Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Communist Manifesto Revisited

       I believe that the ‘Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels effectively educates and spurs a new way of thinking for proletariats. The language used in the Communist Manifesto operates congruently to the melodramatic mode we have been discussing in class, emphasizing the polarity among groups, in this case, between the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. Marx and Engels claims the bourgeoisie has, "pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors'" (Marx and Engels 15). The Proletariats represent the underdog type of figure, with inferred 'good' inclinations. They are victimized, through a narrative and a traumatized group that has "lost all individual character…and becomes an appendage of the machine" (Marx and Engels 18).
 However for me, the main take away from Ben Singer's 'Melodrama and Modernity', is that the Communist Manifesto is actually seen as in contrast with a melodramatic rhetoric. Singer comments on how melodrama ultimately creates this notion of saving the protagonist and how by fate, a protagonist is immersed into this safety net of melodrama, Singer says "served a quasi-religious ameliorative function." 

       I can relate this to a Harry Potter, another subject we have looked at in class. He is a prime example of an initially helpless protagonist, and Singer would confirm this, saying that Harry "[experiences] duress from forces beyond [his] control," due for saving by some higher power, usually implied to be inevitable. 
       Singer posits that although the Proletariat in the Manifesto would be due for saving by this principle, the Manifesto by all means calls for action and rise against the Bourgeoisie. Thus, Singer is implying that the Communist Manifesto discourages this kind of blind trust in some higher power. 
       In Singer's view, the Communist Manifesto can be seen as a revolutionary melodrama. Marx, after all, commences by saying, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Therefore, either society is reconstructed upon a revolution, or the contending class (Proletariat here) is demolished. In class, we compared the Bourgeoisie with the PMC, or professional managing class, as a group of people who created a class out of nothing. We also talked about societal shifts from feudalism to eventually capitalism as Singer claims how the modernity spawned by capitalism shifts from traditional patriarchal tradition. Neither the Bourgeoisie nor the PMC have sturdy foundations in society and differ from the Proletarians because the Proletarians are recruited from "all classes of the population" (Marx and Engels 18) and are in "the interest of the immense majority" (Marx and Engels 20).
       Finally, towards the end of the Manifesto, Marx gives hope to the Proletariat saying, “The Bourgeoisie itself, 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” (Marx and Engels 19). I think that this statement truly captures the essence of what the Manifesto sets out to achieve, from an outside view.

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