Arguably, The Communist Manifesto is the most significant piece of writing in the 19th Century. This document provides us with an important insight on the evolution of modernity. As such, focusing on the 19th Century, Marshall Berman identifies some powerful visions in The Communist Manifesto to elaborate that regardless of the time frame, the concept of modernity is the same. In other words, Berman tries to illustrate the existing interaction between the lives of the modern 21st century individuals and those of the past individuals, through the comparison of social, cultural, economic and political structures. As such, while identifying the powerful visions in The Communist Manifesto, this article tends to illustrate how Berman views modernity as merely an act of “ progress,” or an art predicated on continuous transformation and exigency of modern life.
Generally speaking, through an inspiration gathered from The Communist Manifesto, Berman refers to the social and political aspects of modernity as “ a unity of disunity” (Berman, 1983, p. 15). Therefore, Berman tends to illustrate that modernity makes individual to be in a constant state of constant struggle and incongruity, disintegration and renewal, as well as uncertainty and anguish. Equally, this can be identified whereby Marx uses the phrase “ all that is solid melts into air” (Berman, 1983, p. 87), to describe the concept of modernity. As such, Berman tries to use the perpetual experiences of ‘ disintegration and renewal’ to point out both the advantages and dangers associated with the modern social life. As such, not only does Berman tries to demonstrate how the structure of domination and power have taken over modernity, but he also describes the existence of prevailing political changes that are essential in the attainment of an effective modern life.
Despite the fact that Berman solely relies on The Communist Manifesto as his main theoretic manuscript to illustrate modernity, there are several important inferences that his work presents that should not be overlooked. Notably important, Berman outlines an important factor for modernity by presenting an all-encompassing and dialectical understanding of the efforts and impulses by acting as ‘ the developer.’ As the developer, Berman anticipates to discover both the most creative and destructive possibilities of the modern social life. Thus, for Berman, there are several factors such as demographic transformations, scientific discoveries, mass movements, and industrial upheavals among others that generate modernity. As such, Berman tends to use these socioeconomic factors, together with the changing capitalistic markets as the factors that are responsible for driving change and bringing modernity.
Basically, Berman presents the relationship between modernism and modernity as a purely “ dialectical” one. Even though the phrase “ dialectic” in modern intellectual history has multiple meanings, Berman uses it to show how modernity is generally a “ paradoxical unity, a unity of disunity” (Berman, 1983, p. 15). In simpler words, Berman tries to explain how the identity of every individual is dependent on that of another. In addition, Berman, through his visions of modernity, tries to show how the concept of modernity is not a new but an ever existing ideology. As such, Berman tries to connect the past experiences and social, political, and economic structure with the present experiences to explain how the concept of modernity is in a constant state of metamorphosis.
Ultimately, the notion of modernity presents that people should make large connections with one another. However, it is worth noting that in the present times, very few individuals tend to make numerous human connections. Henceforth, it is arguably true that unlike during the ancient time when there was a high degree in interaction, today, the concept of modernity has significantly declined. As such, it is important for the 21st Century generation to uphold the importance of modernity and increase their interaction levels.
Berman, M. (1983). All that is solid melts into air: The experience of modernity. London: Verso.