The abridged communist manifesto

May 20th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A reader has sent me in an abridged version of the original 1872 communist manifesto. He notes:

This is a heavily abridged version of the original 1872 document, the abridgement achieved by deletion of “political rhetoric” and political analysis, and leaving core statements of intent, role and structure.  The original has also been edited to the extent of replacing the words “Proletariat” and “Proletarian” with “labour”, replacing the words “bourgeois” and “bourgeoisie” with “capital” and “capitalist(s)”, and the addition of headings in italics.  Other than the foregoing, the words are those of Marx and Engels.

Below is the abridged communist manifesto. What is interesting is how great tracts of it can be found in the policy principles statements of a certain NZ left party. You can guess which one.

The Abridged Communist Manifesto

Modern industry established the world market.

Capital cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production.  All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations.  And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. Capital has agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands.

Role of the worker

In proportion as the capitalist, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is labour, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him.

Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. What is more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time, or by increased speed of machinery, etc.

Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army, they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the capitalist class, and of the capitalist state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooked, and, above all, in the individual capitalist manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.

The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.

No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portion of the capitalist spectrum, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

Power of the collective

Labour goes through various stages of development. At first, the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the work of people of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the business owners who directly exploit them. They direct their attacks not against the capital condition 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.

At this stage, the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. But with the development of industry, labour not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of labour are more and more equalized, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level.

The growing competition in capital, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual capitalists take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (trade unions) against capital; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they find permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts.

Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots. Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by Modern Industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another.

This organization of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently, into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among capital itself. Thus, the Ten-Hours Bill in England was carried. 

Communist Aims

The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the capitalist class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage labour. Wage labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers.

The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of labour into a class, overthrow of the capitalist supremacy, conquest of political power by labour.

The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.

We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence. To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social STATUS in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion. Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power.

When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.

Let us now take wage labour. The average price of wage labour is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer.

What, therefore, the wage labourer appropriates by means of his labour merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it.

In capitalist society, living labour is but a means to increase accumulated labour. In communist society, accumulated labour is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the labourer.

Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations. 


The Communists have not intended 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.

How will communism be achieved?

We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise labour to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy.

Labour will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the capitalists, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., labour organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

In most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable. 

  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 rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralization 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 waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace 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. In place of the old capitalist 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. 

Now have a read of this.


Bob Jones on New Australia

December 31st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A fascinating column by Bob Jones on the failed socialist experiment of “New Australia”. Go read it.

New Australia was a socialist settlement in Paraguay founded by 238 Australians. It was to be a utopian society based on communist principles.

It was of course a total failure, and split and then dissolved.

Personally I think it is a great idea. Why don’t we gift some island to all those unionists who desperately want a socialist or communist utopia, and let them establish one. I’ve got no objection to them, so long as I’m not forced to fund it.



A hated symbol

December 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Pro-European demonstrators toppled the statute of Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, from its plinth in central Kiev as record numbers flooded the city streets.

The crowds had gathered to protest against the Government’s decision to pursue closer ties with Moscow at the expense of the West.

In jubilant scenes that demonstrated President Victor Yanukovich had lost control of the heart of the capital, the crowd pulled down the statue and took turns with a sledgehammer to smash its marble hulk to bits.

Sparks flew as each blow landed to cheers. A priest emerged from the throng with holy water and proceeded to bless the hammer as the mood hovered between euphoria and happiness.

The statue of the Kremlin’s first communist ruler is the symbol of Ukraine’s shared history with Russia and sits on the main boulevard leading to Kiev’s Independence Square.

Lenin was a mass murderer who had around 30,000 political dissidents killed, invaded and enslaved neighbouring countries and established a regime which starved and kills its own people for decades. It is fitting the good people of the Ukraine despise him and his legacy – they had to suffer it for many years.

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Give communism a go in Auckland

August 12th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The salaries paid to the Auckland Mayor and the council’s chief executive would be slashed drastically if one candidate has his way.

John Minto is pushing for a living wage of $18.40 per hour for all council workers.

He says it would be funded by cutting the salaries paid to the mayor, chief executive and other senior managers.

“We would tie the mayor’s salary to four times the living wage, and we would tie the CEO’s salary to five times the living wage.”

Mr Minto’s plan would see the mayor’s salary cut from $240,000 a year to $153,000.

But the chief executive would take a much bigger hit – more than half a million dollars would be slashed from that salary, taking it from $768,000 to just under $200,000.

I urge Aucklanders to vote to trial communism. Just because it has failed in Cuba, Laos, the USSR, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Ethiopa, Kampuchea and East Germany is purely bad luck.

Now that Labour has declared they believe in equality of outcome, not just equality of opportunity, I look forward to them endorsing John Minto for Mayor.

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A maximum wage

October 17th, 2012 at 3:14 pm by David Farrar

Waikato history student Ryan Wood writes in the Herald:

This is where the maximum wage comes in. If the top salary is legally fixed at, say, $200,000 a year, these economic miracle-workers running companies will have no choice but to start their own businesses where, as shareholders, they can indulge in the dividends they deserve. The creation of new companies will in turn lead to more jobs, thus negating the need for any “starting-out” wage.

A maximum wage also has a trickle-down effect. The millions of dollars that would have been paid to CEOs could instead be paid as bonuses to workers, or used to lift the average wage of employees at the company. These people could then spend their extra income, further supporting the economy.

Critics are likely to label the concept of a maximum wage as “socialist”. In fact, wage reduction is a neo-liberal idea. The National Government has already espoused it, although their focus was on workers rather than their bosses.

A maximum wage is indeed not socialist, but full out communist.

You see it has been tried. In several countries. In the USSR they had maximum salaries. They had the exact view that Ryan had. They though no one should earn over a certain amount as a salary.

It failed. It was a disaster.

Ryan seems to think we live in isolation from the world. I’d love to see him find a surgeon to operate on him, should he need it, with a $200,000 salary cap. They’d all be in Australia.


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Ban profits say DNC delegates

September 12th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The video is of interviews with delegates at the DNC convention. Only around half the people approached said they disagreed with banning corporate profits!

Posing as an anti-business crusader, Peter Schiff found a number of DNC delegates and attendees who support explicitly outlawing profitability. We deliberately avoided speaking with the occupy protestors camping outside in tents to get a more “mainstream” Democratic perspective!

It would be fascinating to see what results one would get posing the same question at the CTU Conference or the Labour or Greens conferences.

Hat Tip: Not PC

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Young Labour Summer School

January 6th, 2010 at 8:11 am by David Farrar

My spies in Young Labour report that they will be hosting at their upcoming summer school a representative of the Communist Youth League of China – the youth wing of the Chinese Communist Party.

I think this is an excellent move. The Chinese Communist party is far more capitalist than the average member of Young Labour. Hopefully they will learn something about the importance of economic growth!

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Minto advocates 100% tax rate

September 1st, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I was never sure of John Minto is a communist or just a socialist (in terms of economic philosophy). He answers that today with his blog advocating a salary cap and 100% tax rate on top of that:

My pick would be to set the maximum income at 10 times the minimum wage. This would mean a maximum income of $250,000. The easiest way to enforce this would be setting a 100 per cent income tax rate for the combined income from all sources (including share allocations, allowances etc) above this level.

This system of salary caps is not a new concept. Most communist countries have or had such salary caps. Most have abandoned such practices, as they have learnt what happens when you do. I think North Korea and maybe Cuba still have such salary caps though.

Note Minto’s proposal is not just for salaries. He proposes 100% tax on income over $250,000 from all sources.Can’t see a lot of people setting up their own companies or businesses in future.

What will be most amusing is to see how much the tax take drops. It wouldn’t just be people earning over $250,000 who would be leaving. Minto doesn’t understand what aspiration is.

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SIS spying

January 29th, 2009 at 12:16 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports that the SIS has released files on individuals whom they no longer monitor. They should be commended for such openness – this seems an initiative of new Director Warren Tucker who is well regarded.

Obviously various current or former Marxists, communists and Maoists are upset about the fact their files reveal the SIS were monitoring them.

But the reality is the world today is very different to the 1970s and 1980s. The western world was, to be blunt, engaged in a massive struggle with the Soviet Union for global control. They communist states were enemies of freedom and the West, and posed a huge threat to our way of life.

And these people who were monitored were active in groups that were on the side of the communist totalitarian states, not our side. They won’t put it like that, but that was the reality. They never ever condemned the communist states – in fact they did friendship visits there and extolled how good they are.

Luckily the Soviet empire collapsed in 1990. We now have the wonderful luxury of having mainly put that threat between us. Today a communist is just a hardline economic socialist. The only threat they pose is to good economic policy, and that is not a matter of national security. It is appropriate the SIS no longer regards people active in communist groups as people who should be monitored.

But again it was different before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It wasn’t just about disagreeing on economic policy.

Now this is not to give carte blanch to everything the SIS did. Some of the revelations don’t put them in a good light and they themselves today probably don’t defend certain things. Again it is to their credit they they are releasing it. But just to make the case that the context in the 70s and 80s was vastly different to today. Unless you lived through it, you can’t no how much the world changed after that glorious summer where totalitarian communist states fell one after another until they were almost all gone.

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