The Legacy of Karl Marx, One of the Most Influential Socialists
Karl Marx was a German sociologist, socialist revolutionary, philosopher, historian, economist, political theorist and journalist whose critical theories about society, economics and political holds that societies develop through class struggle. Marx has several publications in both sociology and economics and even political matters. His best work is the Communist Manifesto which is concerned with the nature of society and politics. He stated that communism is already acknowledged by all Europeans powers to be itself a power and also the communists to openly publish their views and aims, so as to meet the spectra of communism. Bourgeois and proletarians shed light upon the materialist conception of history, that is, the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.
Through history, we see the oppressor and the oppressed in constant opposition to each other. In this case, class conflicts rise because of contradictions between the material interests of the oppressed and exploited proletariats; a working class who depend on wages laborers so as to produce good and services, and the bourgeoisie who were the ruling class that owns the means of production. The fights between the two either ends in a revolutionizing reconstruction of the society or in the common ruin of the contending classes. Marx argued that we can find complicated arrangement of society in various order from early epochs of history, which is a manifold gradation of social rank. For instance, in ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
The modern bourgeois started from the ruins of Feudal society and it maintained the class antagonisms from Feudal society. It only develops a new type of class with new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old one, and Marx called it a simplified class of antagonism. Bourgeoisie started in the earliest towns and with time gain popularity and momentum through Age of Exploration. The discovery of America opened up fresh grounds for exchange and trade. This means that the guilds were unable to provide for increasing markets and this is what lead to Industrial Revolution. The guild who were the masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; and it caused division of labour between the different corporate guilds. In the process the manufacture was replaced by modern industry and the industrial middle classed replaced by industrial millionaires; the modern bourgeois.
The bourgeois had an upper hand and the process 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 remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, then callous “cash payment”. Marx explained that Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist, and the process masses of laborers crowded into the factory and are organized like soldieries. They become the slaves of the bourgeois class and also of the bourgeois state, that is, they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the over looker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.
The bourgeois remained the powerful class in the society through constant revolutionizing production and they constantly exploit the proletariat for its labor power, and in the process creating profit for themselves and in the process accumulate capital. The proletariats were the modern working class, a class of laborers who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so as their labor increases capital. According to Marx proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual laborer, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them.
The increase in number of proletariats make their strength grow and, in the process, lead to reduced wages in all stages. He states that the growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. Also, increasing improvement of machinery, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Consequently, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois. The proletariats club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts, and in the process the contest breaks out into riots
On the second part about Proletarians and the Communists, Marx notes that the communists will not form a separate party to oppose other working-class parties but they will express the general will and defend the common interests of the world’s proletariats as a whole. According to Marx the communists are the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country. They also have the great mass of proletariat, the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general suits of the proletarian movement.
He explained further that the communists also had a common aim as all other proletarian parties that were the formation of the proletariat into a class, to overthrow the bourgeois supremacy and conquest political power by the proletariats. They also set short-term demands such as progressive income tax, free public education, abolition of inheritance and private properties, nationalization of the means of transport and communication, abolition of child labor, expansion of publicly owned land, among many other. They did all this because they believed it will result to a stateless and classless society. They had the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquired property as the fruit of a man’s own labor and in this sense, the theory of the communists may be summed up in a single sentence; Abolition of private property. Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the produce of society, but only deprive him of the power to subjugate labor of others by means of such appropriations.
Marx in the third section of the communist manifesto ‘Socialist and Communist Literature’ tries to distinguish communist from other socialist doctrines. They are grouped as Reactionary Socialism; Bourgeois Socialism or Conservative, Utopian Socialism and the Communism. All of them have a different approach toward rival but with the same goal or aim of advocating reformism. For example, the communists in France ally with social democrats against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, and in Switzerland they supported the radicals, without losing sight of the fact that the parties consist of antagonistic elements. In Poland, they supported the party that insists of an agrarian revolution as the prime condition for national emancipation. They never cease to instill into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat in Germany. From all these movements they bring to the front the property questions no matter what its degree of development at the time.
Most of the 20th and 21st century writers believed that Karl Marx work on Communist Manifesto is the most influential text ever written in the nineteenth century and it has reached most corners of the earth. Despite all these good deeds, there were still revisionist who criticized Marx theory. There was a critic that say that the work was immature because Marx and Engels wrote it in their youth ages. His work was later accepted and it was considered that socialism could be achieved through peaceful means, that is, through legislative reform in democratic societies. There was also a criticism that states that homogeneous and massive working class as shown in Communist Manifesto is not possible and does not existed and on contrary proletarian majority emerging, the middle class was growing under capitalism and not disappearing as suggested by Marx. This means that the working class was heterogeneous and not homogeneous as claimed by Marx, and it was composed of divisions and factions within it.
Our society should change the way we associate with different working-classes in the society as we shift to communism era. This can only be achieved by alliance with the democratic socialists, boldly supporting other communists’ revelations and calling for the united international proletarian actions. Also, this can happen when the working-class take away the power of the bourgeoisie who own the means of production and establish worker control of the mean of production.
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