Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party

Part One: Development of the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat

Bourgeoisie (those who own the means of production)


1.
Feudal system (middle ages) operated with closed guilds. There are guilds for everything, and if you want some woodwork done, you call someone from the woodworker's guild.

2. New markets force the opening of these guilds. These new markets come about, in part, because of the discovery of America.
A new means of production takes hold -- manufacturing. Labour is not divided between guilds, but within shops themselves.

3. Markets keep growing. Steam and machinery take over manufacturing. As this happens, so-called "natural" relationships between humans are destroyed. Everything is turned into "
calculable reason". Everything is turned into a process designed to guarantee an outcome. The physician, the lawyer, the priest, the scientist, even family relations take on this form.

4. Means of production continue to be revolutionized. This requires constant social upheaval, for efficiency tends to be efficiency for the owner of the means of production, not for the worker. Workers, in fact, are frozen out,
regarded as expendable.
Meanwhile, the
cycle of social upheaval and technological solution becomes the norm. New markets are discovered, and quickly saturated. New means of production are found either by making workers more efficient, or by finding a tool that can do the work of the workers more cheaply. Again, people are regarded as a means to an end -- the end of production.

5.
The bourgeoisie, in order to find new markets (as well as new means of production), travel the globe. In countries which may have had little or no interest in this mode of production, the market is established by bringing in all sorts of goods for very low prices. The attraction is irresistable. At the same time, there is the promise of jobs. Of course, wages have no national standard yet, so the workers can be paid very little. There is a double exploitation -- workers at home are phased out, because they cost too much, and workers in the new country are paid very little, because they don't know any better yet. You end up not only with bourgeoisie and proletariats as people, but also as countries.

6. The results of all this, in the social life of the country:


7. Marx argues that
this type of system contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. The problem is that it cannot sustain the growth it needs. You end up with too much wealth, and this brings disorder into the society.

Proletariat (the workers)


1. The proletariat also has a history of development, tied to the earlier history and parallel to it. It begins with
struggles between individual labourers, then labourers within a particular shop, then in a trade, then in a locality. They react not against the capitalist, but against the machines -- they smash (or boycott) imported goods, they destroy property, all in an attempt to recover the status of the worker in an earlier age.

2. The
concentrating of discontent is a key element. As society settles into two large classes, those in the proletariat realize that they are victims, not because of their own laziness or lack of initiative, but because of a system that requires cheap labour. Oppression brings class consciousness, just as it did for blacks, women, North American natives, and other such groups.

3. The
first reaction against this oppression is to form alliances, or trade unions. That works for awhile, but not for long. Soon, you get the government thinking like business, and the joining of the two proves too much for the unions. The workers may demand (and even get) concessions from the government in the form of legislation, but that will not last either.
Of course, some of government will prove incompatable with business, and therefore be found redundant. These sections of the "ruling class" will provide the proletariat with fresh ideas of progress and enlightenment.

4. At some point, the proletariat will realize that
change will not come through negotiation. The reason is that even the language and means of communication have been co-opted by the bourgeoisie. There is a systematic distortion of communication, so that any argument that is made will always ultimately privilege the capitalist. Reason itself has become instrumental reason, and language supports that.

5.
Change, therefore, comes by revolution. This becomes possible for two reasons -- the bourgeoisie becomes decadent because of the corrupting power of wealth, and the proletariat comes to class consciousness, which focusses its purpose. The revolution will come, and the proletariat will be victorious.

Communists

The communists are not another political party. They cannot be, because the political process is itself tainted. They are simply the organizing arm of the workers. They are the ones who have come to greatest class consciousness.

The basic message of the communists is this: Abolition of private property. As Bakunin said, property is theft.