The Good: Intelligent, well-written, accurate, perceptive
The Bad: Reaches the wrong conclusion
The Basics: A solid interpretation of history, a weak, idealistic set of predictions for the future.
"Communist" is one of those words usually lumped - in the U.S. - with such other unfavorable words as "murderer" and "arsonist." It's a sad relic of the Cold "War" and a distinct lack of intellectualism on the part of the majority of the citizens of the U.S. There is a reason in the 1930s the majority of intellectuals in the U.S. flocked to The Communist Manifesto. Mostly because Marx and Engels were correct.
The Communist Manifesto is merely a different interpretation of history. It is the story of the workers and the managers and how the latter controls the former in a capitalist system. The bulk of The Communist Manifesto is concerned with understanding the forces of social dynamic from a capitalist perspective and exploring the history of humanity in capitalist terms. As capitalism becomes stronger and more unyielding, those who control the workers become smaller in population and control a greater portion of the wealth. It's a simple interpretation of history and it's an enlightened one. It is a theory for those who do not wish to be complacent.
It's a good idea and a well researched and supported one. In fact, it's downright brilliant. The power of the workers ("proletarians") is controlled by those who own the means of production ("bourgeois") and it will continue to be until the worker actually do something about it.
In fact, Marx and Engels were right in defining the problem and its causes. The problem is their solution. It's idealistic and unrealistic. While the formation of their theory is based in a very impressive command of the human condition and social observations, their solution requires one to suspend their disbelief; it denies essential aspects of human nature that exist in today's world.
In today's world, the corrected theory of communism would be "Capitalism is the bane of the over-developed nation and the savior of the under-developed one." Indeed, Marx and Engels make it quite clear that their theory is only applicable to a top-heavy capitalist system, not unlike the U.S. in today's standings.
The fact is, The Communist Manifesto is easy, precise reading and an enlightened, educated interpretation of history. Hopefully you who are reading this will overcome the stigma against this work and actually read it.
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© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.