BY JULIETTE MONTAUK
Why do workers organize into unions, and how does capitalism itself constantly compel them to unite? Is it possible to end the status of women as an oppressed sex and establish their complete political, social, and economic equality? How can workers and farmers unite across national boundaries to fight for the common interests of the exploited and oppressed, and struggle for a socialist world? Anyone looking for answers to these questions should pick up a copy of The Communist Manifesto.
Drafted in 1847 by two young German revolutionaries, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, as the program of the first modern communist workers organization, and published as the revolution of 1848 broke out in Europe, the Manifesto takes up these and other questions that are as pressing today as ever. This pamphlet is essential reading for youth and workers involved in political protest actions and labor struggles - from those fighting for self-determination in Kosovo to dock workers on strike in Australia; from young workers fighting for dignity and decent working conditions at McDonald's in Ohio to those struggling for a united Ireland.
The 150th anniversary of the publication of the Manifesto has been the subject of many news articles in the big-business press around the world. In describing the pamphlet's popularity in its article "A Red-Letter May Day," the Washington Post noted, "The fact is, Marx is getting another look lately, not as an early monk prescribing social policy...but as an astute critic of capitalism."
Pathfinder Press, based in New York with distributors around the world, publishes an attractive edition of the Manifesto, of which some 3,600 copies were sold last year to university and commercial bookstores, as well as off tables set up by volunteers on campuses, at factory gates, and in working-class neighborhoods.
A weapon for today's working-class fighters, not an intellectual's treadmill, Pathfinder's Manifesto opens with an introduction by Leon Trotsky. One of the central leaders of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, Trotsky writes, "This pamphlet, displaying greater genius than any other in world literature, astounds us even today by its freshness. Its most important sections appear to have been written yesterday."
The introduction gives a guide to the central points raised in the Manifesto, helping the reader get the most out of studying this essential pamphlet, one of the reasons why the edition is popular among college professors who use it in their classes. The quality and care put into the pamphlet also helps in making this Pathfinder's best seller.
In addition to the introduction by Trotsky, the pamphlet has helpful notes describing events and people Marx and Engels refer to.
A growing number of professors value the care put in the annotation, and internal design of this edition. In 1997, for instance, it was used in classrooms in some 70 campuses across the United States, for a total of more than 2,000 copies. In addition, its cover features a section of the Pathfinder Mural -an image of fighters from around the world and throughout history who bring to life every word printed in the Manifesto.
Seeking to take advantage of the increased opportunities on the occasion of the century and a half since first published, Pathfinder is making a special push to extend the distribution of its edition of the Manifesto. An attractive four-color poster will be issued the first week in May to help promote sales.
Also, in the coming weeks the Militant will feature
coverage on the political and social background of the
Manifesto and who Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home