Nearly a hundred and thirty years after his death, Karl Marx continues to exert enormous intellectual and practical influence across the world. Both a scholar and a political activist, Marx addressed a wide range of political as well as social issues, and is known for, among other things, his analysis of history. The interpretations of his theories, particularly those on political economy, have in the course of history generated decades of debate, inspired revolutions and cast him as both devil and deity in political and academic circles. Maligned by some, misunderstood by others and celebrated as one of the world's great thinkers by many more, Marx continues to be a divisive and much discussed individual.
Marx argued that there are two classes of people that exist in society, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie refer to the upper class that own the means of production and whose central concern is the value of property. On the other hand, the proletariat describes the working class wageworkers in a capitalist society. Marx argued that the bourgeoisie simply exploited the proletariat, and the physical labor produced by the proletariat generated more wealth for the capitalist, leaving laborers under payed and machine-like. During this process, Marx believed that through this system of mass production, laborers were stripped of individual imagination and as a result, left individuals feeling alienated to their own emotions and erotic feelings in order to maximize production and wealth.
The key concepts that I will discuss in this assignment are the theories and ideas of Karl Marx on Alienation, Exploitation, Materialism and Class struggle. The objective of this assignment is to examine the literature written about Karl Marx in order to clearly present his main ideas and theories in relation to work and capital. In the second part of my assignment I will discuss what relevance these theories and ideas have in today’s world. Karl Heinrich Marx the philosopher and revolutionary socialist was born on the 5th of May 1818 and died on the 14th of March 1883. He was born in the city of Trier in Germany and studied law in Bonn University. He based his ideas and theories on social structure, economics and politics.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution caused a massive economic spike from small-scale production to large factories and mass production. Capitalism became the prevalent mode of the economy, which put all means of production in the hands of the bourgeoisie, or the upper class. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels argue that capitalism centralizes all the wealth and power in the bourgeoisie, despite the proletariat, or the working class, being the overwhelming majority of the population. The manufacturers would exploit the common proletariat and force them to would work in abysmal conditions and receive low wages, furthering the working class poverty. “The Communist Manifesto” predicts that as a result of the mistreatment
In the Communist manifesto, a well known quote of Marx, “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” This is introductory to the first part of the pamphlet and a conclusion to Marx’s theory about class struggle. Marx’s highly structured on how the class struggle emerges and affects the development of a society.
Karl Marx talks about the role of communism and his conjecture of underlying this type of revolution. He speaks of two different class struggles, the "Bourgeoisie and Proletarians". Bourgeoisie are the people with authority, the ones who own production and are bosses of wage labor while the proletariat are the individuals with no authority, no ownership and are giving up their own power to the Bourgeoisie in order to survive. Societies began to separate and became hostile and aggressive classes. It all became about social ranking because of the increase and need of production.
Marx believed that the current capitalist society is separated into two classes, the Proletariat society, and Bourgeois society. The Proletarians, as perceived by Marx, are part of the working class that only possess one significant material value, that is the ability to work, or labour power. The Bourgeoise, on the other hand, is the societal class that owns the means of production and hence rule over the Proletarians. As I quote from Marx’s book, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” (Marx and Engels, 1988, p. 473)
He argues that with all the pressures of class conflict and the imbalance of capitalism there is no way that this pattern can continue without a major revolution. Marx compares capitalism to anarchy, in the sense that there is no organization within which only causes chaos. The common pattern of capitalism is a boom followed by a bust, and that bust leads to recession and social unrest. This sort of fickle economy, Marx believes, will furthermore contribute to the downfall of capitalism. This socialist revolution would, “abolish private ownership of key elements of economy and change nature of relationships from ones based on marriage and property.”
Marx’s theory of social inequality is heavily based on the idea that power is derived from the ownership of the means of production (Marger 30). Consequently, Marx believed that poverty is the product of the efforts of the powerful ruling class to protect their own interests. Since large corporations are part of the ruling class, they control the major economic activity in communities and therefore have the power to determine the fate of their workers. As a result, the ruling class (the bourgeoisie) will often exploit the working class (the proletariat) or move to a different location that is more economically beneficial to them, in order to stay in line with the capitalist principle of maximizing profit (Marger 169). In this case, people in poverty are poor because the ruling class exploits the working class, making the latter group powerless and trapped in
Bourgeoisie, which gains the power, defines superstructure “including all social and legal institution, all political and educational systems, all religions and all art” (Bressler, 162), and articulate the ideology which is based on profits of bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie ideology leads to alienation of individuals, especially proletariats. This bourgeoisie ideology creates the clash between the two classes. Marx supported the working class and their victory over dominant class. Marxism believes in providing equal opportunity to the working class as that are available to the
Capitalism, according to Karl Marx is divided into two major social classes: the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. The Bourgeoisie, which is the minority of the class system, own the means of production such as land, machinery, factories and raw materials whereas the Proletariat, which is the majority of the class system, having no means of their own production and have to work to earn wage for a living. Karl Marx has his own theory that history is made up by class struggle which he mentioned in his book – Manifesto of the Communist Party: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” (Marx and Engels, 1848) and had predicted that the Proletariat would lead a revolution to overthrow the Bourgeoisie. Karl Marx believed that there will be intrinsic conflict like exploitation, alienation of labour and commodity fetishism between both of the classes.
Question 1. What do you make of Karl Marx’s contributions to sociology? Answer: It would take volumes to describe how important Karl Marx’s work is in sociology. His work is important in the 21st century because his concepts and ideas are the only genuine seeds for a better society.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) considered himself not to be a sociologist but a political activist. However, many would disagree and in the view of Hughes (1986), he was ‘both – and a philosopher, historian, economist, and a political scientist as well.’ Much of the work of Marx was political and economic but his main focus was on class conflict and how this led to the rise of capitalism. While nowadays, when people hear the word “communism”, they think of the dictatorial rule of Stalin and the horrific stories of life in a communist state such as the Soviet Union, it is important not to accuse Marx of the deeds carried out in his name.
Marx and Engels look at capitalism with seriously negative opinions. They regard the system as extremely unsuitable, and are deeply concerned with getting rid of it. In a capitalist society, capitalists own and control the main resources of production - machinery, factories, mines, capital, etc. The modern working classes, or proletariats, own only their labor. Proletariats work for the capitalists, who own the product that was produced and then sell it for a profit.
CHAPTER 3 CLASS STRUGGLE Generally class struggle means conflict between the upper class and lower class the idea of Class struggle is long-used mostly by socialists and communists, who define a class by its relationship to the means of production such as factories, land, and machinery. From this point of view, the social control of production and labour is a fight between classes, and the division of these resources basically involves conflict and causes damage. Societies are socially divided based on status, wealth, or control of social production and distribution, and in this division of class conflict arises. It is important to know Karl Marx theory on class struggle; he viewed the structure of society in relation to