Chapter three sees Marx and Engels deal with previous forms of socialism and flawed ideologies.
Feudal socialism is detailed as being where the old elements of the landed gentry, the old exploiters, rally against the new industrial bourgeois. We don’t see this anymore in this day and age as the landed gentry has truly lost its position of power. My goal with The Socialist Library is not to dwell on the unimportant so I won’t be spending much time on this topic as it doesn’t concern the modern world nearly as much as it did during Marx’s time.
Petty-bourgeois socialism is however still important today. This is when the small owners of capital—craftsmen, small business owners, etc.—pool their strength against the rising tide of more wealth in fewer hands. The text states quite clearly that these petty-bourgeois are constantly being hurled down into the arms of the proletariat because the competition of the free market has become too much. This is true today as well. Small businesses constantly close because of larger chains moving into town. One need only think of the all-consuming beast that is Walmart.
Marx and Engels state that the importance of this group lies in their detailing of the inner workings of capitalism and the disastrous effects it will surely bring upon civilization—”This school of Socialism…laid bare the hypocritical apologies of economists. It proved, incontrovertibly, the disastrous effects of machinery and division of labour; the concentration of capital and land in a few hands” (Marx and Engels).
The third is German socialism. Marx and Engels believe that this Germanic form of socialism was harmed because the old rulers saw danger in the aspect of socialism instead of in the bourgeois. We can see parallels today rather easily. Are we told through popular media to fear the big businesses that employ people for cheap or the rabble-rousers who seek a better tomorrow? The old powers are afraid of those seeking equality. The bourgeois is merely skilled in exploiting this advantage to their aims.
Conservative socialism comes next. I’ll let the authors speak on this one:
The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie…Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism.
Critical utopians are those that seek revolution through peaceful means. Today it has been empirically proven that peaceful revolutions can occur, but this was not so during Marx’s time. All social change had come at the tip of a sword or the edge of a musket. Marx and Engels believe that this form of revolution is susceptible to invasion by the bourgeois and they are correct just as violent revolutionaries can be persuaded. I’m not here to force any particular doctrine of socialism on you *cough*Leninism*cough*, but know that revolutionaries, whether peaceful or violent, must keep their wits about them at all times. These critical utopians are still useful for communists as they believe in the same things, they just need refinement.
The last chapter is simple: Communists are in support of all actions against bourgeois, against exploitation. “In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things” (Marx/Engels) sums it up rather nicely.
I echo Marx and Engels in their final declaration as well: Workingmen of all countries, unite!
So, comrades, that wraps up the basics of communism. Well, not really, just the goals of communists, accusations against the exploiters and rebuttals to critiques against the party. The basics of communism can be pieced together by reading the works of socialists the world over. That’s my job however so I’ll hop to it.
A break from all this seriousness would be nice though. How about some dystopia?
P.S. Here’s an article that really nails how the current status quo of disavowing capitalist abuse and blaming the workers for all the world’s problems is still in full force today. [link]
Link to text: [link]