It is 172 years since the MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY authored by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels was first printed and released on Feb 21st 1848. Since then, it continues to guide the ideas and work of the Communists in the entire world.
It is a welcome move that 5 left Publishing Houses have jointly printed and released 1,00,000 copies of the MANIFESTO on Feb 21st 2020 in Telugu. It came at a time when the reaction is reining the world and crying hoarse about the death of Communist ideology. So, taking the Manifesto widely can be a part of the move to assert the continued validity of Communist ideology.
In its long life, the World Communist Movement had touched highest peaks in terms of its spread, influence and achievements. Not only the Communist Movement had led Great revolutions to victory but also had created the exemplary models of new life and new society. It had produced the great Marxist teachers like Lenin, Stalin and Mao who had superbly and successfully elaborated, interpreted and enriched Marxism in the course of applying it to concrete conditions and the concrete practice of class struggle. It had produced countless leaders, cadres, proletarian fighters, cadres and ranks and the Marxist intellectuals who valiantly upheld and defended Marxism in the face of unrelenting attacks from the alien class forces, bourgeoisie intellectuals and slanderers as well as from the petty bourgeoisie wobblers, vacillators and various types of deviators. It had developed crores of Communists who had set up inspiring and quite emulating examples of Communist convictions, values, Communist life styles, discipline and sacrifices and total dedication to the people.
At the same time, we also have seen the slackening of the study of Marxism, dilution of Communist convictions, spread of wrong trends, confusions, vacillations and pessimistic tendencies in the Communist Movement in the conditions when the Communist and revolutionary movements had suffered serious setbacks, reversals and losses at the international level as well as in individual countries.
Today, when reaction is on the offensive in the world and the attacks on the Communist and progressive forces have intensified, it is difficult for the Communist forces to withstand and effectively counter this onslaught without arming ourselves with the Communist ideology and strong communist convictions.
We see weak philosophical and ideological foundations in the present generation. We also see a fall in the number of senior and experienced comrades who can impart and train the younger generation in the fundamentals of Marxism. It is also true that the influences of alien ideologies and petty-bourgeoisie trends as well as the divisions in the Communist Movement also create a favorable ground to the spread of confusions, vacillations and desertions in the Communist Movement. So, making the Manifesto of the Communist Party available to the widest masses of Communist ranks, motivating them towards a deep-going study and application of its various aspects to the concrete conditions and concrete practice of class struggle will go a long way in arming ourselves with the weapon of Marxism.
The Manifesto of the Communist Party is not a statement of 'pious' wishes of two 'noble' men. It embodies all the fundamental ideas of Marx and Engels. As Lenin said: "Marxism was the first to transform socialism from a utopia into a science, to lay a firm foundation for this science, and to indicate the path that must be followed in further developing and elaborating it in all its parts. It disclosed the nature of modern capitalist economy by explaining how the hire of the laborer, the purchase of labor-power, conceals the enslavement of millions of property less people by a handful of capitalists, the owners of the land, factories, mines, and so forth." (Lenin, CW4, P. 216) “It taught us how to discern, beneath the pall of rooted customs, political intrigues, abstruse laws, and intricate doctrines – the class struggle, the struggle between the propertied classes in all their variety and the property less mass, the proletariat, which is at the head of all the property less. It made clear the real task of a revolutionary socialist party; not to draw up plans for refashioning society, not to preach to the capitalists and their hangers-on about improving the lot of the workers, not to hatch conspiracies, but to organize the class struggle of the proletariat and to lead this struggle, the ultimate aim of which is the conquest of political power by the proletariat and the organization of a socialist society." (Lenin, CW4, 210, 211)
One can understand the fundamental ideas of Marxism better by applying them to the concrete situations and concrete practice of class struggle.
The bourgeoisie know it well what great victories the Communist ideology had won since its inception. The models of new societies created by the 1871 Paris Commune; the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution; the decisive role played by the Socialist Soviet Union, the Communists and Soviet people in the defeat of Fascism (1939-45), in defending world peace and weakening of imperialism; the victory of New Democratic Revolution in China; the great achievements in building socialism in Russia and China; the victories or advances achieved by the National Liberation, National Independence Movements and Peoples Revolutions in a number of Asian, African, Latin American Countries under the leadership of the proletariat; support and solidarity the revolutions had received from the Socialist Countries and people can never be wiped out from the pages of history and the hearts and memories of workers, oppressed nations and people in the world.
The achievements won by the bourgeoisie in the bourgeois-democratic revolutions are in no way comparable to the achievements won by the Communists and the proletariat in the New-democratic and Socialist revolutions. The bourgeois democratic revolutions led by the bourgeoisie were, no doubt, revolutionary in their historic periods, but they were basically aimed at replacing one system of exploitation by another system of exploitation. On the contrary, the revolutions led by the proletariat were aimed at ending the exploiting system as a whole or a definite step towards that aim. Thus the revolutions led by the bourgeoisie and the proletariat were basically different in nature. Bourgeoisie too is aware of this fact.
Bourgeoisie and its hangers-on are tirelessly talking about the end of Communism. Yet, they are not in a position to confidently assert that the proletariat can never recover from its setbacks and lead a victorious revolution because the bourgeoisie knows how their prophecies of doom were repeatedly proved wrong since 1871. They cannot also down play or brush aside the out bursts of people's anger and the revolutionary upheavals at one place or other in the world. They know that their own exploitative and oppressive policies carry with them enough cannon fodder which can explode into massive struggles of people. All their attempts to project the reversals suffered by the revolutions as a failure and end of Communist ideology; all their attempts to prevent the exploited and oppressed people from taking the road of class struggle and revolution and crush with heavy hand every expression of protest and struggle only point out how they are dreaded by the ghost of Communism.
Bourgeoisie is trying to show the revolutions continuing in the state of serious setbacks in the world as a living proof for the correctness of bourgeois ideology and capitalist system. But everyone in the world know that no sooner the bourgeois assumed power, it had abandoned or turned its back to the slogans of bourgeois democratic revolutions. The capitalist system carried in its own womb the seeds of class antagonisms, class contradictions, crises and decay. They continued to intensify and explode at one point or other. The bourgeoisie had thrown out the banners of free economy, free trade, free competition among the capitalist producers and embraced the banner of monopolization of capital, markets and profits by a few. Then came on the world scene imperialism at the highest stage of capitalism. Imperialism had neither abolished the capitalist contradictions, weaknesses and crises nor put the capitalism on the high road of development. Not only this. Imperialism has become a serious road block in the way of development of capitalism. Imperialism had further intensified the contradictions and competitions among the monopoly capitalist groups for markets, spheres of influence and world domination. We have seen how there emerged two belligerent imperialists groups and clashed in the First World War in an attempt to settle the question which of the groups can grab a major share of the loot in the world. We have also seen the Second World War. It began as war between the two imperialist groups and in the course developed into a war to defeat of Fascism. What is to be kept in mind here is: The imperialism - an offshoot of capitalism - is a roadblock in the way of free and independent development of capitalism in various countries of the world. For a long time, we see a situation where not only the proletariat has to fight imperialism to the end in order to consummate the new democratic revolution or socialist revolution, but the bourgeois too have to fight imperialism if it wishes to break itself from the shackles of imperialism.
We see in the countries under the semi-feudal, semi-colonial as well as capitalist systems the economic disparities; the concentration of wealth in the hands of few; the exploitation of labor; oppression; state terrorism; massive loot and destruction of natural resources and environment; the accumulation of weapons which has nothing to do with the protection of national interests, lives, safety and peace of common people, but for the purpose of imposing oppressive rule of exploiting classes on the people; massacres and genocides against people had grown many a times. Hunger, lack of shelter, medicine, literacy, employment, security and discrimination, migrations, costs of daily life, prices, atrocities, etc., had increased several times. Despite all their tall claims about development and welfare, the exploiting systems and regimes are miserably failing to solve any problem of the people.
The imperialist countries which claim to be leading the world capitalist system have their own horrifying stories. Using the so called aid, credit, investment, trade, agreements and sanctions etc., the imperialists are spreading their tentacles of plunder and oppression throughout the world. Poking their roses into the internal affairs of other countries; inciting tensions and clashes between the countries, arming the regimes and indulging in regime toppling games; creating the ghost of terrorism and resort to armed interventions, armed invasions and occupations against other countries and using the control - thus gained to loot their rich natural resources; setting up the military bases to keep the countries and people always in a state of terror and subjugation continues to be the policy of imperialist powers. Thus the imperialism stand as a most plunderous and oppressive system that must be buried by the people in the world.
The fact cannot, however, be denied that the Communist and revolutionary movements today are struggling to overcome the serious setbacks in the world including India. This situation places us in a weak and disadvantageous position vis-à-vis our enemy classes. The imperialists and the exploiting ruling classes are using every method- crude and soft- to frustrate our efforts to overcome the setbacks and divisions in the movement and set it on a road of advance.
In the background of this situation, we hear some Communists raising the questions like, 'is the Communist Manifesto applicable even today? Some say: True; revolutions that were won decades back under the guidance of Communist ideology are great; But they had suffered serious setbacks and reversals is also a fact. Some Marxist intellectuals are proposing amendments, changes and improvements to the Manifesto of the Communist Party.
In his Preface to the German Edition of the Communist Manifesto (1872), Engels had said that "However much the state of things may have altered during the last twenty five years, the general principle laid down in this Manifesto are, on the whole, as correct today as ever. Here and there some details might be improved. The practical application of the principles will depend, as the Manifesto itself states, everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions the time being existing......"
Neither Marx nor Engels had insisted that the Manifesto must be memorized by rote and recited word by word and page by page. Engels said Marxism is not a dogma, but guide to action. The point here is, one must grasp the essence of the fundamental principles of Communist Manifesto well and apply to the concrete situations and concrete practice of class struggle. This is the meaning of Communists using Marxism as a guide to action.
Here we quote at length from the Manifesto of the Communist Party to draw attention to its fundamental ideas:
"The history (all written) of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."; "The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working class parties."; "They have no interests separate and apart from these of the proletariat as a whole."; "They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement."
"The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1). In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2). In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working-class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole."
"The immediate aim of the Communists is the same of all the other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat." "The communist revolution is the most radical rupture with the traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas." "........the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy."
"The proletariat will use its political supremacy to rest by degrees, all capital from the bourgeois, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible."
"The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement."
"...... The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
"The Communists......openly declare that ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions."
"Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"
1871 Paris Revolution came 23 years after the release of the Communist Manifesto and in the life time of Marx and Engels. Here not only the proletariat had led a victorious proletarian revolution for the first time in history, but also established the proletarian state in the form of Paris Commune and continued it for 71 days. This Commune brought several earth-shaking revolutionary reforms and changes in the lives of working and oppressed people. Marx and Engels had whole-heartedly commended the Paris Commune, analyzed the causes for the fall of Paris Commune and drew the lessons from it. They saw the Paris Revolution as a necessary and most valuable rehearsal and practical training for the proletariat and the toiling people of the world to prepare themselves better for future revolutions. Marx noted that the Paris Commune has proved that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purpose."
Lenin had to wage a bitter ideological battle in defense of Marxism while applying it to the concrete conditions and concrete practice of Russian revolution.
Lenin had rejected “Bernstein saying that Marx's theory was 'unfinished', and left 'many problems that are by no means fully explained', Marx theory is not a last word in science' and 'History bring new facts and new methods of investigation that require the further development of the theory.' Lenin also said "if Bernstein had made an attempt to utilize new facts and new methods of inquiry for the further development of the theory, everybody would have been grateful to him. But Bernstein does not dream of doing that ..." (Lenin CW4, P. 196.) He also said: "Our aims are in complete accord with the fundamental ideas of Marxism ........ We stand for the consistent development of these ideas in the spirit of Marx and Engels and emphatically reject the equivocating and opportunist corrections a'la Bernstein which have now become so fashionable." (Lenin CW4, P 327)
Russian Revolution- had come and was victoriously concluded in the era of imperialism. As the imperialism was not present with all its features in the period of Marx and Engels it had become the task of Lenin to thoroughly study the emergence of imperialism, point out its basic features, disastrous consequences of imperialism to the Russian as well as the world revolution and workout suitable slogans and methods of struggle to fight imperialism. "The imperialism - Highest stage of Capitalism"; various writings of Lenin on the strategy and tactics of revolution and on the methods of building a proletarian party only came in this wake. Lenin's teachings on the need and inevitability of the proletariat leading the democratic revolutions as the bourgeoisie lost its will and capacity to lead the bourgeois democratic revolutions in the era of imperialism; the proletariat to base itself on the firm worker-peasant alliance in order to successfully lead the democratic revolutions and advance towards the socialist revolution; the need of the proletariat and the revolutionary classes targeting imperialism along with domestic exploiting ruling classes to lead a democratic revolution in a thorough-going manner and on the road of victory. Lenin's writings on the revolutions in colonial, semi-colonial and dependant countries; his struggle against opportunism of all hues in an effort to retain and strengthen the revolutionary orientation of the Communist International and his writings on the questions of war and peace and the utilizing the contradictions and war among the imperialist powers in the interests of revolution, etc., - all were a part of Lenin's struggle to uphold, elaborate and apply Marxism to the concrete conditions and concrete practice of class struggle and revolution.
The Great October Socialist Revolution has heralded the "Era of Imperialism and Proletarian Revolutions” in the world. The revolutions in this era are required to develop as the socialist (in capitalist countries) or national and people's democratic (colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries) revolutions as the concrete situation of each country demand. As the imperialism in this era stands as the main bastion for every exploiting system in the world and, as such, a serious road-bloc for any type of revolution, opposing and fighting imperialism has become a common cause for the proletariat in all Countries of the world. While the 'Working Men of All Countries, Unite' – the clarion call of the Communist Manifesto- continue to blaze the path of the proletariat and the Communists in the world, "the Workers and Oppressed People of the World, Unite" – the clarion call of Lenin strengthens the struggle and leadership of the proletariat at the world level further.
The revolution in Russia had developed in accordance with its own conditions. It had gone through democratic and socialist stages. Lenin had guided and led it from the beginning to the socialist Revolution and even some years more. He based himself on the fundamentals of Marxism, used the Marxist stand, view point and method to study the concrete conditions of Russia and formulate the programme and tactics for revolution. He took the help of Marxism to learn from the experiences of the Paris Commune of 1871, other revolutions and also of class struggles and revolutionary movements in Russia and guide the revolution to victory. He never faced a situation where Marxism did not help him and where he had to compromise with the non-Marxist and petty bourgeoisie ideologies, trends or deviations. He was never a blind believer or a casual follower. He acted with abundant confidence, clarity and boldness when he was required to apply Marxism to a specific problem of revolution, elaborate and explain various Marxist fundamental principles. He had done all this not to raise doubts about the adequacy of Marxism but to assert its validity and use it as a weapon.
Today it has become a fashion for some to raise questions like, how Marxism-an ideology of twentieth century- can solve the problems of twenty first century? To be frank, here they are trying to pass judgments without taking pains to go deep into the content of Marxism and without making serious attempts to apply it to the concrete conditions. Had the classes lost their class character? Is the society continuing as a class society or had transformed into a non-class society? Is the state still an organ of class oppression and rule or had transformed itself into a non-class and non-oppressive welfare state? Had the social conditions changed to say that the communist revolution now is possible without “radical rupture with the traditional property relations" whose development "involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas”? Will the ghost of imperialism disappear from the world scene on its own or should the mighty hands of working class, oppressed people be raised to overthrow and burry it? There are many such questions. Proper answers can be found nowhere but in Marxism.
It is an undeniable fact that the social relations have become complex, new problems have cropped up and the bourgeoisie and the exploiting classes are using many new forms and methods to camouflage their own ideas, the class nature of the society and state, the class contradictions and blunt or divert the class conflicts. This situation demands from the Communists to make a thorough-going study of the developments or changes in the situation. They have to make a hard work to straighten and class struggle and adopt suitable strategy and tactics to steer and navigate the ship of revolution to its destine. Finding fault in the ideology for our failures in using the Marxist stand, viewpoint and method to find answers to the problems is a great injustice to the ideology of Marxism.
Some say that the Indian revolution is neither a copy, nor a repetition of the Russian or Chinese Revolution. There is nothing new in it. No revolution can be a copy of another revolution. But this assertion must not lead one to blindly refuse to learn from and utilize the rich experiences of great revolutions. India is in the stage of democratic revolution and definitely not in the stage of Socialist Revolution. The experiences of Russian Communists in building the party of Bolshevik type; raising the proletariat from the level of leading the partial struggles to the level of leading the Country wide revolutionary workers and peasants upsurges that resulted in the victory of Socialist Revolution; the experiences of Chinese Communists in developing worker-peasant alliance and a powerful agrarian revolutionary movement, which served as the main axis of NDR; the experience of Chinese proletariat in withstanding and waging prolonged armed battles defying many odds and imperialist growing from a small force into a force that can inflict devastating defeat to the enemy classes are definitely invaluable for us. The revolutions, including that of India can avoid many mistakes or deviations and escape from losses or disasters if the Communists show the modesty to learn from the experiences and apply them to the concrete conditions of their own struggle and revolution.