||Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto, 1848||Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century|
"The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie."
[Capitalism] "compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image. ... increased the urban population as compared with the rural ... made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West ... and has concentrated property in a few hands."
Further, "But 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 those weapons - the modern working class - the proletarians ... a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market."
"the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery ... What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."
Marx and Engels go into detail about basic social relations, including private property, labor, personal freedom, the family, education, the status of women, nationalism and religion. All of these social relations have been distorted by capitalism and no matter whether or not you agree with Marx and Engels in every detail, you must agree that they would all be subject to radical change after a revolution that replaces capitalist power.
The Manifesto lays out the fundamental principles for democratic participation by revolutionaries. It presents the strategy for a political party that represents "the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. Communists "labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries"
Enemy images pervade the Manifesto from its opening paragraphs. Marx and Engels describe capitalists and workers as "two great hostile camps". As sociologists they were correct. In fact, according to some scholars they were the first sociologists. They described accurately the trend that as capitalism gained power, more and more people would find themselves working for the capitalists (called "bourgeoisie") as wage-workers (called "proletariat"), a trend that continues to this day, a century and a half later.
Following the logic of enemy images to its end, Marx and Engels see revolution as warfare and its principles as the culture of war. Hence they say in the Manifesto: "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."
Years later Engels studied this in greater detail, showing that from its very beginnings, the state has been founded on violence, representing the ruling class in a perpetual war against those whom it exploits: "The ancient state was, above all, the state of the slave-owners for holding down the slaves, just as the feudal state was the organ of the nobility for holding down the peasant serfs and bondsmen, and the modern representative state is the instrument for exploiting wage-labor by capital." As Lenin would say later in The Armed Forces and the Revolution, "... the standing army is used not so much against the external enemy as against the internal enemy. Everywhere the standing army has become the weapon of reaction, the servant of capial in its struggle against labour..."
Today, no less than when Marx and Engels were writing, we are living under a capitalist culture of war. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Marx and Engels believed that revolution could only be accomplished by force of arms. In Anti-Duhring Engels would go so far as to call violence the "midwife of history."
But if we, as revolutionaries, adopt the same culture of war, treating the ruling class as an enemy and preparing for the violent overthrow of this enemy, how can we avoid creating a socialist culture of war? This puts on the agenda of history what is perhaps the greatest challenge of the 21st Century: creating a revolutionary socialist culture of peace.