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[Opinion] Communist Manifesto

Posted November. 20, 2002 23:00,   


‘The Communist Manifesto,’ co-written by Karl Marx and Frederik Engels in 1848, is considered one of the greatest political pamphlets in history. The writing has so far been translated into some 200 languages and is the second most-read book next to the Bible. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!” The small-volume book that ends with this provocative phrase has had a great influence on mankind since then. Communism, an ideology advocated by the two authors, had ruled the half of the world from the 1917’s Bolshevik Revolution in Russia through the demise of former Soviet Union and Eastern European states in the 1990s.

▷The world did not change in the way ‘The Communist Manifesto’ predicted. Instead of the ‘collapse of capitalism as a result of class struggle,’ the world witnessed the fall of communism. It was market capitalism, not the human race, that was all set free from the 150 years of history of struggle. Political scientists like Francis Fukuyama, therefore, said of `the end of history,’ citing there was no alternative to the west’s laissez-faire. Communism literally has become `remains of the old history’ just like the statue of Lenin that has long been unattended after being towed down.

▷The world is now seeing yet another sign of the fall of communism as the Chinese communist party gives up the doctrine of communist manifesto it had stuck to for decades. In line with Marxism and Lenism, China already embraced the idea of market capitalism and has tried the new experiment. Now that it even allows capitalists to join the party, what would Marx say if he could rise from his tomb again and see China of today?

▷Then, is capitalism bound to prevail decades to come? Anthony Gibbons, a creator of ‘the Third Way,’ noted, “As long as there is no alternative, the question will be how and how far we can control capitalism.” In this respect, political scientists go back to Marx to see his diagnose of the market-oriented system, despite the apparently failed ‘prescription’ of the proletariat revolution. Many believe that today’s ‘casino capitalism,’ in much part, realizes his prediction about the world of divide and anguish created by accumulation of capitals. It may be just that the ghost of communism, an ideology prevailing in the mid 19th Century Europe, has yet to disappear.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com