This tract by Marx and Engels is too enormous in implication to review fully in the small little space that GR allows, so what I'll do for now is take extracts from it and comment on them, piece by piece.
Per the Maifesto:""Abolition 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. The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital. Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty. But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention, direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class. The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.
Marx and Engels are here addressing a snapshot in time of European history. I don't have much knowledge of conditions during the industrial revolution in the rest of Europe, but have researched the situation relatively extensively as it was in Britain, as a background to a lot of criticism that was launched against the status quo by a lot of Victorian writers of fiction.
In the feudal system, "labor" did not remove laborers from their families at all, in fact, it rather strengthened family ties since most of what can be seen as the proletariat of feudal times, were indebted laborers on the fiefdom of their feudal lord.
So, the only labor which compromised the family situation, was the kind of labor done by men, women and children in mines and factories during the industrial revolution, from around 1750 to the early 1900's.
If you read up on reforms in Britain, you will see that by about 1831, public outcries against child labor and the conditions that adults and children were made to work under in mines, caused public commissions to be instituted by government, which started a slow and gradual reform of conditions via legislation, to the point that all kinds of laborers are pretty well-protected and well-represented at the present day.
Ironically, the big bad fat cats these days are not the kind that deal with direct labor, but rather the type who deal in/with secondary products (like financial products) and services. (By services we do not mean of the "labour" kind that Marx addressed- Marx was addressing the kind of workers who were exploited in mines and factories.)
Note that the industrial revolution, although it started off bringing such untold misery to so many, also had the following effect: average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world's average per capita income increased over tenfold, while the world's population increased over sixfold. Finally it was within the grasp of those born outside of nobility to make a decent living for themselves.
A lot of workplace reform has taken place since the IR started.. and not through rabble-rousers like Marx, but because people with a conscience raised their voices and cried out against the injustices being done by capitalists against fellow human beings.
Authors like Charles Dickens, for instance, and Victor Hugo, helped to encourage the privileged to look upon their less fortunate brethren with greater sympathy, and to call for social reform in the name of conscience.
...so, Karl Marx is being a great opportunist here. At a time when history and society is in great flux and inner revolution, when a new era is dawning and social conscience still needs to become cognizant of the suffering of some of the members of society, Karl Marx exploits the situation, ironically by making use of the exploitation by one element of society, of another.
It is the poor and the ignorant that is being exploited, and Karl Marx exploits their helplessness, ignorance and gullibility to shout for revolution instead of evolution. Marx and Engels call for violence where no violence is necessary, because peaceful change was already taking place in any case.
Per the manifesto:But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus. The bourgeois sees in 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 than that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women. He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production. For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial. Our bourgeois, not content with having the 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.
The implication is obvious. According to the authors, the implication is that marriage is a bourgeois, patriarchal institution for the exploitation of women, a form of prostitution. You would think that anybody who is even in the slightest familiar with history, would be able to see immediately how fallacious and false such an accusation is, since marriage is a social institution that evolved gradually over many centuries, but has always been something that protected rather than exploited women. Remember, for centuries and centuries, women had no recourse save sexual abstinence (for which the best path was to become a nun) against falling pregnant.
Women had exactly three choices: Be a prostitute, be a nun, or have the protection of marriage, where you could at least have the privilege of raising your children in a protected environment, and in which the father of the child had the responsibility to care for the children and their mother on a material level.
It is only through birth control, which we at last have 99% effective technology for, that woman is emancipated from the hearth and can take her place next to males as a fully economically productive partner, since she doesn't have to be tied down in a perpetual cycle of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing anymore.
This has nothing to do with the bourgeoisie except that it was people out of the horrible, terrible ranks of those dastardly bourgeoisie, that modern medicine was developed, modern medicine, which keeps child- and maternal mortality at bay, has brought better health to people of all walks and stations in life, and has given us the technology to be able to choose when we do or don't have children. (..except if you let The Pope tell you, of course).
I have an overwhelming feeling that Marx was simply exploiting women's emancipation movements to gain more supporters for Communism, when he says the following:He has not even a suspicion that the real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
Yes, women were being marginalized, but by the fact that we were excluded from property holding rights (something Marx scorns in any case) and from having an equal right to vote (something else which he scorns too).
Let's analyze this carefully:
How are bourgeois males exploiting
women by marrying them? ..by having sex with them and expecting of them to have children? ..but it is usually women
who want children in the first place. Certainly, in feudal times,
sons were deemed an essential item for males to acquire in order to continue the family line, but, since the human species would discontinue should women stop having children, calling it an exploitation of women by men sounds like a rather strange, roundabout way of putting things.
Certainly in the time that capitalism has steadfastly taken root, children have become really more of a liability financially speaking, than a prize.
..and calling a married woman more of a prostitute than an unmarried woman would be, who will still be used for sex, just this time by the entire mob instead of her husband, (unless the married woman decides to swing which will be HER decision to cuckold her husband - unless they both agree to swing) just sounds a bit crazy.
In fact, if you think about it, it is Marx
who is making the implication that women are mere objects, property to be owned like cows or camels, by suggesting that they will be seen as fair game ("community of women", as he puts it, having a similar meaning to "community of property") under Communist rule.
I just can't help finding his attitude massively patronizing and insulting, both towards men and women, as much as I decry the patriarchy of the past, because Marx himself is speaking with the very voice of patriarchy and sexism that he supposedly decries. He speaks their language, the language of the white, supremacist patriarchal 'master'.
Also from the manifesto:"The education of all children,from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense."
...and our children must be taken away from us and brought up in some state institution. See: Communist Party Education Workers Congress, Communist quotes:
We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists.... We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children's nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.
It is generally accepted knowledge that institutionalized care away from any sort of notion of family, is psychologically un
healthy for children.
..so Marx wants to pull down the very fabric of society, to the point of removing even the notion of family - to remove from children the prerogative of having your own mother and father, of having brothers and sisters, and instead, humans must become cogs in the wheel of Communism, mindless automatons who have no individuality, no sense of self.
No thanks, I don't buy into the hive-mind insect-think.
This review is a work in progress, so more to follow soon.
EDIT: Dear reader, if you feel you need to comment, please
take the time to read the discussion thread below first - these issues and even more regarding Marxism, Communism, etc, are discussed EXTENSIVELY in the comment thread below, and I fear that comments are starting to become repetitive, with clear indications that commentors are not bothering to check if their arguments might already have been discussed a few times over. Unfortunately all that is discussed cannot be worked into the review itself, since GR limits review space, and this is a HUGE subject.
I'd also like to mention that I am absolutely to a large extent a fan of Socialism in general and a great fan of the Scandinavian mixed system. What I am criticizing in this review, is specifically this document, 'The Communist Manifesto', and not Socialism itself.
I promise to make time soon to work more of the discussions into the review itself, but some very well-read and intelligent Marxian apologists have commented, so it might be worth your time to read the discussions in any case.