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Summary and Detailed Notes for The Communist Manifesto

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Brief Summary

History of Class Struggles
The growth of new markets led to the rise of modern industry and the bourgeoisie, which led to the conquest of exclusive political sway and the end of feudal relations in favor of callous self-interest and brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has revolutionized society through its constant revolutionizing of production and the market. It has destroyed national industries and created a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption, leading to universal interdependence of nations and world literature. The bourgeoisie’s mode of production compels all nations to become bourgeois, creating a world after its own image. The bourgeoisie has centralized means of production and concentrated property in a few hands, leading to political centralization.

Modern Bourgeois Society
Modern bourgeois society has massive productive forces but struggles to control them. The revolt of productive forces against property relations led to commercial crises and over-production, threatening bourgeois society. The bourgeoisie sustains itself by destroying productive forces and exploiting new markets, but this paves the way for more crises. The development of capital leads to the development of the proletarians, who are exposed to competition and market fluctuations. The work of the proletarians has lost individuality and charm due to the extensive use of machinery and division of labor.

Exploitation of Working Class
The Communist Manifesto discusses how modern industry has led to the exploitation of the working class, with increased use of machinery resulting in a decrease in wages and an increase in toil.

Formation of Proletariat
The proletariat class is formed from various social classes and engages in a struggle with the bourgeoisie. The proletariat, scattered and broken up, initially rely on the bourgeoisie to fight their battles, but with the growth of industry and increasing precariousness, they form unions and revolts. Improved means of communication centralize the struggle into a political battle. The bourgeoisie, in their battles with other classes and foreign countries, appeal to the proletariat for help, which also provides the proletariat with education and weapons for their fight. The lower bourgeoisie, artisans, peasants, and shopkeepers fight to save their existence as fractions of the bourgeoisie. The lumpenproletariat is a social scum that is passive and may become a tool of reactionary intrigue.

Revolutionary Class
The proletariat, without property and with a unique relation to their family, are the only revolutionary class. The proletariat’s struggle with the bourgeoisie is a national one, but ultimately their mission is to destroy all previous securities of individual property and lay the foundation for the rule of the proletariat.

Victory Over Bourgeoisie
The bourgeoisie is unfit to rule as they cannot assure the existence of the laborers within their slavery. The text discusses the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, arguing that the rise of modern industry will lead to the downfall of the bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat.

Role Of Communists
The Communists are described as the most advanced section of the working-class parties, with their ultimate aim being the overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy and the conquest of political power by the proletariat.

Communist Theory
The Communist theory advocates for the abolition of private property and the transformation of capital into common property, where personal property remains. They aim to eliminate the exploitation of wage-labor and create a society where the present dominates the past.

Critique of Capitalism
The context argues against the capitalist concept of free trade and refutes objections to the communist mode of production and appropriation. The text argues that bourgeois ideas of family, education, and property are shaped by their economic conditions and are not eternal laws. It also proposes the abolition of the bourgeois family and private gain in favor of social education and communal ownership of property.

Exploitation of Individuals and Nations
The context discusses how communism aims to abolish the exploitation of individuals and nations, as well as the community of women that arises from the present system of production. The ruling ideas of each age are of the ruling class, and communism aims to change material production to change intellectual production.

The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto outlines the development of society through class antagonisms and the need for a Communist revolution to centralize production in the hands of the proletariat. This involves despotic measures and the abolition of private property. The Communist Manifesto outlines ten proposed measures, including the abolition of property rights, establishment of a national bank, centralization of transportation, and equal work distribution. It also predicts the eventual end of class struggle and the creation of a socialist society.

Feudal Aristocracy
Feudal aristocracy exploited the people, but failed to understand modern history. They criticize the bourgeoisie for creating a revolutionary proletariat, but support coercive measures against the working class.

Petty Bourgeois Socialism
Petty bourgeois society is fluctuating and may disappear with the rise of modern industry. Christian Socialism is seen as a way for aristocrats to consecrate their heart-burnings. This context discusses the rise of petty-bourgeois socialism in France and England, which criticized the inequalities of modern production while advocating for either a return to old production methods or a limited framework of modern production. It also delves into the introduction of French socialist and communist literature into Germany and how German philosophers interpreted and adapted these ideas to their own philosophical views.

German Literati
German literati appropriated French literature through translation and added philosophical phrases, leading to the emasculation of French Socialist and Communist literature. “True” German Socialism later became a weapon for the government against the bourgeoisie but also served the interests of German Philistines.

Types Of Socialism
The Communist Manifesto discusses different types of socialism and their flaws. “True” socialism spreads like an epidemic with its transcendental robe of sickly sentiment while bourgeois socialism seeks to maintain the existing state of society without the struggles and dangers of modern social conditions.
Bourgeois Socialism
Bourgeois socialism promotes reforms that benefit the working class within the existing system. The early stages of the proletariat’s class struggle saw socialists and communists advocating for the improvement of all members of society and rejecting revolutionary action, though their proposals were seen as Utopian and impractical.

The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto discusses the opposition of Communists to other political groups, including the working class parties in England and America. It calls for revolutionary movements against existing social and political systems.

The Paris Commune Address
The Paris Commune Address calls for a proletarian revolution to overthrow the ruling classes and take control of public affairs. It outlines the need for a decentralized state machinery, which originated from the days of absolute monarchy, and is now seen as a public force organized for social enslavement and class despotism. The bourgeois republic used state power to suppress the working class and create a parliamentary republic with Louis Bonaparte as president. The Second Empire claimed to save all classes, but was a form of government where the bourgeoisie reigned supreme.

The Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a positive form of a republic that aimed to establish self-government and political equality through education, science, and the election of accountable public officials. They envisioned a national militia, decentralized government, and a system of responsible agents organized by communal constitution. Universal suffrage was to serve the people through individual and communal forums. This new form of government aimed to break with the modern state power, restore power to the social body, abolish class property, transform means of production into instruments of free and associated labor through communism, and emancipate labor and uproot the economical foundation upon which classes and class rule exists. The Paris Commune was acknowledged by some of the bourgeois as being capable of social initiative; it even saved some of them by settling debtor and creditor accounts.
The Commune

The Commune aimed to free the French peasant from taxes, religious oppression, and judicial tyranny. They would have transformed current oppressors into salaried agents elected by the people. The Commune held immediate benefits to the French peasant, with a more significant role to solve future problems.

Contrasting Approaches

The Commune, a working-class government that arose during the Franco-Prussian War, represented the healthy elements of French society and sought to emancipate labor, while also promoting internationalism and the rights of foreigners. It also made efforts to improve working conditions and protect workers from unfair practices. The context discusses the financial measures and actions of the Commune during the Paris Commune uprising. It highlights the contrasting approaches of the Commune and the Versailles government, and their attitudes towards liberalism, religion, and military leadership. The Commune allowed men of different backgrounds to participate in politics, but some hindered progress. Paris saw positive changes including safety and the emergence of noble women, while Versailles upheld old ways.


The text discusses the propaganda of Thiers during the Paris Commune, portraying a false image of Paris and denying the atrocities committed by Versailles troops. It also references Marx’s critique of materialism in Theses on Feuerbach.

Materialism and Religion

The text explores various ideas regarding human thinking, materialism, religion and social relations, stressing on the importance of practicality and human-sensuous activity in understanding and changing social circumstances. Contemplative materialism is criticized for its limited understanding of sensuousness. The importance of understanding the real individuals, their activities, and material conditions in society, as well as the need to analyze and break down complex concepts in economics to understand the whole system is discussed in philosophical and economic texts. Hegel’s belief that the concrete world is a product of thought is challenged. The simplest economic category, exchange value, only exists as an abstract relation within an already concrete whole. Men’s social relations in production are independent of their will. The economic structure of society is the foundation for legal, political, and intellectual life. The conflict between forces of production and property relations can lead to social revolution and transformation. Material conditions must mature before new social orders replace the old. Religion is a product of man, an inverted consciousness of the world that reflects human essence, which lacks any true reality. The abolition of religion is the demand for real happiness, and its criticism is the criticism of the world.
German Philosophy of State and Law

The historical school of law is heavily criticized, as the current German state of affairs is deemed worthy of criticism. The author emphasizes the importance of publicizing the shame and pressure on the German society to force change, as the downfall of the ancien régime was tragic due to its historical error. The present German regime is an anachronism, seeking refuge in hypocrisy and sophism.

Relationship between German History and Philosophy

Germany’s problem lies in national economy and private property’s mastery over nationality. German philosophy is the ideal continuation of German history, yet the practical political party in Germany demands the negation of philosophy. The text argues that philosophy cannot be abolished without making it a reality. This context discusses the critical struggle of philosophy against the German world, with a focus on the criticism of the German philosophy of state and right. It highlights the necessity of a material force to overthrow the existing order and the potential of theory to grip the masses.

Historical Significance of Reformation

This context discusses the importance of radicalism in German theory and its historical significance in the Reformation. It emphasizes the need for secularization and philosophy to emancipate people from oppressive systems, but acknowledges that it is difficult to find a material basis for revolution.

Civil Society and State Relationship in Germany

The text discusses the relationship between civil society and the state in Germany, as well as Germany’s struggle to achieve political emancipation. The author argues that Germany will struggle to reach true emancipation due to its combination of modern and archaic ideologies. Only a partial political revolution is possible in Germany, based on a particular class leading the general emancipation of society. No class in Germany currently has the necessary characteristics to play this role.

The relation of various sections of German society towards each other is not dramatic, but epic. Each section starts to assert itself against others when it can exert pressure on a social substratum without its participation. Gradual liberation is impossible; universal emancipation is a prerequisite to any partial emancipation. The context describes the concept of a proletariat as a class of people who have been drastically impoverished and are the dissolution of all estates. It argues that the liberation of Germany requires emancipation from all forms of bondage and recognition of man as the supreme being.
Relationship between Philosophy and Revolution
The relationship between philosophy and revolution is significant. Philosophical thought can provide guidance for revolutionary action, such as how to properly plan and organize a revolution. It can also provide insight into the nature of revolutions, their goals, and how to ensure that they are successful.

Thoroughness in Revolution
Revolution requires thoroughness in order for it to be successful. This includes understanding the context and the current situation, as well as the history of the struggle. It also means taking into account the various social forces that may be at play and understanding how they will impact the outcome of the revolution. Finally, it means having a clear plan of action and understanding how to implement it.

Influence of Past Traditions on Present Events
Past traditions can have a strong influence on present events. This is especially true when it comes to revolutions. Revolutions often draw on past traditions in order to create new ideals and art forms, while also attempting to break away from oppressive systems and structures.

December 2, 1851 Coup in France
The December 2, 1851 coup in France serves as an example of a failed revolution. The coup was a regression from the February 1848 revolution, and it was caused by a lack of action towards their goals, as well as misguided beliefs that relied on miracles. The adversaries of the revolution swiftly defeated them and destroyed their beliefs.

French Revolution from 1848-1851
The French Revolution from 1848 to 1851 had three periods: the February period, the Constituent National Assembly period, and the Legislative National Assembly period. This period was characterized by confusion and uncertainty, with a mixture of high-flown phrases and clumsiness in action. The government declared itself provisional, with every party interpreting the republic in its own way. This ultimately resulted in a failure to realize the full potential of modern revolution.

Bourgeois Republic in France
The bourgeois republic in France from May 1848 to May 1849 was a result of the defeat of the proletariat during the June insurrection of Paris. The bourgeoisie triumphed, leading to the temporary decline of the proletariat on the revolutionary stage. The proletariat entered into an alliance with social strata above it during a world-historic struggle but suffered defeats due to doctrinaire experiments and seeking salvation behind society’s back.

Ruling Class Slogans
The ruling class uses slogans such as “property, family, religion, order” to maintain their power and resist any attempts at change. This is done in order to prevent any revolutionary actions from taking place or succeeding in overthrowing them.

Understanding Value & Commodity-Form
It can be difficult to understand some concepts within a capitalist society, including value and the commodity-form. The capitalist mode of production revolves around commodities that have both use and exchange values. Use values become the substance of all wealth, while exchange value must be replaceable by each other and be able to be expressed in terms of something common to them all – being products of labor. Use value is irrelevant in exchange value.
Value and Exchange Value

The value of a commodity is determined by the labor time necessary to produce it under normal conditions, with the average degree of skill and intensity, and changes with the productiveness of labor, among other circumstances. Commodities with equal quantities of labor embodied have the same value. Labour affects the value of a commodity, as its quantity and productivity are inversely proportional to its value. Use values can exist without value, but commodities must be transferred through an exchange.


Labour has a twofold nature that contributes to both use value and exchange value. Labour is classified according to the order, genus, species, and variety to which they belong in the social division of labour. The production of commodities is not a necessary condition for the division of labour. Use values cannot confront each other as commodities unless there is a qualitative difference between the useful forms of labour that are carried on independently by individual producers.

Relationship Between Labour and Nature

The context discusses the relationship between labor and nature in creating material wealth. It explains how useful labor and natural elements combine to form commodities and how these commodities have value through their representation of human labor. The context explains that the value of a commodity is based on the amount of human labor power it takes to produce it. Skilled labor is considered to be more intense than simple labor. The different types of labor are reduced to unskilled labor to establish their value.

Value and Commodity

The value of a commodity is determined by the amount of labor embodied in it. As the quantity of use values increases, the magnitude of its value may fall due to the twofold character of labor. Productive power affects the quantity of use values produced but has no bearing on its value. Commodities have a physical and value form and their value is determined by human labour. The money form of commodities is a task never attempted by bourgeois economy. The simplest value relation is between two commodities.

Commodity Fetishism

The text explores the concept of commodity and value, discussing their altered form in the market and the enigmatic nature they possess. It also delves into the importance of social labor and the development of money as a form of value. The social character of labor is reflected in the products produced; objects become commodities due to the social relation between producers and their labor. This fetishism of commodities arises from the peculiar social character of labor that produces them.
Social Character of Individual Labor
The social character and value of individual labor arise from its exchangeability in the market, and the need for products to be not only useful but useful for others. Value converts every product into a social symbol. Labor is a social product just like language, and the value of products is based on the amount of human labor put into them. The stability of product exchange proportions results from custom, and fixity in value only comes from interacting as quantities of value. The determination of the magnitude of value by labor time is a hidden secret.

Commodities as Social Symbols
The analysis of commodities led to the determination of their value and the establishment of their characters as values, which has become a necessary part of social life before deciphering their meaning in historical context. The ultimate money form conceals the social character of private labor, and the magic and necromancy surrounding commodities disappear once we come to other forms of production, like Robinson Crusoe’s experiences on his island. The text describes the differences in the social relations of production and how they affect the form of labor and its products. It contrasts Robinson’s independent labor with the personal dependence of medieval society and discusses examples of common or directly associated labor.

Distribution of Work
The distribution of work within a family and regulation of labor time depends on differences in age, sex, and natural conditions. In contrast, a community of free individuals carries on work with means of production in common, and the total product is a social product, with distribution varying based on the productive organization and historical development. Labor time plays a double role, serving as a measure of the common labor borne by each individual and their share in the total product.

Religion as Reflection
The religious world is a reflection of the real world, such as a society based upon the production of commodities. The text discusses the differences between ancient modes of production and modern bourgeois society, arguing that the latter is more conducive to Protestantism and Deism. It also touches on the role of labor and material production in shaping society’s understanding of religion.

Determination of Exchange Value
The article discusses how exchange value is determined by labor and not nature. The commodity form, where products take on market value, is the most basic form of capitalist production. The article critiques the erroneous belief that value and use value are the same, and that value is inherent in a commodity rather than a social construct.

Capitalist Production
The formula of capitalist production is explained, where the capitalist is interested in the excess value of a product over the value of the capital consumed by it. The capitalist exploits labour through advancing constant capital, and turning it into good account by advancing variable capital. The rate of profit is determined by the total capital, not just the variable portion. The value of a commodity is determined by the labor expended in its production, including unpaid labor which creates surplus-value or profit for the capitalist.

Rate of Surplus-Value
The rate of profit is derived from the surplus-value, which is the excess value of a commodity over its cost-price. The transformation of surplus-value into profit is dependent on the transformation
Surplus-Labor and Surplus-Value
The relationship between surplus-labor and surplus-value is often lost, as the specific relation between them is not always clear.

Measuring Capital Expansion
The formula used to measure self-expansion of total capital advanced is important for understanding capital expansion and the surplus, but only reveals general relations between surplus and the portion of capital invested in wages. The amount of means and materials of labor required for a specific amount of labor varies depending on the type of labor applied. The value of the constant capital is only relevant to the technically required quantity, and not directly related to the value of surplus-labor.

Profit as a Converted Form of Surplus-Value
The rate of profit is a way of measuring surplus-value according to the value of the total capital rather than just the portion from which surplus-value originated. Profit can be seen as a converted form of surplus-value that obscures its true origin, and the rate of profit differs numerically from the rate of surplus-value. The difference between fixed and circulating capital is the only distinction that stands out.

Detailed Notes

Analysis of the Magna Carta translation

•NARA’s web site is http://www.archives.gov, where the original document of the Magna Carta can be found.

•The Magna Carta was originally written in 1215 by King John of England, and its translation by Professor Nicholas Vincent is copyrighted by Sotheby’s Inc.

•The translation begins with a greeting by King Edward, who inspected the charter of King Henry, his father, concerning the liberties of England.

•King Edward mentions that, for the improvement of his realm and the glory of the Church, he grants certain liberties to the archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, and other freemen of England, and confirms the liberty of the English Church.

•He then outlines the laws concerning the inheritance of earls, barons, and knights, and the custodianship of minors until they reach the age of 21.

Laws regarding custody of land, heirs, and widows

•The keeper of an underage heir’s land may only use reasonable receipts, customs, and services without causing destruction or waste.

•If a person assigned custody of such land commits destruction or waste, recompense will be taken and the land will be assigned to law-worthy and discreet men of that fee.

•The keeper is responsible for maintaining the land and all its related structures while ensuring that the heir receives it back in the same condition when they reach full age.

•Heirs are to be married without disparagement.

•Widows are entitled to their marriage portion and inheritance without any difficulty or cost, and may stay in their husband’s dwelling for forty days after his death, unless it is a castle.

•Widows are assigned the third part of their husband’s lands as dower, unless they were dowered with less at the church door.

•No widow can be forced to marry, provided she gives surety that she will not marry without our consent if she holds of us, or without the assent of her lord if she holds of another.

Magna Carta of 1215

•Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize any land or rent for any debt, as long as the debtor’s belongings can pay the debt, and the debtor is willing to pay. Guarantors won’t be seized as long as the debtor can pay. Guarantors can take the debtor’s lands and rents until the debt they paid is repaid by the debtor.

•The city of London and other cities, boroughs, and vills are granted all their ancient liberties and customs, as well as barons of the Cinque Ports and all ports.

•No one will be compelled to do more service than required from a knight or any other free tenement.

•Common pleas will be held in specific places, not our court.

•Special assizes are only allowed in specific counties according to established procedures, and if not completed, will be referred to the justices of the Bench.

•The Assizes of darrein presentment must be done in the justices of the Bench.

•A freeman or a merchant won’t be punished excessively for an offense, and any villian will be treated according to their necessity.

•Earls and barons can only be punished according to the severity of the case and their peers.

Provisions of the Magna Carta

•No town or free man is obligated to make bridges or bank works, except those who have done so in the past by right.

•Only bank works that were built for defense during King Henry II’s reign may be maintained according to the customary terms.

•The bailiffs of the crown are not allowed to hold pleas.

•When a person holding a lay fee from the king dies, the sheriff or bailiff can enroll his belongings to pay off the deceased’s debts.

•No corn or chattels should be taken by the constable or his bailiff from anyone who is not from the same vill where a castle is built.

•No constable can confiscate the horses or carts of anyone without paying the customarily due amounts.

•No one can take someone else’s timber for their business without the owner’s permission.

Key Points in the Magna Carta

•Land confiscated due to felony conviction to be returned to lord after one year (22)

•All fish weirs on English rivers except sea coast dismantled (23)

•Writ called ‘praecipe’ not to deprive free men of their court (24)

•Use of one standard measure for wine, ale, corn, cloth, weights (25)

•Writs of inquest for life or member to be given freely (26)

•No custody of land or heir held from another by knight service (27)

•Need for reliable witnesses before putting a man on oath (28)

•Protection of freemen’s free tenement and liberties via lawful judgement (29)

Safe Conduct for Merchants and Land Ownership

•Merchants have safe conduct in England to buy and sell, according to ancient customs, except in times of war.

•If a merchant from a country at war with England is found in England at the beginning of the war, they will be attached until their treatment in the opposing country is established.

•The heir of somebody who holds an escheat barony will only need to render the same service to the Crown as the previous baron.

•A free man can only sell or give away land if it is sufficient for the service required by the lord of the fee.

•Patrons of abbeys with charters have the responsibility to manage them when they become vacant.

•Women cannot appeal to imprison anyone except for the death of their husbands.

•County courts and sheriffs’ tourns will only occur twice a year in the customary locations.

•The view of frankpledge is to be taken at Michaelmas, with allowances for liberties previously granted.

Grant of Liberties and Customs by King Henry III

•Giving and receiving land from religious houses is not permitted if it involves the restoration of land to the giver.

•A penalty of losing the land to the lord of the fee will be imposed for such acts.

•Scutage is to be taken as it was in the time of King Henry’s grandfather.

•Archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, Templars, Hospitallers, earls, barons, and other ecclesiastical and secular persons will have their liberties and free customs preserved.

•The customs and liberties granted are to be observed by all in the realm.

•A fifteenth part of all movable goods will be given in return for the grant.

•The liberties and customs protected by the charter will not be infringed upon or damaged by King Henry III or his heirs.

•The charter is witnessed by several lords, justiciars, earls, and other titled persons.

King Edward III’s Charter Renewal and Confirmation

•King Edward III confirms and renews his gifts and grants given to de Baalon and others on the eleventh day of February in the ninth year of his reign.

•He states that the charter is to be firmly and inviably observed in all of its articles, including any articles that haven’t not yet been followed.

•King Edward III’s son, Edward, witnessed the creation of the letters patent on the twelfth day of October in the twenty-fifth year of his reign.

•The document is also witnessed by John of Stowe’s chancery warranty.

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