A manifesto is a document that sets forth the principles and goals of an organization. Typically, it is designed to be widely distributed to the public, and it serves as an official declaration. Often, the document is political in nature, as is the case with the Communist Manifesto, although it can also be employed by artists and other collective groups as a medium of communication. In many instances, a manifesto is highly revolutionary, and is designed to stimulate public dialog.
Generally, a manifesto intended for a large audience is written in clear, plain language so that everyone can understand it. The document can be long or short, and many organizations create a shorter one for large distribution to pique the interest of the public. A shorter manifesto might appear in the form of a flier or poster which can be easily duplicated and distributed, and it will include information about where to obtain the longer version.
It is hoped that, after reading a manifesto, members of the public will seek out more information about the group that wrote it, creating a growing awareness of and support for a movement. In addition, the document can be used as a starting point for public discussion, as some readers will undoubtedly critique it while others defend it. These discussions can help to refine the manifesto, as members of the public bring up important issues which were not addressed in the original document.
As a revolutionary statement, a manifesto can be a powerful and daring document. In some cases, the authors will not be identified, especially if the document is very radical, out of concern for their safety. Citizens reading the manifesto may be forced to question their government, the lives that they live, the state of the sciences, or the meaning of art. This introspective interaction will often drive the reader to pass the document on to someone else, causing the audience to grow.
In addition to being used by revolutionary political groups and conventional parties in some areas, many artists use the manifesto as a communication tool to spark dialog about the state of art. This is especially common with artistic collectives, which may include political aspects in their art, or be involved in aesthetic discussions with other groups of artists or critics. Some famous groups of writers have also issued manifestos, and some progressive companies issue a tongue-in-cheek “manifesto” to outline their goals and ethics as an organization.