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Essential Writings of Karl Marx: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, Communist Manifesto, Wage Labor and Capital, Critique of the Gotha Program Paperback – 31 Mar 2010


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Essential Writings of Karl Marx: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, Communist Manifesto, Wage Labor and Capital, Critique of the Gotha Program + The Social Contract (Classics of World Literature) + Leviathan (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Red and Black Publishers (31 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934941867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934941867
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,419,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany and studied law at Bonn and Berlin. In 1848, with Freidrich Engels, he finalized the COMMUNIST MANIFETO. He settled in London, where he studied economics and wrote the first volume of his major work, DAS KAPITAL(1867, two further volumes were added in 1884 and 1894). He is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London.

Friedrich Engles was born in Barmen, Germany. From 1842 he lived mostly in England.

Gareth Stedman Jones is Professor of Political Science in the History Faculty of Cambridge University and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. He is also a Director of the Centre of History and Economics at Cambridge. His publications inlcude Outcast London and Languages of Class.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By R. Brightwell on 10 Sep 2006
Format: Paperback
This review relates to the Penguin Classics version which comes with an "Introduction" by Gareth Stedman Jones. I put "Introduction" in quotes because it is about 180 pages long, whereas the pamphlet it is introducing is about 30 pages.

If you are interested in reading the Communist Manifesto, it's well worth getting this one, rather than saving yourself a few quid on an edition which just contains the Manifesto itself. Without putting this book in its historical context, you're likely to find yourself thinking "so what?!". The intro is academic and dense at times, but well worth the effort.

The most enlightening aspect of the manifesto itself, for me, is what is NOT in it, rather than what is. There isn't a description of how a communist society should look, for starters. The story of this book is the story of a pamphlet written for a specific time and place, which became an iconic work when it was seized on by the Soviets for reasons of political expediency. I'm sure if Marx and Engels knew what they would turn this book into, they would have written it very differently. No wonder Marx is quoted as saying "I am not a Marxist".
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Derek Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It merits five stars because of its importance, though it is not the best introduction to Marxist theory. A key element is the materialist conception of history, also called historical materialism and dialectical materialism. This views history as the inevitable progress from primitive communism to feudalism to capitalism and finally modern communism. The theory sees economics as the key shaper of historical events. In Marxism the all-important economic structure, or "foundation", of society determines the "superstructure" of ideas, morals, religion, social and political institutions etc. In its extreme form historical materialism is completely deterministic and in this form it is open to serious objections, but though Marx and Engels probably did not do enough to disown the determinism of their followers, it is clear they meant something less. Later Engels was to write that historical materialism "is in the last resort decisive in the production and reproduction of actual life...the economic condition is the basis but the various elements of the superstructure...exert an influence of the historical struggles, and in many instances determine their form."

Marx's historical materialism operates via the class struggle. "class" is used in the sense of an economic group defined by its position in the process of production: slave/master, serf/feudal lord, worker/capitalist. According to Marx, whenever private ownership of the means of production exists there is class conflict over the division of the fruits of production. The Manifesto claims that what is new in the capitalist era is that classes have been reduced to just two, because small employers and self-employed craftsmen were being driven into the ranks of the proletariat and exploitation worsens:
"The bourgeoisie...
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Hud955i on 24 May 2009
Format: Paperback
The Communist Manifesto is one of those tricky documents that needs to be read with care and without projecting onto it the many common but confused ideas that circulate about it.

Among Marx's output, it is particularly difficult work to interpret. Marx was both a theoretical writer and a practical politician. The Manifesto, like any manifesto was written with an immediate political purpose in mind, (one which is now only of historical interest), but it also contains a bold and influential statement of Marx's developing theoretical position. The Manifesto can only be understood if these two different aspects of its writing can be distinguished.

To give an example: there is a crucial passage towards the end of the work where Marx comments on the role of the state after the revolution. Different interpretations of this passage have given rise to very different 'Marxist' theories. Some commentators have taken Marx to mean that a state apparatus is essential to communism, others that the state remains necessary during an extended transition period towards the new society, but will eventually disappear under communism. Yet others argue that this is no more than a practical political proposal made at a particular moment in time and has no fundamental theoretical importance. This view is supported by a later preface to the work by Engels.

Personally, I cannot see how this passage can be read as anything other than a practical means of managing the transition between capitalism and communism/socialism. (Marx himself used these two terms interchangeably). For Marx, communism is a democratic, stateless society. He deals with this point in another work, The German Ideology.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By August Cieszkowski on 1 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback
I will leave others to debate the relative merits of the actual Manifesto and say a couple of words about the introduction because the product description - criminally - doesn't seem to mention it. Gareth Stedman-Jones' introduction is a book in itself, longer than the Manifesto and an excellent and absolutely compelling introduction to the intellectual and historical context. By framing the intellectual debates of the Young Hegelians and others in a rich historical narrative Stedman-Jones makes them positively fascinating! He tells the story of the life of the young Karl Marx and describes his interactions with the intellectuals of the time, showing that Marx borrowed pretty much every element of his early (more philsophical) work from those around him but that his particular genius was to combine them all in such original formations. He even throws in a bit of completely original research about why Marx shied away from making his call for socialism a moral imperative (it was radical egoist Stirner's influence apparently). Its a hell of a lot of knowledge crammed into a very small space in a fascinating and readable manner and will double your appreciation and understanding of the Manifesto itself. All in all: if your trying to work out which edition to buy - get this one for the intro!
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