Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1948)
A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?Two things result from this fact:I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power.II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself.To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages. (Original text from marxists.org.)
The “spectre of communism” has been “haunting” the world ever since Marx and Engels’ wrote these words and gave vision to the working class movement. In their time, all the various representatives of the ruling classes of Europe stood together in opposition against communism: the Pope was/is the patriarchal head of the Catholic Church, the Tsar was the absolute monarch of Russia, Prince Metternich was Austria’s reactionary foreign minister, Guizot was a moderate French politician, and the French Radicals opposed monarchy but supported capitalism.
The same has been true since then. The history of the twentieth century is the history of the global capitalist class fighting tooth and nail against revolutionary peoples’ movements for socialism or national liberation all across the world. Right after the 1917 October Socialist Revolution, troops from 11 different imperialist nations invaded Russia in an attempt to reverse the revolution! Fascism was the method the capitalist class used to brutally crush the working class wherever a strong revolutionary socialist movement had come close to taking power, but had fallen short. World War II (or from a communist perspective, The Great Anti-Fascist War) was a struggle among imperial powers for supremacy and resources, and at the same time an attempt by certain imperial powers to destroy the Soviet Union, which lost more lives than any other combatant in the war – 20 million people. Wars in Korea and Vietnam, the invasion and embargo of Cuba, support of fascists in Indonesia and Chile, a proxy wars in Nicaragua, and countless other acts of aggression are part of the US capitalist class’s contribution to turning back the global revolutionary movement.
From Marx and Engels’ time right up to today, communism — the threat of the working class taking all the power and wealth away from the ruling class and running society without them — has been the “boogeyman,” everything we are taught to fear, the ultimate political dirty word in the mainstream media. Even though Obama is a imperialist, capitalist politician to the core, don’t the conservatives call him a socialist? In the United States, we’ve been subjected to more than a century of intense anti-communist propaganda from every angle, coupled with labor union purges, anti-communist congressional hearings, blacklisting, assassinations, imprisonment, and all other kinds of repression against communists. Today, a new red scare is currently under way. In 2011, the FBI raided anti-war and international solidarity activists homes (many of them communists), and currently (as of 2012) Obama’s justice department is aggressively trying to land them in jail for as long as possible (check out StopFBI.net for more information.) The US maintains a criminal blockade against socialist Cuba despite strong opposition from the entire world. The war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has never ended, as no armistice has ever been signed – thousands of US troops remain in the Republic of Korea, ready for war.
Clearly we need the ideas contained in the works of Marx and other communist revolutionaries now more than ever!