The Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Background: Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German political philosopher, who worked for social reforms on the basis of his version of socialism. He lived in exile in Paris (1843-48) and after 1849 was expelled from Prussia. He settled in London where he lived for the rest of life, continuing his work for social reform and supported materially by his life-long friend, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), with whom he collaborated to write “The Communist Manifesto” (1848). He developed a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” positing that the underlying dynamic of history consisted of economic forces which manifest themselves in revolutionary class struggles, until a just social order would emerge, the “classless” society.
What is meant by “class struggle”? Notice how this is serving, in effect, as the angle of interpretation for history (253). Does this appear plausible to you?
What does the word, “bourgeoisie,” mean and to what does it refer? Does the analysis of the way in which the bourgeoisie evolved in history (254-5) appear convincing? In what sense is it revolutionary? Why is it cosmopolitan? How has it created a world market? (Recall this was composed in 1848!)
After painting a portrait of the rise of the bourgeoisie, Marx and Engels next explore how similar underlying historical dynamics are working to undermine them (257). What is the thrust of this argument? Does it appear valid to you?
To what does the term, “proletariat,” refer? How do they figure into the analysis? What kind of development (258) does the proletariat undergo? How does this fit into the overall viewpoint of the class struggle? (258-260)
Does this selection explore the need for social transformation? How would it relate to the other readings in this section? Could Bonaventure’s insights take such reflections into account?