Sunday, 16 January 2011

Communism in 1848.

Interlude: These lists consist of goals and demands set in 1848, which Karl Marx was the major author of, I've posted these demands as a "food for thought" exercise. It is interesting to see what we take for granted today, e.g. the right to vote and universal education, which should be a call for us to act to fight for what has been lost over the years as well. As well as to defend that which is coming under threat today, specifically universal education and the welfare state as a whole. The lists are also a testament to how forward we have come. Not only do we take the right to vote for granted, we can see that the German Communists were not radical enough in stipulating a voting age of 21 and excluding citizens with a criminal record. We can see that a heavily armed populace is not a desirable aim. We notice the absence of attacks on colonialism, misogyny and racism. Though we should not judge an entire movement by a couple of lists, nor any specific author. The fact remains that we have progressed and that is not a reason for passivity - it should be a reason to push onwards.

These are the demands listed in the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848):

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and on exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

When in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so another, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class; if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

The following list was the demands of the German Communist Party (1848) and was written by a number of socialists including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels:

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

1. The whole of Germany shall be declared a single and indivisible republic.
2. Every German over 21 years of age shall be able to vote and be elected, provided he has no criminal record.
3. Representatives of the people shall be paid, so that workers, too, will be able to sit in the Parliament of the German people.
4. The whole population shall be armed. In future, the armed forces are to be forces of workers as well, so that the army will not merely be a consumer, as it was in the past, but will produce even more than the cost of its upkeep. Furthermore, this will be a means of organising labour.
5. The exercise of justice shall be free of charge.
6. All the feudal dues, tributes, duties, tithes, et.c, which have oppressed the rural population until now, shall be abolished, with no compensation whatsoever.
7. The estates of princes and other feudal lords, and all mines and pits etc., shall become state property. On these estates, large-scale agriculture is to be introduced for the benefit of all and using the most modern scientific aids.
8. Mortgages on peasant lands shall be declared state property. The peasants are to pay the interest on these mortgages to the state.
9. In those regions where there is a developed system of lease-holding, the ground rent or the "lease-shilling" shall be paid to the state as tax.

All measures listed 6, 7, 8 and 9 are designed to reduce public and other burdens on peasants and small tenant farmers, without reducing the requisite means for paying the expenses of the state and without endangering production itself.

The real landowner, who is neither a peasant nor a tenant, has no part in production. His consumption is therefore nothing but misuse.

10. One state bank shall replace all the private banks, and its note issue shall be legal tender. this measure will make it possible to regulate credit in the interests of the whole population and thus undermine the domination of big money-men. The gradual replacement of gold and silver with paper money will reduce the cost of the indispensable instrument of bourgeois commerce, the universal means of exchange, and reserve gold and silver for effective use abroad. Finally, this measure is needed in order to bind the interests of the conservative bourgeois to the revolution.
11. All means of transport: railways, canals, steamships, roads, stations, etc. shall be taken over by the state. They are to be transformed into state property and put at the free service of the needy.
12. All civil servants shall receive the same pay, without any distinction other than those with a family, e.g. with more needs, will receive a higher salary than the rest.
13. The complete separation of Church and State. Ministers of all confessions are to be paid only by their congregations.
14. Restriction of the right of inheritance.
15. The introduction of severely progressive taxation and the abolition of taxes on consumption.
16. The establishment of national workshops. The state is to guarantee all workers their existence and care for those unable to work.
17. Universal and free education for the people.

It is in the interests of the German proletariat, petty bourgeoisie and peasantry to work energetically for the implementation of the above measures. Through there realisation alone can the millions of German people, who have up till now been exploited by a small handful, and whom some will attempt to maintain in renewed oppression, get their rights, and the power that they are due as the producers of all wealth.

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