The first section of the Manifesto famously admires capitalism. Arguably of greater, but less remarked significance, this chapter contends, is the misplaced faith of Engels, in particular, and Marx in the revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie. This had the bourgeoisie not merely taking on absolute monarchy but also acting in the interests of workers. The bourgeoisie would prove self-interested and reformist at best. The chapter questions Marx’s no less important trust in the industrial proletariat, tiny in the German states in 1848, as Marx well knew, but neither revolutionary in spirit nor in practice. Conversely, the greater revolutionary significance of peasants was overlooked. The chapter queries Marx’s perplexing Manifesto decision that ‘the Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany’, given the scathing stance of both Engels, notably, and Marx towards the German states, before, during and after the outbreak of revolution. In contrast, heavily industrialised England, where the stakes were far higher at Kennington Common in April 1848 than in Berlin in March 1848, and whose Chartists were championed by Engels, in particular, but also by Marx, barely features in the Manifesto.
- Industrial proletariat
- German states