Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s, The Communist Manifesto, is a political proclamation written by the German philosophers with the intent of spreading the message of Communism and the revolutionary change it could bring. The manifesto is considered one of world’s most influential political documents and has shaped many world governments into what they are today. Thomas Paine’s, Rights of Man, was published two years after the French Revolution which he defended relentlessly in favor of the people and the revolution values of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Paine was years ahead of his time presenting ideas like universal education, a tax system, children benefits, pensions for elderly citizens, etc.
He examined the belief that an orderly government built on justice should support man’s natural rights of life, liberty, free speech, and freedom along with man’s civil rights. Paine writes that when the government does not foster all these rights and ideals then the political revolution is permitted. By looking at the Communist and French revolution, a political revolution initiated by native citizens can create opportunities for countries to establish a brighter future through changing policies, unseating corrupt political parties, restructuring social orders, and holds the potential to generate mass bloodshed.
The nature of a political revolution is a collective desire for change in the government and how it is being run. When there is a need for revolution the nature of the government has turned weak, corrupt, and has abandoned the ideals of its nation and its people. Revolutions are caused by the oppressor and carried out by the wants of the oppressed. Thomas Paine describes government as, “That which is called government… is no more than some common center, in which all the parts of society unite” (Paine Part 2, Chapter 3). It is Paine’s firm belief that governments only exist to support its nation and its people.
When governments run astray from this he finds a need for revolution, “Lay then the axe to the root, and teach governments humanity” (Paine Narrator, Part 1). Paine says that simply reforming the government is not enough because it only puts a new face on the same system that caused the need for change. Revolutions bring the axe all the way to the root to tear out the old system and plant the new seed of government that flourishes into the system in favor of the people. Real change is acquired when a system of new policies and leaders are implemented. When that collective desire for change in government among citizens of a country exists, it should be acted upon. When the government fails, the responsibility falls into the hands of the people.
The responsibility of political revolutions belongs to the failing government who caused the need for transformation, and the citizens who must revolt for justice. Every government holds responsibilities such as listening to its people, maintaining order, working for the common good, etc. When the government fails its citizens and becomes corrupt and weak then the citizens are responsible for revolting and bringing order back to their government with a fresh start towards a more promising future. When Marx was speaking of social class struggles and who is responsible for carrying out revolutions he said, “Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other classes decay and go under in the face of modern industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product” (Marx 54).
Marx creates a strong emphasis on the working class and the power they hold. He believes they are a special social class and is the only class capable of standing up to the bourgeoisie and creating the revolution. The proletariat class is the lowest working class and largest of all social classes. He talks about the outcome if the proletariats were to revolt against the government and states, “Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” (Marx 57). Marx and Engels hold strong beliefs that the proletariats are responsible for starting the revolution and would be successful in their mission. This huge class of laborers has a stronghold position in the economy itself to create revolution. In France during the French Revolution there was three estates. The third estate, the lowest class, made up 97% of the French population. With so many frustrated citizens belonging to the lowest class they could create revolution.
The French Revolution has gone down in history as one of the most important, successful, and influential revolutions in history. It was a span of profound political and social transformation in French, European, and World history. The reckless absolute Monarchy that had been in place for generations disintegrated in less than 3 years. French society experienced a major shift it had never seen before as aristocratic, feudal, and religious privileges dissolved from the attacks of liberal political parties and French citizens. New Enlightenment ideas of natural rights and citizenship were stampeding over the old French concepts of tradition and hierarchy at a rapid pace. True revolution was forming within the French state and it could not be stopped. Thomas Paine was an unyielding advocate and defender of The French Revolution as he believed, “The Revolutions of America and France have thrown a beam of light over the world, which reaches into man” (Paine, Part 1).
Thomas recognizes the American and French revolutions as events that can inspire and influence other countries around the globe. He believes it is only a matter of time before other nations, and their people follow the standards of revolution set by America and France. He makes it clear that when a country stops turning a blind eye to its oppression, it will no longer allow to be oppressed.