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The Communist Manifesto pamphlet was published on February 26, 1848 by two young socialists, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marx was a philosopher, economist, sociologist and journalist who spent much of his life in London. Engels was a German philosopher, social scientist, journalist and a businessman and just before he joined Marx, he was working in Manchester, U.K., and had published The Condition of the Working Class in England.
The Manifesto advocated the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers own all means of production, land, factories and machinery. It was written to tackle the class struggle and the problems of capitalism (one person owning too much wealth). According to them, “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles” — meaning the problems in society were mainly because of money. The manifesto is divided into a preamble with four main sections and a conclusion.
In the spring of 1847, Marx and Engels joined the “League of the Just”. Engels was entrusted with writing about “profession of faith”, but it was later believed to be inappropriate for an open, non-confrontational organisation. But when Engels found out about the manifesto, which was already written, he found it inadequate and criticised it. In fact, he went a step ahead and asked the group to entrust him with drafting a new one which went on to become the Principles of Communism.
On November 23, 1847, before the Communist League’s Second Congress, Engels wrote to Marx asking him to do away with the catechism format in the manifesto. Marx and Engels met in Belgium, and a few days later, attended the Congress too. Over the next 10 days, there were heated debates and arguments and Marx dominated the entire programme thereby winning majority and drafting the new manifesto with Engels.
But on returning to Brussels, Marx never really got down to writing it. Instead, he got busy with delivering lectures and writing articles. He travelled places to establish branches of the Democratic Association. When even after two months the association had not heard from Marx, the Central Committee of the Communist League sent him an ultimatum demanding that he submit the completed manuscript by February 1, 1848. This was enough to urge him to work harder and he rushed to finish it on time. The manifesto was written and though Engels is credited as co-writer, the final draft was written only by Marx.
The concluding statement read: “Working Men of All Countries, Unite.” This became the rallying cry of the Communist party.