The Communist Manifesto

by Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx

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What is Marxism and what are its principles?

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Marxism is Karl Marx’s political philosophy which argues that industrial capitalism is an exploitative economic system. The bourgeoisie owns the means of production and exploits the proletariat who don’t. This alienates workers from the products of their labor and treats them as commodities. Marxism also theorizes that class struggle inevitably leads to social change. Therefore, Marx saw it as the responsibility of the proletariat to revolt to create a society in which they own the means of production.

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Marxism is a political philosophy that theorizes that social change happens through class struggle. It emerged from the philosophies of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who pointed out inherent contradictions in the economic theories and realities of industrial capitalism.

In the late 1800s, there was profound global economic expansion and industrial development. Marx and Engels saw how the working class struggled during this time. The pair were members of a group of workers who called themselves the Communist League (which later became the Communist Party) and were selected to write a document that outlined the principles of Marxism. This was called “The Communist Manifesto.”

The basic principles of Marxism focus on class struggle, social change, and the relations of production. Marx and Engels opposed economic systems that functioned on social inequality and industrialized society functions solely on profound inequality. They referred to the rich people who own the means of production as the “bourgeoisie” and noted that they exploit the people who are wage-laborers, who they called the “proletariat.” This exploitative relationship is unsustainable, they argued, and it causes the workers to become alienated from the products of their labor. In a way, workers themselves become commodities.

Marxism also argues that every society is better than the society before it because social change occurs through class struggle. Marx and Engels thus thought that it was the inevitable role of the workers to revolt against the ruling class. They thought that this would lead to a society in which the proletariat owns the means of production.

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