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Communist Manifesto

I.

Bourgeois & Proletarians

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle. The
uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight has each time ended either in a
revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the
contending classes.
The bourgeois epoch has simplified class antagonisms. Whereas in earlier epochs
we find everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders
(with gradations within these ranks), modern society is splitting up into 2 great
hostile classes: bourgeoisie & proletariat.
The bourgeoisie emerged from the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. The
discovery of America & the rounding of the Cape opened up fresh ground for
the class. The East-Indian & Chinese markets, the colonization of America, trade
with colonies & the increase in the means of exchange, & commodities generally,
gave an unprecedented impulse to commerce, industry & navigation-- and
thereby to the rapid development of the revolutionary element in the tottering
feudal society.
The modern bourgeoisie is a product of a series of revolutions in the modes of
production & of exchange. The feudal system of industry, in which industrial
production was monopolized by closed guilds, no longer sufficed the wants of
the growing market. It was replaced by the manufacturing system, in which
the division of labour between guilds was replaced by a division of labour within
the single workshops of the manufacturing middle class. As markets
continued to grow manufacture was replaced by the modern industrial
system, revolutionized by steam power and machinery. The place of the
industrial middle class was taken by industrial millionaires, the modern
bourgeoisie, leaders of industrial armies. Modern industry established the world
market, for which the discovery of America paved the way.
Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a
corresponding political advance. Beginning as an oppressed class under the sway
of the feudal nobility, then an armed and self-governing association in the
medieval commune, it became an independent urban republic (as in Italy &
Germany) or a taxable third estate of the monarchy (as in France) in the period
of manufacture, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a
counterpoise against the nobility (as the cornerstone of the great monarchies in
general). Since the establishment of modern industry & the world market the
bourgeoisie has conquered for itself exclusive political sway in the form of the
modern representative state. The executive of the modern state is but a
committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie historically has played a revolutionary role in abolishing feudal
relations. It has torn asunder the feudal ties that bound man to his natural
superiors & has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than
naked self-interest (cash payment). Exploitation which was veiled by religious &
political illusions has become direct, naked exploitation. It has replaced religious
fervour with egotistical calculations. In place of the numberless indefeasible

chartered freedoms it has set up the one overriding freedom of Free Trade. It has
levelled every hitherto honoured occupation into wage-labour. It has resolved
personal worth into exchange value. It has reduced the family relation to a mere
money relation. It has demonstrated the productive power of mans activity by
unleashing more massive productive forces than all preceding generations.
Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of social
conditions & everlasting uncertainty distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all
earlier ones. The bourgeoisie cant exist without constantly revolutionizing the
instruments of production, and with them the relations of productionand
thereby the whole relations of society. By contrast, the conservation of the old
modes of production in unaltered form was the first condition for all earlier
industrial classes. In the constant transformation of society, all ancient prejudices
and opinions arising from fixed relations are swept away. All that is solid melts
into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face his real
conditions of life.
Capitalism creates the world after its own image. The need of a constantly
expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface
of the globe. Through its exploitation of the world market it has given a
cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every countryit has
drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. In
the place of local seclusion & self-sufficiency, there is intercourse in every
direction & the interdependence of nations. All nations are compelled, on pain of
extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of productionto become bourgeois
themselves. As in material, so in intellectual productionintellectual creations of
individual nations become common property. From numerous national literatures
there arises a world literature.
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns & created a
centralized nation-state. It has created enormous cities & increased the urban
population against the rural. It has agglomerated population, centralized
means of production & concentrated property in a few hands. The
necessary consequence was political centralization: independent provinces
with separate interests, laws, governments & taxation systems became lumped
together into one nation with one government, one code of laws, one
national class-interest, one frontier & one customs-tarif.
Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, it has made barbarian
countries dependent on civilised onesnations of peasants dependent upon
nations of bourgeois, the East upon the West.
The means of production & of exchange, on whose foundation the
bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in
their development the feudal relations of property (the conditions under
which feudal society produced & exchanged, the feudal organization of
agriculture and manufacturing industry) became fetters upon the already
developed productive forcesthey had to be burst asunder & were so. Into
their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social & political
constitution adapted to both competition & the economic & political sway of the
bourgeoisie.

Modern bourgeois society has conjured up such a gigantic means of production &
exchange that it is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the power of
the nether world called up by his spells. The weapons with which the bourgeoisie
felled feudalism are now being turned against itself. The recent history of
industry & commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive
forces against modern conditions of production (the property relations that
are the condition for the existence of the bourgeoisie & its rule).
The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth
created by them. Commercial crises periodically recur, each time more
threatening to the existence of bourgeois society. In these crises a great part of
existing products & previously created productive forces are periodically
destroyedan epidemic of overproduction breaks out. Society suddenly finds
itself back in a state of momentary barbarism. These crises are caused because
the productive forces at the disposal of society become too powerful to be
contained by the conditions of bourgeois propertyso soon as they overcome
these fetters, they bring disorder to the whole of bourgeois society & endanger
the existence of bourgeois property.
The bourgeois gets over these crises on the one hand through enforced
destruction of a mass of productive forces, & on the other hand by the conquest
of new markets & the more thorough exploitation of old ones. This paves the way
for more extensive & destructive crises, and diminishes the means whereby
crises are prevented.
Not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself, it has
also called into existence the men who are to wield themthe proletarians. In
proportion as capital is developed so is the proletariata class of labourers who
live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour
increases capital. These workers are a commodity and are consequently exposed
to the vicissitudes of competition & fluctuations of the market.
Owing to the extensive use of machinery & division of labour, the work of
proletarians has lost all individual character, and consequently all charm for the
labourerhe becomes a mere appendage of the machine. As the repulsiveness
of the work increases, the wage decreases. The cost of production of a workman
is restricted almost entirely to the means of subsistence that he requires for his
maintenance & the propagation of his race. As the use of machinery & division of
labour increases, the burden of toil increases, whether by the prolongation of
working hours, the increase of work exacted in a given time, or by increased
speed of machinery.
Everywhere the worker is subjected to capital. No sooner is the exploitation of
the labourer by the manufacturer at an end than he is set upon by the other
portions of the bourgeoisie: the landlord, shopkeeper, pawnbroker, etc.
Differences of age & sex no longer have any distinctive social validity for the
working classall are instruments of labour.
The lower strata of the middle class (small tradespeople, shopkeepers,
handicraftsmen & peasants) all sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because
their diminutive capital is swamped by competition with the large capitalists, &
partly because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by the new methods
of production. The proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.

The proletariat goes through various stages of development. At first its struggle
with the bourgeoisie is carried out by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operatives of one trade, in one locality against
the individual bourgeoisie who directly exploits them. They destroy imported
wares that compete with their labour, destroy machinery & seek to restore by
force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages. At this stage the
labourers are divided by geography & mutual competition. If they are able to
unite, this is not yet a consequence of their own active union, but of the
bourgeoisie which is compelled to set the proletariat in motion to achieve its own
political endsat this stage the proletarians dont fight their enemies, but the
enemies of their enemies: the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners,
non-industrial bourgeois & petty-bourgeoisie.
With the development of industry the proletariat becomes concentrated in
greater masses & its strength grows. The conditions of life within the ranks of the
proletariat are increasingly equalized as machinery obliterates the distinctions of
labour & nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing
competition among the bourgeois & the resulting commercial crises make their
wages ever more fluctuating. The unceasing improvement of machinery makes
their livelihood ever more precarious. The collisions between individual workmen
& bourgeois take on the character of collisions between classes. The workers
form trade unions to keep up the rate of wages & make provisions beforehand for
occasional revolts. Here & there the contest breaks out into riots.
The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the everexpanding union of the workers. This is facilitated by improved means of
communication, allowing for national class struggle. The working class can attain
what took the burghers, with their miserable highways, centuries to achieve.
Every class struggle is a political struggle. The organisation of the proletarians
into a class & consequently a political party is upset by competition between
workers, but ever rises up stronger. It compels legislative recognition of
particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among
the bourgeoisie itselfthis is how the Ten Hours Bill in England was carried.
Of all the classes that face the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is the
revolutionary class. The other classes disappear in the face of modern industry,
while the proletariat is its essential product. The middle class play a conservative
role-- they fight the bourgeoisie only to defend their existence as a middle class.
They try to roll back the wheel of history.
The proletarian is without property. His relation to his wife & children has nothing
in common with bourgeois family relations. Modern industrial labour, the same
around the world, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law,
morality & religion are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in
ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
All preceding classes that got the upper hand sought to fortify their already
acquired status by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation.
But the proletarians cant become masters of the productive forces of society
except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby
every other previous mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to
fortifytheir mission is to destroy all previous securities for individual property.

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the


interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious,
independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense
majority.
The proletariat, the lowest stratum of society, cannot raise itself up without the
whole superincumbent strata of official society being thrown into the air.
Though not in substance, in form the struggle of the proletariat with the
bourgeoisie is a first a national strugglethe proletariat of each country must
first settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.
In all previous societies of class oppression an oppressed class has been afforded
certain conditions under which it could at least continue its slavish existence.
The modern labourers status, on the contrary, instead of rising with the progress
of industry, sinks deeper & deeper. The bourgeoisie is unfit to rule because it is
incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery.
The bourgeoisie produces its own gravediggers. The essential condition for the
existence & rule of the bourgeois class-- the formation & augmentation of capital
is dependent on wage labour. The advance of industry replaces the isolation of
labourers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination in associations.
Thus modern industry creates the conditions for its own destruction.

II.

Proletarians & Communists

The Communists represent the interests of the proletarian movement as a whole,


independently of nationality. They are practically the most advanced & resolute
section of the working class parties of every countrythe section which pushes
forward all others. Theoretically, they have the advantage over the great mass of
proletarians of clearly understanding the line of march, conditions & ultimate
general results of the proletarian movement.
The immediate aim of the Communists is the formation of the proletariat into a
class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy & conquest of political power by the
proletariat.
The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of
Communismall property relations in the past have been subject to historical
change consequent upon the change in historical conditions (e.g. the French
Revolution abolished feudal property in favour of bourgeois property). The
distinguishing feature of Communism is the abolition of bourgeois property
private property.