Why did Karl Marx regard the working class to be the only revolutionary class under capitalism? By Kevin O' Connor
"Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!"- Communist Manifesto Chapter 4 (Ref. 1)
In the communist manifesto, Marx divides society into two main classes, the bourgeoisie, who are the owners of the means of production and employers of wage labourers, and the wage labourers themselves, the proletariat working class. The bourgeoisie, he claims, by their very capitalist nature, exploit the proletariat workers by unfairly controlling the wealth and means of production, thus forcing the proletarians to sell their only real asset, their labour in order to survive. Marx then goes on to argue that the proletarians must revolt against the capitalist society that treats them so unjustly in order to equally distribute the wealth and power. He reinforces this by saying, "Not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons-the modern working class-the proletarians." (Ref. 2) and "Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product."(Ref 3) These statements would indicate that Marx regarded the proletarians to be the only revolutionary class under capitalism. But why does Marx regard them in this way?
The bourgeoisie, as Marx has described them are not revolutionary simply because it is in their best interest for things to remain as they are. For the workers, both socially and geographically divided; a gap that is constantly fluctuating in modern times, to compete for smaller and smaller wages that are losing their...
References: 1. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch04.htm
3. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm - a2
(All above sites are merely online reproductions of The Communist Manifesto.)
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