The Communist Manifesto and Me

So yeah, I read it. After two failed orders my copy finally came. Was it interesting? Definitely. Do I have more insight on class struggle, historical relevance in the proletariat fight, and vocabulary to express my own thoughts on systemic and oppressive structures? One hundred percent. 

For me Marx and his manifesto is a dictionary, a road map, a study guide. It’s like when you quickly go to sparknotes and cram their bullet notes before a pop quiz on a whole book you didn’t read. It’s hard to actually understand the story if you haven’t taken that time, that process to dive deeply into those words, to interact with them, to understand them. Sure, you get the general gist, can point out some key symbols, and even some simple analysis. But nothing beats sitting down on a rocking chair on a cold, rainy day, book in hand, reading every single word on the page. Stories are what tell the whole picture.

Don’t get me wrong, you should read it. But maybe read it with your hard-cover, worn-down book at the fireplace. Use it as a study guide to quiz your friends who didn’t sit down like you did. Use it if there’s that one paragraph in the story that just doesn’t make sense. But read the story first. 

Read about Audre in Harlem. Read about Malcolm in Mecca. Read about Sethe in that old haunted house in Cincinnati Ohio, 1873. You see those sparknotes have a purpose, they have a benefit, but they cannot replace a story.

But Ella? Didn’t that supposed cheatsheet come before these tales? 

I argue that this is exactly the point. These tales of liberation, the fight against oppression and violence from the bourgeoisie, these stories are not only innate, but are anachronistically timeless. This is not the chicken and the egg per se. It is clear that life is full of stories that have been vividly experienced before they were so clearly defined by Marx. 

So maybe what I’m trying to say is you should just keep it in your back-pocket with your keys and phone. Pull it out when you need it, but don’t miss out on the story happening right before your eyes.

Published by ellakotsen

student at Bryn Mawr College

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