The Communist Manifesto

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The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) is a short 1848 book written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since gone down in history as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts.[1] Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League's purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.[2]

The book contains Marx and Engels' Marxist theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."[3] It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism.



Friedrich Engels has often been credited in composing the first drafts, which led to The Communist Manifesto. In July 1847, Engels was elected into the Communist League, where he was assigned to draw up a catechism. This became the Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith. The draft contained almost two dozen questions that helped express the ideas of both Engels and Karl Marx at the time. In October 1847, Engels composed his second draft for the Communist League entitled, The Principles of Communism. The text remained unpublished until 1914, despite its basis for The Manifesto. From Engels's drafts Marx was able to write, once commissioned by the Communist League, The Communist Manifesto, where he combined more of his ideas along with Engels's drafts and work, The Condition of the Working Class in England.[4]

Although the names of both Engels and Karl Marx appear on the title page alongside the "persistent assumption of joint-authorship", Engels, in the preface introduction to the 1883 German edition of the Manifesto, said that the Manifesto was "essentially Marx's work" and that "the basic thought... belongs solely and exclusively to Marx."[5]

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