Workers Vanguard No. 941

28 August 2009


Communism and Human Liberation

(Quote of the Week)

The goal of Marxism is to open the road to a rationally planned international division of labor based on material abundance unattainable under the anarchic and irrational capitalist profit system. Writing in 1847 in “Principles of Communism”—an alternative draft for the Communist Manifesto—Friedrich Engels emphasized that future communist society will liberate mankind from its subordination to the division of labor and thereby from the antithesis between mental and physical labor. The precondition to that is the forging of Marxist workers parties to fight for proletarian revolutions worldwide to rip the means of production out of the hands of the capitalist exploiters.

The common management of production cannot be effected by people as they are today, each one being assigned to a single branch of production, shackled to it, exploited by it, each having developed only one of his abilities at the cost of all the others and knowing only one branch, or only a branch of a branch of the total production. Even present-day industry finds less and less use for such people. Industry carried on in common and according to plan by the whole of society presupposes moreover people of all-round development, capable of surveying the entire system of production. Thus the division of labour making one man a peasant, another a shoemaker, a third a factory worker, a fourth a stockjobber, which has already been undermined by machines, will completely disappear. Education will enable young people quickly to go through the whole system of production, it will enable them to pass from one branch of industry to another according to the needs of society or their own inclinations. It will therefore free them from that one-sidedness which the present division of labour stamps on each one of them. Thus the communist organisation of society will give its members the chance of an all-round exercise of abilities that have received all-round development. With this, the various classes will necessarily disappear. Thus the communist organisation of society is, on the one hand, incompatible with the existence of classes and, on the other, the very establishment of this society furnishes the means to do away with these class differences.

—Friedrich Engels, “Principles of Communism” (1847)