Karl Marx's Theory Of Class Consciousness Analysis

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Arguably one of the most controversial and influential philosophers of modern times, Karl Marx has established a formidable intellectual structure of societal and historical critical analysis. At the core of much of his analysis is the theory of class and false consciousness. As with any provocative idea, this theory has been the subject of decades of examination by historians, sociologists, and philosophers alike. With such rigorous and diverse analysis, issues, contradictions, and improvements are bound to arise. The theory of class consciousness is built upon fundamental assumptions that, when analyzed by authors Georg Lukács and Ernest van den Haag, lead to its success or detriment; respectively. Class consciousness is an awareness of…show more content…
Lukács stresses that class consciousness is inseparably intertwined with history and how societal processes can be understood. (Lukács, 1920) The notion of consciousness or lack thereof is itself intrinsic to being in a society. For the proletariat, this means they must internally wrestle to develop a class consciousness; this will awaken their true (class) interests, and inevitably cause an attempt to overcome the dominate class and, ultimately, capitalism itself. He argues society is shaped by these ebbs and flows of power struggles between the classes and their varying degrees of success; the ocean of class consciousness facilitates this struggle, and will ultimately determine the victor. (Lukács, 1920) Lukács points to various historical events including the Great Peasant War of 1525 to support his claim that class consciousness determines the success of an uprising, as it was at the heart of the unbalanced power held by the peasants and princes in this instance. (Lukács, 1920) It is here, in the class struggles of history, where the theory of class consciousness proves most useful. Continuing on, Lukács begins to resolve the theory of class consciousness by tackling a major underlying contradiction. If the ruling class controls all means of production,…show more content…
Haag fundamentally disagrees with the idea that acquiring a class consciousness will instinctively lead to a desire to overthrow the capitalist system, and solve all problems plaguing society. (Haag, 1987) An awareness of one’s class and associated interests, he argues, is no more decisive in political alignments than other categorizations. (Haag, 1987, 28) Opinions and interests may be swayed by a plethora of factors; in fact, the idea of class consciousness and acting in one’s class interest may simply be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and not an honest action by a worker. (Haag, 1987, 28) Haag continues on to question the existence of class consciousness at all. A common critique of Marxist theories in general is its complete disregard to any nuance created by factors such as race, gender, and religion. Haag raises this issue with the idea of a singular shared class consciousness, and pushes the idea of differentiation further. Workers themselves may genuinely have interests that align with the owning class and conflict with those of their own class; this state of class consciousness may not function as intended. (Haag, 1987, 28) In contrast to Lukács, rather than expanding and adjusting the theory, Haag uses this
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