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The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx

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_A. Feudal Socialism_
_B. Petty-Bourgeois Socialism_
_C. German, or “True,” Socialism_
The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master
and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant
opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now
open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary
re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the
contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a
complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold
gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights,
plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals,
guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these
classes, again, subordinate gradations.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal
society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but
established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of
struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the
bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has
simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more
splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes,
directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the
earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the
bourgeoisie were developed.

The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh
ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets,
the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in
the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce,
to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby,
to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid

The feudal system of industry, under which industrial production was
monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing
wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The
guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle
class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds
vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even
manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery
revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was
taken by the giant, Modern Industry, the place of the industrial middle
class, by industrial millionaires, the leaders of whole industrial
armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world-market, for which the
discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense
development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This
development has, in its time, reacted on the extension of industry; and
in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in
the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital,
and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle

We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of
a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes
of production and of exchange.

Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a
corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under
the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing
association in the mediaeval commune; here independent urban republic
(as in Italy and Germany), there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy
(as in France), afterwards, in the period of manufacture proper,
serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a
counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, corner-stone of the
great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the
establishment of Modern Industry and of the world-market, conquered for
itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway.
The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the
common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to
all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn
asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural
superiors,” and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man
than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned
the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous
enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of
egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange
value, and in place of the numberless and indefeasible chartered
freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In
one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political
illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto
honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the
physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into
its paid wage labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and
has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal
display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which Reactionists so much
admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It
has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has
accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts,
and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the
shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the
instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and
with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes
of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first
condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant
revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social
conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the
bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen
relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and
opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before
they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is
profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his
real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the
bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle
everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given
a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every
country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under
the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All
old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily
being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose
introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised
nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material,
but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose
products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the
globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the
country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the
products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and
national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every
direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material,
so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of
individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and
narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the
numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of
production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws
all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap
prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters
down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely
obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations,
on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it
compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst,
_i.e_., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world
after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It
has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population
as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of
the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the
country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and
semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of
peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state
of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has
agglomerated production, and has concentrated property in a few hands.
The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation.
Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate
interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became lumped
together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one
national class-interest, one frontier and one customs-tariff. The
bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created
more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all
preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man,
machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture,
steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole
continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations
conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment
that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?

We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose
foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal
society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of
production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society
produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and
manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property
became no longer compatible with the already developed productive
forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they
were burst asunder.

Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and
political constitution adapted to it, and by the economical and
political sway of the bourgeois class.

A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois
society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property,
a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of
exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the
powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For
many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the
history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern
conditions of production, against the property relations that are the
conditions for the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its rule. It is
enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return
put on its trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the
entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the
existing products, but also of the previously created productive
forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an
epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an
absurdity—the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds
itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a
famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every
means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and
why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of
subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive
forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the
development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary,
they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are
fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring
disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of
bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow
to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie
get over these crises? On the one hand inforced destruction of a mass
of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and
by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by
paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by
diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground
are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

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.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, _i.e_., capital, is developed, in the
same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class,
developed—a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find
work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital.
These labourers, who must sell themselves piece-meal, are a commodity,
like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to
all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the

Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labour, the
work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and
consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the
machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most
easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of
production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of
subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and for the
propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore
also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion
therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage
decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division
of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also
increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of
the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of the
machinery, etc.

Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal
master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of
labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As
privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a
perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves
of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and
hourly enslaved by the machine, by the over-looker, and, above all, by
the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this
despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the
more hateful and the more embittering it is.

The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour,
in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is
the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and
sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working
class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use,
according to their age and sex.

No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so
far at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon
by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper,
the pawnbroker, etc.

The lower strata of the middle class—the small tradespeople,
shopkeepers, retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and
peasants—all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because
their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern
Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the
large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered
worthless by the new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is
recruited from all classes of the population.

The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its
birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is
carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a
factory, then by the operatives of one trade, in one locality, against
the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their
attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against
the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares
that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they
set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status
of the workman of the Middle Ages.

At this stage the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered
over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If
anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the
consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the
bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is
compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet,
for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians
do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the
remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial
bourgeois, the petty bourgeoisie. Thus the whole historical movement is
concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained
is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

But with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases
in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength
grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and
conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and
more equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions
of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level.
The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting
commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating.
The unceasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing,
makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between
individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the
character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon the workers
begin to form combinations (Trades Unions) against the bourgeois; they
club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found
permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these
occasional revolts. Here and there the contest breaks out into riots.

Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real
fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the
ever-expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the
improved means of communication that are created by modern industry and
that place the workers of different localities in contact with one
another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the
numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national
struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political
struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle
Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern
proletarians, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.

This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and consequently
into a political party, is continually being upset again by the
competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again,
stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of
particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the
divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus the ten-hours’ bill in
England was carried.

Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society further,
in many ways, the course of development of the proletariat. The
bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with
the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie
itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of
industry; at all times, with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In
all these battles it sees itself compelled to appeal to the
proletariat, to ask for its help, and thus, to drag it into the
political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the
proletariat with its own instruments of political and general
education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons
for fighting the bourgeoisie.

Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling classes
are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or
are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also
supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and

Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the
process of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within
the whole range of society, assumes such a violent, glaring character,
that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins
the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands.
Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility
went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes
over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois
ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending
theoretically the historical movement as a whole.

Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today,
the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other
classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the
proletariat is its special and essential product. The lower middle
class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the
peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from
extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are
therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are
reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by
chance they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their
impending transfer into the proletariat, they thus defend not their
present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint
to place themselves at that of the proletariat.

The “dangerous class,” the social scum, that passively rotting mass
thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be
swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of
life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of
reactionary intrigue.

In the conditions of the proletariat, those of old society at large are
already virtually swamped. The proletarian is without property; his
relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with
the bourgeois family-relations; modern industrial labour, modern
subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as
in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law,
morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind
which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.

All the preceding classes that got the upper hand, sought to fortify
their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their
conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of
the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own
previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous
mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to secure and to
fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and
insurances of, individual property.

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in
the interests of minorities. The proletarian movement is the
self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the
interests of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum
of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without
the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into
the air.

Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat
with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat
of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its
own bourgeoisie.

In depicting the most general phases of the development of the
proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within
existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open
revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the
foundation for the sway of the proletariat.

Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already
seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in
order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it
under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf,
in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune,
just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism,
managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the
contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper
and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He
becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population
and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit
any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its
conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit
to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave
within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a
state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society
can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its
existence is no longer compatible with society.

The essential condition for the existence, and for the sway of the
bourgeois class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the
condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on
competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose
involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the
labourers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due
to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts
from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie
produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie, therefore,
produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory
of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other
working-class parties.

They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat
as a whole.

They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to
shape and mould the proletarian movement.

The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties
by this only: (1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of the
different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common
interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality.
(2) In the various stages of development which the struggle of the
working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always
and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most
advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every
country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other
hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat
the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the
conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian

The immediate aim of the Communist is the same as that of all the other
proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class,
overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by
the proletariat.

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on
ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or
that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general
terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from
a historical movement going on under our very eyes. The abolition of
existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of

All property relations in the past have continually been subject to
historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.

The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favour
of bourgeois property.

The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of
property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern
bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of
the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on
class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.

In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the
single sentence: Abolition of private property.

We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the
right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own
labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal
freedom, activity and independence.

Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property
of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that
preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the
development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and
is still destroying it daily.

Or do you mean modern bourgeois private property?

But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit.
It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits
wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of
begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property,
in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and
wage-labour. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism.

To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social
_status_ in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by
the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the
united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.

Capital is, therefore, not a personal, it is a social power.

When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the
property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby
transformed into social property. It is only the social character of
the property that is changed. It loses its class-character.

Let us now take wage-labour.

The average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage, _i.e_., that
quantum of the means of subsistence, which is absolutely requisite in
bare existence as a labourer. What, therefore, the wage-labourer
appropriates by means of his labour, merely suffices to prolong and
reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this
personal appropriation of the products of labour, an appropriation that
is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that
leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that
we want to do away with, is the miserable character of this
appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase
capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the
ruling class requires it.

In bourgeois society, living labour is but a means to increase
accumulated labour. In Communist society, accumulated labour is but a
means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the labourer.

In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in
Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society
capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person
is dependent and has no individuality.

And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois,
abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition
of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois
freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.

By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of
production, free trade, free selling and buying.

But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying
disappears also. This talk about free selling and buying, and all the
other “brave words” of our bourgeoisie about freedom in general, have a
meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted selling and buying,
with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when
opposed to the Communistic abolition of buying and selling, of the
bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeoisie itself.

You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property.
But in your existing society, private property is already done away
with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is
solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You
reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of
property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the
non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your
property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.

From the moment when labour can no longer be converted into capital,
money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolised,
_i.e_., from the moment when individual property can no longer be
transformed into bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment,
you say individuality vanishes.

You must, therefore, confess that by “individual” you mean no other
person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property.
This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible.

Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of
society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate
the labour of others by means of such appropriation.

It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property all
work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.

According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the
dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire
nothing, and those who acquire anything, do not work. The whole of this
objection is but another expression of the tautology: that there can no
longer be any wage-labour when there is no longer any capital.

All objections urged against the Communistic mode of producing and
appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged
against the Communistic modes of producing and appropriating
intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of
class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the
disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the
disappearance of all culture.

That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous
majority, a mere training to act as a machine.

But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended
abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions
of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of
the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property,
just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a
law for all, a will, whose essential character and direction are
determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.

The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal
laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing from your
present mode of production and form of property—historical relations
that rise and disappear in the progress of production—this
misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you.
What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in
the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in
the case of your own bourgeois form of property.

Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this
infamous proposal of the Communists.

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based?
On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this
family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things
finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the
proletarians, and in public prostitution.

The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its
complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of

Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by
their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we
replace home education by social.

And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the
social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention, direct
or indirect, of society, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have
not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek
to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education
from the influence of the ruling class.

The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the
hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more
disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all family ties
among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed
into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.

But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the
whole bourgeoisie in chorus.

The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production. He
hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common,
and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of
being common to all will likewise fall to the women.

He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the
status of women as mere instruments of production.

For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation
of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to
be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists
have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost
from time immemorial.

Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their
proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes,
take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.

Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus,
at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with, is
that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically
concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is
self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production
must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing
from that system, _i.e_., of prostitution both public and private.

The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish
countries and nationality.

The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they
have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political
supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must
constitute itself _the_ nation, it is, so far, itself national, though
not in the bourgeois sense of the word.

National differences and antagonisms between peoples are daily more and
more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom
of commerce, to the world-market, to uniformity in the mode of
production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto.

The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still
faster. United action, of the leading civilised countries at least, is
one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.

In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put
an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put
an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the
nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an

The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philosophical,
and, generally, from an ideological standpoint, are not deserving of
serious examination.

Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views
and conceptions, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every
change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social
relations and in his social life?

What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual
production changes its character in proportion as material production
is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of
its ruling class.

When people speak of ideas that revolutionise society, they do but
express the fact, that within the old society, the elements of a new
one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps
even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.

When the ancient world was in its last throes, the ancient religions
were overcome by Christianity. When Christian ideas succumbed in the
18th century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its death
battle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie. The ideas of religious
liberty and freedom of conscience merely gave expression to the sway of
free competition within the domain of knowledge.

“Undoubtedly,” it will be said, “religious, moral, philosophical and
juridical ideas have been modified in the course of historical
development. But religion, morality philosophy, political science, and
law, constantly survived this change.”

“There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc.
that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes
eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of
constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to
all past historical experience.”

What does this accusation reduce itself to? The history of all past
society has consisted in the development of class antagonisms,
antagonisms that assumed different forms at different epochs.

But whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all past
ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the other. No
wonder, then, that the social consciousness of past ages, despite all
the multiplicity and variety it displays, moves within certain common
forms, or general ideas, which cannot completely vanish except with the
total disappearance of class antagonisms.

The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional
property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most
radical rupture with traditional ideas.

But let us have done with the bourgeois objections to Communism.

We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the
working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling as
to win the battle of democracy.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees,
all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of
production in the hands of the State, _i.e_., of the proletariat
organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive
forces as rapidly as possible.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of
despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of
bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear
economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of
the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the
old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely
revolutionising the mode of production.

These measures will of course be different in different countries.

Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will be
pretty generally applicable.

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land
to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a
national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the
hands of the State.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the
State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the
improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial
armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual
abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more
equable distribution of the population over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of
children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of
education with industrial production, &c., &c.

When, in the course of development, class distinctions have
disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a
vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its
political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the
organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat
during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of
circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a
revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away
by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with
these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of
class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have
abolished its own supremacy as a class.

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class
antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free
development of each is the condition for the free development of all.


_A. Feudal Socialism_
Owing to their historical position, it became the vocation of the
aristocracies of France and England to write pamphlets against modern
bourgeois society. In the French revolution of July 1830, and in the
English reform agitation, these aristocracies again succumbed to the
hateful upstart. Thenceforth, a serious political contest was
altogether out of the question. A literary battle alone remained
possible. But even in the domain of literature the old cries of the
restoration period had become impossible.

In order to arouse sympathy, the aristocracy were obliged to lose
sight, apparently, of their own interests, and to formulate their
indictment against the bourgeoisie in the interest of the exploited
working class alone. Thus the aristocracy took their revenge by singing
lampoons on their new master, and whispering in his ears sinister
prophecies of coming catastrophe.

In this way arose Feudal Socialism: half lamentation, half lampoon;
half echo of the past, half menace of the future; at times, by its
bitter, witty and incisive criticism, striking the bourgeoisie to the
very heart’s core; but always ludicrous in its effect, through total
incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history.

The aristocracy, in order to rally the people to them, waved the
proletarian alms-bag in front for a banner. But the people, so often as
it joined them, saw on their hindquarters the old feudal coats of arms,
and deserted with loud and irreverent laughter.

One section of the French Legitimists and “Young England” exhibited
this spectacle.

In pointing out that their mode of exploitation was different to that
of the bourgeoisie, the feudalists forget that they exploited under
circumstances and conditions that were quite different, and that are
now antiquated. In showing that, under their rule, the modern
proletariat never existed, they forget that the modern bourgeoisie is
the necessary offspring of their own form of society.

For the rest, so little do they conceal the reactionary character of
their criticism that their chief accusation against the bourgeoisie
amounts to this, that under the bourgeois _regime_ a class is being
developed, which is destined to cut up root and branch the old order of

What they upbraid the bourgeoisie with is not so much that it creates a
proletariat, as that it creates a _revolutionary_ proletariat.

In political practice, therefore, they join in all coercive measures
against the working class; and in ordinary life, despite their high
falutin phrases, they stoop to pick up the golden apples dropped from
the tree of industry, and to barter truth, love, and honour for traffic
in wool, beetroot-sugar, and potato spirits.

As the parson has ever gone hand in hand with the landlord, so has
Clerical Socialism with Feudal Socialism.

Nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge.
Has not Christianity declaimed against private property, against
marriage, against the State? Has it not preached in the place of these,
charity and poverty, celibacy and mortification of the flesh, monastic
life and Mother Church? Christian Socialism is but the holy water with
which the priest consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat.
_B. Petty-Bourgeois Socialism_
The feudal aristocracy was not the only class that was ruined by the
bourgeoisie, not the only class whose conditions of existence pined and
perished in the atmosphere of modern bourgeois society. The mediaeval
burgesses and the small peasant proprietors were the precursors of the
modern bourgeoisie. In those countries which are but little developed,
industrially and commercially, these two classes still vegetate side by
side with the rising bourgeoisie.

In countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a
new class of petty bourgeois has been formed, fluctuating between
proletariat and bourgeoisie and ever renewing itself as a supplementary
part of bourgeois society. The individual members of this class,
however, are being constantly hurled down into the proletariat by the
action of competition, and, as modern industry develops, they even see
the moment approaching when they will completely disappear as an
independent section of modern society, to be replaced, in manufactures,
agriculture and commerce, by overlookers, bailiffs and shopmen.

In countries like France, where the peasants constitute far more than
half of the population, it was natural that writers who sided with the
proletariat against the bourgeoisie, should use, in their criticism of
the bourgeois _regime_, the standard of the peasant and petty
bourgeois, and from the standpoint of these intermediate classes should
take up the cudgels for the working class. Thus arose petty-bourgeois
Socialism. Sismondi was the head of this school, not only in France but
also in England.

This school of Socialism dissected with great acuteness the
contradictions in the conditions of modern production. It laid bare the
hypocritical apologies of economists. It proved, incontrovertibly, the
disastrous effects of machinery and division of labour; the
concentration of capital and land in a few hands; overproduction and
crises; it pointed out the inevitable ruin of the petty bourgeois and
peasant, the misery of the proletariat, the anarchy in production, the
crying inequalities in the distribution of wealth, the industrial war
of extermination between nations, the dissolution of old moral bonds,
of the old family relations, of the old nationalities.

In its positive aims, however, this form of Socialism aspires either to
restoring the old means of production and of exchange, and with them
the old property relations, and the old society, or to cramping the
modern means of production and of exchange, within the framework of the
old property relations that have been, and were bound to be, exploded
by those means. In either case, it is both reactionary and Utopian.

Its last words are: corporate guilds for manufacture, patriarchal
relations in agriculture.

Ultimately, when stubborn historical facts had dispersed all
intoxicating effects of self-deception, this form of Socialism ended in
a miserable fit of the blues.
_C. German, or “True,” Socialism_
The Socialist and Communist literature of France, a literature that
originated under the pressure of a bourgeoisie in power, and that was
the expression of the struggle against this power, was introduced into
Germany at a time when the bourgeoisie, in that country, had just begun
its contest with feudal absolutism.

German philosophers, would-be philosophers, and _beaux esprits_,
eagerly seized on this literature, only forgetting, that when these
writings immigrated from France into Germany, French social conditions
had not immigrated along with them. In contact with German social
conditions, this French literature lost all its immediate practical
significance, and assumed a purely literary aspect. Thus, to the German
philosophers of the eighteenth century, the demands of the first French
Revolution were nothing more than the demands of “Practical Reason” in
general, and the utterance of the will of the revolutionary French
bourgeoisie signified in their eyes the law of pure Will, of Will as it
was bound to be, of true human Will generally.

The world of the German _literati_ consisted solely in bringing the new
French ideas into harmony with their ancient philosophical conscience,
or rather, in annexing the French ideas without deserting their own
philosophic point of view.

This annexation took place in the same way in which a foreign language
is appropriated, namely, by translation.

It is well known how the monks wrote silly lives of Catholic Saints
_over_ the manuscripts on which the classical works of ancient
heathendom had been written. The German _literati_ reversed this
process with the profane French literature. They wrote their
philosophical nonsense beneath the French original. For instance,
beneath the French criticism of the economic functions of money, they
wrote “Alienation of Humanity,” and beneath the French criticism of the
bourgeois State they wrote “dethronement of the Category of the
General,” and so forth.

The introduction of these philosophical phrases at the back of the
French historical criticisms they dubbed “Philosophy of Action,” “True
Socialism,” “German Science of Socialism,” “Philosophical Foundation of
Socialism,” and so on.

The French Socialist and Communist literature was thus completely
emasculated. And, since it ceased in the hands of the German to express
the struggle of one class with the other, he felt conscious of having
overcome “French one-sidedness” and of representing, not true
requirements, but the requirements of truth; not the interests of the
proletariat, but the interests of Human Nature, of Man in general, who
belongs to no class, has no reality, who exists only in the misty realm
of philosophical fantasy.

This German Socialism, which took its schoolboy task so seriously and
solemnly, and extolled its poor stock-in-trade in such mountebank
fashion, meanwhile gradually lost its pedantic innocence.

The fight of the German, and especially, of the Prussian bourgeoisie,
against feudal aristocracy and absolute monarchy, in other words, the
liberal movement, became more earnest.

By this, the long wished-for opportunity was offered to “True”
Socialism of confronting the political movement with the Socialist
demands, of hurling the traditional anathemas against liberalism,
against representative government, against bourgeois competition,
bourgeois freedom of the press, bourgeois legislation, bourgeois
liberty and equality, and of preaching to the masses that they had
nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by this bourgeois movement.
German Socialism forgot, in the nick of time, that the French
criticism, whose silly echo it was, presupposed the existence of modern
bourgeois society, with its corresponding economic conditions of
existence, and the political constitution adapted thereto, the very
things whose attainment was the object of the pending struggle in

To the absolute governments, with their following of parsons,
professors, country squires and officials, it served as a welcome
scarecrow against the threatening bourgeoisie.

It was a sweet finish after the bitter pills of floggings and bullets
with which these same governments, just at that time, dosed the German
working-class risings.

While this “True” Socialism thus served the governments as a weapon for
fighting the German bourgeoisie, it, at the same time, directly
represented a reactionary interest, the interest of the German
Philistines. In Germany the _petty bourgeois_ class, a _relique_ of the
sixteenth century, and since then constantly cropping up again under
various forms, is the real social basis of the existing state of

To preserve this class is to preserve the existing state of things in
Germany. The industrial and political supremacy of the bourgeoisie
threatens it with certain destruction; on the one hand, from the
concentration of capital; on the other, from the rise of a
revolutionary proletariat. “True” Socialism appeared to kill these two
birds with one stone. It spread like an epidemic.

The robe of speculative cobwebs, embroidered with flowers of rhetoric,
steeped in the dew of sickly sentiment, this transcendental robe in
which the German Socialists wrapped their sorry “eternal truths,” all
skin and bone, served to wonderfully increase the sale of their goods
amongst such a public. And on its part, German Socialism recognised,
more and more, its own calling as the bombastic representative of the
petty-bourgeois Philistine.

It proclaimed the German nation to be the model nation, and the German
petty Philistine to be the typical man. To every villainous meanness of
this model man it gave a hidden, higher, Socialistic interpretation,
the exact contrary of its real character. It went to the extreme length
of directly opposing the “brutally destructive” tendency of Communism,
and of proclaiming its supreme and impartial contempt of all class
struggles. With very few exceptions, all the so-called Socialist and
Communist publications that now (1847) circulate in Germany belong to
the domain of this foul and enervating literature.
A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances,
in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians,
improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity,
members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals,
temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable
kind. This form of Socialism has, moreover, been worked out into
complete systems.

We may cite Proudhon’s _Philosophie de la Misère_ as an example of this

The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social
conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting
therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its
revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie
without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in
which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops
this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems.
In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to
march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in
reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of
existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning
the bourgeoisie.

A second and more practical, but less systematic, form of this
Socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in the eyes
of the working class, by showing that no mere political reform, but
only a change in the material conditions of existence, in economic
relations, could be of any advantage to them. By changes in the
material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by
no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of
production, an abolition that can be effected only by a revolution, but
administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these
relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations
between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and
simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government.

Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate expression, when, and only when,
it becomes a mere figure of speech.

Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties:
for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of
the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant
word of bourgeois Socialism.

It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois—for the
benefit of the working class.
We do not here refer to that literature which, in every great modern
revolution, has always given voice to the demands of the proletariat,
such as the writings of Babeuf and others.

The first direct attempts of the proletariat to attain its own ends,
made in times of universal excitement, when feudal society was being
overthrown, these attempts necessarily failed, owing to the then
undeveloped state of the proletariat, as well as to the absence of the
economic conditions for its emancipation, conditions that had yet to be
produced, and could be produced by the impending bourgeois epoch alone.
The revolutionary literature that accompanied these first movements of
the proletariat had necessarily a reactionary character. It inculcated
universal asceticism and social levelling in its crudest form.

The Socialist and Communist systems properly so called, those of
Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen and others, spring into existence in the
early undeveloped period, described above, of the struggle between
proletariat and bourgeoisie (see Section 1. Bourgeois and

The founders of these systems see, indeed, the class antagonisms, as
well as the action of the decomposing elements, in the prevailing form
of society. But the proletariat, as yet in its infancy, offers to them
the spectacle of a class without any historical initiative or any
independent political movement.

Since the development of class antagonism keeps even pace with the
development of industry, the economic situation, as they find it, does
not as yet offer to them the material conditions for the emancipation
of the proletariat. They therefore search after a new social science,
after new social laws, that are to create these conditions.

Historical action is to yield to their personal inventive action,
historically created conditions of emancipation to fantastic ones, and
the gradual, spontaneous class-organisation of the proletariat to the
organisation of society specially contrived by these inventors. Future
history resolves itself, in their eyes, into the propaganda and the
practical carrying out of their social plans.

In the formation of their plans they are conscious of caring chiefly
for the interests of the working class, as being the most suffering
class. Only from the point of view of being the most suffering class
does the proletariat exist for them.

The undeveloped state of the class struggle, as well as their own
surroundings, causes Socialists of this kind to consider themselves far
superior to all class antagonisms. They want to improve the condition
of every member of society, even that of the most favoured. Hence, they
habitually appeal to society at large, without distinction of class;
nay, by preference, to the ruling class. For how can people, when once
they understand their system, fail to see in it the best possible plan
of the best possible state of society?

Hence, they reject all political, and especially all revolutionary,
action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, and
endeavour, by small experiments, necessarily doomed to failure, and by
the force of example, to pave the way for the new social Gospel.

Such fantastic pictures of future society, painted at a time when the
proletariat is still in a very undeveloped state and has but a
fantastic conception of its own position correspond with the first
instinctive yearnings of that class for a general reconstruction of

But these Socialist and Communist publications contain also a critical
element. They attack every principle of existing society. Hence they
are full of the most valuable materials for the enlightenment of the
working class. The practical measures proposed in them—such as the
abolition of the distinction between town and country, of the family,
of the carrying on of industries for the account of private
individuals, and of the wage system, the proclamation of social
harmony, the conversion of the functions of the State into a mere
superintendence of production, all these proposals, point solely to the
disappearance of class antagonisms which were, at that time, only just
cropping up, and which, in these publications, are recognised in their
earliest, indistinct and undefined forms only. These proposals,
therefore, are of a purely Utopian character.

The significance of Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism bears an
inverse relation to historical development. In proportion as the modern
class struggle develops and takes definite shape, this fantastic
standing apart from the contest, these fantastic attacks on it, lose
all practical value and all theoretical justification. Therefore,
although the originators of these systems were, in many respects,
revolutionary, their disciples have, in every case, formed mere
reactionary sects. They hold fast by the original views of their
masters, in opposition to the progressive historical development of the
proletariat. They, therefore, endeavour, and that consistently, to
deaden the class struggle and to reconcile the class antagonisms. They
still dream of experimental realisation of their social Utopias, of
founding isolated “phalansteres,” of establishing “Home Colonies,” of
setting up a “Little Icaria”—duodecimo editions of the New
Jerusalem—and to realise all these castles in the air, they are
compelled to appeal to the feelings and purses of the bourgeois. By
degrees they sink into the category of the reactionary conservative
Socialists depicted above, differing from these only by more systematic
pedantry, and by their fanatical and superstitious belief in the
miraculous effects of their social science.

They, therefore, violently oppose all political action on the part of
the working class; such action, according to them, can only result from
blind unbelief in the new Gospel.

The Owenites in England, and the Fourierists in France, respectively,
oppose the Chartists and the “Réformistes.”
Section II has made clear the relations of the Communists to the
existing working-class parties, such as the Chartists in England and
the Agrarian Reformers in America.

The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the
enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the
movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the
future of that movement. In France the Communists ally themselves with
the Social-Democrats, against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie,
reserving, however, the right to take up a critical position in regard
to phrases and illusions traditionally handed down from the great

In Switzerland they support the Radicals, without losing sight of the
fact that this party consists of antagonistic elements, partly of
Democratic Socialists, in the French sense, partly of radical

In Poland they support the party that insists on an agrarian revolution
as the prime condition for national emancipation, that party which
fomented the insurrection of Cracow in 1846.

In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a
revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal
squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie.

But they never cease, for a single instant, to instil into the working
class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism
between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the German workers
may straightaway use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the
social and political conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily
introduce along with its supremacy, and in order that, after the fall
of the reactionary classes in Germany, the fight against the
bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin.

The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because that
country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be
carried out under more advanced conditions of European civilisation,
and with a much more developed proletariat, than that of England was in
the seventeenth, and of France in the eighteenth century, and because
the bourgeois revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an
immediately following proletarian revolution.

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary
movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question
in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of
development at the time.

Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the
democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly
declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow
of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a
Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their
chains. They have a world to win.


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