Eco and the Text of the Communist Manifesto
Eco in the Manifesto follows some of the cultural factors that determine the text at hand, its style, its rhetoric, its many historical evolutions included—such cultural events function as words when reading in a semiotic mode. We read the Manifesto appreciating its rhetorical gags, and forget how these are carefully prepared signs that unfold in words as composites of the text. What significs and later semiotics taught us, namely to be attentive for the unfolding of meanings, is repeated when the Manifesto text comes onstage. Its challenge is in the multiple meanings of words used in the text, is in where it hits the reader most, is in where it causes questions and raises doubts. Apart from its genuinely poetic capacity to invent memorable metaphors, Eco shows how the Manifesto remains a masterpiece of political (but not only political) oratory, and it ought to be studied at school along with Cicero’s Invectives against Catiline and Mark Antony’s speech over Julius Caesar’s body in Shakespeare, especially as it is not impossible, given Marx’s familiarity with classical culture, that he had in mind these very texts when writing it. The notion of text as act needs a completion of the traditional emphasis on words, and perhaps even signs! There are no texts without words and/or signs—but that is not all, and there is more, Marx would have said.