February 21st 1848: Communist Manifesto published

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The original German Communist Manifesto – 1848

On this day in 1848 the Manifesto of the Communist Party (now known as The Communist Manifesto) was published. It was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, often considered the founding fathers of communism, on behalf of the London-based Communist League. Engels laid the foundations for the theory, and had been drafting a treatise on communism for some years until he collaborated with Marx who developed his work and proposed the leading principles.

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Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)

The main ideas expressed in the manifesto are chiefly that capitalism and class struggle (between the proletariat and bourgeoisie) have been the chief concerns of society throughout history. Marx and Engels theorised that capitalism would be replaced by socialism and then communism, fulfilling their vision of global communism.

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Friedrich Engels (1820 – 1895)

Their work has been incredibly influential; communism has become the ideological basis of several states including the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. With the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the shaky communist credentials of China, Vietnam and the like, communism is declining in global significance. In the days of the Cold War, the world was divided into two camps: capitalist and communist. However when the Soviet Union fell so too did the concept of a global communist revolution; capitalism had emerged dominant.

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