This modern edition of the political call-to-arms whose “influence has been surpassed only by the Bible” highlights Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ prescient insights on capitalism (Guardian). A Communist Manifesto for the 21st-century reader concerned by the ever-widening wealth gap, the instability of financial markets, and the gradual destruction of the environment. In the two decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall, global capitalism became entrenched in its modern, neoliberal form. Its triumph was so complete that the word “capitalism” itself fell out of use in the absence of credible political alternatives. But with the outbreak of financial crisis and global recession in the twenty-first century, capitalism is once again up for discussion. The status quo can no longer be taken for granted.
As Eric Hobsbawm argues in his acute and elegant introduction to this modern edition, in such times The Communist Manifesto emerges as a work of great prescience and power despite being written over a century and a half ago. He highlights Marx and Engels’s enduring insights into the capitalist system: its devastating impact on all aspects of human existence; its susceptibility to enormous convulsions and crises; and its fundamental weakness.
About the Author
Frederick Engels was born in 1820, in the German city of Barmen. Brought up as a devout Calvinist he moved to England in 1842 to work in his father’s Manchester textile firm. After joining the fight against the counter revolution in Germany in 1848 he returned to Manchester and the family business, finally settling there in 1850. In subsequent years he provided financial support for Marx and edited the second and third volumes of Capital. He died whilst working on the fourth volume in 1895.
Karl Marx was born in 1818, in the Rhenish city of Trier, the son of a successful lawyer. He studied law and philosophy at the universities of Bonn and Berlin, completing his doctorate in 1841. In Paris three years later, Marx was introduced to the study of political economy by a former fellow student, Frederick Engels. In 1848 they collaborated in writing The Communist Manifesto. Expelled from Prussia in the same year, Marx took up residence first in Paris and then in London where, in 1867 he published his magnum opus Capital. A co-founder of the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864, Marx died in London in 1883.
A Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Eric Hobsbawm is the author of more than twenty books of history, including The Age of Revolution and The Age of Extremes. He lives in London.
“As a force for change, its influence has been surpassed only by the Bible. As a piece of writing, it is a masterpiece.” —Guardian
“[T]he best possible explanation of what the world was about that I had ever read. It pointed out that the real conflicts in the world were not between black and white, men and women, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Americans, Russians and Chinese; it was about the conflict of economic interest between 95 per cent of the population of the world, who create the world’s wealth, and the 5 per cent who own it. I think of Marx as a prophet: the last of the Old Testament prophets. And we should think of him as a teacher … Karl Marx discovered it all long before I did, and I am very grateful to him.” —Tony Benn, The New Statesman