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Better Read Than Dead

Bennett Baumer Apr 29, 2006

The Communist Manifesto: A Road Map To History’s Most Important Political Document

Phil Gasper, ED
Haymarket Books

Haymarket Books has published an annotated version of one of history’s most notable political tracts, The Communist Manifesto.

Edited by Phil Gasper, Haymarket’s release is helpful for first-time readers of The Manifesto, with notes that put the document in modern language and context. Haymarket’s edition contains corrected translations and many appendices, giving context and background to the Manifesto.

The Manifesto, co-written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, gives a short, sweeping history of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat but is also a call to action. The Manifesto was published in 1848 and since then, Marx’s ideas have given birth to revolutions and counterrevolutions, and seen the abyss of Stalinism and countless sectarian splits. But the Manifesto’s analysis and projection of capital’s development into its modern, globalized form is remarkably prescient. The Iraq War makes sense when viewed through a Marxist perspective, as capital ever needs new markets and access to resources, including oil.

Unabashed commies, Marx and Engels distinguished themselves from socialists and other reformers through their commitment to the overthrow of capitalism, destruction of private property and rule by the working class. The piece is as radical now as when it was written, though many critics have declared Marxism dead and irrelevant. As long as there is capitalism, there will be communism.