Pathetic. Pitiful. Contemptible. Unbelievable. These are the words that come to mind as I try to come up with a way to describe the world-view reflected in The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It is so bad, so naïve, so poorly argued that I do not think it deserves to be taken seriously. I only address it because of the massive influence of Marxism and the heaps of woe it has caused. In what follows I will quote from and interact with The Communist Manifesto in an effort to validate the thesis that the belief system it reflects is wretched, degrading, and worthy of universal rejection.
The Marxist meta-narrative is one of constant struggle between oppressor and oppressed:
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master 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 reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
This is a terrible oversimplification of “the history of all hitherto existing society.” Not only does it fail to account for the complexity of human life, it reduces all history to violent conflict.
Behold the pitiful foundation of the Marxist house of horrors.
The great Satan standing against Marxism is “the bourgeoisie,” which got us exiled from Eden (note the reference to “idyllic relations”):
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” (222).
On the foundation of sand, Marx and Engels place a set of wild-eyed charges. They continue:
“The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation” (222).
This bourgeoisie sure is powerful—or not. In spite of these undocumented calumnies against their enemies, there were and continue to be altruistic physicians, honest lawyers, believing priests, noble poets, genuine scientists, and sentimental families. There were and continue to be benevolent employers and thankful employees. Marx and Engels have presented a caricature of the world.
In addition, these communists appear to prefer the stone age to the improvement of life that results from modern technology:
“The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation” (224).
Perhaps Marx and Engels are under the false impression that somewhere in the world noble savages exist in some kind of primeval, pre-historic purity. The reality is that uncivilized places are worlds of unfounded fear, rampant disease and uncleanness, and even cannibalism. There is no such thing as the noble savage, and most people are grateful to be drawn into civilization, with its indoor plumbing, modern medicine, and air-conditioning.
Marx and Engels do not reckon with the reality of their idealized proletariat. They do not recognize that skill and intelligence are good things, and that often people are poor precisely because they lack these intangibles. Those who lack skill and intelligence, the proletariat, are expected to rise up and destroy the stylized bourgeoisie:
“The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages” (228).
Smash. Burn. Destroy. This is what Marx and Engels think will lead to progress in a positive direction?
For Marx and Engels the God of the Bible does not exist, and so there is no absolute truth or morality:
“Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests” (232).
They view all of history as a violent conflict, and they want the violence to continue, this time from the proletariat:
“In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat” (232).
Will such an uprising result in peace? Will this bring about the longed for golden age? (Marx and Engels later refer to “the social New Jerusalem” [252, cf. 256] and to “the new social Gospel” , so they clearly seek a “Utopian”  golden age).
In view of the history of the bloody advance of Communism across Russia and China, some parts of The Communist Manifesto are chilling. The aim is clearly stated:
“In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” (235).
At least Marx and Engles recognize—and openly state—that this means the end of freedom. They try to paper over this difficulty by labeling freedom as a “bourgeois” value:
“The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.”
“By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying. . . .”
“In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend” (237).
And what of those who wish to retain their freedom and property? How many millions were slaughtered in Russia? Marx and Engels do not blanche at the need for atrocity:
“You must, therefore, confess that by ‘individual’ you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible” (238).
“Swept out of the way” indeed. Those who desire the conquest of communism must reckon with the reality that if they are not friends with the strong-man, they could be classed with those to be “swept out of the way.” By what code or morality will injustice be prevented? What makes anyone think they are immune to the whims of those in power?
Marx and Engles will not be bothered with appeals to freedom, law, and culture:
“But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, &c. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class” (238–39).
But if there is no God and no absolute morality, then will not the Marx and Engels led proletariat become a new bourgeoisie? And what is their standard for freedom, culture, and law? The world in which there is a God who has revealed absolute truth and absolute morality—even if it in fact does not exist—is a better world than the one envisioned by Marx and Engels. And it does, in fact, exist. We’re in it.
Marx and Engels believe that the family should be abolished:
“Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.”
“On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution” (239).
The only fools reducing the family to private gain and public prostitution are Marx and Engels. What a sorry understanding of the world they have! What a lamentable and despicable view of human life. How sad the world would be if they were right, if the sacred and holy marriage bed were but “legalized prostitution” (as Marx and Engels viewed it, 240, cf. p. 268 n. 38) and if children were, as Marx and Engels hold, exploited by their parents for financial gain.
But if this is not really how the world works. If marriage is the holy union of man and wife, a mystery depicting the relationship between Christ and the church, ordained of God, beautiful, monogamous, an exclusive, comprehensive interpersonal union, and if parents love their children and raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, then Marx and Engels are suggesting an outrageous abomination not worthy of serious consideration. Dangerous idiocy deranged and run amuck.
Marx and Engels try to defend their proposals by again oversimplifying and misrepresenting reality. As they have reduced history to violence and overthrow, they reduce marital relations to infidelity, universal adultery, and the “naked self-interest” of “callous ‘cash payment’”:
“But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.”
“The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.”
“He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production” (240).
Who really lives or lived this way? This nameless “bourgeoisie” needs to be identified. I wonder how many Russians, Prussians, Germans, Americans, or Englishmen would be found guilty of viewing women the way that Marx and Engels claim the bourgeois does? If this is not the way people viewed their wives, then these judgmental scoundrels are arguing against an enemy who does not exist.
Marx and Engels do not believe that Christianity is a true account of the world, so they depict a world that is savage, brutal, cruel, animalistic:
“The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial.”
“Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.”
“Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private” (240).
With such descriptions of society at the communist fountainhead, should we be surprised by the murderous atrocities communists have committed? What is sacred? How could anything be?
Rather than engage those who would critique communism from another way of understanding the world, Marx and Engels are dismissive:
“The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philosophical and, generally, from an ideological standpoint, are not deserving of serious examination” (241).
No discussion. No engagement with humanity’s big ideas and perennial questions. Simple assertion. Dismissal of all opponents theological, philosophical, or ideological. And this is intellectual? This is progressive?
Rather call it rebellious fat-headedness. Lawless. Tyrannical. Profane. Godless.
And the logical ends of these ideas are on display in the years of communism since Marx and Engels wrote.
In its view of the world, in its premises, and in its argumentation, The Communist Manifesto is wretched, degrading, and worthy of universal rejection. I do not believe in the world that Marx and Engels describe. They have not described the way the real world works, and the world they have described is inferior to the one that actually exists, the one that is described and interpreted by the Bible.
 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (New York: Penguin, 2002), 219. From this point forward in citing the Manifesto I will merely put page numbers in parentheses after the quotation. The edition I am citing contains an introduction and notes by Gareth Stedman Jones. The introduction comprises pages 1–192, and the prefaces to the various translations cover pages 193–217. The Communist Manifesto is also available various places online, for instance: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm.