Back To Basics

Relevance of Communist Manifesto


Communism has become outdated', 'Communists still hang on to the outdated theory'- this is how leaders of the bourgeois political parties prattle. In this prattling, bourgeois intellectuals play a major role. However, the Communists must admit the fact that the Communist parties which began their revolutionary rule in Russia and China, by raising revolutionary slogans against exploitation of labour had taken bourgeois path. As a result, Communism has nearly ceased to appear as a spectre to bourgeois parties and intellectuals. It is natural that the bourgeoisie feels confident and brave when the spectre of Communism neglected its revolutionary practice. But it is certain that the bourgeoisie will grasp the phenomenon of exploitation of labour because it is a truth.

What did Marx and Engels say in the 1872 preface of the Manifesto? "However much the state of things may have altered during the last twenty-five years, the general principles laid down in this Manifesto are, on the whole, as correct today as ever. Here and there some detail might be improved." It follows that we need to improve the details but we need not alter the fact of that class distinctions exist due to exploitation of labour. As long as the exploitation of labour exists, opposition to it will remain a reality.

Today, in 2018, that is 170 years after the publication of the Manifesto, the proletariat need not change its view that there is not a single shortcoming in the theory of Communism. Will Communism become unreal when one finds bourgeois forms of income such as land rent, interest and profit glorify certain section of the population in all societies across the world?

Long ago, Marx and Engels declared that the spectre of Communism was haunting Europe. But, today, not only Europe but also all the continents know about this spectre. The main problem is that the working classes are not aware as much as the bourgeoisie is aware.

Have we noted how many more facts that Marx and Engels revealed? Let us mention some important formulations in the Manifesto and see how they are still relevant.

"The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie."

What a clarity about the function of the State machinery! After knowing this fact, how stupid it is to enter into the political sphere where laws that protect the interests of the bourgeoisie prevail? The class of exploiters will be extremely happy if we do not learn the revolutionary theory.

What do the Revolutionary Communists who oppose bourgeois governments declare during the election season? 'Defeat the bourgeois parties!''Support the democratic candidates?''Is this a way to oppose exploitation of labour? What will the so-called 'democratic' candidates do by participating in that democracy? Is that democracy not driven by the laws that defend exploitation of labour? Democracy for which class? Is this democracy for the working classes? If they fail to understand this small point, shouldn't we conclude that the Communists have not learnt anything from the Manifesto?

* "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production…"
Unless we understand this fact, we will not be able to understand why bourgeois mode of production introduces a new instrument of labour each day into the society. Super rockets! Super bullets! Super trains! Super airplanes! Super computers! Why such super forms of growth?Is it for the convenience of the people? No, not at all! It is a competition among the Capitalists. It is the avarice of capitalists to secure new markets over the sun and the moon. Is our working class able to understand these fact and secret? Our guys had revealed this fact about 170 years ago! It is the intellectual labourers like Engineers who design the superfast bullet trains that move with a speed of 10 thousand miles per hour, simply to serve the competitive interests of the capitalists.It is the manual labourers who build those trains! Yet they look at these trains with wonder.The question, 'for whom these super things?' does not occur to us. Why does the working class not despise the bourgeois mode of production which constantly increase the means of production and turn the working masses into unemployed and 'surplus population'? No other reason except that we are not able to understand what Communism is. The leaders of our parties themselves are indifferent to it. Those leaders do not change the names of their parties. Name of the party remains Communist Party. They walk backwards and further backwards.

"The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere."

If not for this motive, why does the bourgeoisie spread from one region to another? We are calling this phenomenon with a delicate name, "Globalisation." What is the real meaning of Globalisation? Do we know the real meaning of Globali-sation as extending the exploitation of labour across the globe? Do you say, 'what will we do if we know about it?' We will do whatever is needed to do if we really know about it. The second chapter in the Manifesto has indicated the measures to be taken.

"The bourgeoisie compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves."

Today the civilisation constitutes the same kind of garments and the same kind of cosmetics kits (they may be of different qualities and prices) at all places starting from the remote tribal markets to malls in metropolitan cities.

"…in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time or, by increased speed of the machinery, etc." The burden of toil increases many times, not to a little extent. The working hours increase and intensify not only in the case of the manual workers who work with the large-scale machines but also the intellectual workers who work with computers. The burden of toil has also increased in the case of those who work with high speed computers. What happened to the 8-hour working day? Is 8-hour working day is the permanent limit? Will the working day not decrease, if everyone performs labour? It follows that neither the 'Manifesto'nor 'Capital' has not yet reached the working class.

* "Masses of labourers, crow-ded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are the slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine…"

Is it clear now that slavery has taken this form today? This is what Marx and Engels stated 170 years ago!

"By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying."

The current policy of 'Ease of doing business' is facilitating unlimited freedom to carry on any kind of business. The bourgeois class has full freedom to destroy the environment, acquire lands in village after village, to fire the workers at will and to deprive right of the workers to form unions.

"That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine."

Is the essence of all cultures, whether it is Indian culture, religious culture, or national culture, the same or different? The function of all these cultures is to make people remain obedient to their Masters and the State. If any one expresses ideas opposing such culture, the rulers will accuse the critics that they are destroying the culture. Have you not heard about such accusations?

"The working people have no country"

Workers, who perform labours for their Masters, are workers wherever they live on the earth. The national labels like Indian workers, China workers, Pakistan workers and so on based simply on the bourgeois laws. But, all of them belong to the same class. The class that transcends the boundaries of countries. Should the workers have 'nationality' feeling or feeling that they belong to a particular country? No, what they ought to have is the feeling of proletarian internationalism. We need to read Manifesto again and again to understand it better.

"The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class."

Just as the material means of production such as land, factories, mines, transport are in the hands of the bourgeois class, the means of mental production, namely the mass media will also be in their hands. In such a situation, whatever ideas that are spread by the ruling class will also be the ideas of the people who are ruled by that class. How do working class people form ideas? At present, educational institutions, newspapers, films, Television channels etc. which are owned or controlled by the bourgeoisie and or its State are governing the ideas of people.

"A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society. To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind."

This gang of bourgeois reformers, not only existed then, but it exists in all the countries even today after 170 years. Unless we realise the fact that the programmes of these reformers do not solve the problems but merely give temporary relief, we will be sunk in the quagmire. Are we aware of this fact?

"…(Communists) never cease, for a single instant, to instill into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat…"

This is the lesson that we learn from the Manifesto. Well, then, are our communists doing this job? Are the party cadres observing how the party leaders and the top committees act? Are we aware whether our communist party is aligning with one of the several bourgeois political parties? Should the leaders always teach us? Can't we learn ourselves? Can't we discuss and debate with our leaders if necessary?

"They (communists) openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions."

The bourgeois State machinery, consisting of arms, ammunition, army, police and the intelligence agencies, is functioning as a means of oppression and hence no peace talks or appeals will not yield any result. When history tells us the fact that the working class does not have any other way, what is wrong in the expression "forcible overthrow"? Does the working class have any other means for its emancipation?

"Working people of all countries, Unite!"

As the bourgeois mode of production make commodities and the labourers move to all corners of the world beyond the limits of a given country, and as the world bourgeoisie squeezes the 'surplus value'created by the world working class, workers of the world must unite and ultimately stop the exploitation of labour. When the workers of one region or a country, wage movements, the workers of other regions and countries must derive inspiration and cooperate with them. Hence the slogan, "Workers of all countries, Unite!"

How many more things can we talk? There are dozens and dozens of revolutionary formulations in the Manifesto. We must read it and assimilate its essence!

[Post-script to "an introduction to Manifesto of the Communist Party". Originally appeared in Andhra Jyothi, daily, December 2018. Translation from Telugu: B R Bapuji]

Vol. 53, No. 22-25, Nov 29 - Dec 26, 2020