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Global Capitalism and Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party

First, read the introductory essay located in Section Two of the course text, Social Theory Re-Wired. Then, read the classical theoretical work by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party in Section Two of the course text, Social Theory Re-wired. Perhaps no piece of social theory is as well known (and, in some circles, notorious) as Marx and Engels’s Manifesto of the Communist Party. As you read the excerpt, ponder what places like London and Paris must have been like at the time when Marx and Engels were writing their call to action. Also review the recommended resources listed above for additional materials related to this discussion.

Answer the following:

  • Describe the concepts of capital and globalization presented in the introductory essay.
  • As they are presented in the introductory essay, do you think Marx’s works are intended to be theoretical interpretations of communism, or was Karl Marx primarily focused on, and an expert in, the workings of capitalism?
  • The Manifesto of the Communist Party is well-known for its revolutionary zeal, but we often think of the proletariat as the revolutionary force. However, Marx and Engels suggest that the bourgeoisie also came about through revolution. In your own words, explain how the “bourgeoisie played a most revolutionary part.”
  • In one of the most eloquent passages of the Manifesto, Marx and Engels write: “But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons—the modern working class—the proletarians ” What “weapons” are Marx and Engels talking about, and how did the bourgeoisie “call into existence” the proletariat?
  • Marx and Engels suggest that as capitalism has developed, the bourgeoisiehas sown the seeds of its own destruction. Yet, many critics point to the undeniable fact that capitalism still exists and communism has struggled to survive. Where do you fall? Do you find Marx and Engels’s argument convincing?
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