Thursday, August 12, 2010

Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto

"The theory of the Communists can be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property." Not the property of peasants but "the kind of property which exploits wage labor and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage labor for fresh exploitation."

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed that there has been a long historical struggle between the working class of "wage laborers" (the proletariat) and the ruling class who control capital (the bourgeoisie). In other words, most of us are working for someone for money and the people paying us control how much compensation we receive for our labor. This "callous cash payment" has "converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers".

What is wrong with being a wage laborer? One problem is that the wage laborer is not fairly compensated. For example, in an 8-hour work day we pay for ourselves in only 5 hours and the rest of the wage-labor we generate goes to the bourgeoisie. Worse yet, many wage laborers only earn enough money to survive and reproduce, but never enough to elevate themselves out of their position. This just perpetuates the cycle of dependency on the bourgeoisie. If a laborer tries to ask for more money the bourgeoisie will find cheaper labor elsewhere, since wage earners are just a "commodity".

The proletariat "is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie - the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker" (think “Cash Now” or “Check & Go” money-lending stores today). The bourgeoisie do train and educate the proletariat, but only to help the bourgeoisie compete with other bourgeoisie, foreign and domestic. However, the Manifesto suggests that the preliterate should be using this knowledge against the bourgeoisie who keep them suppressed.

How are communists different those other working parties? They support all national struggles and they represent the movement as a whole. This is in contrast with nationalist worker parties. The Communists want all workers to unite.

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