Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation ...
Who can deny that this is an apt description of modern society? We live in a world where production is becoming increasingly ‘global’, where the so-called ‘free market’ dominates and where massive transnational corporations daily make decisions which affect the lives of millions.
At the stroke of a computer key, huge sums of money are moved around the world. Factories are shut down in Britain while investment is directed overseas, where wages are lower and conditions worse. Workers are told that they risk pricing themselves out of jobs. Hard-won gains are sacrificed so that companies can remain ‘profitable’ in the ‘global marketplace’.
Yet the quotation above is not recent. It comes from a small pamphlet by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels which was largely ignored at the time of its publication in 1848 but which went on to inspire millions. Today the Manifesto of the Communist Party is still as vibrant and incisive as the day when it was written. Even commentators in the capitalist press have occasionally been forced to recognise its continued significance.