Conflict Theory, Karl Marx, and the Communist Manifesto

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Socialism Pages: 4 (1328 words) Published: October 14, 2008
Conflict Theory, Karl Marx, and The Communist Manifesto

In order to understand Marx a few terms need to be defined. The first is Bourgeoisie; these are the Capitalists and they are the employers of wage laborers, and the owners of the means of production. The means of production includes the physical instruments of production such as the machines, and tools, as well as the methods of working (skills, division of labor). The Proletariat is the class of wage-laborers, they do not have their own means of production, and therefore they must sell their own labor in order to survive. There are six elements to Marx’s view of class struggle; the first is that classes are authority relationships based on property ownership. The second is a class defines groupings of individuals with shared life situations, thus interests. The third is that classes are naturally antagonistic by virtue of their interests. The fourth is that imminent within modern society is the growth of two antagonistic classes and their struggle, which eventually absorbs all social relations. The fifth is that political organization and power is an instrumentality of class struggle, and reigning ideas are its reflection. The sixth is that structural change is a consequence of the class struggle. The following is a summary of The Communist Manifesto which demonstrated the above details.

Bourgeoisie and Proletarians

In this section Marx introduces several key ideas of his theory. This first section is where Marx introduces the idea of history as a class struggle. The Manifesto begins by addressing this issue in the first sentence which reads “The history of all hitherto existing society is a history of class struggles” (Marx & Engels, 7). In the earlier ages we saw a society consisting of feudal lords, guild masters, apprentices, etc., but with the expansion of the economic markets a new class arose, the bourgeoisie, which destroyed the feudal system. As the bourgeoisie developed so...

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Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto and Other Writings. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2005.
Turner, Jonathan H. “Marx and Simmel Revisited: Reassessing the Foundations of Conflict Theory.” Social Forces 53.4 (1975) 618-627.
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