Chapter 1

Bourgeois and Proletarians

by Karl Marx Icon


The spectre of communism is haunting Europe.

All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre:

  • Pope and Tsar
  • Metternich and Guizot
  • French Radicals and German police-spies.

The ruling parties have labeled all opposition parties as communistic.

Opposition parties have hurled back the reproach of communism against:

  • the more advanced opposition parties
  • its own adversaries.

This led to 2 things:

  1. All European powers have acknolwedged Communism to be a power.
  2. Communists should openly publish their views, aims, tendencies, and meet this tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto

This is why we assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto.

Chapter 1

The history of existing societies is the history of class struggles between;

  • freeman and slave
  • patrician and plebeian
  • lord and serf
  • guild-master and journeyman
  • oppressor and oppressed


  • were uninterrupted, hidden or open
  • ended either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

Society has always been organized into various orders with gradations of social rank.

  • Ancient Rome had patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves
  • The Middle Ages had feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs

The modern capitalist society sprouted from the ruins of feudal society.

  • It has not removed class antagonisms.
  • It instead established:
    • new classes
    • new conditions of oppression
    • new forms of struggle

Our epoch, the epoch of the capitalists, has a distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms.

Society as a whole is splitting up into 2 great hostile camps:

  • Bourgeoisie
  • Proletariat

From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns.

  • From these burgesses the first elements of the capitalists were developed.

The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising capitalists.

In the feudal system of industry, production was monopolised by closed guilds.

  • Such a system is no longer suitable for the growing wants of the new markets.

It was replaced by the manufacturing system.

  • The guild-masters were pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class.
  • The division of labour between the different corporate guilds was replaced by the division of labour in each single workshop.

Even manufacturing was not enough. Technology was needed, as steam and machinery revolutionizing industrial production.

This led to the giant, Modern Industry.

  • The manufacturing middle class was replaced by industrial millionaires, as the the modern capitalist.

The modern capitalists is therefore the product of a long series of revolutions in the modes of production and exchange.

Politics from Economics

Each step in the development of the capitalists was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class.

The feudal nobility, feeding off of peasants, were replaced by monarchies, feeding off of the manufacturing middle class.

Thanks to the establishment of Modern Industry and the world market, the capitalists has finally become masters of the modern representative State.

  • The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole capitalists.

The capitalists, wherever it has got the upper hand, has:

  • put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.
  • torn the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”
  • enshrined naked self-interest and callous “cash payment” as the bond between men.
  • replaced chivalry, sentimentalism, and religious fervour with the icy water of egotistical calculation.
  • resolved personal worth into exchange value
  • replaced natural freedoms with that of Free Trade.
  • replaced direct, brutal exploitation with exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions
  • converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the scientist into its wage labourers.
  • replaced the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages with slothful indolence

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the capitalists around the world.

  • It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.
  • They have destroyed long-established national industries with new ones that use raw material from the remotest zones, producing goods consumed for the whole world.
  • They replace national self-sufficiency with the universal interdependence of nations.
  • They draw even the most barbarous nations into civilisation.
  • They use the cheap prices of commodities to down all protectionist walls.
  • They compel all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the capitalist mode of production and become capitalist themselves.

The capitalists has subjected the countryside to the urban domination.

  • It has created enormous cities with a huge urban population compared with the rural
  • It has made the rural dependent on the urban and the poor countries dependent on the rich countries

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