In my travels around the internet and popular culture, I often hear Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels talked about as if they were awful people – as if they were responsible for the monstrosities caused by the dictators in history who have committed atrocities in the name of communism. But every single ideology in existence, be it Christianity, feminism, Islam, capitalism or anything else has had atrocities committed in its name. Every belief system has its extremists and this is no reason to dismiss communism.
If you actually sit down to read The Communist Manifesto, you may find your opinion changing somewhat. It starts by making a critique of capitalism and it makes some statements which in retrospect seem rather prophetic, about the divide of wealth between rich and poor continuing to grow and grow, about the exponential growth of capitalism causing businesses grow to ridiculous and unsustainable levels and about the drain of resources which would result from this. You only have to look at the state of the world today to see that this is indeed what is happening.
Then, as an alternative to this, they suggest a system through which wealth is distributed evenly throughout society. This would help to stop people dying from poverty and would help to stop the endless draining of non-renewable resources in the name of growth. When you consider the enormous problems caused by climate change, this only becomes even more agreeable.
I didn’t really find myself disagreeing with anything that was said in The Communist Manifesto. In theory, it sounds almost like a utopia. An argument can certainly be made that such a thing is too idealistic and that the failing of various communist governments throughout history reflects this. Although when you read about the communism described in this manifesto, you realise that it is very different to anything which has been done in real life. I would argue that only the communist name has been used in reality. Whether or not it is realistic remains a question, but it becomes increasingly clear that uncontrolled capitalism is very bad for the health of the world at large. Marx and Engels foresaw this and made a strong argument for an alternative; an argument for which I have a lot of respect.