If neither Marx or Engels never lived and written the books they did, former Soviet Union and China would probably be conducting their governmental systems in a different manner. Defined by Marx and Engels, the communist theory can be summed up in the single phrase: abolition of private property (Engels, Marx 80). Communists are distinguished by the lower working class which will rise to overthrow the higher supreme class (Engels, Marx 80). The second distinction can be found in the struggle of the proletariats against the Bourgeoisie, or the higher class (Engels, Marx 80).
Marx and Engels state that society as a whole is more and more splitting up into the great hostile camps, or opposing classes; the Proletariats and the Bourgeoisie (Engels, Marx 58). Political power, property so called is merely the organized power of one class oppressing another (Engels, Marx 95). "Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation (Engels, Marx 86)."
Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working class parties. There are ten measures needed to convert to communism (Engels, Marx 94).
- Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to the public.
- Heavy progressive income tax.
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
- Centralizing of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with a state capital.
- Centralizing of the means of communication and
in the hands of the state.
- Factories and production owned by the state and cultivation of wastelands.
- Equal liability of all labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combining agriculture and manufacturing industries; abolition of distinction between town and country by a more equal distribution of the population.
- Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor (Engels, Marx 94).
According to Marx and Engels these were the ten steps to follow if you wanted your country to convert to communism.
Marx and Engels had their influence in modern ideology because heads of state put their ideas into action in their own countries (Hacker 516). Words and phrases taken from Marx and Engels' writings clearly constitute the ideology framework of communist power (Hacker 516). The former Soviet Union, China, and lesser communist states all claim to be guided by Marxist principles (Hacker 512). "It would be wrong to say that two nineteenth century political theorists are responsible for the course of communism today. Communist leaders of the twentieth are responsible for keeping alive Marxist ideology (Hacker 516)."
Communist leaders have elected to utilize the books, pamphlets, letters and speeches of Marx and Engels as their official doctrine (Hacker 513). The leaders in communist states use perceptions of Marxism as merely an aid in motivating their citizens for the pursuit of political goals (Hacker 516). While Communist leaders dictate the words of Marx and Engels, they, themselves are the ones to make and carry out plans (Hacker 516). The fact of the matter is that communist leaders are the interpreters of that Marxist ideology in their countries (Hacker 516).
It has been proven that Plato had an influence on Rousseau, and Rousseau on Hugel, and Hugel on Marx and Engels (Hacker 515). The strength in an ideology is lies not only in its content of ideas but also in the spirit that moves it (Hacker 516). Obviously Marx and Engels wanted their ideas to be put to use. They condensed their theory so that their messages would move men to revolutionary activity (Hacker 515). Had a soviet power never emerged, the contribution of Marx and Engels to political theory would still be a major one (Hacker 517).
In the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels applied the term communism to a final stage of socialism in which all class differences would disappear (Payne 421). They declared that the course of history was discovered by the clash of opposing forces (Payne 421). These forces were rooted in the economic system and the ownership of property (Payne 421). The struggle between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat would end when the socialists started a revolution and attained a full communistic government (Payne 423).
If the leaders of present day communist countries and the former communist countries were not guided by the principles of Marx and Engels they operation of the countries past and present would most definitely be different. It is true that each leader runs his country his own way, but the bottom line is that the foundation of their communist rule is rooted in the works of Marx and Engels. Without these two men the entire basis of communism and communist principles would be non-existent.
- Engels, Friedrich, Karl Marx. The Communist Manifesto. Washington Square Press;
- Hacker, Andrew. Political Theory: Philosophy, Ideology, Science. The Macmillian Company; New York: 1961.
- Heilbroner, Robert. Marxism, For and Against. W.W. Norton & Company; New York: 1980.
- Payne, Robert. Marx. Simon and Schuster; New York: 1968.