The Communist Manifesto is basically a piece of writing that says “this is the way we should run our shit, and this is why.”
It was written by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. Marx and Engels met at a party or something in 1842 and they didn’t get on, but then they hooked up a few years later in 1844 and had a bit of banter and sort of a “yeah, you’re sound actually, let’s write a manifesto of our boss ideas.”
Marx and Engels set out to sort of shake up the left, so they joined this socialist league on the condition that they gave it more of a structure and, from what I can understand, got some proper IDEAS about things rather than just being sentimental.
To sort of set that in stone, Engels wrote the Confession of Faith. Now my dad is a preacher, so I know what a confession of faith, or catechism, is. It’s basically a set of questions and answers that solidify your core beliefs into a series of statements, and this is basically what Engels confession of faith said:
[[ This is not the entire thing, I have cherry-picked, ha. But you can find it here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm ]]
– Are you a communist?
Yes (pretty standard)
– What is the aim of the communists?
To develop a society where every single person can achieve their potential and exercise their rights in complete freedom without fucking things up for anybody else.
– How do you wish to achieve this aim?
By completely getting rid of private property, and making it so that everybody collectively owns all of the property.
– How do you wish to prepare the way?
By enlightening and uniting the proletariat.
– What is the proletariat? (This ones a biggie, everyone loves this word)
The proletariat are the people who solely survive from the work that they do. They don’t get anything of any real worth from it, they live hand to mouth. Which means their standard of living, even their life and death, depend on wether business is good or bad. They only bargaining chip they have, is their labour, or ability to work.
– Where did it come from?
At one point almost all labour was done by hand – building, manufacturing, farming, but loads of machines turned up that could do the job faster and cheaper. They were expensive as well, so only the rich people could buy them, and so the workers became worth very little to anyone. This meant all the produce, all the wealth, went straight to the bosses and the workers got nothing. Factories popped up and suddenly something which would have been one mans masterpiece was built on a line, he wasn’t a master anymore. So now we have two huge classes, one very rich and one very not:
– the capitalists, or bourgeoisie, who in almost every country own all of the produce and wealth, and all of the means of getting it, like factories and machines.
– the proletariat, who have to sell their labour just to get enough to survive. Because they are not on an equal footing, the proles have to accept whatever conditions the bourg offer no matter how bad they are.
The Confession of Faith then goes on to explain how the proletariat are the only class of it’s kind, and how it has been brought about by this new influx of machinery and efficiency. It also explains what they plan to do a bit more in terms of getting rid of private property and making sure everyone is cool.
Engels said that Marx defended the new theory in fairly lengthy debates, until everyone agreed and they were unanimously accepted. Marx was apparently big on “the practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments.” Well no shit. Somebody said of Marx at this time “…Marx represented the manhood of socialist thought.”
Now what I understand from that is that this man recognized in Karl the evolution from an idealistic socialism that everyone was bang up for before, into a practical, straight-forward and *implementable* Communism that more concretely addressed the needs of the proletariat.
(You should defo know proles by now, man.)
That, to me, is what this whole manifesto was about. It was designed to coagulate the left and say “look, we might not agree on this or that, but let’s focus on what we DO agree on, get that down on paper, and move forward from there.”
From there it was pretty much “holy shit man, good idea, cool story bro.”
And more on that later. The point is that this unification of the left is as relevant an issue now as ever. Again, we see that there are a class of ruling elite, and a whole class of people struggling to get by, living hand to mouth, and barely (if at all) meeting the cost of living.
As Marx & Engels did with their Manifesto, again it is necessary to coagulate the left and to give it a sense of direction. So many people have such a lot of love for the left, so many go on marches, demos, start activist groups, squat banks.
But the fact of the matter is that no matter how good the intentions are, if there is no sense of direction and especially of solidarity between everyone, then it’s a totally pointless exercise. There is no sense, no sense at all, at standing on a street corner with a placard railing against the system on behalf of somebody else.
What is necessary, is to encourage, educate, and empower that person to do it on their own behalf. It is all well and good to tout ourselves as the great protectors and saviours of the lower class, but the fact of the matter is if they’ve never heard of you and they don’t know what you’re about, and there’s about three of you in total, then it’s pretty fucking pointless.
We don’t need to be kicking off at every injustice we see along the way, this will only serve as a distraction. What is needed is a new wave of ideas and solidarity on the left, a real alternative to the way that shit is run at the moment rather than this feeling, that at least personally I get, that we are bailing out a sinking ship with a thimble.
Good intentions and good works are great, and nobody should stop striving for that. But what we should be doing is striving for a common goal, pooling our ideas and yes, where necessary compromise to further the aims of the left as a whole.