Which parts of Marx’s analysis do you think Smith would reject in The Communist Manifesto? What are Marx's and Engels' views of history and the emergence of capitalism?
Marx and Engels believed that history in Europe had progressed through five stages that were determined by people's access to needs such as food and clothing. These stages were primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, capitalism, and socialism. The proto-capitalist society developed out of trading activity during feudalism. Marx thought that the revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the English Civil War and the French Revolution, arose from a revolt of people against feudalism, fed by the desire for people to free themselves from being tied to the land to work in factories or own means of production.
During capitalism, the market governs the economy, and there is little government intervention. People, as Adam Smith wrote, are governed by their desire to make a profit. The revolutionary consequences of capitalism are that the bourgeoisie eventually demands more political representation, pushing forward democratic reforms that transform society and giving more people the right to vote.
However, Marx thought that the workers within capitalism would cause its downfall, as they did not have a fair share of its profits. He thought socialism would emerge once workers overthrew the capitalist bosses. Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations, would likely reject this idea, as he thought that people's motives for profit would make them invested in keeping the capitalist system working. In communism, which Marx thought would follow socialism, each person would be paid according to his or her needs, which Smith would also likely disagree with, as he thought that people were motivated to work for selfish reasons that wound up providing necessary goods. Smith did not credit altruism or motives to help others with providing the necessary motivation for people to do work.