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The Communist Manifesto was written by two men. They were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Of the two, Marx went on to become much better known. It is because of his work on The Communist Manifesto and on other books, that we tend to call communism “Marxism.” I do not agree with most of the precepts that are presented in The Communist Manifesto.
First, I do not agree with the idea that all of human history has been a story of class struggle. I do believe that we tend to have “haves” and “have nots” in every human society. I also believe that there are always groups who are in conflict with one another. However, this conflict is not always based on class. We have conflict based on race, on religion, and on sex, among other things. These conflicts can be at least as important as class-based conflict.
Second, I do not agree with the idea that wages and working conditions for workers under capitalism will inevitably be bad. I do agree that the capitalist system can be exploitative. Employers will try to pay their workers as little as they can because they want to make profits. It is impossible to deny that people with few skills will tend to be paid poorly. However, as we see in today’s world, there are all sorts of jobs in which people work for others and yet are paid and treated well.
Finally, I do not believe that the basic contrast that Marx draws between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie stands up in today’s society. Marx argued that one class of people owns the means of production while the other class does not. These two classes are inevitably in conflict and the bourgeoisie is typically able to abuse the proletariat. In our society today, there are many people who are very well off but who do not own the means of production. This is particularly true of managers and of people in the service sector. Executives in corporations do not own the means of production but they can be very well paid. Doctors and lawyers typically do not own any means of production and yet they can be very rich indeed. Our economy has evolved to the point where it does not make sense to say that people can only be well-off if they own the means of production.
Thus, I am not able to agree with most of what Marx and Engels said in The Communist Manifesto. I believe that the work made more sense when it was written than it does today.
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