the major and ultimately self-annihilating flaw that before the temporary ruling class ‘withers away’, too much power lies in the hands of a few and they, however much they proclaim they will do otherwise, will not relinquish that power and hence contradict the fundamentals of their beliefs.

If you ask me, Communism has infiltrated ‘western’ thinking over the past 150 years or so like the spectre that Marx made it out to be in the manifesto. Just look at the world today and you will see that Marx’s term “stateless” has become globalization, and “classless” states, to some extend, can be found around the world where ruling class and working class have merged as the middle class, with only a relative few fluctuations up and down.

Most of the ‘first world’ live their lives in this new middle class working for decent to good, borderline upper-class, wages (quite often owning shares of the companies they work for) or as entrepreneurs. This middle class owns their own properties of course, unlike in Marx’ manifesto, but support the common good through their income taxes resulting in education being available for everybody and social events, culture and arts are freely accessible. It seems that capitalism and communism have intertwined.

Today’s lesson? A change of ideas can not be achieved over night, which is proven by the fact that 150+ years of just simply being there has cultivated what a revolution could never have done.

Full text of the The Communist Manifesto English edition of 1888 from the Marxists Internet Archive in all formats: PDF, Audio, HTML, Word, Text, etc.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-02-21 10:35:24
In teaching problems of philosophy one of the most thorny subjects that I have had to contend as a teacher is that of disentangling the confusion in students’ mind between socialism and communism. The standard cliché is that socialism is the philosophical foundation for ideological political communism; that somehow they germinated and blossomed together in the 19th century as Marxism. Nothing could be further from the truth. One can trace socialism all the way back to Plato’s Republic and the Acts of the Apostle, and the Catholic Church’s millenarian religious orders which exhibit the idea of “owning everything in common.” Socialism is much older than the communist ideology in as much as it is an aspiration of the human heart for equitable distributive justice. Communism is an ideology for the taking and the executing of power whose abuses and excesses has unfortunately given a bad name to socialism. Which is to say socialism is a wider more inclusive concept and needs not the communist political ideology for its survival and permanence; it seems to be rooted in some of the most noble aspirations of human nature. One wonders if Marx himself had the distinction clear in his own mind.

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