REVIEW ARTICLE/JAVEED ALAM*
The Communist Manifesto: Revolution as Tension Between Science and Dialectics1
One of the most revered documents of the working class movement has been the Communist Manifesto. More than a 150 years of revolutionary struggles has shown that its relevance has in no way diminished inspite of the fact that counter revolution has dealt some mortal blows to the revolutionary cause. It has retained its value for at least three reasons. The Communist Manifesto is a document of everlasting nature precisely because, firstly, it has within it much of what the working class would need to know to wage struggles for the emancipation of society—from the exploitation of workers or the alienation of people or the debasement of our intrinsic attributes we all possess as persons. The first two sections of the Manifesto contain in one form or another, through descriptive sketches or illustrations, most of the concepts that Marx develops later in his more mature writings. Let me start with an instance of this. One of the most important set of concepts for understanding exploitation in a precise objective sense, as is done in Vol.1 of Capital, are the terms constant and variable capital. Referring to labour provided by a worker in a capitalist mode of production as variable capital entails the notion of generalized commodity production where labour power (as something separable from the. person of the labourer) is itself a second order commodity or the importance of concept of "abstract labour" in the production of surplus value and so on as well as the very important idea of "juristic equality"— necessary for entering into contracts which can only be between the equals— in the sphere of political theory.2
*ICSSR Senior Fellow at CSDS, Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 1- 4, Jan. - April 1999