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The political economy of development
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From K. Marx and F. Engels,

The history of all hitherto existing society [2] is the history of
class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master
[3] and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in
constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now
hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a
revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin
of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a
complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold
gradation of social rank.  In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights,
plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals,
guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these
classes, again, subordinate gradations.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal
society has not done away with class antagonisms.  It has but
established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of
struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this
distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms.  Society as a
whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into
two great classes directly facing each other -- bourgeoisie and

From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the
earliest towns.  From these burgesses the first elements of the
bourgeoisie were developed.

The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh
ground for the rising bourgeoisie.  The East-Indian and Chinese markets,
the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in
the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to
navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to
the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid

The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was
monopolized by closed guilds, now no longer suffices for the growing
wants of the new markets.  The manufacturing system took its place.  The
guild-masters were pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class;
division of labor between the different corporate guilds vanished in the
face of division of labor in each single workshop.

Meantime, the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising.  Even
manufacturers no longer sufficed.  Thereupon, steam and machinery
revolutionized industrial production.  The place of manufacture was
taken by the giant, MODERN INDUSTRY; the place of the industrial middle
class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial
armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world market, for which the
discovery of America paved the way.  This market has given an immense
development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land.  This
development has, in turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in
proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the
same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and
pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a
long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of
production and of exchange.

Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a
corresponding political advance in that class.  An oppressed class
under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing
association of medieval commune [4]: here independent urban republic (as in Italy
and Germany); there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in
France); afterward, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving
either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise
against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies
in general -- the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of
Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the
modern representative state, exclusive political sway.  The executive
of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs
of the whole bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to
all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.  It has pitilessly torn
asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural
superiors", and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked
self-interest, than callous "cash payment".  It has drowned out the most
heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of
philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. 

It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the
numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single,
unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade.  In one word, for exploitation,
veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked,
shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto
honored and looked up to with reverent awe.  It has converted the
physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into
its paid wage laborers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and
has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation.

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal
display of vigor in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire,
found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence.  It has
been the first to show what man's activity can bring about.  It has
accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts,
and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the
shade all former exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the
instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and
with them the whole relations of society.  Conservation of the old modes
of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first
condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes.  Constant
revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social
conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the
bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.  All fixed, fast frozen
relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and
opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before
they can ossify.  All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is
profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his
real condition of life and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the
bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe.  It must nestle
everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given
a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. 

To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet
of industry the national ground on which it stood.  All old-established
national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. 

They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life
and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no
longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the
remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at
home, but in every quarter of the globe.  In place of the old wants,
satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring
for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes.  In
place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we
have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of
nations.  And as in material, so also in intellectual production.  The
intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. 
National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more
impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there
arises a world literature.

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of
production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws
all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization.  The cheap
prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it forces the
barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate.  It
compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode
of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization
into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves.  In one word, it
creates a world after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns.  It
has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population
as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of
the population from the idiocy of rural life.  Just as it has made the
country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and
semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of
peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state
of the population, of the means of production, and of property.  It has
agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and has
concentrated property in a few hands.  The necessary consequence of this
was political centralization.  Independent, or but loosely connected
provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of
taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government,
one code of laws, one national class interest, one frontier, and one
customs tariff.

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has
created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all
preceding generations together.  Subjection of nature's forces to man,
machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam
navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents
for cultivation, canalization or rivers, whole populations conjured out
of the ground -- what earlier century had even a presentiment that such
productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?

We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose
foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal
society.  At a certain stage in the development of these means of
production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society
produced and exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and
manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property
became no longer compatible with the already developed productive
forces; they became so many fetters.  They had to be burst asunder; they
were burst asunder.

Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and
political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political
sway of the bourgeois class.

A similar movement is going on before our own eyes.  Modern bourgeois
society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property,
a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of
exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the
powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.  For
many a decade past, the history of industry and commerce is but the
history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern
conditions of production, against the property relations that are the
conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule.  It is
enough to mention the commercial crises that, by their periodical
return, put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial,
each time more threateningly.  In these crises, a great part not only of
the existing products, but also of the previously created productive
forces, are periodically destroyed.  In these crises, there breaks out
an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity
-- the epidemic of over-production.  Society suddenly finds itself put
back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a
universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of
subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed.  And why?

Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence,
too much industry, too much commerce.  The productive forces at the
disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the
conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too
powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon
as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of
bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property.  The
conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth
created by them.  And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises?

One the one hand, by enforced destruction of a mass of productive
forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more
thorough exploitation of the old ones.  That is to say, by paving the
way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing
the means whereby crises are prevented.

The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground
are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to
itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those
weapons -- the modern working class -- the proletarians.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the
same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed
-- a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who
find work only so long as their labor increases capital.  These
laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like
every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the
vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labor,
the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and,
consequently, all charm for the workman.  He becomes an appendage of
the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most
easily acquired knack, that is required of him.  Hence, the cost of
production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of
subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation
of his race.  But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of
labor, is equal to its cost of production.  In proportion, therefore,
as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases.  What
is more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labor
increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases,
whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the
work exacted in a given time, or by increased speed of machinery,

Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal
master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist.  Masses of
laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers.  As
privates of the industrial army, they are placed under the command of a
perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants.  Not only are they slaves
of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and
hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, in
the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.  The more openly this
despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more
hateful and the more embittering it is.

The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labor, in
other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the
labor of men superseded by that of women.  Differences of age and sex
have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class.
All are instruments of labor, more or less expensive to use, according
to their age and sex.

No sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far
at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by
the other portion of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the
pawnbroker, etc.

The lower strata of the middle class -- the small tradespeople,
shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and
peasants -- all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly
because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which
Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with
the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is
rendered worthless by new methods of production.  Thus, the proletariat
is recruited from all classes of the population.

The proletariat goes through various stages of development.  With its
birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie.  At first, the contest
is carried on by individual laborers, then by the work of people of a
factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against
the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them.  They direct their
attacks not against the bourgeois condition of production, but against
the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares
that compete with their labor, they smash to pieces machinery, they set
factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of
the workman of the Middle Ages.

At this stage, the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over
the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition.  If
anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the
consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the
bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is
compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet,
for a time, able to do so.  At this stage, therefore, the proletarians
do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the
remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial
bourgeois, the petty bourgeois.  Thus, the whole historical movement is
concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained
is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases
in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength
grows, and it feels that strength more.  The various interests and
conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more
equalized, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of
labor, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level.  The
growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial
crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating.  The
increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes
their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between
individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the
character of collisions between two classes.  Thereupon, the workers
begin to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeois; they
club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found
permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these
occasional revolts.  Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.
Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time.  The real
fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever
expanding union of the workers.  This union is helped on by the improved
means of communication that are created by Modern Industry, and that
place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. 

It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous
local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle
between classes.  But every class struggle is a political struggle.  And
that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their
miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks
to railways, achieve in a few years.

This organization of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently,
into a political party, is continually being upset again by the
competition between the workers themselves.  But it ever rises up again,
stronger, firmer, mightier.  It compels legislative recognition of
particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the
divisions among the bourgeoisie itself.  Thus, the Ten-Hours Bill in
England was carried.

Altogether, collisions between the classes of the old society further in
many ways the course of development of the proletariat.  The bourgeoisie
finds itself involved in a constant battle.  At first with the
aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself,
whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at
all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries.  In all these
battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask
for help, and thus to drag it into the political arena.  The bourgeoisie
itself, therefore, 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.

Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class
are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or
are at least threatened in their conditions of existence.  These also
supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and

Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the
progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within
the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring
character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift,
and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in
its hands.  Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the
nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the
bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion
of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of
comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.

Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today,
the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class.  The other
classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the
proletariat is its special and essential product.

The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the
artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save
from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class.  They
are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative.  Nay, more, they are
reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history.  If, by
chance, they are revolutionary, they are only so in view of their
impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their
present, but their future interests; they desert their own standpoint to
place themselves at that of the proletariat.

The "dangerous class", the social scum, that passively rotting mass
thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there,
be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions
of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of
reactionary intrigue.

In the condition of the proletariat, those of old society at large are
already virtually swamped.  The proletarian is without property; his
relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with
the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labor, modern subjection
to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany,
has stripped him of every trace of national character.  Law, morality,
religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in
ambush just as many bourgeois interests.

All the preceding classes that got the upper hand sought to fortify
their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their
conditions of appropriation.  The proletarians cannot become masters of
the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own
previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous
mode of appropriation.  They have nothing of their own to secure and to
fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and
insurances of, individual property.

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in
the interest of minorities.  The proletarian movement is the
self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the
interest of the immense majority.  The proletariat, the lowest stratum
of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the
whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the

Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat
with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle.  The proletariat
of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its
own bourgeoisie.

In depicting the most general phases of the development of the
proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within
existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open
revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the
foundation for the sway of the proletariat.

Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen,
on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes.  But in order to
oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it
can, at least, continue its slavish existence.  The serf, in the period
of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the
petty bourgeois, under the yoke of the feudal absolutism, managed to
develop into a bourgeois.  The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead
of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below
the conditions of existence of his own class.  He becomes a pauper, and
pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth.  And here it
becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the
ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon
society as an overriding law.  It is unfit to rule because it is
incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery,
because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has
to feed him, instead of being fed by him.  Society can no longer live
under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer
compatible with society.

The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the
bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the
condition for capital is wage labor.  Wage labor rests exclusively on
competition between the laborers.  The advance of industry, whose
involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the
laborers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to
association.  The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from
under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and
appropriates products.  What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above
all, are its own grave-diggers.  Its fall and the victory of the
proletariat are equally inevitable.

[1] By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners
    of the means of social production and employers of wage labor.
    By proletariat, the class of modern wage laborers who, having no
    means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their
    labor power in order to live.  [Note by Engels - 1888 English
[2] That is, all written history.  In 1847, the pre-history of
    society, the social organization existing previous to recorded
    history, all but unknown.  Since then, August von Haxthausen
    (1792-1866) discovered common ownership of land in Russia, Georg
    Ludwig von Maurer proved it to be the social foundation from which
    all Teutonic races started in history, and, by and by, village
    communities were found to be, or to have been, the primitive form of
    society everywhere from India to Ireland.  The inner organization of
    this primitive communistic society was laid bare, in its typical
    form, by Lewis Henry Morgan's (1818-1861) crowning discovery of the
    true nature of the gens and its relation to the tribe.  With the
    dissolution of the primeaval communities, society begins to be
    differentiated into separate and finally antagonistic classes.  I
    have attempted to retrace this dissolution in Der Ursprung der
    Familie, des Privateigenthumus und des Staats, second edition,
    Stuttgart, 1886.  [Engels, 1888 English edition]     

[3] Guild-master, that is, a full member of a guild, a master within,
    not a head of a guild.  [Engels: 1888 English edition]     
[4] This was the name given their urban communities by the townsmen of
    Italy and France, after they had purchased or conquered their
    initial rights of self-government from their feudal lords.
    [Engels: 1890 German edition]
     "Commune" was the name taken in France by the nascent towns even
     before they had conquered from their feudal lords and masters local
     self-government and political rights as the "Third Estate".
     Generally speaking, for the economical development of the
     bourgeoisie, England is here taken as the typical country, for its
     political development, France.  [Engels: 1888 English edition]