After one hundred and fifty years, Avineri’s reassessment of The Communist Manifesto’s close minded view of capitalism as an unchanging industry “dependent largely on machinery that was powered by steam derived from burning coal” raises interesting issues. The Communist Manifesto presents a compelling and eloquent argument misused by power-hungry oligarchs of history and Avineri asserts that there is more to be gleaned from this document he asserts was “intended to be a key to the hieroglyph of history.” He, seemingly accurately, describes the living entity of a capitalist nation and a government’s ability to adapt it to society’s needs in a way that Marx could not foresee. However, this should not entirely discredit Marx’s view on the weaknesses of capitalism.
Avineri makes the assessment that “an internal polarization between capitalists and proletarians” has been translated to “an external one between ‘capitalist’ and ‘proletarian’ nations.” His assertion that a global capitalist environment has emerged is particularly interesting and deserves further comment. This is something not heavily addressed by Marx, who believed capitalism would give way to revolution internally, but is important to our nation as we continue to exercise relations with other countries.
It is important because a global economy resembling capitalism has drawbacks similar to those outlined by The Communist Manifesto and therefore our nation must be conscious of this similarity if it hopes to adapt. I assert this because global capitalism is causing our nation to police the world. Currently there exist, whether we are willing to admit it or not, bourgeoise nations and proletariat nations. Furthermore, it is the general consensus that we exist as a bourgeoise nation, and this creates understandable unrest and resentment between the nations we exploit. Avineri asserts that it is here Marx and Engles are justified in their assessment of capitalism:
“[Marx and Engles] have been vindicated by the facts of globalization—the sweatshops of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with their child labor, their horrendously unsanitary working and living conditions, and their lack of minimum-wage laws and basic social welfare networks. Here, then, are the successors of the sweatshops of London’s East End or New York’s Lower East Side.”
It is here that the assessment made in The Communist Manifesto seems much more applicable to modern life. It is perhaps a harsh view of America’s international politics, but it must be acknowledged that we are an unwelcome presence in many lives overseas and our first interest is our own nation. Overwhelming majorities in many countries are beginning to speak out against our imperialistic tendencies. For example, our presence in Latin America is actively and vocally detested in many of the countries, yet we stand our ground. While it is a complicated issue, America should reassess its (especially military) presence in the world. We should actively transform our capitalist outlook in the way Avineri suggests is possible internally in a nation. He makes an excellent point about the transformative nature of capitalism as its saving grace. This should not be overlooked by our international relations.
- Avineri, Shlomo. The Communist Manifesto at 150.
- Lavaque-Manty, Mika. “After Marx.” Polsci 101. Angel Aud. B, Ann Arbor. 14 Dec. 2009. Lecture.