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Communist Manifesto (1848)

Communist Manifesto (1848)

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Communist Manifesto (1848)

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  1. Communist Manifesto (1848) • Tells history of rise of bourgeoisie and the transformations it has brought with it • What are some of these transformations?

  2. Communist Manifesto (1848) 1. The bourgeoisie reduces human relations to self-interest • “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’.” (p. 475)

  3. Communist Manifesto (1848) 1. The bourgeoisiereduces human relations to self-interest • “[It] has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe.” (p. 476) • “The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.”

  4. Communist Manifesto (1848) 2. The bourgeoisie has also beenphenomenally productive • “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…” (p. 476) • “The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together” (477)

  5. Communist Manifesto (1848) 3. The bourgeois epoch has spawned invention, transformation – it isinherently dynamic

  6. Communist Manifesto (1848) “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the means 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 revolutionizing 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.” (p. 477)

  7. Communist Manifesto (1848) 4. Capitalism seeks ever-larger markets, leading to global expansion and population concentration in cities

  8. Communist Manifesto (1848) • “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe… 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 civilization. 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 civilization into their midst, i.e. to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.” (476-7)

  9. Communist Manifesto (1848) • These descriptions of capitalism sound remarkably like Smith’s – yet Marx sees within them the seeds of capitalism’s downfall • “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.” (478)

  10. Crises in capitalism • For Marx, it is the devastation and insecurity of periodic crises that cause workers to turn against the system – not their everyday poverty and exploitation, which is hidden • Capitalism provokes crises, deals with them by expanding markets abroad, more thorough exploitation of existing markets… but there are limits to this capacity to defuse crises • This is how capitalism produces its own gravediggers – the proletariat

  11. Capitalism’s gravediggers 1. Proletariat all together in factory • “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.” (480) 2. Conditions increasingly insecure • The invention of new machines, the growing competition among bourgeois factory owners => more insecure conditions for working classes, who begin to form trade unions

  12. Capitalism’s gravediggers 3. Nothing to lose=> begin to organize • “This organization 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 divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried.” (481)

  13. Anarchy in market (competition, uncertainty) ↓ ↓introduction of new machinery/work speed-up increase “reserve army of the unemployed” (all capitalists forced to do this to compete) ↓ antagonism between workers and capitalists ↓ conflict intensifies as wages fall ↓ crises of overproduction (wages low so people aren’t consuming. Small capitalists can’t compete, so drop into working class) ↓ capitalists collude, develop cartels/trusts exploitation becomes palpable, capitalists appear parasitical ↓ state takes over means of production ↓ proletariat seizes state power

  14. What is the relationship of the law to justice in Marx’s vision? • “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 labor, 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 just so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.” (482)

  15. What is the relationship of the law to justice in Marx’s vision? • “The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” (475) • For Marx, the law is only a reflection of economic interests; under capitalism, the law will inherently be exploitative; there is no just law in capitalism

  16. Does Marx’s theory rest on assumptions? 1. Humans are social beings; we only fulfill our true potential in association with others -how does he know this? it’s purely assumed 2. All conflict is reducible to economic exploitation -because Communism will resolve these, it will mark the “end of history”, end of conflict -Marx refuses to recognize culture, religion, race, gender, nationalism as other divisions with their own particular logic 3. Conflict leads to more conflict, is uncontainable -In reality, conflict often leads to concessions, containment, but CM assumes ever-mounting struggle

  17. Marx’s theory is overly deterministic: If revolution is inevitable, where is the space for human agency? • On the one hand, Marx says capitalism doomed to die by its own contradictions, but on the other, revolution has to be brought on by our actions -- contradiction? • Theory insufficiently flexible to explain diverse outcomes: anything can be explained by “we’re not there yet” • Marx/Engels never imagined possibility of the emergence of a new form of capitalism (advanced or regulated capitalism) that would temper the tendency toward crisis, grant concessions to working class in order to contain conflict • Later Marxists try to address some of these problems in Marxist thought