In the two decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall, global capitalism became entrenched in its modern, neoliberal form. Its triumph was so complete that the word “capitalism” itself fell out of use in the absence of credible political alternatives. But with the outbreak of financial crisis and global recession in the twenty-first century, capitalism is once again up for discussion. The status quo can no longer be taken for granted.
As Eric Hobsbawm argues in his acute and elegant introduction to this modern edition, in such times The Communist Manifesto emerges as a work of great prescience and power despite being written over a century and a half ago. He highlights Marx and Engels’s enduring insights into the capitalist system: its devastating impact on all aspects of human existence; its susceptibility to enormous convulsions and crises; and its fundamental weakness.
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If you think the latest tome of Giddens’ Sociology is the one textbook you need to get you through your undergraduate days, think again. Impress your tutor and learn something beyond the lecture theatre with these essential Verso titles.
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In commemoration of the death of renowned scholar and Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, Verso presents his introduction to the most recent edition of Marx & Engels 'The Communist Manifesto' for all to enjoy.
In the spring of 1847 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels agreed to join the so-called League of the Just [Bund der Gerechten], an offshoot of the earlier League of the Outlaws [Bund der Geächteten], a revolutionary secret society formed in Paris in the 1830s under French Revolutionary influence by German journeymen – mostly tailors and woodworkers – and still mainly composed of such expatriate artisan radicals. The League, convinced by their ‘critical communism’, offered to publish a Manifesto drafted by Marx and Engels as its policy document, and also to modernize its organization along their lines. Indeed, it was so reorganized in the summer of 1847, renamed League of the Communists [Bund der Kommunisten], and committed to the object of ‘the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the ending of the old society which rests on class contradiction [Klassengegensätzen] and the establishment of a new society without classes or private property’. A second congress of the League, also held in London in November–December 1847, formally accepted the objects and new statutes, and invited Marx and Engels to draft the new Manifesto expounding the League’s aims and policies.