Years after buying a copy, along with some other political philosophy books, I finally got around to reading Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
My understanding of it is that it postulates two things;
- Society is split into two factions; the working class, and the ruling class, with the latter exploiting the former for it’s benefit.
- In order for the working class to break out of this exploitation permanently it must rise up, take over the state and use that power to bring all property into state ownership and use it for the good of the working class.
At a basic level, I accept the first of those.
Income inequality, housing crises, too-big-to-fail banks etc are all signs of a society split between the haves and have nots, the rich and poor, the 1% and the 99%. That’s today, so I think the first point resonates and is reasonable.
I understand the thinking process behind the second. If this is a struggle between the haves and have nots and the power of exploitation that owning property supposedly confers, then presumably the essential ban on property ownership would take away that power.
What this point misses, I feel, is that it is inevitable that if the working class does rise up, seize the state and the means of production, there will be a class of people who are ruling the country. There will have to be a group, who represent a tiny minority of the population, who make decisions based on power granted to them to do so. Without that, the state, and therefore society will cease to function adequately. If I’ve misunderstood please correct me.
Thus, it is inevitable that if communism was to succeed in it’s aims it would not stop their being a ruling and working class. It may initially put those two classes on a more level footing but there would still be antagonisms (the manifesto talks about antagonism a lot) which would likely increase as time went on. The new ruling class, fervent in it’s belief that it is acting in the best interests of society would continue to do so, face opposition from the working class and there would eventually be another revolution.
So communism is not for me.
Next philosophy to read is that of Friederich Nietzsche. Bit worried about the Hitler connection with that one!