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Week 9 Reflection

Ellen Nelson
March 21, 2022
POLS 3062
Week 9 Reflection
Marx & Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Part 1 and 2
Written in 1848, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, or the Communist Manifesto,
may be considered one of the world’s most influential political documents. Published as the 1848
Revolutions began, the pamphlet presents an analysis of the class struggle that was then present
and hypothesized to be existent until revolutionary action. It also examined the conflicts of
capitalism and its subsequent mode of production. Authors Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
summarize their theories of society and politics, most notably the idea that “the history of all
hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” In reading their accounts, I found the
remarks of Part 2 to be the most compelling reflections of democracy in America and will thus
be the focus of this reflection.
After examining the nature of the ruling class in Part 1, the Manifesto turns to its
subordinate counterpart- the proletariat. Since its creation, the proletariat has endured massive
struggle with the bourgeoisie. According to Marx and Engels, the original struggle pertained to
the individual laborer, later involving groups of workers, who rebelled against the exploitation of
the ruling class. As industry developed, however, the proletariat became increasingly
concentrated as distinctions among laborers began to dissolve. The authors assert that the
proletarians are the only revolutionary class, as their exploitation is fundamental to the
foundations of society.
With this assumption in mind, I sought to consider the implications of revolution by the
proletariat in modern America. More specifically, I considered the impact of a revolution on
America’s most marginalized communities. While united by class, other demographics of
proletarians vary immensely; differences in race, age, gender, and wealth, among others,
contribute to a party in which there is very little common ground. Thus, a revolution that may be
possible to the most secure members of society may not be feasible by others. The insecurity that
would erupt from such a revolution may severely displace disenfranchised populations on
multiple fronts, including those political, social, and economical. It then follows that the details
of revolution must be taken into account; how likely is the revolution to succeed? How long
would it last? Do the outcomes of a revolution validate temporary displacement? To me,
revolutionary action is not feasible. America’s most vulnerable populations are far too at risk to
carry out Marx’s dreams. To act in such a way would be selfish; relatively secure members of the
proletariat would jeopardize the safety of their fellow workers in the name of a revolution that
does not guarantee success. While Marx and Engel’s ideas may have been relevant more than a
century ago, I do not think they are applicable to the modern era.