University of Pittsburgh, Summer Term 1997
Philosophy 0330: Political Philosophy
Ben Eggleston, Instructor

Marx, The Communist Manifesto

I. Background Information

Karl Marx was born in Germany in 1818, was university educated, and became a newspaper editor in 1842. Due to his controversial views, however, he lost this job in 1843. But in 1844 he began collaborating with Friedrich Engels, and published The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Thereafter he endeavored to build an international communist movement; he died in 1883.

for June 12:

II. Reading Assignment

III. Study Questions

  1. What class does Marx say is the dominant class of the epoch in which he is writing?
  2. What does Marx say is the primary function of the executive of the modern state?
  3. According to Marx, how does the bourgeoisie civilize the world?
  4. According to Marx, why did feudal relations of property disappear?
  5. What does Marx identify as the necessary condition for capital?
  6. What group of people does Marx say the Communists represent?
  7. How does Marx defend the Communists’ intention to do away with private property?
  8. How does Marx reply to the objection that the proletariat just wants to establish its own supremacy as a class?

IV. Outline of Topics to be Covered in Class

  1. Who was Marx?
  2. chapter I: class struggle
    1. bourgeois class
      1. openness and progress
      2. internationalism
    2. proletarian class
      1. exploitation
      2. empowerment
  3. chapter II: communism
    1. aim
    2. capital and wage labor
    3. private property
    4. family
    5. nations
    6. materialism
    7. centralizing means of production

V. Suggestions for Further Reading

  1. Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy: And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1945) (Hillman circulating B72 R961), particularly book III, chapter XXVII: “Karl Marx” (pp. 782-90).
  2. A. J. P. Taylor, “Introduction,” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (London: Penguin Books, 1967) (Hillman circulating HX276 M392c 1967a), pp. 7-47.
  3. David McLellan, “Introduction,” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. vii-xvii.
  4. Anthony Kenny, Oxford History of Western Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994) (Hillman reference B72 O8 1994b), pp. 349-53.

for June 17:

VI. Reading Assignment

VII. Study Questions

  1. According to Marx, what is the feudalists’ real objection to the bourgeoisie?
  2. Which class does Marx say is absorbing individual members of the petty-bourgeois class: proletariat or bourgeois?
  3. What class does Marx say is the basis of things in Germany?
  4. What does Marx say is the goal of bourgeois reformers?
  5. Why does Marx given the label “utopian” to the literature of critical socialism and communism?
  6. According to Marx, why do the Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany?

VIII. Outline of Topics to be Covered in Class

  1. chapter III: socialist and communist literature
    1. reactionary socialism
      1. feudal socialism
      2. petty-bourgeois socialism
      3. German socialism
    2. conservative socialism
    3. critical-utopian socialism and communism
  2. chapter IV: parties

IX. Suggestions for Further Reading

See the suggestions for further reading for June 12, above.