21 February 1848

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto.

“The Communist Manifesto” is a political pamphlet written by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It was first published in 1848 and is one of the most influential political texts in history. The Manifesto outlines the principles of Marxism, a socio-political theory that aims to critique the capitalist system and advocate for a classless society where the means of production are owned collectively.

Historical Materialism: Marx and Engels argue that throughout history, the driving force behind societal change has been the struggle between different social classes. They propose that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Capitalism: The Manifesto critiques capitalism, describing it as a system characterized by exploitation, where the bourgeoisie (the capitalist class) owns the means of production and exploits the proletariat (the working class) for their labor, paying them wages that are insufficient for a dignified existence.

Proletariat Revolution: Marx and Engels predict that the inherent contradictions within capitalism will lead to its downfall. They argue that as the proletariat becomes increasingly oppressed and alienated, they will eventually rise up against the bourgeoisie in a revolution, overthrowing the capitalist system.

Dictatorship of the Proletariat: Following the revolution, Marx and Engels envision a transitional phase where the proletariat will establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat” to consolidate their power and suppress any remaining resistance from the bourgeoisie. This dictatorship is seen as a necessary step in the transition towards communism.

Communism: Ultimately, Marx and Engels envisage a classless society where the means of production are owned collectively, and wealth is distributed according to one’s needs. In this communist society, the state would wither away as there would be no need for it to enforce class distinctions.

“The Communist Manifesto” has had a profound impact on politics, economics, and sociology, shaping the course of history in the 19th and 20th centuries. It has inspired numerous socialist and communist movements around the world and continues to be studied and debated by scholars and activists alike.