Marx + Manifesto of the Communist Party

Blog #1

In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx states that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Marx and Engels 1848). Karl Marx proposes that throughout history, a group of people in the same class always struggle with a group of people in another socioeconomic class. Class struggle shapes history. Particularly, Karl Marx advises the public with the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Marx describes the proletariat as the working class, wage laborers, or the “oppressed”. They lack the means of production. On the other hand, he defines the bourgeoisie as the capitalists, owners of the means of production, or the “oppressors”. The bourgeoisie is the ruling class.

In the USA today, we often hear a small percentage of the higher class owning a large percentage of manufacturing and the media. Marx would agree to this statement. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, he says the bourgeoisie has “concentrated property in a few hands”. Also, he states that unemployment is due to the decrease in hiring by the bourgeoisie. Technology today has become more and more sophisticated that a machine can replace a worker. Like anyone, why would the bourgeoisie pay another worker when they have a machine that can do the work instead? Because of this, Marx states that this “makes the wages of the worker even more fluctuating”. The worker may have a job until the new machine/equipment comes out, which gets them fired and jobless with no pay. Therefore, there is a competition for the existing jobs. To pin point a specific example – my friend recently got fired from her job because a new program was invented that made it faster for one person to do two jobs. Therefore, my friend’s boss no longer needed her because the other employee was able to manage doing everything in a shorter amount of time. 

The cartoon below further explains the working conditions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. 

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2 responses to “Marx + Manifesto of the Communist Party

  1. Oh, I just noticed that another student already posted the cartoon! woops!!

  2. Nice, clear presentation of Marx’s view on the centrality of class struggle and the tendency toward concentration of private ownership. The impact of technology and mechanization on workers is a topic from Marx that is also much debated among the general public. Interestingly, Marx insists that as influential as machines are on the work process and working conditions, ultimately, they can never replace human workers as a source of “value” within capitalism (this relates to Marx’s “labor theory of value”). Marx contends that living labor is essential to transform the “means of production” (i.e., machines) into valuable commodities. These are ideas from Capital, which we’ll discuss in our next class.

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