21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important but Incomplete
In reading some of the reviews below, it becomes quite evident that many of the readers who gave this book a low rating have never actually read the book. People generally think they understand communism based on their knowledge of the Soviet Union, or North Korea, or China, or Vietnam, etc. Based on this "knowledge," they judge Marx's ideas to be either unrealistic or...
Published on April 16 2004 by Kendall
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Empty promises
As one familiar with the principles of communism but unclear on Marx's continued relevance after communism's collapse,The "Communist Manifesto" seemed like an ideal read, and it is certainly a work of art. Karl Marx crtiques capitalism like no one before him; he even offers up a firm event timeline for those interested in watching knowledgably as the capitalist system...
Published on April 24 2003 by Nathaniel Paty
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important but Incomplete,
In reading some of the reviews below, it becomes quite evident that many of the readers who gave this book a low rating have never actually read the book. People generally think they understand communism based on their knowledge of the Soviet Union, or North Korea, or China, or Vietnam, etc. Based on this "knowledge," they judge Marx's ideas to be either unrealistic or just plain bloody without reading the book itself. The reality, however, is that one cannot know communism through the experiences of 20th century history since communism as Marx and Engels envisioned it has not existed on this planet. Furthermore, one cannot understand Marx's ideas only through the reading of this book.
The Communist Manifesto was written as a political pamphlet, and thus is written like a piece of propaganda. Marx does not discuss in great deal some significant points in his theory. He doesn't discuss the dialectic in great detail, nor does he discuss his view on human nature a great deal. Most people are unaware of Marx's view on human nature, and this has led to him being labeled an "idealist," and communism labeled "utopian."
This book gets 4 stars from me for two reasons. Based on historical importance alone, this book should receive 5 stars. Given its amazing significance, it seems ridiculous to me that someone could give this book one or no stars. I may not be a Christian, but I'd give the Bible 5 stars just because of its tremendous historical importance. That being said, I only give the Manifesto 4 stars because, as a representation of Marx's ideas, it is incomplete, and I think in many ways, it contributes to the general lack of understanding of Marx that is so common today. People think they understand the philosophy of communism after reading just the Manifesto, and that false sense of knowledge only makes them seem that much more ignorant.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Empty promises,
As one familiar with the principles of communism but unclear on Marx's continued relevance after communism's collapse,The "Communist Manifesto" seemed like an ideal read, and it is certainly a work of art. Karl Marx crtiques capitalism like no one before him; he even offers up a firm event timeline for those interested in watching knowledgably as the capitalist system inevitably self-destructs. Unfortunately, Marx's predictions have not actually occured. How does Marx account for the dominance of today's middle class? Where is the declining rate of profit? Why do liberal democracies respect human rights, when communist ones do not? Rather than simply poking holes in Marx's arguments, and without even touching on the fact that communism has failed miserably (millions killed, millions more plunged into poverty), I wish to point out the Communist Manifesto's fatal flaw: Marx never takes the time to explain how communism is actually supposed to work. This is why it is so easy to dismiss every form of communism that has ever been put into practice (and thus failed) as un-true to Marx's central ideas. It is up to the reader to infer how communism should be actually practised simply by excluding the concepts that Marx deplored: Private ownership, "exploitation", and so on. As any intelligent person will infer, this book is no manifesto, it is an attack on the ideas of others. For those intersted in intelligent suggestions on how the world should conduct its complex affairs, I suggest Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations". If however, one is more interested in vague predictions and guidelines on avoiding the problems of man, the Bible or the Qu'ran would certainly offer more clarity. If Christianity, Judaism, or Islam are not your thing, feel free to pick up the "Communist Manifesto" and join the rest of Marx's followers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Messianic Hope, Wishful Thinking, and Social Racism,
"The Communist Manifesto" was originally written at the request of a small group of radicals known as the Communist League. Fate decreed that it should become the most influential statement of Karl Marx's views. Although Marx and Engels put both of their names on the finished product, the ideas are mostly Marx's, as Engles himself acknowledged. However, Engels polished the Manifesto, ensuring brevity and clarity, for Marx is known to go off on a tangent and wax philosophical using obscure references and turgid language. Thus "Manifesto" is not meant to be the deepest expression of Marx's thought, but rather its brief summary and a call to arms.
Marx boldly declares: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." What about class cooperation? It seems to me cooperation was far more frequent than struggle. But Marx would not hear of empirical analysis, he could not resist the temptation to generalize on the grandest possible levels. For him, facts came second to abstract propositions. Marx was 30 years old when he wrote "The Communist Manifesto," yet he had no doubt that he had all of history figured out already and knew how it was going to end. Marx was Messianic, believing that communism was unavoidable and that it was his role to be its herald.
Here Marx shows a lot of wishful thinking. "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority." Wow! How did he arrive at this? The most glaring example of wishful thinking and ideological delirium, however, would be this: "National differences and anatgonisms between peoples are daily more and more vanishing." Exactly the opposite was happening. National antagonisms were only gathering momentum. Thirteen years after Marx wrote this, Italy became a unified country, a decade after Italy, a single German state emerged. Then came World War I, whose main cause was nationalism, and Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire disintegrated because of national antagonisms. The Armenian genocide took place during World War I. Then came the Holocaust during World War II. And a mere seven years ago five hundred thousand people were slaughtered in Rwanda within three weeks in an outburst of violence between Tutsis and Hutus. The former Yugoslavia remains a cauldron of national antagonisms. So Marx was completely off base. He merely philosophized: "In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end." This proved to be the hollow hope of the modern world.
And as for social racism and bigotry, Marx was rich on that, too: "You must confess that by 'individual' you mean no other person that the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept away, and made impossible." This is incitement to class genocide. This and similar statements is what gave Stalin an ideological excuse to exterminate class enemies, or "enemies of the people," as the official propaganda labeled them. Middle-class people are to be wiped out! This is what Marx wanted. I have no patience for self-serving philosophizing of Marx's apologists who say the Soviet Union and similar communist states were not "real" Marxist states. No, my dear philosophers, that WAS reality. Everything else is wishful thinking and pleasant self-delusion, or to put in in Marx's terms--the ideological opium of the people.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contrary to popular belief, Communism DOES work,
By A Customer
Far too many misconceptions and urban myths about Marxism have been created and disseminated by people who lacked understanding of what Marxism is all about, or how Communism works. The Communist Manifesto is a good introduction to Marxist political theory and the first stepping stone in understanding Communism, but it is a very short read and leaves many questions unanswered. I strongly suggest you also buy other books by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, etc.
One of the most enduring myths about Communism is that it "doesn't work" because of some inherent failure in "human nature", most often greed. The endurance of this myth is living proof that "a lie told often enough becomes accepted truth".
In reality, Communism does NOT rely on people sharing their possessions out of the kindness of their hearts. It relies on people sharing their possessions because they know that they will all benefit from it. Communism does not go against "human nature" (if such a thing even exists - we certainly haven't found any greed gene in our DNA) and it does not try to fight against greed. Greedy people will know that they have more to gain by respecting the system of communal ownership than by tearing it apart. They are better off in communism than capitalism (just like the vast majority of all people).
For my Russian friend, I strongly recommend Leon Trotsky's "The Revolution Betrayed". Many Russians never had a chance to read what Stalin's opponents within the Communist movement had to say about his repressive police state. I am from Eastern Europe myself, and I know very well that what we had before 1989 was far removed from Communism and Socialism. The Soviet Union was never communist, and it never even claimed to be - it claimed to be in the process of building communism. Unfortunately for them, you cannot build communism without democracy. Both Communism and Socialism are inherently democratic systems. The Soviet Union claimed to be socialist, but socialism means economic democracy (public control over the means of production). Did the people control the means of production in the USSR? Did the people control anything in the USSR? I think not.
The USSR was as "communist" as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is "democratic". Stalin called himself a communist and a champion of democracy. He was neither.
For Christians, I recommend a more thourough read of the Bible:
"And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need."
- Acts 2:44-45
Jesus Christ was, in many ways, the world's first communist.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
An excellent book. It is short and to the point. It may still happen in the future. Capitalism is surely not the last economic and social order of history. Stalin was definitely not a Marxist. Please don't confuse Marxism with Stalin and his gross abuses. Highly recommended. Humans are generally too selfish to implement everything he advocates..... at least in the present time!
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading,
This is a book that changed the world. Anyone that finds the writings of various economic view points to be of interest, will not be disappointed by this book.
Marx and Engles seem to feel the only way that the lower classes can break out of their situation, is through Communism.
You have to realize that the lower classes had been trapped in poverty for over a thousand years. I think you can understand that Marx and Engels thought this situation would never change under the current set of social conditions. This false conclusion, is what sets the manifesto in the wrong direction. Capitalism has created a huge middle class, and prosperity beyond anything a person 200 years ago could have imagined.
Abolition of private property, is really what communism is all about.
There seems to be a never ending list of people that believe one day, communism will work. I am not one of them.
An interesting note about Friedrich Engels, he was a successful capitalist. He had a seat on the Liverpool Stock Exchange.
3.0 out of 5 stars Adam,
Let's back up for a moment and recognize the universal truth that "knowledge is power". I don't for one second recognize Communism as a valid form of government. The ideology and naivete of the system, is far too flawed and way too poised for manipulation of the people it governs. That being said... this is my opinion. Anyone one with a respect for history and a thirst to understand the rights and wrongs of our society as well as our governing neighbors should read a copy of The Communist Manifesto. As wrong and misguided as I think Karl Marx and his colleagues theories for government and societal standards are, I cannot, with clear conscience say that he was not an intelligent man who did present his theory in a coherent manner. The only proper way to dispute these theories is to educate yourself to the theories directly. You cannot make clear judgements to defend the Constitutional Republic (that we are suppose to be living in) or the Democratic Society (that we currently live in) without understanding the systems and theory's that other governments have either succeeded or failed with. READ THIS MANIFESTO WITH YOUR MIND OPEN AS WELL AS YOUR EYES!!!!!!!!
4.0 out of 5 stars The state that never emerged!,
Obviously, Karl Marx as a great thinker unmasked the blueprint of a communist type of state. in his communist manifesto, he revealed and predicted the pattern for the best state that never materialized. he had the vision of a type of government that will benefit the prolectrate, though it was astoundingly powerful to run, but it failed in the shrouds of capitalist.
it never emerged, because capitalists were self-centered and greedy, comunism is only seen by the masses as being good, to the rich, it was bad, even an omen since capitalists are profited oriented. in this manifesto, the versatile genius decodes how a unique and immaculate community should be ruled by maping out strategic standards for the smooth operation of a perfect communist state. it pains see the fall of communism and the rise of capitalism to imperialism and now globalization, thereby eliminating the elements and properties of a communist society.
Karl Marx forcast the evils of capitalism when he saw how the poor are malginalized as a result of their lack of access to state power. he tries to shun the arrogant ways of capitalism and usher in a new trend of economy system which is communism. but it is a pity that today, the former has eraesed the latter to take up the scene and unless communism stands, there will never be a better governance for equality and transparency. but capitalism has gone too far to be destroyed and it will continue to grow and advance. it has grown from its original stage into imperialism and now it has fully blown into globalization.
the auther was a great thinker, he designed this blueprint for the best society in the globe, it is a socio-political and economic structure well study and presented for a republic without any form of biaz or choas, but it was murdered in the process of advancing into maturity. even at his death, no one will ever have his hopes, dreams and aspiration for a better society with the best Blueprint ever programmed.
Though he state the factors of a state, he never oppossed values, conflicts or rights, rather his system was meant to restore dignity to man and prosper him through integrity, giving to every man according to his needs, you dont have more than, and you wont have less than, it is to be contempted at your level. the book is nice, though non scholars could find it too ambigious to quantify and understand but it is the real expertized and genuis touch. it has a perfect polishing and the best finishing ever, why not go take a glimps at its contents, you may find it nourishing than blueberries. but as controversial as it is, it has failed and will never rise again. just feel my pains. a good work that died. go get it. dont forget, its for keeps.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, But Without Soul,
By A Customer
Aloha, First, this is an extremely poorly written book. Nonetheless, Marx quite accurately diagnoses the problem, namely people in power exploiting and taking advantage of the population. A problem that is as big an issue today as it was in the days of Marx. However, his cure seems formed in a laboratory, away from the real world. It's deeply intellectual, yet lacking in heart, soul, and street smarts. Feeling the pulse of this text, it is easy to conceive how it would serve to shape the Soviet Union into the cold and lifeless entity that it became. ------------------------------------------------------------- Marx fails to see that the issue confronting mankind isn't so much an external issue of what political system they live under, but rather a crisis of the heart and soul which is a deeply internal matter. Marx basicly replaces the bourgeois with the state. The net results are largely no better than before the revolution. The bourgeois were selfish, corrupt and exploitive, and so were the members of the state who replaced them. He kicked out one set of crooks, and replaced them with another set of crooks. ----------------------------------------------------- An outward revolution cannot, and will not ever change the inside of the human heart. And until there is radical inward transformation, there will be no significantly fruitful outward change in the state of the world. Marx's system would work great if the ruling entities and the masses were all Buddhas, Christ figures, saints and sages. But to be honest, Capitalism would work great under those circumstances as well. But humans are far more flawed than that. They are fearful, greedy and selfish mixed with attributes of goodness. ------------------------------------------------------- The question becomes, what political/economic system bests nurtures the goodness, yet keeps the selfish aspects from running wild? Good question! Yet I see the extreme leftist theory of Marxism to be very similiar to the extreme rightist beliefs of Bastiat. One tries to control too much to the point of squeezing the very life and soul out of the population. The other controls too little, essentially letting the wolf has his way in the hen house. Yet they become one at the point that neither will ever work unless all involved are truly enlightened beings who genuinely have the welfare of his neighbor at the forefront of their mind. -------------------------------------------- We're not there yet, and it's going to be awhile. At this point in human developement, we should focus on something in between the two poles. Something that effectively mixes liberties with social responsibility and equality. And in the meantime, we can continue to chip away at the selfish and fearful core that tortures mankind. Only when that inner freedom progresses significantly, can we have hope for a bright new day.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read,
The origins of private property and the subsequent capitalization of the world, leveraging on that property along with the cruel effects of industrial reveution is what made Engels and Marx write this manifesto. And it is worth a serious reading. Most of the points the authors stress are as relevant today as they were 150 years back. The mundane lives of the working class people, their strugle to make ends meet while the upper class with their means to capital enjoy life was disturbing to the angry Marx and he proposed a complete overhaul of that system. The book begins with understanding how once upon a time all land belonged to all people but later on a few got hands on the property to control many. The few versus many, the us versus them resounds throughout the book. The authors (in strong language) talk about the perils of capitalism, stressing on the delitirious effects of evil corporations (Without seeing FightClub :) that had turned most of the citizens of the world, slaves to the capital controlling masters. The puppets of these masters lack the means of production. And Marx hits the capitalists by attacking that the common man can never get the control over production, hence his life depends of the vagaries of busines cycles and his master. A good point, but the solution given is not very practical. While revolution might not feed the hunger, entrepreneurship will and this is what is ignored totally by Engels and Marx. The authors are more concerned about the distribution of wealth, than creation of new wealth. Wealth cannot be created by spilling blood or regime changes. It has to be created in the old fasioned way of hard work...etc! The manifesto is a copy every man interested in economics should have. It gives deep insights into philosophy, history, economics and psychology. Its a great reading and a powerfull one at the same time, a little flawed? Well, history has shown that.
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The Communist Manifesto by Friedrich Engels (Paperback - May 17 2008)
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