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The Historical Background of the Communist Manifesto

  • George R. Boyer
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    This paper attempts to place the economic analysis of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto in historical perspective. The author begins by summarizing the analysis of capitalist economic development in the Manifesto, and showing how it was strongly influenced by developments in the cotton industry in Manchester, England. He then examines the economic, social, and political conditions in Manchester and the surrounding cotton towns during the 1830s and 1840s, drawing on the views of contemporary observers and recent research by economic historians. The paper concludes by discussing why Marx and Engels's predictions for the imminent collapse of capitalism were wrong.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.12.4.151
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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 12 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
    Pages: 151-174

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:4:p:151-74
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.4.151
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    1. Horrell, Sara & Humphries, Jane, 1992. "Old Questions, New Data, and Alternative Perspectives: Families' Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 849-880, December.
    2. Nicholas Crafts, 1997. "Some Dimensions of the Quality of Life during the British Industrial Revolution," CEP Discussion Papers dp0339, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1985. "English Workers' Real Wages: Reply to Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 145-153, March.
    4. Stanley L. Engerman, 1997. "The Standard of Living Debate in International Perspective: Measures and Indicators," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 17-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1977_32n1_0352 is not listed on IDEAS
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