This will be a commentary on the text of the Communist Manifesto. Text itself often comes with the introduction, but said introduction – half of the book – will be ignored, or, at best, touched upon at the end. Aside from comments on the Manifesto itself, however, notes will be made on where modern world differs from that which Marx had described. As a result, this commentary will be less of a direct commentary and more of a manifesto itself.
COMMENTS ON THE MANIFESTO
Manifesto even today, though indirectly, informs progressive though. And thus it is important to understand it for both historic and practical political reasons. This fact, that it is still applicable, is obvious from the very start.
Manifesto outright states that the history is history of class struggles. This is the view of modern Left: enemy is always the capitalist, and “workers of all lands” have to unite to overthrow the capitalist. But this view actually serves the capitalists: capital means power, and power today is primarily international. It is international capital that is dangerous to workers’ rights, not small and medium, national businessmen. But this stance of Manifesto, that history is based on class struggle, is obvious in today’s progressivism: ethnicity and race do not exist; entire humanity is human race; culture is irrelevant; immigration is good; immigrants, blacks etc. are being exploited by big bad capitalists. The classist and international nature of Marxism have left the Left wide open to exploitation by the very capitalists they profess to oppose.
Upper classes have often exploited lower classes, so much is true. But there were also many examples of inter-class solidarity: in Croatia, nobiliy sacrificed their wealth, their well-being, their standing and even their lives to preserve the kingdom and to defend its people against Ottoman aggression. What all these examples have in common was that they were motivated by common cultural and ethnic consciousness, by the spirit of the tribalism that is so loathsome to today’s elites and intelligentsia. Whenever that spirit was weakened, nobility turned against their own people, bringing society to ruin.
And this situation is unavoidable. There will always be differences between people, and differences will always cause conflict. Only strong borders can reduce the conflict between the groups, but even then conflict will still remain, if in reduced and restructured form. This is true not only between the tribes, but also within the tribe itself. That was the purpose of feudalism: by reducing physical and social mobility both, it ensured stability and safety at the price of opportunity. At the same time, existence of tribal loyalties meant that class conflict too was reduced, and that landowners felt the need to contribute to the community, not just take from it.
Capitalism however has changed the equation significantly. No longer is wealth tied to the land: modern capital is probably the most mobile “thing” in existence. Thus capitalist has no loyalties: to the land or to the people; the only thing he is loyal to is his own account. Nation does not concern him, only himself. Medieval nobility opposed taxation with all their might, but they did give something back: they protected their own peasants from external depredations (even as they preyed upon them themselves), provided them help when going was bad – that was in fact the entire reason d’etre behind nobility, to provide those services which undeveloped medieval state was incapable of. But while small and medium businessmen may do similar services, no such loyalty is felt by the class of large, international capitalists and bankers: they are willing to bring whole nations to ruin, if only they can profit from it.
Unlike what Marx states, the relationship between the colonization and the markets was a reinforcing loop: hunger for markets was caused by the development of manufacture and industry, but once colonization began it fed said development. Burgoeise did tear apart natural ties which formed feudal, patriarchal, idylic relations of old: only money remained, as a replacement for family and honour. Instead of God, culture and tradition, there are new gods – money and free trade, instead of culture there is hedonism, and instead of tradition there is emptiness to be “filled” by PR experts, by logos and by illogical wants. Occupation has become a mere job, something to be done with no honour and no enjoyment, merely to satisfy basic animalistic needs of the body.
The advancement of modes of production on which Marx wrote has gone so far that even production itself is disppearing: modern capitalism is concerned with production of ideas, with control over thoughts and emotions of an individual. Authorities of old are discredited so that nothing stands between the capitalist spirit and the soul of man. Nothing is sacred, except for profit; nothing lasts, except money. And what physical production there is has become even more global than in age of Marx: reinvigorated by globalization, pushed by ideologies of open borders, globalism, equality and destruction of all identity (be it national, ethnic, cultural or racial), capital nowadays goes where there are lowest wages, cheapest resources and most unsanitary conditions. Just as noted in The Manifesto, neither industry nor anything else has any national character anymore. Even nations hardly have it, overtaken by global consumerist culture of degenerate United States, by mass immigration and by ideologies which – ironically, perhaps – had grown out of very ideologies spawned by Marx and his students.
Cosmopolitan character of consumption and production in every country has also robbed it of soul, of humanity. Industries no longer utilize not just indigenous raw material, but also indigenous workforce neither. Materials and workers are both imported from abroad, and this globalist exploitation is given a veil of legitimacy by covering it in terms such as “humanitarian”, “refugees”, “aid” and so on. New wants – which are nothing new today, being a product of 19th century colonialism – indeed require for their satisfaction the products of new lands and climes. Nations are no longer self-sufficient, but are universally interdependent. This interdependence is presented as a good thing, as something that will help prevent future wars – but it was just as strong in 1848. when Europe bled due to revolutions, and in early 1900s when The Great War – later renamed World War I – had started. So neither free trade nor open borders can be thought of as a guarantee of peace. In fact, they are dangerous to peace because they promote contact, and contact means conflict. At the same time, reduction in “national one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness”, as Marx had put it, leads to loss of intellectual diversity alongside the cultural and biological diversity.
Neither does burgoeis improvement of instruments of production “draw all nations into civilization”. Muslims for one obstinately reject integration into so-called advanced civilization, despite all the advancements in technology and production, and continue to hate all non-Muslims as fiercely as they had done since the seventh century. Meanwhile, the burgoeis subduction of the country to the rule of the towns and creation of enormous cities did indeed happen. But unlike what the Communist Manifesto posits, its consequences were catastrophic: pressed together yet isolated, lost in the jungle of concrete, asphalt and steel, modern urban man is mentally and emotionally ill and disordered, yet does not even realize it. Instead, he continues to spend material wealth on often useless trinkets (such as television), in pursuit of the happines which continues to evade him despite his best efforts.
The consequence of agglomeration of population was – as Marx states – political centralization, with independent but loosely connected provinces lumped together into nation-states. Means of production also developed, creating capitalism. Both urbanization and centralization led to dehumanization of the society and concentration of political power. The process however did not stop at nation-states or even states. It has continued throughout 19th, 20th and 21st century, with current state of massive, overarching, utterly undemocratic and inhumane supranational organizations. Instead of nation-states which provided safe havens for ethnic groups in increasingly connected world, politics are increasingly dominated by supranational and international organizations that leave both group and individual bare naked towards elements of a globalized world.
Modern industry had led – for the first time in history – to an epidemic of overproduction. This then necessitated propaganda and thought control, transformation of a human being into a consumer. Individual, culture and society itself have come to service the machine of production. More than that, it has come to destroy the culture, replacing it with an artificial construct of machinery, so that products from one place can be sold all over the world. Globalist capitalist has created “equality” and other ideals of the modern Left so as to accomodate the people to him instead of accomodating himself to the people.
The divorce of the capital from the land has led to modern slavery in sweatshops of China and Indonesia, where workers are – more than ever before – appendages of the machine. This situation is nothing new, Marx himself has already noted it. What is new is the transnational nature of capital, which is able to run away whenever presented with demands. As a consequence, improvement in conditions of workers is nearly impossible. Large corporations are also capable of destroying, squeezing out most of small local competition, thus destroying the last vestiges of humanity in the economy. And new developments threaten the existence of humans at all. If artificial intelligence ever achieves human intellect, human workforce will become superfluous and may well be exterminated.
Globalization is a weapon of the capitalist against the common man. Within a locality, or a nation, there exists a possibility of people organizing themselves against exploitation. As long as city-states and nation-states survived, with their borders, their customs, their culture, their tariffs, then the rich classes had at least some limits in their exploitation. But globalization allows the class of transnational capitalists to concentrate their power against certain areas, and in ways which common people can never match. The idea that “workers of all countries” can unite and defend their rights is nothing but a myth, promoted by idealists who do not know better and by capitalists who want to promote globalization and destruction of everything traditional.
Immigration steals strength from the people, as it destroys the common ground of origin, heritage and culture which they require to organize. Even trade unions become impossible. What is left under the spectre of “civic nationalism” are the institutions, and these are inevitably under control the capitalists. Any form of large-scale organization thus becomes impossible, and what is left is merely an individual, vulnerable, broken and alone. Marxism, with its misunderstanding of history and non-understanding of culture, had helped prepare the ground for the victory of its enemy. Even the economic crises, on which Marx had so relied, merely help the capital in concentrating wealth and power in its hands – after each new crisis, people are poorer and capitalists wealthier. Small businessmen do not have the capital to survive the crises and thus become victims of large capitalists, with the end result of constriction of competition and establishment of socialism for large corporations as they use mechanisms of democracy to subvert the state to their needs.
But revolutions never created anything successful. Rather, they always destroyed the existing structures and ushered in new tyranny. And in any case, in modern society there can be no “Communist revolution”: working class is a minority, and is in any case not revolutionary in its nature. Left relies on large capitalists, uneducated university students and equally uneducated professors, and on idealists with no idea of reality. It has been wholly subverted and coopted by the international business class, to whom the only true danger is the traditional Right: not the conservative civic-nationalist center, but rather the traditionalist, ethnonationalist and religions Right.
In fact, Marx had correctly assessed that “The lower middle class, the small manufacturer the, shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history.”. Marx and marxism hate and despise the middle class, and consider it no better than large capitalists, not understanding that only middle class of small businessmen can provide the alternative to corporate capitalism. While claiming to fight against the capitalists, Communists attack the only group which can effectively resist and replace the capitalists, merely because said group is reactionary. In other words, fact of revolution is to Communists more important than actually achieving its purpoted goals.
Yet capitalism did weaken national character through its divorce of people from their land. Large capitalists seek to uproot not just capital but people themselves, to transfer them as and where needed as if they are handling tools in a bag. Thus nationalism has to form the basis of any resistance against transnational capitalism, but also Marxist Communism. But burgoeise did – in part, but still contrary to Marx’s claims – manage to uplift the laborer with the progress of industry, even if against the wishes of capitalists. In that, perhaps, one needs to seek reasons for failure of Marxist revolution to happen in Western Europe after World War I when it did happen in feudal Russia, a complete opposite of what Marx had expected.
Communists are by nature internationalists. As Marx had written: “1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independent of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle for the working class against the burgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole”. They deny the value of individual self-determination, as for nations so for individuals: individual property is to be abolished: “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”. True, this is supposed to only hold true for the capital, or rather economic property as opposed to private one. But that means abolishment of the small enterpraneuer, and thus the possibility of an individual rising with his own skills. On the other hand, free trade can be and is dangerous, but not for the reasons Marx has considered it dangerous. It is dangerous because it increases the scope of the capital and its reach: divisions which will have appeared in a nation-state are, thanks to the global free trade, multiplied and increased to unimaginable levels. Unlike the capitalist free trade and Communist no trade (abolition of trade), fettered traders of the Middle Ages were productive while not being disruptive. It was only when free trade was pushed that trade became dangerous: Venetians, in their pursuit of the free trade, used Crusaders to sack Constantinople and thus opened up first Anatolia and then the Balkans to invasion by armies of Islam. This sin was not and could not be erased by Venetian participation in symbolically important but strategically meaningless Battle of Lepanto.
But abolition of private property and of wages based on productivity did lead to laziness and exploitation of workers by each other. Thus the objection that Communism causes laziness, which Marx dismissed, actually is true.
Abolition of family is another notion which Marx put forward that is accepted by modern-day progressives. To Marx, family is based on capital, on private gain. He does not accept – and may not even understand – the psychological, sociological, educational and cultural value of family. In attempting to do away with family, Marx has – once again – appropriated one of the most destructive aspects of modern capitalism. He correctly saw that the industry of his age was destroying the family, but instead of defending the family, he opted to join the destruction.
And as already noted, family is not the only traditional social structure which Marx wanted to abolish. He stated that “workingmen have no country”, but that is blatantly false: country, with its borders, its tariffs, its customs and its political elite positioned within the reach of the masses, is the only possible defense working class has against international capitalists and financial elites. His following statement, that “National differences and antagonisms between peoples are vanishing gradually from day to day, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto.”, is nothing short of hilarious considering that it was followed – not seventy years later – by two devastating global wars, which were caused in large part precisely thanks to the freedom of commerce and the global market. Nor is antagonism between nations driven by antagonism within nations, else both empires of old and today’s Western states – all highly multicultural – would have been engaged in constant warfare. Thus, contrary to Marx’s statement, exploitation between individuals has no causal connection to exploitation between states.
Marx’s rejection of permanent patterns of all societies is rather idiotic. Ideas which are common to all societies are common because they are required for functioning of the society. Destruction of these patterns will not – as Marx posits – be either result or the cause of the end of class antagonisms. Rather, their destruction will lead to destruction of human society itself.
Finally, Marx brings forth his ideas for modification of society:
- Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
- A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
- Abolition of all right of inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
- Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
- Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
- Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
- Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
- Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of child factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
All of these measures both require, and result in, a dictatorial totalitarian state. Abolition of property in land means that land can become either communal or state land. Former is doable: it was after all the pattern of many historical societies. But latter is still far more likely outcome, and one inherently undesireable. Abolition of right of inheritance means the same thing, but not just with land. It means total state control over everything, as nothing can be left by one person to another. And of course, centralization of credit also means that one is dependant on the state if he wants to start anything.
Centralization of means of communication and transport means that one cannot say, think or do anything unless approved by the state – moving from one city to another becomes a bureocratic nightmare. “Common plan” and extension of instruments of production owned by the state likewise means a planned economy, which again removes from individual any economic agency and, to make matters worse, cannot really function anyway. Equal obligation of all to work ignores the fact that individuals differ in their abilities, means and interests – it introduces the very robotic workforce which large capitalists want. Abolition of distinction between town and country likewise means totalitarian control over population’s movement and living habits, as it is impossible to achieve by a natural process.
Rather than utopia, the above paints a totalitarian dystopia. The only point of the plan which is not flat-out impossible (or evil) is point 10): free education for all children. Reason for this is simply the fact that doing otherwise leads to a loss of talent. But even then, free education should not be compulsory. Everything else, however, is either impossible to achieve or outright diabolical, for the reasons explained earlier throughout the text.