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Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Nick Rogers
Karl Marx was an important political and economic philosopher from the 19th century. He co-authored ''The Communist Manifesto'', which outlined his plans for communist governments and the overthrow of capitalism.

Karl Marx

Some people think Karl Marx 'invented' communism because he literally wrote the book on it. He was one of two authors of The Communist Manifesto, a booklet that outlined many of the ideas about communism in the 1800s. This historical text actually suggested a course of action for workers to unite and overthrow capitalism, or a private, profit-based system. This idea dramatically affected millions of lives, especially in the 20th century.

Communism: The Big Idea

Karl Marx did not actually 'invent' communism. Marx was an academic or scholar who studied other communist and socialist writers. These writers described a social system where everyone was equal and there were no class divisions, such as in Europe, where kings and queens had ruled the land for centuries. The idea of collective rule was fairly revolutionary, and Marx was very interested.

In his early life, Karl Marx worked at a newspaper and took every opportunity he could find to write about his political and economic ideas. He believed in a classless society and blamed capitalism for creating a gap between the proletariat, or workers, and the bourgeoisie (pronounced boo-r-zhwahz-zee), or owners. His writing became more and more politicized, and eventually he was exiled from Belgium and moved to Paris. It was there that he would write The Communist Manifesto.

The Communist Manifesto

In 1848, Marx and his friend Friedrich Engels meet in Paris to formally collect their views on communism and write The Communist Manifesto. It was written in German, addressed to workers, and called for a classless society where all people were equal. Marx and Engels also talked about the distribution of profits and how they believed that society caused workers to suffer as a permanent underclass. In the book, they described ten aspects of a communist government that they thought were essential:

1.) No private property

2.) One central, or national, bank

3.) Taxes that increase as taxable income increases

4.) Removal of property from emigrants and 'rebels'

5.) No inheritance rights

6.) Government-run communication and transportation

7.) Government-run factories and farms

8.) Equal populations in cities and towns over time

9.) Duty or responsibility of all people to work

10.) Free, government-run education for all children

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