1848 - Civil wars in Europe

History of the workers' movement in Britain, Part 2: Chartism and the 1842 general strike

The period between the Great French Revolution of 1789 and the 1848 revolutions in continental Europe saw great advances in the struggle of the proletariat in Britain to organise itself as a class conscious of its own historic goals and interests. The high point of this struggle was Chartism, later described by Lenin as “the first broad, truly mass, and politically organised proletarian revolutionary movement” (‘The Third International and its place in history’).

The Revolutions of 1848: The Communist Perspective Becomes Clearer

Confident that huge social upheavals were about to take place, but aware that the nations of Europe were at various stages of historical development, the last section of the Communist Manifesto put forward certain tactical considerations for the intervention of the communist minority.

1848: Communism as a political program

The previous two articles in this series[1] have to a large extent focused on the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 because they are a rich vein of material on the problem of alienated labor and on the ultimate goals of communism as envisaged by Marx when he first adhered to the proletarian movement. But although Marx had, as early as 1843, identified the modern proletariat as the agent of the communist transformation, the EPM are not yet precise about the practical social movement that will lead from the society of alienation to the authentic human community. This fundamental development in Marx's thinking was to come about through the convergence of two vital elements: the elaboration of the historical materialist method, and the overt politicization of the communist project.

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