SPECTRE is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of
old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and
Czar, Metternich and Guizot,4 French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by
its opponents in power? Where is the Opposition that has not hurled back the
branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as
well as against its re-actionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact.
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers to be itself a
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole
world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale
of the Spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London,
and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French,
German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.
The history of all hitherto existing society (b) is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master (c) and
journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one
another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each
time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the
common ruin of the contending classes.
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated
arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In
ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the middle ages,
feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of
these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal
society, has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new
classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct
feature; it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more
splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each
other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.
From the serfs of the middle ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest
towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.