As we state in Our Purpose, we believe that one of the biggest reasons that the Marxist science has not taken root in Western Culture, where its principles would be most applicable, is the fact that far too many people simply don’t understand the language used. This is an attempt to modernize the Communist Manifesto into a more easily accessible, understandable, and globally inclusive literature, while still preserving the ideas and concepts of Marx and Engels in their entirety. A link to the original text (English translation) can be found in the sidebar. Part I. Part II. Part III. Part V – Addendum.
This section of the original document stated the Communist position regarding other Socialist or Proletarian Parties that stood in opposition to the Bourgeoisie at the time. None of these Parties exists today, at least not in the form and condition that they existed in then. To be certain, there are still plenty of organized Proletarian Parties throughout the world. In the interest of retaining as much of what Marx and Engels sought to illuminate, we decided to include this section in the original wording (English translation). In an effort to avoid a presumption to speak for any other Communist or Socialist, individual or organization, who may read this, or to have someone else presume that we speak for all Communists everywhere, we chose not to alter this section in any way, nor to give our own viewpoints on the various Socialist,Communist and Anarchist States and organizations that have existed historically, that exist in present day, or that may exist tomorrow as a result of efforts today. There will be plenty of space and time for discussion of the theories and events that have developed since this writing – this space is for Marx.
We have added emphasis to what we find to be the core of this section – the general statement of support for any revolutionary Proletarian Party or uprising, while understanding that aspects of some of these parties may become problematic later, and a statement of action, both domestic and international. Lastly, but most importantly, it was a call to arms, a call that billions have heeded.
Any emphasis added is our own, with the exception of that final immortal line.
IV. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties
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 with the SocialDemocrats against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the right to take up a critical position in regard to phases and illusions traditionally handed down from the great Revolution.
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 bourgeois.
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 straightway 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 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.
Workers Of The World, Unite!
As we let Marx and Engel speak for themselves here, we felt that it would also be beneficial to include the Communist Confession of Faith drafted by Engels in 1847 and presented to the First Congress of the Communist League in that same year. Engels used much of this direct text in another draft later that year, titled “Principles of Communism”. This is a fairly straightforward declaration of the conclusions and aims of the Communist, and very succinctly integrates Marxism and the Communist Manifesto into a personal declaration of loyalty to the Proletariat. These texts can also be found at the Marxist Archive.
A Communist Confession of Faith
Are you a Communist?
What is the aim of the Communists?
To organise society in such a way that every member of it can develop and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby infringing the basic conditions of this society.
How do you wish to achieve this aim?
By the elimination of private property and its replacement by community of property.
On what do you base your community of property?
Firstly, on the mass of productive forces and means of subsistence resulting from the development of industry, agriculture, trade and colonisation, and on the possibility inherent in machinery, chemical and other resources of their infinite extension.
Secondly, on the fact that in the consciousness or feeling of every individual there exist certain irrefutable basic principles which, being the result of the whole of historical development, require no proof.
What are such principles?
For example, every individual strives to be happy. The happiness of the individual is inseparable from the happiness of all, etc.
How do you wish to prepare the way for your community of property?
By enlightening and uniting the proletariat.
What is the proletariat?
The proletariat is that class of society which lives exclusively by its labour and not on the profit from any kind of capital; that class whose weal and woe, whose life and death, therefore, depend on the alternation of times of good and bad business; in a word, on the fluctuations of competition.
Then there have not always been proletarians?
No. There have always been poor and working classes; and those who worked were almost always the poor. But there have not always been proletarians, just as competition has not always been free.
How did the proletariat arise?
The proletariat came into being as a result of the introduction of the machines which have been invented since the middle of the last century and the most important of which are: the steam-engine, the spinning machine and the power loom. These machines, which were very expensive and could therefore only be purchased by rich people, supplanted the workers of the time, because by the use of machinery it was possible to produce commodities more quickly and cheaply than could the workers with their imperfect spinning wheels and handlooms. The machines thus delivered industry entirely into the hands of the big capitalists and rendered the workers’ scanty property which consisted mainly of their tools, looms, etc., quite worthless, so that the capitalist was left with everything, the worker with nothing. In this way the factory system was introduced. Once the capitalists saw how advantageous this was for them, they sought to extend it to more and more branches of labour. They divided work more and more between the workers so that workers who formerly had made a whole article now produced only a part of it. Labour simplified in this way produced goods more quickly and therefore more cheaply and only now was it found in almost every branch of labour that here also machines could be used. As soon as any branch of labour went over to factory production it ended up, just as in the case of spinning and weaving. in the hands of the big capitalists, and the workers were deprived of the last remnants of their independence. We have gradually arrived at the position where almost all branches of labour are run on a factory basis. This has increasingly brought about the ruin of the previously existing middle class, especially of the small master craftsmen, completely transformed the previous position of the workers, and two new classes which are gradually swallowing up all other classes have come into being, namely:
I. The, class of the big capitalists, who in all advanced countries are in almost exclusive possession of the means of subsistence and those means (machines, factories, workshops, etc.) by which these means of subsistence are produced.
This is the bourgeois class, or the bourgeoisie.
II. The class of the completely propertyless, who are compelled to sell their labour to the first class, the bourgeois, simply to obtain from them in return their means of subsistence. Since the parties to this trading in labour are not equal, but the bourgeois have the advantage, the propertyless must submit to the bad conditions laid down by the bourgeois. This class, dependent on the bourgeois, is called the class of the proletarians or the proletariat.
In what way does the proletarian differ from the slave?
The slave is sold once and for all, the proletarian has to sell himself by the day and by the hour. The slave is the property of one master and for that very reason has a guaranteed subsistence, however wretched it may be. The proletarian is, so to speak, the slave of the entire bourgeois class, not of one master, and therefore has no guaranteed subsistence, since nobody buys his labour if he does not need it. The slave is accounted a thing and not a member of civil society. The proletarian is recognised as a person, as a member of civil society. The slave may, therefore, have a better subsistence than the proletarian but the latter stands at a higher stage of development. The slave frees himself by becoming a proletarian, abolishing from the totality of property relationships only the relationship of slavery. The proletarian can free himself only by abolishing property in general.
In what way does the proletarian differ from the serf?
The serf has the use of a piece of land, that is, of an instrument of production, in return for handing over a greater or lesser portion of the yield. The proletarian works with instruments of production which belong to someone else who, in return for his labour, hands over to him a portion, determined by competition, of the products. In the case of the serf, the share of the labourer is determined by his own labour, that is, by himself. In the case of the proletarian it is determined by competition, therefore in the first place by the bourgeois. The serf has guaranteed subsistence, the proletarian has not. The serf frees himself by driving out his feudal lord and becoming a property owner himself, thus entering into competition and joining for the time being the possessing class, the privileged class. The proletarian frees himself by doing away with property, competition, and all class differences.
In what way does the proletarian differ from the handicraftsman?
As opposed to the proletarian, the so-called handicraftsman, who still existed nearly everywhere during the last century and still exists here and there, is at most a temporary proletarian. His aim is to acquire capital himself and so to exploit other workers. He can often achieve this aim where the craft guilds still exist or where freedom to follow a trade has not yet led to the organisation of handwork on a factory basis and to intense competition. But as soon as the factory system is introduced into handwork and competition is in full swing, this prospect is eliminated and the handicraftsman becomes more and more a proletarian. The handicraftsman therefore frees himself either by becoming a bourgeois or in general passing over into the middle class, or, by becoming a proletarian as a result of competition (as now happens in most cases) and joining the movement of the proletariat – i. e., the more or less conscious communist movement.
Then you do not believe that community of property has been possible at any time?
No. Communism has only arisen since machinery and other inventions made it possible to hold out the prospect of an all-sided development, a happy existence, for all members of society. Communism is the theory of a liberation which was not possible for the slaves, the serfs, or the handicraftsmen, but only for the proletarians and hence it belongs of necessity to the 19th century and was not possible in any earlier period.
Let me go back to the sixth question. As you wish to prepare for community of property by the enlightening and uniting of the proletariat, then you reject revolution?
We are convinced not only of the uselessness but even of the harmfulness of all conspiracies. We are also aware that revolutions are not made deliberately and arbitrarily but that everywhere and at all times they are the necessary consequence of circumstances which are not in any way whatever dependent either on the will or on the leadership of individual parties or of whole classes. But we also see that the development of the proletariat in almost all countries of the world is forcibly repressed by the possessing classes and that thus a revolution is being forcibly worked for by the opponents of communism. If, in the end, the oppressed proletariat is thus driven into a revolution, then we will defend the cause of the proletariat just as well by our deeds as now by our words.
Do you intend to replace the existing social order by community of Property at one stroke?
We have no such intention. The development of the masses cannot be ordered by decree. It is determined by the development of the conditions in which these masses live, and therefore proceeds gradually.
How do you think the transition from the present situation to community of Property is to be effected?
The first, fundamental condition for the introduction of community of property is the political liberation of the proletariat through a democratic constitution.
What will be your first measure once you have established democracy?
Guaranteeing the subsistence of the proletariat.
How will you do this?
I. By limiting private property in such a way that it gradually prepares the way for its transformation into social property, e.g., by progressive taxation, limitation of the right of inheritance in favour of the state, etc., etc.
II. By employing workers in national workshops and factories and on national estates.
III. By educating all children at the expense of the state.
How will you arrange this kind of education during the period of transition?
All children will be educated in state establishments from the time when they can do without the first maternal care.
Will not the introduction of community of property be accompanied by the proclamation of the community of women?
By no means. We will only interfere in the personal relationship between men and women or with the family in general to the extent that the maintenance of the existing institution would disturb the new social order. Besides, we are well aware that the family relationship has been modified in the course of history by the property relationships and by periods of development, and that consequently the ending of private property will also have a most important influence on it.
Will nationalities continue to exist under communism?
The nationalities of the peoples who join together according to the principle of community will be just as much compelled by this union to merge with one another and thereby supersede themselves as the various differences between estates and classes disappear through the superseding of their basis – private property.
Do Communists reject existing religions?
All religions which have existed hitherto were expressions of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is that stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and supersedes them.
In the name and on the mandate of the Congress.
Secretary: Heide [Alias of Wilhelm Wolff in the League of the Just]
President: Karl Schill [Alias of Karl Schapper in the League of the Just]
London, June 9, 1847