Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Communist Manifesto revisited

According to Singer, melodrama is a product of modernity and the rise of melodrama appears with the rise of social theory. Corresponding to this, “Manifesto of the Communist's Party” is a revolutionary melodrama. Marx starts by saying that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Through class struggles emerge new consciousness and ideologies, and either the society is rebuilt or the contending class is ruined.

The manifesto mentions two revolutionary ideology shifts. When the march into modernity is inevitable, the first shift – the replacement of feudal society with modern bourgeois society happens. “The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.” They revolutionize the modes of production, and “put and end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” (15) The bourgeoisie build a whole new world, and we could see that Marx acknowledges the bourgeoisie’s revolutionary contributions. This shift described by Marx is melodramatic in that it suits the ideological dynamics of that period.

The bourgeoisie share surprising similarities with the “professional managing class”. The bourgeoisie create their world out of nothing, while the PMCs leave their homes and fight for a living without any support from family and friends. The bourgeoisie have much knowledge for them to advance industry and gain lots of wealth, while the PMCs are also well educated and could make plenty of money.

I believe that the bourgeoisie and the PMCs together also suffer from the “transcendental homelessness” of modernity noted by Luk√°cs in Singer’s article. The modernity driven by capitalism erodes the “stability, certainty, and simplicity of traditional religious faith and patriarchal tradition.” (Singer) Because the bourgeoisie and PMCs are both new classes in respective era, they are minorities and don’t have a stable root in the society. Therefore, they are both in an embarrassing situation.

In contrast with the bourgeoisie, the proletarians are recruited from all classes of the population” (Marx 18) and represent “the interest of the immense majority” (20). They have a powerful public appeal for all professions. This would definitely destabilize the bourgeoisie and lead to revolution against them. The second shift – the potential rise of communism occurs. Marx greatly praises the proletarians that “they have a world to win” (34) although they are currently exploited and are at the bottom of the society. This corresponds to what Singer calls the paradoxical “binary response” (134) of melodrama – while one is powerless, the “cosmic moral force” will help him meet his fate.

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