"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”.
Karl Marx asserts that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Marx affirmed that “from the early epochs of history there has been a complicated arrangement of society of various orders - a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome there were patricians, knights, …slaves; in the middle ages , feudal lords, journeymen, serf; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, has not done away with class antagonists, it has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” (pg. 180).
Marx theorize that society is split into two classes the Bourgeoisie and Proletarians - the haves and the have not’s. “The Bourgeoisie is owners of the means of social production and employers of wage-labor, the middle class; the wealthy who made their money from the labor of the working class. The Bourgeoisie owned the land; the factories… and gained wealth through industrialization - they were the modern day Capitalists – during the Industrial Revolution. The Proletarians are modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor-power in order to live” (pg.180).
With the discovery of America and the subsequent expansion of economic markets, a new class was created - a manufacturing class, which took control of international and domestic trade by producing goods more efficiently than the closed guilds. With their growing economic powers, “steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production”. “Modern industry established the world’s marker for which America paved the way” (pg. 181). The Bourgeois through its exploitation of the world’s market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. Marx deemed the bourgeois control so pervasive that he claimed, "The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie". This working class, the proletariat are the necessary consequence of bourgeois modes of production. “With the development of industry the proletariat …increases in number combinations (Trades Unions) against the bourgeois; they revolt and breaks out into riots Marx exclaimed that the bourgeois “pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade”. In one word for exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation (pg. 182)”. Marx theorizes that history is based on economic relations (186). Marx clearly describes two theories in the Communist Manifesto - one is political, about class struggle, the other economical – that leads to control and oppression by way of capitalism. Marx was an idealist, who wanted to break the chains of worldwide historical “class struggles”.
Marx, Karl. “The Communist Manifesto” Professor Johnson Online Posting. 11 Sept. 2013: Web