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In 1847, while in Brussels, the German Communist League asked Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx to draft a pamphlet on the principles of communism. It was published in 1848 under the title Manifesto of the Communist Party, and in it, Marx and Engels discuss the basic communist theories on society, economics, class struggles and politics.
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Rowson (The Wasteland), a political cartoonist whose scabrous style can be traced right back to Ralph Steadman, has produced a funny and nightmarishly dark graphic adaptation of communism's foundational document. Rowson reimagines the book as a kind of lecture, with the bearded authors Marx with a cigar in his hand and a cynical smirk on his face, Engels holding a great red flag yet to be unfurled strolling through a hellish landscape in which demonic steampunk machines grind up hapless proletarians into grist for the capitalist mill. At one point, Marx lectures in a "Kapitalist Komedy Club" open-mic night. Though the backdrops, with their Pink Floyd's The Wall aesthetic, can distract, this adaptation admirably boils down Marx's history lessons and luridly illustrates the warning that the bourgeoisie class produces "its own grave-diggers." While the book takes Marx's assumptions about the inevitability of a vast proletarian uprising at face value, it also includes a wry coda on the aftermath of Marx-inspired revolutions. The result is a jauntily irreverent but fundamentally serious take on a vastly influential political work.