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David Michael Smith


The origins of socialism are deeply rooted in the European working-class movements of the nineteenth century and their growing opposition to capitalism and private property. By 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had emerged as instrumental voices identifying the main political tasks facing the proletariat. Their first major imperative was the organization of the working class into a political party that could fight for its emancipation from the exploitation and oppression inherent in capitalism. In the Communist Manifesto and other writings, Marx and Engels argued that such a party was absolutely essential for educating and organizing the working class in support of the abolition of capitalism. Marx and Engels did more than write about the need for such a party. They also played a prominent role in the Communist League in the heady revolutionary period of 1847–9, struggled to win support for their political views in the First International Workingmen's Association in the more quiescent period of 1864–72, and strongly criticized both reformism and anarchism. Marx and Engels believed that the working class, led by a revolutionary party, must conquer state power and then use that power to help bring about the expropriation of capital and other far-reaching economic measures aimed at ending the myriad ills of the old society. Some language in the Communist Manifesto suggests ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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