Karl Marx is one of the most reputed philosophers of the 19th Century. Born in 1818 in a middle class family, Marx studied law in Bonn and Berlin and later plunged deeper into the ideas of Hegel and Feurbach (Wheen, 2007). It is after receiving his doctorate in philosophy in 1841 from the University of Jena that he moved with his family to Paris where he became a radical revolutionary communist and teamed up with Friedrich Engels, another radical philosopher of his time. They collectively authored the pamphlet “The Communist Manifesto” which was later published in 1848. In this pamphlet, Marx passionately asserted that all human history was dominated by class struggles. Furthermore, he predicted that they would culminate into the fall of capitalism and rise of communism (Wheen, 2007).
Karl Marx later moved to London in 1849 where he broke his political and religious isolation to author Das Kapital, sometimes referred to as the “Bible of the working class” (Wheen, 2007). In this book, Marx developed very philosophical ideas related to the crises of the working class and the implicit struggles between laborers and owners of industries. The works and ideas of Karl Marx in his book Das Kapital were later edited by Engels after his death in 1833 in London (Wheen, 2007). The ideas of Karl Marx established a school of thought known as Marxism, or what later came to be popularly known as the Marxist doctrine. His writings consummated the main ideological currents of 19th century. These included the classical English political economy, French socialism and the French revolutionary doctrines of the time.
Marx, throughout his writing, had envisaged a social revolution that would see the fall of capitalism and the rise of socialism as a dominant ideology. These predictions later became evident after the death of Karl Marx in what was considered to be a process of socialization of labor. Wheen (2007) contends that this transformation would be possible to accomplish by the proletariat in sustained struggles with the bourgeoisie. This led to the development of ideas evident in Marxism and the conflict theory that form the bedrock of Marx’s works.
Karl Marx’s Conflict Theory. Conflict theory is a Marxist perspective and conceptualization of the way in which society is structured. This perspective depicts society as characteristically dominated by conflicts (Collins & Sanderson, 2008). Conflict is the determinant of how resources are allocated and who benefits the most from such allocations. Power is also acquired through conflict, and once such power is acquired, it is used to dominate the less-powerful and to benefit a few people. Collins and Sanderson (2008) cited that the basic form of interaction in the human society is not consensus but competition, which culminates into persistent conflicts. Each party or individual competes against perceived rivals with the goal of gaining advantage and dominating the other.
The theory presented by Karl Marx underscores the fact that conflict, and not consensus, dominates designed mechanisms through different classes in the stratified society, interacts and relates to each other (Collins & Sanderson, 2008). The rich and the powerful use conflict to threaten their poor subjects and to maintain the status-quo. The poor on the other hand, organize and use conflicts to push for a revolution that will overthrow the powerful that are enjoying the privileges of capitalist structures. These tensions are thus sustained by the need of each group to have its interests dominate the structures and operations of the society.
Karl Marx contends that the society is stratified into two main social groups. These are the proletariat and the bourgeoisies. The conflict between these two large social groups results in what Marx considered as revolutionary change. The probable source of conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisies are the desire of the proletariat to have ownership of means of...
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