Communism-The Ideal Society? Society is flawed. There are critical imbalances in
it that are causing much of humanity to suffer. In The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx is
reacting to this fact by describing his vision of a perfectly balanced society, a communist
society. Simply put, a communist society is one where all property is held in common. No
one person has more than the other, but rather everyone shares in the fruits of their labors.
Marx is writing of this society because, he believes it to be the best form of society
possible. He believes that communism creates the correct balance between the needs of the
individual, and the needs of society. He also believes that sometimes violence is necessary
to reach the state of communism. This paper will reflect upon these two topics: the
relationship of the individual and society, and the issue of violence, as each is portrayed in
the manifesto. Before embarking upon these topics, it is necessary to establish a baseline
from which to view these ideas. It is important to realize that in everything, humans view
things from their own cultural perspective, thereby possibly distorting or misinterpreting a
work or idea. Marx speaks of this saying, "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" (Marx, p.71). With this in mind, some perspective on the society of that time is
vital. During this time the industrial revolution is taking place, a massive movement away
from small farms, businesses operated out of homes, small shops on the corner, and the
like. Instead, machines are mass-producing products in giant factories, with underpaid
workers. No longer do people need to have individual skills. Rather, it is only necessary
that they can keep the machines going, and do small, repetitive work. The lowerworking
class can no longer eke out a tolerable existence in their own pursuits, but are lowered to
working inhumane hours in these factories. This widens the rift between the upper and
lower class—called bourgeois and proletariat, respectively—until they are essentially two
different worlds. The bourgeois, a tiny portion of the population, has the majority of the
wealth whilethe proletariat, the huge majority, has nothing. It is with this background that
Marx begins. First, the topic of the individual and society will be discussed. This topic in
itself can be broken down even further. First, the flaws with the "current" system in
respect to the bourgeois and proletariat will be shown, thereby revealing the problems in
the relationship between individual and society. Secondly, the way that communism
addresses these issues, and the rights of the individual, as seen through the manifesto.
Quite clearly, Marx is concerned with the organization of society. He sees that the
majority of society, that is, the proletariat, are existing in sub-human conditions. Marx also
sees that the bourgeoisie has a disproportionate abundance of property and power, and
that because of what they are, they abuse it. He writes of how the current situation with
the bourgeoisie and proletariat developed. "The history of all hitherto existing society is
the history of class struggles" (Marx, p.55). There have always been struggles between
two classes, an upper and lower class. However, Marx speaks of the current order saying,
"It [bourgeois] has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms
of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses,
however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a
whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes
directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat" (Marx, p.56). The very nature of
the bourgeoisie causes it to grow in size and power while the proletariat shrinks, therefore
increasing the rift between the two. Marx goes on to describe how this situation came
about, with the industrial revolution and other factors. Modern industry has established the
world-market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given
an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This
development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as
industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie
developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down
from the Middle Ages. We see, therefore, how the