Marx was the son of a Jewish (but baptized) lawyer from the German Rhineland town of Trier. He was one of those persons of quality who grow up hating anyone telling him what to do. Most of his "economic" ideas stem from the time when he was twenty-four years old and his mother refused to support him any longer. Shortly after, he was made editor-in-chief of a newspaper that was accused of being sympathetic to communism. Marx flatly denied it, but a few years later he traveled to London to attend a meeting of the "Communist League." There, nearly all of his principles regarding Communism were looked upon with favor. He returned to Belgium and using a draft of Friedrich Engels', "Principles of Communism," wrote the "Communist Manifesto" to express the doctrines of the League.
In his Manifesto Marx basically saw history as a continuous class struggle for power and he calls upon the "proletariat" (wage earners) of the world to unite under his communist banner and throw off the chains of the wealthy middle class. The "first step," according to Marx, was to "raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy."1
Ironically, Marx had nothing but contempt for concepts of democracy or individual freedom and they found no place in his manifesto. Its effectiveness was due to its presentation as an organizational document and its hate-filled and aggressive style delivered with vigor and straightforwardness to19th century "workers" long since preconditioned for such thoughts.
In his manifesto, Marx sought the destruction and replacement of contemporary society. Noting that the rich capitalists had aligned with royalty or had already pushed them aside in a number of European nations, he pointed out that the wealthy really were the new masters of Europe. He believed that the wealthy "expropriated" to themselves the fruits of lower class labor and used the power of the state, religion, tradition, and the idea of morality to keep the lower classes in their place. In his manifesto, Marx not only wanted to "abolish countries and nationalities,"2 but advocated the: "Abolition of private property,"3 "family,"4 "inheritance,"5 "eternal truths ... religion ... all morality,"6 and "the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions."7 There is one place in his manifesto where Marx almost seems to be part of the human race momentarily and advocates the "abolition of children's factory labor," but he quickly adds, "in its present form."8
Although the possibility of quick results looked hopeless, Marx pointed to the French revolution (1789-99) where the nobility had been violently thrust aside (or beheaded) and the victory of the wealthy middle class and the lawyers ultimately became final. Marx believed that what the "bourgeoisie" had done, the lower classes could also do with the proper amount of violence. The time was ripe, Marx believed for the lower classes to overthrow the "oppression," "degeneration," "exploitation," "enslavement," and "conservative socialism" of the "capitalist .... bourgeoisie elite."
Marx saw however, that when one class overthrows another, it normally takes over the position of ruling class; therefore, the role of the less privileged was not simply to take over the nation from its old masters and use it for their own sake, but they must "smash" the old state and create a new one. This end, Marx believed, could be achieved only by a great fiery holocaust--a world wide revolution which would erase the upper classes from the face of the earth forever. A proletarian success in only one or two countries, Marx believed, would rally the lower classes of Europe to the Communist side for an ultimate triumph.
Naturally, like most would-be intellectuals, Marx saw most men as stupid. So, there would have to be an "intermediary" period where an elite "ruling class," or "dictatorship of the proletariat," reigned till everyone came to their senses. This "disciplined and compact group," according to Marx, would establish its control by force over all the population, abolish private property, take control of the resources, and govern according to the wishes of the Communist leaders. In time a classless society would develop, the state would wither away, anarchy would flourish, and there would be no one to tell anyone, especially Marx, what to do. Only then, according to Marx, "pre-history ends, and history begins."
That the publication of Marx's "Manifesto" coincided with the first day of the 1848 revolution (that swept Europe), would turn Marx into a sort of religious prophet and his Marxian communism into a dogma and a faith. The revolution of 1848 was crushed however, and on New Year's Day, 1849, he publish an article in his paper containing the statement: "world war--that is the program for 1849." Engels, who seemed to feel the "race" of the Slavs were somehow responsible for the failure of the revolution, would write a few genocidal articles which also appeared in Marx's paper. Engels felt that the unrevolutionary "Slavic barbarians" had no right to exist and in the coming war it would be best to "annihilate all these small pigheaded nations right down to their very names."9 Because of such "humanitarian ideas" (as many historians had insisted), communism, Marxist style, withered away.
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1 Communist Manifesto, Gateway 54
2 Ibid 5O
3 Ibid 41
4 Ibid 47
5 Ibid 55
6 Ibid 53
7 Ibid 82
8 Ibid 56
9 Grumbrell 54