Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto, 1848 Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


The Communist Manifesto remains as fresh as the day it was written by Marx and Engels more than 150 years ago. It is still the basic document that all revolutionaries need to read and study. Consider, for example, the following lines of the Manifesto, which, like many others, could have been written today. All you need to do is to substitute the word "capitalist" instead of "bourgeoisie" and "wage-workers" instead of "proletariat":

"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"

Two aspects of the Manifesto need to be reconsidered if we are to achieve a culture of peace in the 21st Century: 1) the use of enemy images; and 2) the use of violence.

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.



To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Karl Marx on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori-tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna-tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica-tion systems

Psychology for revolution-aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism