- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

Why Does Marx's Social Theory Place So Much Emphasis on Class Conflict and Economic Processes?

Essay by   •  December 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,408 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,676 Views

Essay Preview: Why Does Marx's Social Theory Place So Much Emphasis on Class Conflict and Economic Processes?

Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

Karl Marx is a German philosopher and is one of the main philosophical, sociological and economic personalities of modern times. He is described as a "social scientist, a historian and a revolutionary" (Tom Bottomore, 1991) and was without a doubt one of the most influential socialist thinkers. He examined the history of the various modes of production and predicted the collapse of capitalism and its replacement by communism. He started his education as a law student and therefore in his early work he was concerned more about philosophy, law and politics while in his later work he placed more emphasis on political economy and political strategy.

During his life, Marx was travelling around European countries. He came across different cultures, political struggles and economic structures. All these inspired him to force his own social theory, where historical change is explained by stressing the dynamic of material production and economic processes, together with class struggle and conflict. The work of Marx was influenced by three contrasting intellectual sources: German philosophy, French politics and English economics. According to Hughes, Sharrock and Martin in the Understanding Classical Sociology (1995) his main aim behind his work was to help people regain control of their lives by providing a comprehensive understanding of the nature of capitalism.

The way means of production are organized, helped Marx to identify the stages in historical development. In a society, the labour of its population is the most significant mean of production. Some societies are organized on the principle of slavery and some others are organized under a feudal regime. For Marx, the latest stage in the development of human societies was capitalism which replaced feudalism. Marx's explanation of the transition from feudalism to capitalism was based on the increase of the manufacturing sector in European towns and the improvements in agriculture. As a result of the great amounts of capital needed to compete in agriculture, many labourers become unemployed as they removed from the land and replaced by the new machines.

Furthermore in the year 1848, after the Communist League asked Engels and Marx to write a workers' charter, "The Communist Manifesto" was published and it "had an enormous impact on the workers' movement throughout Europe" (K.Morrison, 2006). Marx proclaims in the opening section of "The Communist Manifesto" (1848) that the history of all the hitherto existing societies is the history of class conflict. Moreover with capitalism replacing feudalism means of production were unequally distributed and this eventually led to political and class relations of inequality and conflict. (Marx, Engels, 1848). The main concern of Marx was the class struggle in capitalists' societies.

With his research, Marx found out that "Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great classes directly facing each other: Proletariat and Bourgeoisie" (Marx, Engels, 1888). Proletariat is the working class that owns nothing except its labour power. So it is forced to sell this power in order to meet basic needs of survival and in that way wages are received as an exchange. On the other hand we have the other class, Bourgeoisie. The Bourgeoisie is therefore the economically dominant class that controls apparatus and offer survival to Proletariats through wages. Through meeting Engels in Paris, Marx was able to learn of the miserable conditions suffered by the Proletariat in Manchester, as illustrate in the book "The condition of the working Class in England" (Engels, 1982). According to Marx's believes, a new classless society should be formed and this should be done by the removal of the Bourgeoisie. Proletariats had to fight hard in order to remove Bourgeoisie, so that a new restricted society could be formed which will give freedom to them. The political incentive for the creation of a revolutionary proletariat is a clear example why a big amount of Marx's social theory concentrates on class conflict.

Capitalism prepared the way for social collaboration and planning in economic life by the continuous development of the factors of production and by the promotion of the division of labour. The capitalist system was operated for private profit despite the increasing social character of production. Wealth was concentrated in the hands of capitalists while its producers (the



Download as:   txt (8.7 Kb)   pdf (109.7 Kb)   docx (11.9 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on