Marx and the Rise of the Proletariat

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Humza Malik
History 1400
Ms. Duncan
11/3/2012
The Rise of the Proletariat
Karl Marx changed the world with his Communist Manifesto. He observed the gap between the rich and the poor and wanted the world to know that capitalism does not benefit everybody, and that it would not be permanent. Marx believed the proletariat will triumph over the bourgeoisie because the self-interest of the bourgeoisie exploits and alienates the proletariat to the point where they become class conscious and politicized, and they would revolutionize society. This revolution would lead to a very different stage in history where private property would not exist, which would lead to social classes not existing, ending the dialectical flow of history. Marx was influenced by the great Enlightenment thinker Immanuel Kant. Both of the men were Germans who lived in modern day Russia. Kant’s view on human nature was that people act in self-interest. He came to the idea of the hypothetical imperative, which means that people will do whatever is necessary for their self-interest. He believed that people have duties, though, and that people should work for the common good, which is called the categorical imperative. The categorical imperative was just barely being utilized with the Factory Acts passed by the UK Parliament during Marx’s time.

He lived in a time of globalization and when capitalism was booming. He witnessed firsthand what self-interest and capitalism can do with very few to no regulations. Nobody cared about doing their duty, because everything became about money. The bourgeoisie, Marx wrote, “has resolved personal worth into exchange value,” and even went as far to say that it “ has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation,” (P 66). This relentless self-interest led to a heavy amount of exploitation.

The proletariat was defined by Marx as, “a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases...
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