Comment and Analysis

10 Things about the manifesto

M&G Correspondent

With election season upon us, we look at the manifesto: a declaration of belief and/or intention by a person or group, that goes back to the 1500s.

The Communist Manifesto, written and published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at the time of the European revolutions of 1848, is probably the most famous of all. (AFP)

1 It is the season of election manifestos. The ANC has already launched its manifesto for the polls in May; it is a glossy, full-colour booklet celebrating the party's achievements over the past 20 years – and in the past five years of a government led by Jacob Zuma. The Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters will launch their manifestos this coming weekend, though the former has already launched its manifesto on jobs and economic growth.

2 The manifesto as a specific term for a declaration of belief and/or intention by a person or group goes back to the 1500s. It comes, via Italian, from the Latin manifestum, meaning conspicuous, visible or clear, as in "made manifest".

3 The Communist Manifesto, written and published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at the time of the European revolutions of 1848, is probably the most famous of all.

4 It was followed in 1850 by the Anarchist Manifesto, written by Anselme Bellegarrigue, a follower of the "father of anarchism", Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

5 The communist and anarchist manifestos were preceded by the American Declaration of Independence in 1777, a type of manifesto; the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789; South American liberator Simon Bolivar's Cartagena Declaration (1812); and the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments of 1848, the first feminist manifesto.

6 The Urmia Manifesto of the United Free Assyria was promulgated in 1917 in what is now Iran. It didn't really take off.

7 The Fascist Manifesto of Benito Mussolini's League of Combat emerged in 1919. It demanded universal suffrage, including the vote for women, proportional representation, progressive income taxes and the seizure of all church property.

8 This was followed in 1925 by the Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, written by the philosopher Benedetto Croce.

9 The first artistic manifesto was that of the Futurists in 1909. It rejected the art of the past and celebrated a new, modern era of mechanisation, speed and steel.

10 Artistic manifestos flourished throughout the 20th century, from the Dada Manifesto (1918) to that of the Dogma filmmakers (1995).

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