Writing Out Loud: Manifesto of the Communist Party

Perhaps no piece of social theory is as well known (and, in some circles, notorious) as Marx’s and Engels’s Manifesto of the Communist Party. As you read the excerpt, think about what it would have been like to live in cities like London or Paris when Marx and Engels wrote their call to action, and then respond to the following questions.

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. The Manifesto of the Communist Party is well known for its revolutionary zeal, and we often think of the proletariat as the revolutionary force. However, Marx and Engels suggest that the bourgeoisie also to power through revolution. In your own words, explain how the “bourgeoisie played a most revolutionary part” in history.
  2. In one of the most eloquent passages of the Manifesto, Marx and Engels write: “But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons--the modern working class--the proletarians.” What “weapons” are Marx and Engels talking about, and how did the bourgeoisie “call into existence” the proletariat?
  3. Critics of Marxism point out that capitalism has survived even as most communist governments have collapsed. Yet defenders of Marx will sometimes respond that capitalist societies have, in fact, adopted many of his prescriptions. Consider the 10 prescriptions that Marx makes for communist societies. Which of these prescriptions have been adopted in modern capitalist societies? How might the adoption of communist principles by capitalist societies help us critique the supposed capitalist “victory” over communism, and how might it highlight Marx’s continuing relevance today?
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