Engels – The Principles of Communism

The revolution will start in England, America, France, and Germany, the developed nations, and then spread to the rest of the world. It is only a matter of time before the workers rise up against their oppressors.

In the past, as technology evolved, social relations consequently changed. In every era there exists a class that oppresses, and a class that is oppressed. Slave owners oppressed their slaves. The aristocracy oppressed the serfs.

In the late Middle Ages the bourgeois (the factory owners) started displacing the aristocracy as the most powerful class in society. This laid the groundwork for the industrial revolution, a point in history when the social relations in the West changed overnight. In the Middle Ages the aristocracy owned the means of production, and the serfs worked it for them. This was Feudalism. The industrialists could only flourish with “private property,” so, as they moved into power, they made laws that promoted private property and competition. They developed new technology, such as the steam engine, for the sake of competition against each other, reducing the cost of production for goods more and more. For the first time in history, humans could produce enough goods for everyone, and at a price that people could afford. This is the achievement of Capitalism.

But, like the social relationships before it, oppression of the working class (in this case the proletariat) is inherent to Capitalism. The proletariat does not own property, so they must sell their labor in order to survive. The exchange is called “free,” but they are only paid enough to scrape by, the minimum necessary in order to keep the whole system running.

When the system is running well, and everyone is making money, there are more jobs that workers. The market (or more accurately, the bourgeois) is willing to pay the workers extra. But every 5 – 7 years, when more goods are created that there is demand for, the market crashes and the factory owners must cut workers in order to keep the factory’s doors open. A downturn in the economy is unpleasant for the bourgeois, but devastating for the workers, for they can no longer afford to feed their families. Eventually the demand returns, and the workers get their jobs back, but not without a great amount of suffering in the mean time. During the down times the workers begin talking about revolution.

In a democracy it is said that everyone is free and equal, but the bourgeois has defined the terms, and created laws that reinforce their control. Only property owners vote. The workers own no property, so they do not vote. The bourgeois elect politicians that defend their values, rather than the workers. The bourgeois say that in a free market the workers are given the right to work where ever they can get hired, and don’t have to work where they don’t want to work, but this ignores the fact that they are given no assurance of a decent quality of life or steady income. They often must work in demoralizing and dangerous conditions.

Capitalism has changed the game for workers around the world. Previously every people group was more or less economically isolated. Today American workers must compete for jobs with the Chinese. This also means that the way of life of a Chinese peasant will necessarily be impacted, within a year, by new technology in America.

Communism is the only solution that will address the evils of Capitalism. Private property and division of labor are at the heart of Capitalism. They must be eradicated in order to address its evils. Once the different industries have matured to the point at which they produce enough goods to meet the needs of everyone, the means of production (the factories and farms) must be nationalized. The people will democratically control how and how much is produced through a planned economy (as opposed to the chaotic Capitalist economy). The workers will be educated in a variety of occupations so that they can jump from industry to industry. For example, when too much food is produced, workers will be transitioned to building bridges, in order to meet whatever the current needs of society are.

When everyone is given the same education, and everyone performs the same work, class distinction will become a thing of the past, as will racism, religion, and sexism. Women will marry out of love, rather than financial need. They will not be treated as pieces of property.

The global aspect of Capitalism will result in a communist revolution around the entire world, as the proletariat outnumbers the bourgeois in each country. The transition to communism will be gradual, but once the transition starts, it will progress quickly. The communists hope that it can happen peacefully, though the nature of revolution suggests it will not. The bourgeois has given no indication that they will willingly hand power over to the workers. There will come a time when the number and misery of the proletariat will decide to throw off their chains, whether or not revolution requires violence. The communists will not provoke or lead a revolution, but they will be there to support the workers when they revolt, in whatever form the revolution takes.


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