Tuesday, May 20, 2008

With this review I hope to cover some areas others have not. I would have the reader to read more than just my review of this product. Karl Marx: The Communist Manifesto, A Norton critical edition Edited by Frederic L Bender.

The Communist Manifesto is by all means one of the most (if not the most) controversial documents of non-religious origin. This Norton Critical Edition does this work justice in many ways: It gives a bullet point historical outline of events leading up to the manifesto, provides a brief history leading up to the writing of the manifesto (a must read in my opinion), provides the manifesto itself, and then gives the reader commentary from various writers concerning the manifesto's historical impact and interpretation. All this in just over 200 pages. Those looking only for a brief description of the product need read no further. The rest of this review is my impression of the manifesto and the historical context in this volume. Events leading up to the writing of "The Communist Manifesto" saw many Europeans in poverty. Marx himself lost three of his own children; to quote a note in Oxford's version of Marx's "Capital" stated, "Poverty was partly responsible for the death of three of his six children." At any rate Pauperism was the norm in European society, and Marx attempts to paint a grotesque picture for the reader: The Bourgeois (capitalists, the have's, the rich) vs. the Proletarians (impoverished). Background of the text sees the artisans (middle class) vanishing (loss of the middle class) , and an increase in number of the Proletarians. This helps the reader grasp a clear visual of European society prior to the writing of the manifesto (it is interesting to note that Germany was in ruins prior to the rise of Hitler). Let us now look at Marx himself. What I found most interesting about Marx's writing is that he really saw no other alternative but to call for removal of all Bourgeois power, and abolition of owning property. To quote Marx, "The communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only be the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!" Marx also openly criticized what he considered other forms of socialism that did not call for "forcible overthrow" and referred to one of them as "Utopian." Marx states further, "There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc.; that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience." This is one of the most shocking comments (to me personally) made by Marx in his manifesto.

There are individuals that don't understand that under Marxist communism freedom of religion doesn't exist. There is a side note from another writing of Marx (supplied cleverly by Frederic L Bender the editor of this version ) where Marx is very critical of Christianity. To quote Marx, "The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self -contempt, abasement, submissiveness and humbleness, in short all the qualities of the rabble, and the proletariat, which will not permit itself to be treated as rabble, needs its courage, its self-confidence, its pride and its sense of independence even more than its bread. The social principles of Christianity are sneaking and hypocritical, and the proletariat is revolutionary." (Marx, The Communism of the Rheinische Beobachter, Marx, Engels Collected works). It is at this moment that I would like to divert momentarily into the difference between Christian thought and Marx. Marx writings are indignant toward Christianity in general, and call on the state to assume control over all aspects of life: religion, property, and all business. The Christianity of the Bible was never a political system. Peter told Ananias in Acts 5:3-4 that the property that Ananias sold was his own, and that "after it was sold was it not in thine own power?" Ananias could have chosen to not sell the property, or to keep a portion of the money for himself without lying about it. The record itself shows a spiritual decision that took Ananias outside God's protection. However, the important context is that the decision belonged to Ananias. No one forced him to sell his property. After all Peter stated, "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold , was it not in thine own power?" Christian doctrine did NOT involve the FORCED take over of property, nor did it impose a belief system on those who chose not to commit to Christian doctrine. Now what men have done in the name of God over the centuries is a much different story, and would not be prudent to indulge in at this time. In closing, I would like to point out that Marx was a free trade advocate. The editor of this text points this out on numerous occasions that sited other works of Marx. Marx himself saw free trade as a vehicle to unite socialism. The reader needs to be aware that Marx vision was to see the rise of Capitalism as a necessity means to the bourgeois coming to power and a proletariat revolt. Unfortunately after deep consideration I can see these forces at work in the U.S.A.!!! The almost certain death of the middle class and the rise of huge corporations. Politicians who succumb to help the few at the expense of many. We are in fact becoming more of a have and have not society ourselves. The one great principle we as Americans have is the ability to start our own business. Small business is still the key to wealth in this country. Employers will never give an individual financial freedom. It is only the right we still hold by a thread to start our own business and make our own wealth that really keeps capitalism alive and thriving. Without it, you are left with a have and have not society, and with it will come the rise of another Marx. I pray that our country turns from this form of soft socialism that has been imposed upon us, and that we never have to witness those horrid words spring forth from another's pen, " WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES UNITE!" That is the biggest lesson I took away from this.

God Bless,

Mousie Marc

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