Summarize some of the basic ideas of Marx & Engels as outlined in The Communist Manifesto.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Here are some of the key points of The Communist Manifesto:

  • Class struggles are the main feature of human history. For example, in the Middle Ages, the lord (part of the ruling class or bourgeoisie) struggled with the serf (the lower class or proletariat).
  • Over time, the bourgeoisie have risen to become the most dominant class because they have taken control of the means of production, like land and factories.
  • The bourgeoisie employs the proletariat to work in their factories and on their lands, but this relationship is based on exploitation since the bourgeoisie are only interested in making a profit.
  • As a result, the proletariat is forced to work for the bourgeoisie in return for a wage, which is always low and provides only a subsistence living.
  • This wage-labor has, therefore, caused nothing but misery.
  • To alleviate this exploitation, the Communists propose the abolition of all private property. They also want to bring the means of production under the control of the state so that everyone can contribute to society and share in its wealth.
  • Instead of having a bourgeoisie and proletariat, class distinctions will disappear, making everyone equal.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Some of the basic elements in Marx/ Engels' work is that the moment in which capitalism would fall asunder is upon the consciousness of Europe.  The "spectre" of capitalism is looming over Europe and is one that is clamoring for a change.  Marx/ Engels make the point hat historical consciousness has been defined by a process called dialectical materialism in which individual reality is defined by material wealth.  There has been an ongoing dialectic between those who possess power and those who lack it.  For Marx and Engels, capitalism is reaching a massive breaking point where the amount of those who benefit from it are being overwhelmed by those who are being crushed by it.  In such a conception that capitalism is seen as a "runaway train," Marx and Engels argues that the next stage in this historical dialectic is for the workers to own the means of production, a configuration when there will be inversion of society in that those who lack power will now have it once they recognize their condition as one where solidarity can be forged.  This is the fundamental call that is the concluding point to the work.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial