by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu
LONDON, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- One hundred and seventy years after the "Communist Manifesto" was first published in February 1848, it is still being recognized today by many people in Britain and other Western countries as a relevant tool to analyze capitalism's shortcomings and human development path.
The "Communist Manifesto," originally known as the "Manifesto of the Communist Party," was written by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has been serving as a guiding principle for the Communist movement and has profoundly changed the world.
Since it was brought to public notice, the "Communist Manifesto" has been so far the world's most widely read political document. At the same time, it has been long described as "a glorious dawn in human spiritual history" and "a spiritual home for Communists."
The German text, first published at 46 Liverpool Street in central London, has been translated into more than 1,000 versions in over 200 languages, including 23 versions in Chinese.
A revival of interest in Marx and Marxist thought was recently reported in Britain, the birthplace of Marxism.
Waterstones, a British book retailer, sold more than 30,000 copies of the Manifesto within a week in late February 2015.
Sales of the "Communist Manifesto" have soared ever since 2008, when the global financial crisis broke out, as have those of "Das Kapital," Marx's masterpiece of political economy, and the "Grundrisse," which in English is the "Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy."
Their sales rose as British workers were struggling with debt and job insecurity. In short, the financial crisis undermined many Western voters' faith in capitalism because it exposed the perils of inadequately regulated markets.
"The revival of interest in Marxism, especially for young people, comes because it provides tools for analyzing capitalism, and especially capitalist crises such as the one we're in now," said an article published on July 4, 2012, by the British daily the Guardian.
"The problem for capitalism is that it doesn't feel like that any more," Marc Stears, chief executive of New Economics Foundation, was quoted as saying by the Guardian. "The capitalist system we know is dominated by huge, unaccountable, global banks and corporations."
"So, yes, capitalism is at a crossroads," the newspaper said. "The state of capitalism is in desperate need of reform and modernization."
"Capitalism in Britain is broken and needs urgent reform because it is leaving young people worse off than their parents," The Telegraph newspaper said in an article on Sept. 5, 2017.
British capitalism is "failing" children who "will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilizing," said the Financial Times newspaper in September 2017.
At first glance, capitalism seems to be doing quite well. Upon closer inspection, however, the picture is more worrying: Capitalism is failing to generate social mobility and even basic welfare for those who need it most.
Britain's top business leaders claimed that the capitalist system has been hurt by management greed, corporate tax dodging and investors' short-term outlook.
Many in Britain have felt the ravaging effects of the capitalist system: falling wages, rising costs and work insecurity, a strained welfare state, slashed public services, stalled growth, lagging productivity and hollowed-out communities.
Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, a decision nicknamed "Brexit." Brexiters and Remainers are still engaging in endless political squabbles while the European Union has urged the British government to act swiftly to "offer more clarity" about its plans for leaving the regional bloc.
The current political landscape in Britain has prompted people to speak out favorably on socialism. A study by online market research and data analytics firm YouGov found in February 2016 that about 36 percent of people said they view socialism favorably as opposed to 32 percent who view it unfavorably.
Britain is not alone. According to a new survey, more than 40 percent of millennials in the United States said they would rather live in a socialist society than a capitalist one, the Daily Mail newspaper said on Nov. 2, 2017.
Against such a backdrop, voters in Britain want the government to take a more socialist approach to economic policy by renationalizing railways and utilities, while creating a wage cap for top earners.
About 83 percent of British voters would prefer public ownership of water companies over privatization, while 77 percent want to renationalize electricity and gas companies and 76 percent want the railways back under state control.
A Guardian story on Jan. 21 confirmed this trend, calling for a more socialist approach in conducting political reforms in the world's first industrialized country.
Over the past 170 years since the publication of the "Communist Manifesto," the world has seen China transform itself from a weak, underdeveloped country to a prosperous nation, which has adopted its own development model and modernization pattern.
The secret behind China's rapid progress is that China has firmly adhered to the guidance of Marxism, including the "Communist Manifesto," while constantly ensuring that it keeps pace with the times and the country's changing needs.
In doing so, China offers an example for other developing countries that are struggling to modernize, as well as developed countries troubled by the shortcomings of capitalism.