6: The Communist Manifesto, 1848.

The Communist Manifesto was a utopian pronunciation at a moment of profound social, economic, and political upheaval in Europe. Emerging at a time of revolution fomented by the Industrial Revolution and its attendant economic inequality, urbanisation, and social change, Marx and Engels’ clarion call to revolution offered the hope of a brighter future. The struggles of today would build the foundations of the proletariat’s hopeful tomorrows. There are, however, points to consider in the utopia offered by the Manifesto around accessibility and inclusivity: Marx and Engels imagined a utopia, but who got to live in it?

Food For Thought:
The manifesto is now considered one of the most polarizing political documents because of what it represents, for some, about 20th century history. It was written, however, in 1848, and both Marx and Engels would have explicitly rejected any suggestion that they were engaged in utopian design. They thought instead in terms of scientific and economic principles. That said, how might the social and economic relations, and the associated transformation of men’s lives imagined by the manifesto, be seen as utopian?

Required Reading:

The Communist Manifesto

Kathi Weeks, ‘The Critical Manifesto: Marx and Engels, Haraway, and Utopian Politics’, Utopian Studies 24.2 (2013).

Further Reading:

Richard White, ‘George Orwell: Socialism & Utopia’, Utopian Studies 19.1 (2008).

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