The communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels highlights a constant and inevitable conflict between the proletariat (working class) and the Bourgeoisie (owners of production). The bourgeoisie gained influence and power from an increase in globalisation and trade which enabled them to gradually remove power from the ruling class. By doing this they did not abolish the class system but simplified it into the two classes – Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie.
This is the argument which Marxists use against capitalism, that is does not offer opportunity or prosperity to all but has simply been the transition from one master (the feudal system) to another (capitalism). As the markets continued to expand division of labour became apparent in order to meet these rising demands. According to Marx the conflict was first between the Bourgeoisie and their “Natural superiors” which they replaced with ‘Naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation’ (Marx, 1848).
In the text Marx makes several other specific points:
Removal of influence of the church
Reduced family values
Expansion globally bringing civilisation and trade to other nations
Urban population greatly increases, centralising production
Exploitation of the working class
Fall of the bourgeois at the hands of the modern working class as they begin to feel their strength and form trades’ unions
The theme of conflict is prevalent throughout this text, this is supported by Durkheim, 1902 who states “the law of the strongest prevails… the state of war is necessarily chronic.” This is shown through the constant shift in power which Marx has stated, first with the feudal system then with bourgeois and then finally power to the working class.
Marx’s main argument is based around the assumption that the bourgeois’ power is retained by owning production, however in modern society different schemes and initiatives which empower the working class and allow them to start and run their own businesses thus creating competition. Another assumption which is not addressed by Marx is the different types of industry, the owners of production only covers material commodities and does not account for the service industry which in the UK made up nearly 80% of the economy in 2013 according to EconomyWatch.
The prediction that it is inevitable for the modern working class to overthrow capitalism is deterministic and ethnocentric as this ‘revolution’ has happened in only a few regions which in turn have since; collapsed (Soviet Union), reverted to capitalism (China) or are struggling to sustain themselves economically