Rady- The Bourgeoisie

The Bourgeoisie

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx was a political pamphlet published in the unstable years of 1848-1849. During this time, societies throughout Europe were attempting to replace aristocratic and authoritarian governments with a more democratic government. The Industrial Revolution had introduced some amazing advances in many areas including production, transportation, and communication. However, these advancements also created terrible working conditions for the working class. As a result, a movement to push back against this exploitation emerged. Marx argued that the key to understanding how societies operate is the concept of class struggle. In this class struggle, which we can see repeated throughout history, a stronger more powerful minority oppresses a weaker group. Marx writes, “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” (The Communist Manifesto) so the only way we will truly understand history is through understanding the struggles between classes. According to Marx, the oppressed would respond by pushing back and rising up against their oppressors.

According to Marx a “class” is a social relationship rather than a societal rank or position. Although Marx discusses class a lot in The Communist Manifesto, he never clearly defines class to a singular definition. Marx’s Class Theory centers around the belief that a capitalist system creates an antagonistic relationship between two main classes: the bourgeoisie-the capitalists and the proletariat-the larger class of workers. One of the key players in the class conflict, the bourgeoisie, were the owners of the means of production such as factories and machinery and whose source of income was profits Marx describes the bourgeoisie as the oppressive class. “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.” (The Communist Manifesto).

Marx states that classes share common interests and that these interests are in direct opposition of the other classes. For the bourgeoisie, according to Marx, their interests were centered around exploiting the proletariat and the opposing interests of the proteleiarts would be to overthrow the bouregeosise. Throughout history much of the conflict between classes was once hidden. The conflict between the modern bourgeoisie and the proletariat are in plain sight mainly because of self-interest. The bourgeoisie was interested in profits and controlling the means of production. In order to make the largest profits possible they desired from the laborers the most work possible for the lowest wages possible. This type of relationship is obviously unfair and exploitative. The bourgeoisie paid the laborers less than they deserved, made them work long hours in poor conditions and kept the profit for themselves. Since they paid laborers less money than the goods were worth, surplus value was created. This conflict of material interest in Marx’s theory would set up an inevitable revolut from proletarians. 

Those with the most economic power control social institutions and have great political power. This is true of the bourgeoisie according to the Communist Manifesto. According to Marx, the bourgeoisie held all the power and this included power on the political front. Marx believed that the state 100% served the Bourgeoisie’s interests- which again were wealth and controlling the means of production. Marx states, “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, 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.”  (The Communist Manifesto). Again, the bourgeoisie’s interests were self-serving. By securing power and having the state serve them, the bourgeoisie would be sure to use the surplus value of labor to increase their capital. They would also be able to exclude the other classes from having ownership of property. By maintaining the ownership of property and capital they would continue to have all the power and control. It did not matter that in order to maintain control the bourgeoisie would be subjecting the working class to horrible conditions and robbing them of the opportunity to gain wealth and ownership for themselves from their hard labor. 

In conclusion, Marx argued that the key to understanding how societies operate is the concept of class struggle. The bourgeoisie were one of the main players in the class conflict. According to Marx, under capitalism the oppressive bourgeoisie exploited the proletariats and wealth and the fruits of labor fell solely into the hands of the bourgeoisie class, robbing the proletariat from what they deserved. The bourgeoisie’s political and material interests were self-serving. They wanted money and power and would exploit others to gain both. Although Marx does believe that the bourgeoisie has contributed to society in some ways, he believes that their oppressive behavior and self-interest centered approach would eventually lead to their downfall. Marx argued that these class conflicts have appeared consistently throughout history during times of social revolution. He states, “The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”  (The Communist Manifesto)

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