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The Communist Manifesto vs. Hard Times

Uploaded by Brent R Goodin on May 09, 2004

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, the rift between the rich and the poor became wider and more irreparable. For those trapped in the underclass workforce, life seemed bleak and ridden with poverty give that they had no representation in the political arena and working conditions were perilous. The Industrial Revolution created a society where social classes were sharply schismatic. Charles Dickens under the visage of fiction and Karl Marx via nonfiction critiqued and offered solutions to the adversity that attended this period of industrial development.

Karl Marx:
Karl Marx’s pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto, details the basic objective of Communism whilst simultaneously explicating the theory which buttresses the movement. According to Marx, “all history has been a history of class struggles, of struggles between exploited and exploiting, between dominated and dominating classes as various stages of social development” (472). The relationship between these different classes is normally characterized by the exploitation of the proletariat, the wage laborers, by the bourgeoisie, the boss or the employer. Inevitably, a revolution will springboard from this volatile relationship of overt inequality and subjugation and there will be a reordering of society, a new class will take the place of the bourgeoisie. Such class relations were clearly present during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries and continues to affect our society today under the guise of capitalism, an economic system founded upon private investment and profiteering. For Marx, capitalism is a way of life that is inherently quixotic; stepping on others to achieve personal gain can only leads to acrimony and conflict.

The Industrial Revolution “has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies 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” (475). Not only did industrial development stunt social mobility but it also effaced individualism; hence, it had the net-effect of translating the bond between man and man into a money relation defined by self-interest. Yet, the proletariat make up the majority of the workforce and remain perpetually bound by their lack of privileges; therefore, the aforementioned self-interest that all should be afforded is subject to an entire system driven by their...

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Uploaded by:   Brent R Goodin

Date:   05/09/2004

Category:   European History

Length:   7 pages (1,478 words)

Views:   5411

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