The Common Good
January-February 1999

Manifesto Not Junk

by Larry Boudreau | January-February 1999

DANNY DUNCAN COLLUM'S article "Diagnosis Determines Cure", as a critique of The Communist Manifesto, offered some fine insights into that 19th-century publication.

DANNY DUNCAN COLLUM'S article "Diagnosis Determines Cure" ("Eyes & Ears," November-December 1998), as a critique of The Communist Manifesto, offered some fine insights into that 19th-century publication. However, in the passages that the author terms "junk," a different analysis might restore much of what he terms junk to its original dignity.

Dismissal of the words like "proletariat" and "bourgeois" as meaningless today is an oversimplification. These terms simply refer to rich and poor, a class distinction that is as relevant today as it was in the mid-19th century. While 60 percent of the world's population share in less than 6 percent of its wealth, and 20 percent enjoys more that 82 percent of its wealth, the separation between rich and poor is even more obvious today than when The Manifesto was written.

The author's denial of The Manifesto's premises that "overproduction would send capitalism into an irreversible downward spiral" again begs for a deeper analysis. Unlike Duncan Collum, I do not see the "bourgeois bouncing back." I see the bourgeois accelerating the borrowing power of individuals, and even entire nations, while this consumer-driven society creates incredible amounts of garbage and fills entire lots with new storage facilities for the junk that no longer fits in house or garage. This solution creates a multitude of new, short-term billionaires but only prolongs the day of reckoning whose beginnings we may already be witnessing in the Asian financial crisis.

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