Study Guide

The Communist Manifesto Rules and Order

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Rules and Order

A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. (Section1.1)

This sentence was an exaggeration—until it was widely published. Then it became a reality. Fake it till you make it, Marx.

It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of communism with a Manifesto of the party itself. (Beginning.3)

The Communist League commissioning the Manifesto for wide public distribution was a new tactic for the secretive group. Previously, they thought their secrecy kept them safe, even though it meant their opponents got to define them to the public. Now the Communist League wanted the public on their side.

The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie. (Section1.12)

Are laws in the interest of the community as a whole, or are they mostly in the interest of the rich few? If the answer is the second option, then what should be done? Marx is saying that the government is passing laws in favor of individual members of the bourgeoisie, but also that the bourgeoisie as a class has certain interests its members share regardless of their competition with one another—namely, oppressing everyone else.

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. (Section1.40)

Sometimes friendship can arise from competition. How else might workers come to recognize their common interest instead of fighting against each other for higher wages?

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. (Section1.44)

Marx is arguing that revolution must begin from the bottom, or else there's a risk that those who want to be the power elite will trade places with the current power elite without actually changing the system as a whole. So who is on the bottom? See our discussion of the proletariat in the "Characters" section for more.

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. (Section1.51)

Marx advocates for a violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie. Could there be a nonviolent way to overthrow them? Set morality issues aside, for example, and simply consider that violent revolution can frighten uninvolved bystanders into calling for the authorities to return, as Thomas Hobbes argued. What other strategies might be effective for those, like Marx (Section2.72), who want to put an end to political power itself, or the organized power of one class for oppressing others.

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. (Section4.11)

And there you have Marx's version of rebellion against rules and order in a nutshell.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...