|The Communist Manifesto 1848: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
patriarchal: male leader
antagonism: opposition, conflict, tension
pauper: poor person
Hitherto: up until now
oppress: overpower, abuse
Karl Marx developed many of his theories during the height of the Industrial Revolution, when economic systems and the nature of labor was changing radically. His work was published in 1848 - sometimes dubbed the "Year of Revolution" - which was a time of great social unrest. In this excerpt, Marx outlines the way class struggle has impacted the history of society and the economy. He begins by discussing feudalism, and moves to his views of the industrialization happening in 1848.
The following are key excerpts from the document. Use the quotes to answer the questions.
“The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
“Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat”
… In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed...”
“Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the over-looker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.”
“Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes…. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law.”
“Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”
Please answer these questions in your notebook:
List three things the author said that you think are important.
Why do you think this document was written? What evidence helps you to know why?
According to Marx and Engel, who are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat?
Why is a clash between these two classes inevitable?
What would need to happen in order to avoid this clash between classes?