Karl Marx/Addendum

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This addendum is a continuation of the article Karl Marx.

Communist Manifesto

The "Communist Manifesto" by Marx and Engels called for the working classes to rise in rebellion. Eric Hobsbawm has argued there was a "triumphal march" of capitalism after the European revolutions of 1848-49, which proves that Marx and Engels were completely wrong in their prognosis of the rapid intensification of class conflict and the destruction of capitalism, and that From 1848-49 onward the European bourgeoisie implemented successfully various reforms that insured their hegemony and confounded the prognosis of the "Manifesto".

10 Rules to Achieve Communism

In part II of his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx laid out ten rules that he believed would be "unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production" and "pretty generally applicable" to different countries when the "proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie"

These rules are often referred to as the "10 Planks of Socialist Communism":

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.

7. 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.

8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

The "dictatorship of the proletariat" was introduced by Marx and Engels, and later used by V. I. Lenin and Joseph Stalin to justify their totalitarian rule. They controlled the Communist party in the Soviet Union in the name of the proletariat (which had no voice.) Marx and Engels believed in the need for such a dictatorship during the transition to communism following the takeover by the proletariat. They envisaged some undefined form of absolute sovereignty of the people in a radical democratic state based on universal and equal suffrage. Supposedly the dictatorship would allow the proletariat to abolish bureaucracy and private ownership of the means of production, using force and repressive or dictatorial methods to overcome the inevitable resistance by the bourgeoisie. Lenin, however, saw the concept in terms of a dictatorship exercised not by a democratically chosen majority but by a vanguard minority revolutionary party; he eventually accepted the need for a state bureaucracy, and his more extreme opposition to the bourgeoisie led him to favor their exclusion and disenfranchisement to the benefit of the urban working class.

Paris and Brussels

In Paris Marx discovered a hothouse of innumerable socialist sects. A proposed journal collapsed, and he plunged into a program of exhasutive readfing in politics, history and economics. In 1844 Marx composed a series of treatises known as the "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" or "Paris Manuscripts," in which he finally espoused "communism". He began a lifelong friendship and collaboration with Friedrich Engels, whose father was a partner in a cotton firm in the English city of Manchester. Engels supplied Marx with a practical knowledge of the daily workings of capitalism, as well as generous cash subsidies and the one firm intellectual friendship that lasted until death.

On expulsion from Paris in the autumn of 1844, Marx settled (for the next three years) in Brussels, renewing his study of economics. He visited England, with Engels as his guide, and in London met the leaders of the League of the Just, a semiclandestine club of emigre German artisans. In Brussels Marx founded a network of correspondence committees to keep German, French, and English communists and socialists informed about each other's ideas and activities and to introduce some theoretical unity into the movement.

He devoured the works of economists Adam Smith, David Ricardo, the comte de Saint-Simon, and many others. He rejected the individualistic radicalism of Pierre Joseph Proudhon and attacked him in The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), an early attempt to systematize his own thought.

By 1847 the League of the Just was conscious of a need for a more firm theoretical foundation. Marx and Engels were approached and proved eager to help. During two long congresses in London, Marx's ideas were accepted in principle by the organization, now renamed the Communist League, and Marx was commissioned to set them down in writing.

Revolution of 1848

Just as soon as the "Communist Manifesto" appeared, but unrelated to its publication, rebellions erupted in Europe in which workers and intellectuals, and even some members of the middle classes participated. The first of the revolutions of 1848, broke out in Paris. Marx rushed back to Paris at the invitation of the liberal provisional government that had replaced the government of King Louis Philippe. By March 1848, the revolution had reached Prussia, and in Berlin King Frederick William IV had been compelled to grant an elected parliament, a free press, and the convening of an assembly to draw up a new constitution. Marx hurried to Cologne (part of Prussia), and resumed his journalistic activities, concentrating his energies on a new paper, the "Neue Rheinische Zeitung," which under his editorship favored an alliance between the German workers' movement and the more progressive elements of the middle class. By autumn, 1848, the revolution had been defeated in France and in the Austrian Empire. Marx still favored such an alliance and refused to support separate working-class candidates in elections. Not until April 1849, a month before the final collapse of the revolution in Germany, did he change tactics and advocate separate working-class political action. But it was far too late. Marx returned once again to Paris, expecting the revolution to succeed there; it did not and he was expelled in July 1849. Marx returned to London to begin his long exile.


The early years in London were characterized by grinding poverty. Three of his six children died. Three of his daughters reached maturity. In 1856 a small legacy enabled Marx to move into a more adequate house, but what he conceived to be the necessity of keeping up appearances soon renewed his financial difficulties. Not until 1864 did the death of his mother and a legacy from an old Communist comrade, bring him substantial relief. But as Marx's pecuniary worries receded, his health deteriorated; he was plagued by boils from head to foot. Despite these difficulties, Marx enjoyed a very warm home life. He loved to play with his children, and the week regularly culminated with a Sunday picnic accompanied by singing and recitations from Shakespeare.

Marx rejoined the Communist League and resumed his journalistic activities. But the study of economics had convinced him that "a new revolution is possible only in consequence of a new crisis," an economic crisis.