Communist Manifesto

Communist Manifesto Summary and Analysis of Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Summary: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

In this final chapter Marx recapitulates the immediate political aims of Communism. He identifies allied parties in various European states, noting that while communists support all working-class parties, they always stay focused on the long-term interests of the proletariat as a whole. Importantly, Marx claims that Germany is the chief focus of Communist interest because while the bourgeoisie in Germany have not yet achieved victory over the aristocracy, the proletariat there is more developed than it was when either the French or English bourgeoisie won their independence. The result of this is that the proletariat revolution will arrive first in Germany. Despite this focus, Communists will support any and all revolutionary movements which advocate the abolition of private property and advance the interests of the proletariat. As Marx powerfully concludes, "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!"

Chapter 4 Analysis: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

The concluding chapter of the Manifesto is very short. It says little new and is meant primarily to forcefully restate the communist's political purposes. Marx does, though, make an interesting observation in predicting that Germany will be the site of the inaugural proletariat revolt. This is interesting because it indicates that all societies need not progress at the same rate in approaching communist revolution. The ordering remains‹feudalism, capitalism, communism‹but the pacing is different. This is also apparent in Marx's insistence that communists raise the property question always and everywhere. Marx's willingness to hurry things here might well have influenced later Marxist revolutionaries who did not even await the arrival of fully developed capitalism to liberate the masses. It is these people, Trotsky and Lenin in Russia, Mao Tse-Tung in China, and Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra in Latin America, whom we most associate with communism as they succeeded in bringing it to some one half of the world's population. As the cold war has ended and the remaining communist states are slowly atrophying, it is tempting to bury Marxism happily, offering only a litany of human atrocities as its ironic eulogy. This, though, ignores the debt we owe Marx for both focusing our attention on the plight of those on whose strength the wheels of industry turn and elaborating the multifarious ways in which we are products of our societies. And despite the sad and bloody legacy of his followers, perhaps the greatest debt we owe Marx is the temporary hope he gave that there might be some radically different and better alternative to our society.