MIA : Marxists : Marx & Engels : Library : 1848 : Manifesto of the Communist Party : Chapter 1:       [German Original]

Manifesto of the Communist Party A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries? Two things result from this fact: I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power. II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself. To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages . Chapter I. Bourgeois and Proletarians (1) [German Original] The history of all hitherto existing society (2) is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master (3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed. The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development. The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop. Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois. Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages. We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange. Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune (4) : here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part. The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation. The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades. The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind. The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere. The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image. The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West. The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier, and one customs-tariff. The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour? We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder. Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class. A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented. The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians. In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, 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 the increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of machinery, etc. Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised 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 they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is. The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex. No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc. The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population. The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages. At this stage, the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie. But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots. Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years. This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried. Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society further, in many ways, the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie. Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress. Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole. Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product. The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance, they are revolutionary, they are only so in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat. The “dangerous class”, [ lumpenproletariat ] the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue. In the condition of the proletariat, those of old society at large are already virtually swamped. The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labour, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests. All the preceding classes that got the upper hand sought to fortify their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property. All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air. Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie. In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat. Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of the feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern labourer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society. The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable. Chapter 2: Proletarians and Communists 1. By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour. By proletariat , the class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live. [Engels, 1888 English edition] 2. That is, all written history. In 1847, the pre-history of society, the social organisation existing previous to recorded history, all but unknown. Since then, August von Haxthausen (1792-1866) discovered common ownership of land in Russia, Georg Ludwig von Maurer proved it to be the social foundation from which all Teutonic races started in history, and, by and by, village communities were found to be, or to have been, the primitive form of society everywhere from India to Ireland. The inner organisation of this primitive communistic society was laid bare, in its typical form, by Lewis Henry Morgan's (1818-1881) crowning discovery of the true nature of the gens and its relation to the tribe. With the dissolution of the primeval communities, society begins to be differentiated into separate and finally antagonistic classes. I have attempted to retrace this dissolution in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State , second edition, Stuttgart, 1886. [Engels, 1888 English Edition and 1890 German Edition (with the last sentence omitted)] 3. Guild-master, that is, a full member of a guild, a master within, not a head of a guild. [Engels, 1888 English Edition] 4. This was the name given their urban communities by the townsmen of Italy and France, after they had purchased or conquered their initial rights of self-government from their feudal lords. [Engels, 1890 German edition] “Commune” was the name taken in France by the nascent towns even before they had conquered from their feudal lords and masters local self-government and political rights as the “Third Estate.” Generally speaking, for the economical development of the bourgeoisie, England is here taken as the typical country, for its political development, France. [Engels, 1888 English Edition]   Table of Contents: Manifesto of the Communist Party | Marx-Engels Archive

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A spectre is haunting europe, the spectre of communism. a poster by valentin shcherbakov, moscow, circa 1924. the poster is based on g.p. goldshtein's photographs of lenin addressing troops of the red army in moscow. 5th may 1920. the slogan is taken from the first line of the manifesto of the communist party, written by karl marx and friedrich engels..

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China Miéville's  strikingly imaginative new introduction to  the Communist Manifesto offers both a critical appraisal and a spirited defense of the modern world's most influential political document. Few written works can so confidently claim to have shaped the course of history as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Manifesto of the Communist Party . Since first rattling the gates of the ruling order in 1848, this incendiary pamphlet has never ceased providing fuel for the fire in the hearts of those who dream of a better world. Nor has it stopped haunting the nightmares of those who sit atop the vastly unequal social system it condemns.

Miéville provides readers with a guide to understanding the Manifesto and the many specters it has conjured. Through his unique and unorthodox reading, Miéville offers a spirited defense of the enduring relevance of Marx and Engels’ ideas.

Presented along with the full text of the Communist Manifesto , Miéville's guide has something to offer first-time readers, revolutionary partisans, and even the most hard-nosed skeptics.

  • Print length 304 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Haymarket Books
  • Publication date November 1, 2022
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.75 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 1642598917
  • ISBN-13 978-1642598919
  • See all details

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A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto by China Miéville

Editorial Reviews

“In A Spectre, Haunting , China Miéville, mind, soul, and pen ablaze, guides his readers through Marx and Engels’s unignorable, inextinguishable, eternally uncomfortable, and always essential Manifesto . This is both a history of critical thought and a magnificent exemplar of reading and thinking critically. Miéville has written a thrillingly lively and lucid exegesis on the Manifesto, its contents, and its discontents. He’s gathered together an astonishingly heterogeneous array of voices and responses, making a case for the Manifesto as a locus of politically engaged analysis and argument for nearly two centuries. Miéville adjudicates and synthesizes with unfailing clarity, wit, courage, decency, and passion, writing brilliantly about nationalism, race, gender, literary style, and—my particular favorite section—about the perils and necessity of hate. He gives us a Manifesto that is simultaneously a central artifact of our species and a means for understanding our present, hazardous moment, a historical work that remains absolutely, ferociously alive.” —Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America “It’s thrilling to accompany Miéville, one of the greatest living world-builders, as he wrestles—in critical good faith and incandescent commitment—with a manifesto that still calls on us to build a new world.” —Naomi Klein, author of On Fire and No Is Not Enough “China Miéville's elegant book patiently explains composition—style, structure, class—to reveal the Communist Manifesto’ s spectral energies. Reading with him today sharpens our senses to contemporary internationalist movements from below.” —Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Abolition Geography and Change Everything “ The Manifesto is one of history’s most profound prophecies. In Miéville's brilliant interpretation it is like a great comet whose periodic return blinds the sky with its light and urgency. Read this and be dazzled by its contemporaneity.” —Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Set the Night On Fire “With diligence and a ruthlessly critical eye worthy of Marx himself, China Miéville expands upon the Communist Manifesto , calling us into renewed struggle for the best of what humanity could be. Against the million little cruelties and death-making of capitalism, this book builds a case for the value of the Manifesto to today's struggles without demanding fealty. It turns long-standing complaints about Marx on their heads to challenge the reader even while seducing with luminous prose. I didn't know I needed this book, but I did.” —Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won't Love You Back and Necessary Trouble “China Miéville’s A Spectre, Haunting , is a small miracle of interpretation, criticism and sympathetic imagination. In its subtle reconstruction of the Communist Manifesto , it swiftly dispatches the bad faith critics of Marx & Engels and revises common errors, even while it carefully unpacks what the Manifesto did get wrong. Incisive and witty, the book strikes with equal measures of dexterity and yearning the prophetic, utopian – and yet deeply practical, materialist – notes of a monumental text.” —Richard Seymour, author of The Twittering Machine “An excellent book, very lively and engaging, written in clear and readable prose… much more than a contextual and analytical reading of the Manifesto ... For today’s readers Miéville does excellent work presenting and reviewing a huge amount of twentieth-century history.” —Terrell Carver, University of Bristol “It would have been enough to have a thorough, learned, clear introduction to The Communist Manifesto from one of the greatest leftist authors of our time, but China Miéville's A Spectre, Haunting is also a serious and singular exploration of the vital principle of the Manifesto as a work of writing, a rhythmology of its bottomless fury and impassioned faith in a communist horizon.” —Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox “A book about another book might sound boring, but The Communist Manifesto is more than a book: it represents a bulging galaxy of historical struggle, ever moving and shining, even if only on the periphery of our vision. Here, China Miéville opens up the pages of the Manifesto and transmits the energy of communism across the pallid present. Close reading, historical essay, political commentary and a manifesto of sorts: A Spectre, Haunting is a rich, luminous reflection of and on a light that never quite goes out.” —Andreas Malm, author of How to Blow Up A Pipeline “Very enjoyable and well done... properly scholarly and thorough in its apparatus of discussion and issue identification...lively, politically-driven appreciation.” —Gregor McLennan, University of Bristol PRAISE FOR CHINA MIÉVILLE:

“You can't talk about Miéville without using the word “brilliant’. ” — Guardian “One of our most important writers.”  — Independent “Miéville is gifted with an incomparable visionary imagination.”  — Financial Times “Miéville is regarded as one of the most interesting and freakishly gifted writers of his generation.”  — Daily Telegraph

About the Author

China Miéville is the multi-award-winning author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. His fiction includes The City and the City, Embassytown and This Census-Taker. He has won the Hugo, World Fantasy, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. His non-fiction includes the photo-illustrated essay London’s Overthrow, Between Equal Rights, a study of international law, and the narrative history of the Russian Revolution, October. He has written for various publications, including the New York Times, Guardian, Conjunctions and Granta, and he is a founding editor of Salvage.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Haymarket Books (November 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1642598917
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1642598919
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 13.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.75 x 9 inches
  • #59 in European Politics Books
  • #70 in Communism & Socialism (Books)
  • #109 in Literary Criticism & Theory

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About the author

China miéville.

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian).

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a spectre is communism

Socialist Appeal

A spectre is haunting campuses – the spectre of communism

Marxist Student Federation Britain

This year’s Halloween comes at a terrifying time for the ruling class, with the world economy descending deeper into crisis, and the masses on the march. Capitalism has only tricks, and no treats, to offer workers and youth. We need a revolution.

In Defence of Marxism

This All Hallow’s Eve – when all through the night the masses stir – the Tories and bosses will be lying awake in their beds. For of late, a frightful spectre has been stalking the land: the spectre of communism .

The capitalists thought that they had exorcised this ghastly ghoul decades ago. But now, the old world is dying, and the new world is struggling to be born. Now is the time of monsters.

Indeed, it is not paranormal activity that is terrifying the bourgeoisie this autumn, but the very real activity of the working class, who have been moving into struggle on a scale not seen in decades.

With capitalism’s crises bearing down on workers’ living standards, and this zombie Tory government provoking economic turmoil, the stage is set for social explosions in the coming period.

Revolutionary mood

UCU Leeds rally

All of this is reflected in the rise of revolutionary feelings – particularly amongst the youth.

According to a 2021 study by the right-wing Institute of Economic affairs, over two-thirds of young people in Britain say they would prefer socialism over capitalism.

What’s more, a survey by the European Broadcasting Union found that over half of young people in Ireland would take part in a “large-scale uprising” against the powers that be.

While those at the top may scratch their heads at this sweeping phenomenon, the explanation for this is very simple: this generation of young people have grown up knowing nothing but crisis, instability, and climate catastrophe.

Everywhere we look, we see war, hunger, poverty, and oppression.

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting young people too: caught between the millstones of sky-high tuition fees and exorbitant rents, more and more students are being forced into working low-paid precarious jobs just to make ends meet.

Gone is the optimism and stability of the past. Gone is the hope of owning a home, having a stable career, or retiring with a comfortable pension. Young people today can see that they have no future under capitalism.

“We are the future”

But far from sinking into doom and despair, the youth are fighting back across the world.

In Iran, for example, students and youth have been at the forefront of the protests against the theocratic regime of Ayatollah Khamenei.

Sparked by the murder of a young Kurdish woman at the hands of the hated ‘morality police’, these protests have spread into a far-reaching mass movement almost overnight – shaking the regime to its core.

In one viral video , schoolgirls in the city of Karaj can be seen tearing off their hijabs and chanting “death to the dictator!” while chasing their pro-regime principal off the school premises.

Such fearlessness in the face of brutal repression brings to mind a remark made by Lenin back in 1906: “We [the Marxists] are the party of the future, and the future belongs to the youth […who are] always the first to undertake a self-sacrificing struggle.”

Communism on campus


It is therefore no surprise that across the world, the Marxists have been able to connect with this revolutionary mood.

As students have returned to university campuses, the International Marxist Tendency has had its biggest-ever freshers mobilisation, stretching from Indonesia and Pakistan, to Canada and the USA.

In Britain, the Marxist Student Federation has planted the red flag at 50 universities up and down the country. Over 3,700 students have signed up to join the fight for socialist revolution. 

Many people are approaching the MSF already calling themselves communists, simply asking “where do I sign?”. Dozens of meetings on ‘ Why we are communists ’ have been held by Marxist societies this term, drawing hundreds of young people to the ideas of Marxism.

Capitalism’s gravediggers

This is a bad omen indeed for this decrepit system and the bloodsuckers who uphold it.

And it is capitalism itself which is responsible for the crisis and instability that is pushing the youth towards revolutionary ideas.

In the timeless words of the Communist Manifesto : “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own gravediggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”

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Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the Berlin Wall.

The spectre of communism? Europe should fear the spectre of austerity

William Keegan

Marx and Engels proclaimed in 1848 that a spectre was haunting Europe – the spectre of communism.

As it turned out, the spectre did eventually materialise, in the form of Soviet communism, which spread after the second world war to eastern Europe. The Berlin Wall was built 16 years later, in 1961, to put a stop to the way East Germans were voting about communism with their feet.

There have been celebrations recently to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall in November 1989. That fall was followed in 1991 by the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, a Soviet Union about which President Putin appears to harbour nostalgic feelings.

After those events there was an inevitable burst of triumphalism in the west. Some of us feared that, with the disappearance of the communist threat, some of the worst instincts of casino capitalism would be evinced; and so they were.

I myself had what I thought was a bright idea of writing a book called The Spectre of Capitalism . I hoped the catchy title would make my fortune – indeed, make me a capitalist – but it has to be said that sales fell woefully short of anything written by Marx.

Now the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has followed Marx with a declaration last week that “a spectre is now haunting Europe – the spectre of economic stagnation”.

This phrase received about as much attention as that book of mine. It was uttered during the presentation of the monetary policy committee’s quarterly inflation report, and people were much more interested in the outlook for interest rates: the story remains that rates went outside after the financial crash, and will continue to remain outside for some time.

But, as the Bank is keen to emphasise, the outlook for the British economy is a lot better than that for Europe in general: it may be the slowest recovery in centuries, but our economy is now on the mend. However, there is a still a long way to go to make up the ground lost after Chancellor Osborne’s woefully misjudged decision to abort the 2010 recovery he inherited with a needlessly deflationary and (literally) counterproductive fiscal policy.

Which brings us back to the spectre haunting Europe. Carney was not referring to David Cameron, but it intrigues me that when the prime minister and a legion of others go on about the need for reform in Europe, they are barking up the wrong tree. As Llewellyn Consulting points out in its current bulletin, the universal chant when the subject of the eurozone’s plight comes up is that what is needed is “more structural reform”.

Llewellyn points out that “while of paramount importance to productivity and supply-side flexibility over the longer term”, structural reform “frequently depresses demand in the short term”. Also, “reform fatigue is increasingly a fact of life in many economies”.

The reform the eurozone needs is in its attitude to macroeconomic policy. Mario Draghi, the admirable president of the European Central Bank, has been crying in vain for a reversal of fiscal policy. There is a limit to what monetary policy, for which the ECB is responsible, can achieve when fiscal policy is pulling in the other direction.

The approach to macroeconomic policy in Brussels is dominated by Germany . The problem is that the Germans are urging further cuts on economies that are rapidly nearing the end of their tether. One close observer of policymaking in Germany says, only half jokingly, that advice is dominated by a combination of “those who don’t understand Keynes and those who do but are too scared to admit it”.

The Tories, who may yet save the beleaguered Ed Miliband by tearing themselves apart over Europe, would be well advised to heed the words of one George Soros, who has pointed out that by being members of the European Union but not of the eurozone, we in Britain enjoy “the best of both worlds”.

The Bank of England pointed out in the inflation report that “the potential positive impact of ECB policy actions” is likely to be outweighed in the near term by the factors that are already depressing growth in the euro area.

Carney, who has not hesitated on occasion to acknowledge that Osborne’s fiscal policy impeded the British recovery, manifested some sympathy with Draghi’s view that there needs to be a relaxation of fiscal policy. This means at the very least going easy on budget cuts, but ideally adopting a major expansionary policy involving much-needed infrastructure projects. Indeed, even Germany itself is crying out for renewal of its infrastructure. For “structural reform” read “infrastructure reform”!

This does not seem to be understood in Berlin – or, for that matter, in Brussels. They go on relentlessly about the need to honour the EU’s “stability and growth pact”, with its strict targets for budgets and debt.

But that pact was drawn up in what were reasonably normal times. The financial crisis changed everything. I always thought it significant that the word “stability” came before “growth” when the pact was signed. The problem now is that there is precious little growth, even in Germany itself, and the danger is that stability may soon turn into deflationary instability. Hence Carney’s warning about the spectre haunting Europe.

  • William Keegan's in my view
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