Karl Marx

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Karl Marx was an idealist. He observed the cruelties and injustices that the poor working class endured during the period of industrial revolution, and was inspired to write of a society in which no oppression existed for any class of people. Marx believed in a revolution that would end socialism and capitalism, and focus on communist principles. The Manifesto of the Communist Party, written by Karl Marx and edited by Frederick Engels, describes the goals of the communist party for ending exploitation of the working class and creating a society in which there is equality in society without social classes.1

The first part of the Manifesto is entitled the Bourgeois And Proletarians. Marx begins by explaining that the history of man and society is the history of class struggles. The modern bourgeois society has developed out of the feudal society, but in a simpler form: two classes opposing one another, the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. With the discovery of America, and expanded markets across the world, the feudal system of industry no longer satisfied the increased needs of those markets. Manufacturing and modern industry soon took its place. This is how, according to Marx, the bourgeoisie increased their capital, advanced their political influence, and distinguished themselves from the working class.

Marx accuses the bourgeoisie of turning respected professionals into wage-laborers. By creating large cities, they have centralized the population and means of production. This property then, is held by few, and so creates political power. The once independent towns and provinces are now brought together under one government with one set of laws. Despite the power that the bourgeoisie has created for itself, Marx writes, “The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons—the modern working-class—the proletarians.”2 Marx has introduced the solution to creating his equal society. He believes that the proletarians are capable of overthrowing the bourgeois because of their large population.

Next Marx writes of the demeaning work of the waged-laborer. The worker becomes part of the machine, performing mind-numbing tasks for long periods of time. As the skills needed for the manual labor decrease, age and sex are of no distinctive validity. Skilled trades people and handicraftsmen are eventually forced to the level of the proletariat because they cannot compete with modern industry. Their talents are no longer needed because of the new methods of production.

Despite their large numbers, the proletariats find difficulty in unifying against the bourgeois. The division of the laborers, geographically, keeps them from becoming a union of their own, and so, they are in competition with each other instead of against the bourgeoisie. Marx believes that with the increasing number of proletariats, their strength will grow, and they will find ways to better their situation. “The real fruits of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of workers.”3 Improved means of communication will prove to be vital for the organization of the proletarians into a political party. William McBride writes, “The greatest power has fallen into the hands of the bourgeois class, the owners of large-scale capital, who are engaged in a struggle to preserve their power against the ever-augmenting class of industrial workers, the proletariat.”4 Marx names the proletariat alone the revolutionary class. The lower middle-class, according to Marx, is conservative or reactionary because they try to preserve their status without trying to better it.

The second part of the Manifesto is the Proletarians And Communists. Marx writes that the Communists are a party that do not oppose any other working-class...
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