Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were prolific authors of economic and political theory. Marx in particular was a serious commentator on economic theory who wrote voluminously about the dehumanizing nature of capitalist economics. His multivolume series on Capital (Das Kapital) and his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts set forth Marx’s predilections on what he viewed as the autocratic consequences of free enterprise and the evolution of society away from capitalism and towards socialism. In contrast to these other works, however, the Communist Manifesto is intended less as a protracted and sometimes utopian denunciation of capitalism, and more as a political call to action. Note in the final passage of the Manifesto the author's rallying cry to the masses:
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working Men of All Countries, Unite!
Marx’s most thoughtful writings describe an evolutionary process, the end-state of which is a near-utopian worker's paradise in which each individual contributes according his or her ability and receives according to his or her needs. That evolutionary process necessitates a period of capitalist economics that Marx viewed as essential to the industrialization of modernization of any given society. Indeed, it was his antipathy towards the archaic Russian society and his favorable view of the more technologically and industrially advanced nations of the West that convinced him that such societies would inevitably be the models for socialist development and not the backwards, unsophisticated model presented by czarist Russia.
In contrast to the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts and Das Kapital, the Communist Manifesto was a relatively brief political call to arms. Intended less as a scholarly dissertation and more as a political treatise or “manifesto,” which, by definition, is a public declaration of an individual or organization’s goals, Marx and Engels intended this document as a more immediate rallying cry for major changes in the status quo. While his earlier, more ponderous works reflected the realities of a more gradual, incremental evolutionary theory, the Communist Manifesto represented an impatience with that theory.