The Communist Manifesto: Summary & Analysis

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  • 0:01 The ''Manifesto''
  • 0:19 ''Manifesto'' Summary
  • 2:47 Analysis
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what the 'Communist Manifesto' is. Learn the main ideas of each chapter of the Manifesto, and the points of communism's political platform. Read the lesson, then take a quiz to test your new knowledge.

The Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto is a brief publication that declares the arguments and platform of the Communist party. It was written in 1847, by political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and was commissioned by the Communist League, a political party based in England.

Manifesto Summary

The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848, and consists of a preamble and four chapters, which are summarized here:

'Bourgeois and Proletarians'

In this chapter, Marx famously states, 'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.' The chapter lays out the position that the bourgeois, through competition and private ownership of land, are forever exploiting and oppressing the proletariat, otherwise known as the working class. Marx then states that the system always results in class conflict and revolution and should be replaced by Communism, a society without class distinctions.

'Proletarians and Communists'

This chapter explains the relationship between the Communist party and other working parties, stating that the Communist party would not organize against them. The chapter also declares the intention of the party to focus on the interests of the proletariat as whole, and not any particular group. This section of the Manifesto also clarifies the main points of the Communist platform, which includes the following ten short term demands:

  1. Abolishing ownership of all private property
  2. Establishing system of heavy taxation
  3. Abolishing the right to inherit
  4. Centralizing credit and establishment of a state bank
  5. Centralizing communication and transport with the state
  6. Confiscating all emigrant and rebel property
  7. Extending the means of production to the state
  8. Equalizing liability to all levels of labor
  9. Combining agriculture and manufacturing industries
  10. Establishing a free public education system

'Socialist and Communist Literature'

This chapter explains the differences between Communism and other socialist doctrines of the day: reactionary socialism, bourgeois socialism, and critical-utopian socialism. While they have their points, they are all inadequately addressing the underlying issues of perpetual class-conflicts, according to Marx.

'Position of the Communists in Relation to Various Opposition Parties'

This is the concluding chapter, which explains how the Communist party views the European conflicts of the time. There is a special focus on Germany, which the Manifesto declared was on the eve of a bourgeois revolution.

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