Communist Manifesto, I-II, decoded

A spectre is haunting Europe. It is the spectre of communism. We communists are everywhere. It is now time to tell you what we think.

1: BOURGEOIS AND PROLETARIANS

Real history is the history of class struggles.

Real history is the story of the rich screwing the poor and the poor fighting back.

History has become simple. It is two classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are screwing us. We are fighting back. It was not always so: in the past, many classes screwed many others.

Modern industry is based on spreading trade and ‘development’ through the world. Modern industry has trampled every class other than its own. Now instead of peasants serving monarchs, politicians serve corporate executives.

The bourgeoisie has ruined the beauty and diversity of human life. We relate to each other as prices, nothing more. We no longer have saints; now we have drive-thru absolutions. We do not have warriors; we have ticketed wrestling events. There is only one god to worship: Mammon.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly inventing new means of production. When they do this, they change the relations that people had to one another. This constant change, this constant uncertainty, is what makes our age unique. All the ancient, holy, varied relations disappear. New ones disappear too, before they can become traditions.

Because capitalists need constant profit and growth, they now spread throughout the world. Capitalism must spread, forever, like cancer.

This spread turns old civilizations into ‘modern’ civilizations. Old industries are destroyed. Instead of feeding the people who grew it, rice is shipped to wherever it gets the highest profits. Raw materials, which once supported local communities and local industries, are shipped to wherever they bring the most profits. Instead of old wants, we all have new wants. Our new wants pull food from the mouths of peasants half-way around the world. We can no longer be satisfied with what we produce ourselves.

Intellectual products are no different. Bollywood is more Hollywood than Bombay. Our ‘culture’ spreads, destroying old cultures.

We crush old cultures with cheap prices. Even barbarians love Wal-Mart. The capitalists here make capitalists there. The world is remade in our image.

Cities swell with slums. The peasants there are slaves for our cheap sneakers. They are desperate for our work, once freed from the idiocy of rural life. The countryside is dependent on the city. The Third World is dependent on the First. The East is dependent on the West.

But this cannot last. Capitalism is a monster. It is a Frankenstein. Once unleashed, it cannot be controlled, and it threatens us. It brings crises, each worse than the last. The crises are an epidemic that once would have been absurd: overproduction. We create too much stuff. The glut means that the factories, the productive forces, must be destroyed. There is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. Profit is threatened, so the bourgeoisie drives up profits by destroying capital. They throw workers, already desperate, onto the street. Also, they spread, farther and deeper, into markets that had not been exploited or markets that could be exploited more.

And in doing so, they dig their own graves. The bourgeoisie pave the way for ever worse crises.

As capital develops, the proletariat is diminished. They sell their labour as best they can. Their jobs become idiotic, monotonous, and vile. Their lives are a commodity, to be bought like any other commodity. The worse their lives become, the more profit the bourgeoisie makes.

Work has lost its beauty. Men are now merely part of the machines they use. As the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Workshops become factories. Workers are organized like soldiers. They are slaves, both to their masters and their machines.

When competition drives wages down far enough, and when machines replace strength and skill, everyone can work. All people become labourers. Women and children are pressed into service. They will work for the least money of all.

The middle class, who used to own shops and small trades are forced out of business. Home Hardware becomes Home Depot. The middle class becomes proletariat. Wages drop more.

As the proletariat class grows, it becomes stronger, and the bourgeoisie must repress it. Men compete with men for work. Men compete with women. Women compete with children. The proletariat fight over jobs like dogs fight over scraps of food. They must. Unions are formed. Unions are crushed. Now and then, workers are victorious, but only for a time.

The bourgeoisie fights itself too. National industries are set against other nations. The bourgeoisie begs for the help of the proletariat. In doing so, it gives the proletariat strength. It gives them the weapons they will use. The bourgeoisie produces nothing but its own grave-diggers, and the victory of the proletariats is inevitable.

2: PROLETARIANS AND COMMUNISTS

Our theory is simple: Get rid of private property.

We do not mean the property of the workers. They earned that! No, there is no need to take the property of the peasant, the artisan, or the proletariat. It has already been stolen. Industry took it.

We want the property of the bourgeoisie. You are bourgeoisie? You think you have earned it? Nonsense. You took it. Are you afraid? You should be.

Communists are feared because they want to do away with countries and nationality. The workers have no country. We cannot take what they do not have. There are no national antagonisms now. There is only one antagonism: that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

The proletariat will wrestle, bit by bit, the instruments of production from the hands of the capitalists. Certainly, at first, this will mean that we will seize factories. But that period will be short. Soon we will beat the capitalists at their own game. We will undermine them from within.

This is what we want. This is how we will win:

  1. Abolition of land ownership.
  2. A heavy progressive income tax.
  3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. A single national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. State-owned transportation and communication industries.
  7. State-owned factories.
  8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. A more even distribution of population over the nation. An abolition of the distinction between city and countryside.
  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.

When we win, the free development of each will lead to the free development of all.