Hallock- Communist Manifesto

In Karl Marx’s “Comunist Manifesto”, Marx outlines his view of French society declaring four prominent social classes: the Bourgeoisie, the Petty Bourgeoisie, the Proletariat, and the Peasants. Marx believed that throughout history society has always fallen into classes, and subsequently these classes have fallen into roles of the oppressor and the oppressed. In Marx’s philosophy, diminishing classes all together would be a resolution to this on-going cycle of inter-class oppression. In context, Marx was writing his philosophies in light of Industrialization, therefore French society and the different social classes were heavily affected by new industries. The Bourgeoisie were upper/ middle class individuals in control of the industries and production – thriving off of capitalism. As a whole, the Bourgeoisie group used the extent of their social and economic power to suppress the Proletariat group which was primarily made up of minimum wage workers. The sharp contrast between the Bourgeoisie with their economic control and the Proletariat class scraping by on their wages further fueled Marx’s theory of class oppression within society. Additionally, the two other social classes Marx divides society into are the Petty Bourgeoisie and Peasants. The Petty Bourgeoisie consists of small business owners and landlords, while the Peasants continue to live rural peasantry lifestyles, separated from the newly industrialized society. In both “The Communist Manifesto” and “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” by Karl Marx, these four social classes are discussed and built upon consistently.

In general, the Bourgeoisie class allows its political loyalties to be determined by their economic / material interests. That being said, they will support whichever political figure or group that will help them preserve the control they hold over production. Their power to control wages, institutions, the flow of the economy, and workers is the most valuable aspect to base their decisions off of. The malliability of the groups political loyalties is not individual to the Bourgeousie party, and Marx outlines this aspect of the different classes in “The 18th Brumaire”. He writes, “The bourgeoisie republicans no sooner believe themselves well established than they shake off the troublesome comrade and support themselves on the shoulders of the party of Order. The party of Order hunches its shoulders, lets the bourgeoisie republicans tumble and throws itself on the shoulders of aermed force.” (The 18th Brumaire, 42) Here, Marx is showing how easily the different subcategories of the bourgeoisie will switch their loyalties to preserve their material interests. In this case, the Party of Order’s material interests would be the protection of either land or industry while preserving monarchy. In contrast, the bourgeoisie republicans material interests would be the protection of industry and capitalism, but in unison with a pure republic rather than monarchy. 

When examining Marx’s view of the Bourgeoisie class, there are three main subcategories that he discusses. Each subcategory belongs to the Bourgeoisie as a whole, but are separated based on differences in their material and political interests. The first subcategory are the “Pure Republicans”, who wanted a republic for France similar to the modern day political structure consisting of a presidential like figure, national assembly, and overall balance of powers. From a material interest stance, the pure republicans wished to have free reign of capitalism. The second and third subcategories belong to the “Party of Order”, which consisted of individuals who wanted France to return to some form of Monarchical rule. The second subcategory, the Legitimists, wanted France to return rule to the Bourbon dynasty and its successors. Marx writes, “One section of it, the large landowners, had ruled during the restoration and was accordingly Legitimist.” (The 18th Brumaire, 36) The legitimists’ material interests were associated with land- as they benefited from income off of land such as agricultural income. The third subcategory, the Orleanists, wanted France to return to the rule of Louis Phillipe and his successors. Marx writes, “The other, the aristocrats of finance and big industrialists, had ruled during the July Monarchy and was consequently Orleanist. (The 18th Brumaire, 36) The Orleanist’s material interests tied to Industrialization and trade, as their income primarily benefited from the newly industrialized society. Regardless of these 3 subcategories, Marx views that the Bourgeoisie as a whole was oppressive and controlling in nature, and noted that they primarily cared about preserving this power dynamic. Marx writes, “Bourgeois republic signifies the unlimited despotism of one class over the other classes.” (The 18th Brumaire, 24). Here, Marx references the oppressive nature of the Bourgeoisie class over the Proletariat, a common idea built upon in “The Communist Manifesto.” 

As a whole, across Marx’s writings, his view of the bourgeoisie as the oppressive class in France over the proletariat is apparent.


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