Class struggle and communist manifesto and revolution
Arguably the most influential socialist thinker of the 19th century is Karl Marx. A myriad of his ideas spiraled from his views and repudiation of society. Karl Marx observed carefully at what engendered social conflicts. With this approach he was able to come up with radical ideas and theories to society. The main idea that revolved around Marx’s interpretation of society was the idea of materialism. He believed that certain structures of the world gave rise to the fortunate ones. Marx firmly believed that living in a capitalist state would only be a negative for the workers because of his idea of exploitation. The idea of exploitation brought about the sense of alienation for the workers. Marx concluded that workers were alienated from natural life due to their jobs. According to Marx, all of these inequitable acts towards the labourers would, eventually, lead to a revolution. The intriguing question that we ask ourselves is ”has society evolved or ameliorated since these theories were published by Marx”, one may argue it hasn’t. We still have inequity and discrimination in society today. Its completely repulsive and inhumane to have a child dying every minute from not having the correct nutrients in their system when there’s people like Jeff Bezos with a net worth of 120 billion.
Marx was influenced by Hegel, who was an idealist. Hegel adopted a dialectical view on society in which he believed that the human thought evolves from basic ideas to very complex abstract ideas. Hegel’s ideas were abstract Marx developed his ideas around Hegel’s theory but the main difference was that Marx was a materialist. Marx had developed a theory that social structures and the economy is predominantly influenced by changes in the material conditions such as technology, productions, etc. Marx believed that changes in society were a result of historical developments. This idea relates to modern society more than ever. We live in a society revolved around technology. The production of modern gadgets and technology is eroding social life in every aspect. And the frightening element is that it continues to shape our society everyday in a terrifying manner.
Marx considered the fact that capitalism is alienating. He began to draw up conclusions that work in a capitalist society ultimately resulted in individuals being alienated from certain aspects of human nature. With this approach, Marx identified four types of alienation. Marx argues that workers are alienated from other human beings. He emphasizes the fact that workers must compete with their fellow workers for jobs. Competition between workers results in wages being diminished which, inevitably, benefits the capitalist businesses. This also means workers are alienated from the products of their labour. The products of the worker’s labour will only strengthen the capitalist. Therefore, the workers are both labourers and consumers. This is so because whenever a worker buys commodities from a capitalist business, they are also strengthening it. According to Allen, K. (2017) Marx The Alternative to Capitalism. London: Pluto Express, Marx argued:
The means of production are at once changed into means for absorption of the labour of others. It is now no longer the worker who employs the means of production, but the means of production that employs the labourer.
So whatever way we look at it, the worker is, again, at an disadvantage. The penultimate type of alienation Marx published was the alienation of an individual from their species-essence. The species-essence of someone consist of all of his or her innate potential. However, Marx thought that under a capitalist society, the worker loses the ability to self-develop because he or she is forced to labour. In akin to this, also the final type of alienation, Marx believed that workers are alienated from the act of labour. In a capitalist society, businesses are owned by capitalist. Therefore, it is they who decides what products are made and what the conditions should be like. This often meant that workers would be stuck in jobs that were monotonous, repetitive and dangerous at times.
The question that we ought to contemplate about is if all of this is true then complaints about contemporary labour is not exaggerated by any means. The majority of us live by three life principals: eat, work, sleep. The frightening matter is that capitalism inhibits us from really indulging in our own human nature by alienating us from society altogether. A matter that Marx was able to put in his theory of alienation.
The inequity and injustices of society was a profound incentive for Marx to develop all of these logical ideas. According to Marx, he believed that all of these inequalities would prove to be a significant conflict, of workers against their bosses in particular. This would certainly cause society of self-destruct. With this understanding, Marx and Engels was able to publish the famously known book in 1848: The Communist Manifesto. The book tries to elucidate the goals of Communism. The book is comprised of four chapters. We get a deep insight on the relationship between the proletarians and the bourgeois. Marx illustrious statement in this chapter gives us a meaningful understanding of class struggles. He says:
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another
Furthermore, the chapter lays out the fact that the bourgeois, who are in constant competition with everyone else in terms of private ownership, will forever oppress the proletarians. Marx concludes that the system will always result in class conflict and that it communism should be introduce to abolish private ownership. He assures the proletarians in that the communist party will, by no means, be against them in a series of ten points made by Marx. One of which points out that private ownership will be admonished. Marx makes his intentions lucid in the book. He is convinced that other socialist doctrines are completely inadequate compared to communism.
However it is made clear in the communist manifesto that ”their ends can be attained only by forcible overthrow of all existing conditions”. The manifesto outlines that development is an essential element . It argues that in order to eliminate social classes, a revolution will be needed. This revolution will be quite unique according to the manifesto. When the proletariat finish leading it, social classes will be obliterated and private-ownerships will be eradicated. Marx brilliantly puts this in a statement in chapter four of the communist manifesto. He says:
”Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains”
The most conspicuous conclusion that can be drawn from the book is that it favors the workers completely. Though, how does a book like this relate to our contemporary society. There are a plethora of aspects to look at but the one that strikes me is how authentic and evoking the words are in the manifesto. Modern society relates to it more than ever. We still experience the inequitable of society nowadays with excruciating working hours but little wage or the fact that around 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity. Unfortunately, it seems that the proletariats are still enduring the inequalities of today’s society.
Marx’s viewpoints towards capitalism is perspicuous. His teachings can still be compared to modern day society. The most riveting yet terrifying aspect to his teaching is undoubtedly the comparison one might do between the innumerous injustices around modern society and the injustices back then. Nonetheless, his works has influenced the academia of sociology and will continue to do so. Marx believed that when we reach our find stage of human evolution, humans would no longer be oppressed. This leaves us with the thought-provoking question of when will we reach that point. We’ll we ever reach it or is there such stage in our evolutionary nature. It is a question that we continue, on our quest, to find the answer to.