Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

PART III
THE METHOD AND THE CALL TO ACTION

1. The Communist Manifesto

MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY

PREFACE

THE "Manifesto" was published as the platform of the "Communist League," a workingmen's association, first exclusively German, later on international, and, under the political conditions of the Continent before 1848, unavoidably a secret society. At a Congress of the League, held in London in November, 1847, Marx and Engels were commissioned to prepare for publication a complete theoretical and practical party programme. Drawn up in German, in January, 1848, the manuscript was sent to the printer in London a few weeks before the French revolution of February 24th. A French translation was brought out in Paris shortly before the insurrection of June, 1848. The first English translation, by Miss Helen Macfarlane, appeared in George Julian Harney's "Red Republican," London, 1850. A Danish and a Polish edition had also been published.

The defeat of the Parisian insurrection of June, 1848-- the first great battle between Proletariat and Bourgeoisie-- drove again into the background, for a time, the social and political aspirations of the European working class. Thenceforth the struggle for supremacy was again, as it had been before the revolution of February, solely between different sections of the propertied class; the working class was reduced to a fight for political elbow-room, and to the position of extreme wing of the middle-class Radicals. Wherever independent proletarian movements continued to show signs of life they were ruthlessly hunted down. Thus the Prussian

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