Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies

TITLE:  The Declaration Versus The Communist Manifesto

AUTHOR:  Larry Nickell, Karval, CO

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  9-12, American Government

OVERVIEW:  Students fail to connect the American
governmental system with values and beliefs, but think
government is for self-aggrandizement; they do not see value
in equal opportunity as opposed to equality of position or

PURPOSE:  In this activity a student will be challenged to
see if he or she can discern the difference between the
values found in the Declaration of Independence (and
consequently, is a part of our system) and those of the
Communist Manifesto.  Most students do not have a good
knowledge of either documents but assume they know the
differences.  This is to clarify the differences.

OBJECTIVES:  Students will be able to:
  1.  Know the difference between the Declaration and the
      Communist Manifesto.
  2.  Regard opinions as to whether they have democratic or
      autocratic meanings.
  3.  Know the meaning of euphemism.
  4.  Be better able to perceive the fundamental beliefs and
      doctrines by which we live in this nation.

ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:  This activity is best done
before any reading of either document.  It should be done as
a correlative exercise of the early formative period of the
nation and of the Declaration in particular.
1.   Hand out the test on the Communist Manifesto and
     Declaration.  Tell the students that if they don't know
     for sure whether a statement is from the Declaration or
     the Manifesto, to take a logical guess from the issues
     or tone of the statement.  (No grade is to be taken on
     this part of the exercise, but those questions the
     students get right can be given as a bonus.)
2.   After taking the test, read each question and have the
     students hold hands up on each question as to which
     document the statement was taken from.  Then tell them
     the answer and why it is more logical that it come from
     the particular document from which it was taken.  You
     may call for observations from the students, both as to
     what led them to their correct or incorrect answer, and
     whether they can perceive a pattern developing.
3.   Finish the test.  Collect the papers.  Then have the
     students read the Declaration.
4.   Then retest the students using either the same testing
     material or different quotes from the two sources.

1.   Students gain insights to our theories of government by
     comparing it to the thoughts expressed in documents
     divergent from our own.
2.   In a comparative government class, deeper analysis can
     be taken not only of our democratic system, but can
     open doors to understanding the social milieu that
     generated each document and can allow analysis of the
     historical significance of each.
3.   This exercise can generate questions that can be
     resolved by further study or can be the nucleus for a
     term paper; for instance, someone might want to write
     on class systems, and whether or not it is what
     generates all social ills as Marx thought.
4.   Other questions that can be answered involves what the
     students perceive as the underlying reasons each
     document was written.  You can ask if the students can
     feel a different tone in each document.  Are there
     words or phrases used which sound grand and glorious
     but the actuality of those ideas or words in the real
     world have led to other conditions other than what the
     author envisioned.

Sample statements from the Declaration and the Manifesto.

  1.  The history of all hitherto existing society is the
history of class struggle. (M)
  2.  The history of the present (ruler) is ... a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations. (D)
  3.  In the place of the old wants, satisfied by the
productions of country, we find new wants, requiring for
their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes.
  4.  The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of
conscience merely gave expression to the sway of free
competition within the domain of knowledge. (M)
  5.  Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of
these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or
abolish it...  (D)
  6.  The ruling ideas of each age have never been the ideas
of its ruling class.  (M)
  7.  Governments ... long established should not be changed
for light and transient causes...  (D)
  8.  A (ruler) whose character is thus marked by every act
which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be a ruler of a free
  9.  Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into
a great hostile camps. (M)
 10.  ... man's consciousness changes with every change in
the conditions of his material existence, in his social
relations, and his social life. (M)
 11.  In every stage of these oppressions, we have
petitioned for redress... (D)
 12.  In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by
another is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by
another will also come to an end. (M)
 13.  ...we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our
fortunes, and our sacred honor.  (D)
 14.  In this sense the theory ... may be summed up in the
single sentence:  abolition of private property.  (M)
 15.  National differences and antagonisms between peoples
are daily more and more vanishing.  (M)
 16.  When a long train of abuses...evinces a design to
reduce (the people) under absolute despotism, it is their
right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and
to provide new guards for their future security. (D)
 17.  National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become
more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and
local literatures there arises a world literature. (M)
 18.  ...we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in
peace friends.  (D)
 19.  ...openly declare that (our) ends can be attained only
by the forcible overthrow of all existing conditions. (M)
 20.  ...established a heavy progressive or graduated income
tax.  (M)
 21.  When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society
they do but express the fact that within the old society the
elements of a new one has been created.  (M)
 22.  ...governments are instituted among men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed.  (D)
 23.  Let the ruling class tremble at (our) revolution.  The
(revolutionaries) have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win. (M)
 24.  Confiscation of the property of all emigrants. (those
who leave the country.)  (M)
 25.  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  (D)
 26.  That to secure these rights, Governments are
instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed;...  (D)


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