on 10 September 2006
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".
on 2 April 2014
Certainly worth a read, if only to gain an insight into the ideology behind Communism that preceded the 20th century. There are some obvious flaws with the concept of communism as depicted in the Manifesto but it's an interesting read nonetheless. All reviews on this book that have 1 star simply because it's a Communist book should be completely ignored. Anyone with half a brain will realise that to have a complete, justified opinion on politics, you should be aware of all of the major political stances, however extreme.
on 12 June 2004
Very smart of Bookmarks Publications to print a compact pamphlet-edition of the Communist Manifesto, allowing everyone to get hold of a handy copy for a very small fee. While the foreword is written by one of the Socialist Worker staff, hence it's somewhat (ok that's an understatement) biased, at least it dispenses with the usual hundereds of pages of commentary that frequently occupy publications of this 30-page document. Previously myself and others felt it was necessary to plough through these lengthy (and often misleading) introductions before reading the thing itself, and as a result people often give up before making it that far. It turns out you don't really need to do that as the thing largely speaks for itself; the style is usually quite clear and accessible and the parts that don't seem to make sense are usually the parts that refer to persons or parties of the time (i.e that are out of date).
As for the thing itself, I think I'll avoid saying anything too inflammatory in this review. I think that whether you agree with Marx or not, everyone should read this document (no excuse now it only costs a quid). A lot of people make vast sweeping statements about how Marx was completely wrong when they (and I don't mean everyone) in fact haven't even read the Communist Manifesto. If you can't even be bothered to read 30 pages of relatively easy reading then how can you talk about such things? In any case, Marx is in fact very misunderstood, which is only inevitable given how disagreeable his ideas (the ones he *did* have not the ones people wrongly associate with him) are to some people. You need to read this to understand what Marx was actually for, and what he in fact wasn't. To put it more blunty: no system that has in history been labelled 'Communist' can actually be said to have any real relation to what Marx proposed, but rather were hiding behind the label to cover up their wrongdoings.
That said, you don't get a very in-depth idea of what Marx stood for, it's more of an introduction to Marxism. A Socialist friend of mine has recommended going on to read The German Ideology then Capital, also by Marx, in order to find out more.
If you have not read this, read it now.
I do not agree with Marx but this book is indispensible to understanding the history of the 20th Century, you cannot reach into the mindset of many of the leading actors without tackling this book. There is a reason so many intelligent men and women saw within this book such a lot of truth and tried (in my view falsely) to apply it to their societies- this is a book which deserves to be read by any individual who thinks that they think. If you have read it and dismissed it or not read it you are not yet someone who has grappled with what the world is or might be. The thesis was when it was published provocative- it borrowed from Hegel, Rousseau and even for one of its most significant phrases Edmund Burke and retains features of Hegelian historical progression and Rousseauian account of the formation of civilised man- put together though it is a work of genius and deserves to be read now.
on 3 August 1999
Whilst the book is not written for the enjoyment of the reader it is written with purpose. This purpose was to formulate and summarise the ideas and ideals of the so called communist movement at the time. However, I believe if one reads the book they will have to concede that Marxs ideas of communism do not mirror those which were brought about by the revolutions of the Twentieth century. To blame Marx for these failed implications of an idealsitic system is to blame Nietzche for the attrocities of the Nazis. Both write with a positive intent and a posiitve message for mankind and neither deserve criticism for this. However, due to their unswerving belief in themselves and their often harsh / revolutionary ideas they were bound to attract it.
This book is as pertinent today as it was when it was written. The huge changes in the political scene, the growth of capitalistic society, the failed attempts at the implication of so called communism and the oversights the authors freely admitted do not retract from the message running through the text.
on 11 June 2015
Penguin classics published Marx and Engels "Communist manifesto" with a rather long introduction. This edition of the same book is much more compact.
I first came across Marx during Sociology class at secondary school and I remember being mesmerized by the Communist approach to class struggle. It's clear that with the occupy Wall Street movement and the financial crisis of 2008 that Capitalism isn't working for most people in society. What Marx and Engels manage to do is come up with a fairer alternative.
The idea that this book would still be relevant in 2015 should come as no surprise to hardened leftists but even for those who don't agree with Socialism or Communism, one has to admire the genuine disgust at the class divide pointed out in this book.
Wage equalization is only a small part of Communism and what this book does is provide a system of governance that would be beneficial for 99% of people in our society.
Capitalism isn't working!
on 7 July 2012
The Communist Manifesto is an extraordinary and succinct statement of leftwing political intention, stemming from the theory of Socialism and Communism as espoused by both Karl Marx (1818-83), and his academic companion (and friend), Friedrich Engels (1820-95). It is presented here as a volume in the Oxford World's Classics series, and as such represents a very important document in world political history. It was written in German and became known by the title 'Das Kommunistische Manifest' - or 'The Communist Manifesto', although its original title is 'Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei' - or 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'. This publication is edited by the British academic David McLellan - Professor of Political Theory - at the University of Kent.
The paperback (2008) edition contains 68 numbered pages and contains an extensive Introduction, the main text, and 7 separate Prefaces, each Preface appearing in various editions over the years;
Introduction (By David McLellan)
Notes on the Text
A Chronology of The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto - Main Text
Preface - German Edition - 1872, Marx & Engels
Preface - Russian Edition - 1882, Marx & Engels
Preface - German Edition - 1883, Engels
Preface - English Edition - 1888, Engels
Preface - German Edition - 1890, Engels (with reference to Marx & Engels 1882)
Preface - Polish Edition - 1892, Engels
Preface - Italian Edition - 1893, Engels
Karl Marx composed this text between December, 1847 and January, 1848. The work is a blend of German philosophy, French socialism, and British classical economic theory. It was written at the request of the Communist League based in London. It was published in London in February 1948 - in German - and in English in 1850. Friedrich Engels had assisted Marx through his work on earlier drafts, and through his advice regarding style and content - although Engels later claimed that the work was entirely a product of Marx himself. The many Prefaces included in this edition trace the development and popularity of this text as it spreads through Europe and into Russia.
The Manifesto exposes the corruption and blatant exploitation that is implicit within the Capitalist economic system. Marx states that through the Industrialisation process, an exploited working-class (the Proletarian) is being structured and trained (through the mechanisation of the factory experience), and that this (oppressed) disciplined body of men and women, will eventually develop an awareness (class consciousness) about their situation, and rise-up as one body, and thus take the power away from the Capitalist masters, the 'Bourgeoisie'. Marx (and Engels) view this process of Proletarian development as being both politically and economically conditioned and historically inevitable. Marx posits that this formally exploited class will create a society that is diametrically opposed to the Capitalist system that created them, and as a consequence, create a fair world based upon sharing and mutual support. This society is termed both 'Socialist' and 'Communist'. A superb edition of a classic historical text.
This is one of the only anthologies of revolutionary writings that I've discovered and its very affordably priced. It is titled The Communist Manifesto, it does include the title tract but its got so many others too.
There are all the precursors to the communist manifesto, Rousseau, Voltaire, Paine, The American Declaration of Independence, The Third Estate in France, The National Assembly of France, there are other less well known writers Marat, Danton, Marechal, Babeuf, who are all radical anti-clerical and egalitarian agitaters who generally only qualify for footnotes elsewhere.
The "utopian" socialists Owen and Proudhon appear alongside the Communist Manifesto, afterwards the main revolutionaries since then are all included, Lassalle, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Lenin, Trotsky, Goldman, Luxemburg, Ghandi, Mao and Guevara. There's also the manifesto of Charter 77 which lead to the "velvet revolution" in Czechsolvakia.
It's very comprehensive and many of the sources provide a good point and counter point for the discerning and interested reader. For younger readers who're just interested in polemic which warms the blood like wine there's plenty of that too.
Of real interest to me was the declaration of working and exploited people by Lenin and The Provisional Government, this is an essay which Orwell said was characteristic of most socialist literature, an essay from socialists in opposition which became the greatest threat to the socialists in power, its also the essay which Simone Weil deconstructed in her brilliant Oppression and Liberty.
It details how popular sovereignty would replace parliamentary elections, followed by abolition of secret police, capital punishment, censorship and press control. Of course, it was the opposite of what developed from the day and hour of Lenin's coup deposing the Provisional Government.
"The Communist Manifesto" is an important political tract - that has been highly influential, and shaped opinion and action for well over 100 years. For this reason at least, it's worthy of being read by any person seriously interested in modern society and world affairs. I won't, in this review, be so presumptuous as to comment on the ideas advanced by Marx and Engels ... readers can agree or disagree with what is argued in the "Manifesto".
This particular Penguin edition of the "Manifesto" is okay. It presents the 1888 (second) English edition, as well - strangely - sections of "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte". While this particular edition is a suitable entry point for anyone interested in reading the "Manifesto", it certainly isn't comprehensive - and I'd advice students to look for a more useful edition.
Note: This is a product review - and I can say that this particular edition of the book is okay (but not great). There are better editions, and certainly one's more useful for students. I'd suggest buying a more comprehensive edition, and spending about £8 on a new copy, rather than getting a less thorough edition.
on 22 March 2014
Marx is a true philosopher and genius, he outlines the principles of communism very clearly in the Manifesto. It is a constant debate between the bourgeois way and the communist way, although it is obviously leaned completely towards communism.
Marx was a talented writer and this is reflected in the manifesto, not a word is wasted and it is written in such beautiful wording. It is interesting to read his principles of communism and then to study how overs have interpreted them and created there own versions of communism, e.g Maoism, Starlinism. Each time the communist ideas stray further from the original principles outlined in the manifesto so excellently by Marx. There were hundreds of Manifestos written in 1888 it says something about this one seen as it is still been read avidly by many today.
If you have any interests in communism then you must read this, let Marxism live on.