Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Communist Manifesto Revised

It is quite evident that Marx in the “Communist Manifesto” uses many of the melodramatic techniques that Singer talks about in his article “Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism.” Three of the most obvious techniques of melodrama that jumped out to me as a reader was the idea of good vs. evil, a constant sense of anxiety created through though the use of rhetorical speech, and a sense of relatability when it came to the proletariat reader.
Most of us have already mentioned the topic of good vs., evil, therefore I will restrain from adding anything else and instead skip straight to my second point; the idea of anxiety.
Marx, throughout his text, evokes a constant sense of anxiety within his reader. As Brooks, mentioned in Singers text, says, “melodrama starts from and expresses the anxiety brought by a frightening new world.” Marx mentions how the, “bourgeois developed, increased its capital and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages” (17). Throughout the Communist Manifesto Marx mentions how the rise of this new class is a threat to all, and how the modern bourgeois society, “is like a sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world….” (Marx, 17). Marx instills a fear in his reader that if this new threat is not controlled, then the proletariat will remain the, “slaves of the bourgeois class” (19). However interestingly enough, Marx also points out to the reader that the bourgeois is a class worth being praised for they essentially overthrew feudalism. This kind of brings up an interesting question in my opinion: Is Marx blaming the bourgeois or is he instead blaming capitalism? I think at first glance we think that the evil that Marx is talking about it has to do with the bourgeoisie, but after further reading it can be acknowledged that the evil may in fact be capitalism.
Marx also does a great job of making his text relatable to his reader. As Walkowitz mentions in Singer’s text, Melodrama should be an, “appropriate genre for working class audiences, evoking the instability and vulnerability of their life” (4). While I think that this concept is definitely similar to the sense of anxiety that Marx instills, it still doesn’t go unnoticed that this text is truly made to appeal to the proletariat. As Singer says, melodrama is supposed to give people, “the will to believe,” and while Marx sometimes does make it seem as though the proletariat is, for a lack of a better word, kind of screwed, he also does give them hope that good will eventually triumph (5).

Lastly, a quote that I found particularly relevant to Marx’s Communist Manifesto was when Singer says that, “On the one hand, melodrama portrayed the individual’s powerlessness within the harsh and unpredictable material life of modern capitalism; on the other, it served a quasi religious ameliorative function in reassuring audiences that a high cosmic force still looked down on the world and governed it with an ultimately just hand” (5). I think that Marx in Communist Manifesto really does make the individual feel almost powerless, constantly emphasizing the strength of the bourgeoisie and the fact that, “the proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations…” (20). However, at the end Marx gives hope to the proletariat saying that, “The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie” (19).

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