The Communist Manifesto

by

Karl Marx

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A commodity is anything that can be traded, bought and sold. While most commodities are physical goods, Marx and Engels argue that under a capitalist system, work itself becomes a kind of commodity. At least, it does for the proletariat—having no wealth or property, they have to sell their labor to the bourgeoisie in exchange for wages that allow them to survive. Marx and Engels see this as patently unfair because members of the proletariat are devalued: workers first, humans second. Furthermore, the labor of the proletariat actively creates the products that the bourgeoisie then sell for profit—without their work, these commodities would not exist.

Commodity Quotes in The Communist Manifesto

The The Communist Manifesto quotes below are all either spoken by Commodity or refer to Commodity. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Capitalism and Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of The Communist Manifesto published in 2011.
I. Bourgeois and Proletarians Quotes

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society […] Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones […] All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind.

Related Characters: Bourgeoisie
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hated of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into its midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

Related Characters: Bourgeoisie
Page Number: 68-69
Explanation and Analysis:

In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity—the epidemic of overproduction. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilization, too much commerce.

Related Characters: Bourgeoisie
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
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Commodity Term Timeline in The Communist Manifesto

The timeline below shows where the term Commodity appears in The Communist Manifesto. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
I. Bourgeois and Proletarians
Capitalism and Progress Theme Icon
Class and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Inequality and Distribution of Wealth Theme Icon
...bourgeoisie’s terms.  The cheapness of bourgeois goods makes them irresistible; Marx and Engels liken these “commodities” to “heavy artillery,” forcing nations to comply or face extinction—become bourgeois, or cease to exist. (full context)
Capitalism and Progress Theme Icon
Class and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Inequality and Distribution of Wealth Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
...only find said work if it increases the bourgeoisie’s profits. Laborers, then, become like a commodity themselves, exposed to all the risks of competition and changes in the market. (full context)