Communist Manifesto

Section IV. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

Section II has made clear the relations of the Communists to the existing working-class parties, such as the Chartists in England and the Agrarian Reformers in America. 1 

The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of 2  the future of that movement. In France the Communists ally themselves with the Social-Democrats, against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the right to take up a critical position in regard to phrases and illusions traditionally handed down from the great Revolution.

In Switzerland they support the Radicals, without losing sight of the fact that this party consists of antagonistic elements, partly of Democratic Socialists, in the French sense, partly of radical bourgeois.

In Poland they support the party that insists on an agrarian revolution as the prime condition for national emancipation, that party which fomented the insurrection of Cracow in 1846. 3 

In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie. 4 

But they never cease, for a single instant, to instil into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the German workers may straightway use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the social and political conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce along with its supremacy, and in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in Germany, the fight against the bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin.

The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because that country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be carried out under more advanced conditions of European civilisation, and with a much more developed proletariat, than that of England was in the seventeenth, and of France in the eighteenth century, and because the bourgeois revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian revolution.

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can he attained only by 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.


Return to the main page of the Manifesto or go on to the Editor's Introduction to the 1976 edition.

Footnote provided by Engels

Social Democrats
The party then represented in Parliament by Ledru-Rollin, in literature by Louis Blanc, in the daily press by the Réorme. The name of Social-Democracy signified, with these its inventors, a section of the Democratic or Republican party more or less tinged with Socialism. [Note by Engels to the English edition of 1888.]

The party in France which at that time called itself Socialist-Democratic was represented in political life by Ledru-Rollin and in literature by Louis Blanc; thus it differed immeasurably from present-day German Social-Democracy. [Note by Engels to the German edition of 1890.] [return]

Notes by the editor of the 1976 edition

  1. [Refers to note 38:] Young America - an organization of American craftsmen and workers; it formed the nucleus of the mass National Reform Association founded in 1845. In the second half of the 1840s the Association agitated for land reform, proclaiming as its aim free allotment of a plot of 160 acres to every working man; it came out against slave-owning planters and land profiteers. It also put forward demands for a ten-hour working day, abolition of slavery, of the standing army, etc. Many German emigrant craftsmen, including members of the League of the Just, took part in the movement headed by the National Reform Association. By 1846 the movement among the German workers began to subside. One of the reasons for this was the activity of Kriege's group whose "true socialism" diverted the German emigrants from the struggle for democratic aims. [return]
  2. The words "and take care of" were added in the English edition of 1888. [return]
  3. [Refers to note 55:] The reference is to the national liberation uprising in the Cracow republic which by the decision of the Congress of Vienna was controlled jointly by Austria, Russia and Prussia - who had partitioned Poland at the end of the eighteenth century. The seizure of power in Cracow by the insurgents on February 22, 1846 and the establishment of a National Governent of the Polish republic, which issued a manifesto abolishing feudal services, were part of the plan for a general uprising in the Polish lands whose main inspirers were the revolutionary democrats (Dembowski and others). In March the Cracow uprising, lacking active support in other parts of Poland, was crushed by the forces of Austria and tsarist Russia; in November 1846, Austria, Prussia and Russia signed a treaty incorporating the "free town of Cracow" into the Austrian Empire. [return]
  4. In the German editions the end of this sentence reads: "against the absolute monarchy, the feudal landowners and philistinism [Kleinbürgerei]." [return]
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