Karl Marx has been one of the most definitive political thinkers of modern time. Marx and Engels have not only created a dynamic and alternative political ideology but also a way of life through the Communist system. Communism views our world differently. It disregards the concepts and roles of certain social institutions and merely labeling them as tools of enslavement by the capitalist regime.
The family, once viewed as a sacred institution, now only serves merely as a capitalist mechanism. The nation-state, the stronghold of civilization, is perceived as obsolete whose ends are merely to uphold capitalist principles. Finally, private property that men covet for personal wealth and enrichment are viewed as a scourge to the cause of the masses.
The Communist Manifesto presents an alternate view of reality that is interesting to say the least and provocative to those who are enticed by its ideological perspectives.
Karl Marx and the End of the Bourgeois
Karl Marx has not only defined international politics in many ways but has also changed the international political landscape. With the introduction of the communist political system came the different systems of political ideology that helped define the century. The communist manifesto is the handbook of the communist political system. Written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, it describes the stratified society brought about by commerce, industry, and trade.
The social dichotomy among the haves and have-nots are clearly presented in the manifesto. The Bourgeois, mercantilists who dabble in business and trade have become the new oppressors of the proletarian class, the humble workers who toil in the factories and shops. Though throughout time, clear social lines have been present between the oppressors and the oppressed.
History is defined by the struggle of the classes; these events in the past were mostly products of social upheavals and revolts against the ruling class. One example is the French Revolution, wherein the oppressed peasants rose up and fought against the tyranny of Chateau Marseilles. The opulence of the French Aristocrats paved the way for the peasants to contemplate about their current situation and the oppression against them.
In modern times, things might have changed. Technologies and industries have progressed and man has learned more about himself but the situation remains the same. According to Marx, the rise of the new world and the modern society became an enabler for the rising Bourgeois class. With new markets to conquer and new lands to discover came new opportunities for business to flourish.
Marx describe the era of the Bourgeois as one of immeasurable development. Even the environment has been transformed to make way for the factories, shipyards, and the unquenchable thirst that capitalistic development requires. It has in so many ways changed how we live, how things work, and the socio-economic landscape in general. Capitalism and the Bourgeois ushered in an era of affluence and excess but at the same time of extreme poverty and hardships for the proletarian class.
The desire for profit driven by greed fuels not only the desire for more wealth but the oppression of the working class. With such capitalist principles, social norms have also changed. Marx said “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.” describing how capitalism changed the human experience in general. From production through manual labor and the feudal systems, the industrial age brought about the mass production of commodities. The manufacturing line, manned by the workers creates millions of products for maximum profit.
The capitalist phenomenon, according to him, has changed even the basic unit of society, the family. A family is one of the most important and vital units of society. It defines what becomes of the nation, from the home comes the future leaders of nations. The roots of the populace come from the family and this dictates not only the future political systems of the state but also the socio-economic conditions. This is where the state is defined. But due to the capitalist phenomenon, according to Marx, the family has now been transformed into something else. From originally being a “sentimental veil” where family remembers draw support from one another in an environment of care and concern it has, according to him become a mere “money relation”.
Marx’s view on family seems a bit radical demanding that it be abolished in favor of communal relations. According to him, the bourgeois family has become a mere tool for capitalist cause. Even the husband and wife relationship has succumbed to the causes of the capitalist system. He believes that the wife is a mere mean of production utilized by the husband for the perpetuation of the system. It might seem a bit disheartening to view familial relations as a mean for the capitalist system to exist. But in the proletarian class, family is also viewed just the same. Marx stating that the children just like their parents will become “instruments of labor”.
Marxist ideologies demand the extreme for the return of society to the proletarian through disenfranchising the capitalists. The Communist Manifesto describes the relationship between the two classes as abusive. Material wealth is viewed with such contempt as it further alienates the proletarian. Private property is clearly seen as an enabler and proponent of the capitalist system. It serves as a tool of oppression against the working class. It is utilized not only as a mode of production but at the same time create wealth for the bourgeois that creates a bigger divide between the two classes.
Communism calls for the abolition of private property proposing a system of communal ownership of land. The abolition of private bourgeois property would allow the proletarian more freedom, as the chains of capitalistic oppression do not bind them anymore. According to him “Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor.” After all, when all is said and done, capitalism is greatly concerned with maximum profits for the least amount of cost often times at the expense of the workers’ rights and compensation.
If such means of production are abolished or become communal property then social oppression, social stratification and class struggle would cease to exist. Marx believes that given the inequality caused by private property, abolishing it will contribute to the eventual demise of the capitalist system. The capitalist system that has become the mainstream socio-economic ideology that he believes is corrupting the social structure as well as creating a world of inequality and poverty. The mega cities, centers for urban development define the social lines. One can see the affluence of the capitalists living in rich neighborhoods while the working class lives in cramped spaces often sharing living spaces with other families. Not only has capitalism transformed our ideas but has also changed how we live and where we live.
Another radical view that Marx advocates is the eradication of states. He believes that the government and the state in general is an enabler of the capitalist class. The capitalist class, most often than not, are also the ones seating in power. Marx states that the proletarian has no country because they themselves are the country in whom political supremacy will be built upon. This ideology of self-empowerment and political independence resonates greatly with the ideas of the communist systems. Without the presence of states, the working class would have political power, which, according to Marx, is necessary for the realization of the communist state.
Capitalism and government share one principle and that is the subjugation of the working class. Government is used to keep the working class in order and in line as to cater to the needs of the capitalist class. The governmental systems inculcated within the frameworks of states provide a protectionist stance for commerce and big industries. These industries provide jobs for the masses and at the same time generate money for the government. This cycle of finance and investments perpetuates the system of capitalism and production.
The more industries come to the cities and states, the more money government has to pump into their different policies and projects. So, in the end, both the government and the capitalists work hand in hand to promote investments in industry and trade. The more money government has the more funds it will have to allocate for more developmental projects, which, in the long run, prove to be beneficial to the cause of the Capitalist class.
Another interesting point raised by Marx and Engels in the manifesto is the probability of nations turning against nations in the capitalist economic system. Much like what is happening today wherein there is discord in the world order. These problems most often than not is caused by fundamentally economic reasons like the scarcity of resources as well as political and economic supremacy.
The jobs generated from such investments create livelihood for citizens. More often than not these jobs only provide unjust compensation for the working class because the bulk of the profits go directly to the capitalist corporate owners and government through the taxation system. In Marx’s world, the social order of the past and the conventions that we have been used to have vanished into thin air. Religion and government are mere tools for capitalist ends. In Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy
of Right, Marx even describes that organized religion serves as”opium for the masses” that with religion comes uniformity and the further enslavement of the working classes. It serves as a pillar of hope that serves as a balm to calm the agitation and sentiments of the masses. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx paints a different perspective of our world. Though it seems a bit outlandish for mainstream conventions perhaps there are certain points we can consider (2005).
It is true that private property has become a dividing force in our world today. Poverty has become an issue that we have tried to solve. Yet, despite of the noblest intentions it is a problem none of us have solved. For example, someone who is wealthy by common standards acquire more wealth, the resources that were taken away means more to the masses. When a person, a capitalist, takes some resources, that person takes not only from one poor person but perhaps a lot more.
Marx believes that private property is a source of oppression and it must be made obsolete. By accumulating more wealth, not only does it destroy the environment but also takes the resources that the majority of the poor needs. He vividly describes the purpose of private property in the capitalist system, stating: “But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.” (2005). It has become a mechanism that creates more capital for the present economic system. Capital not only creates personal power but socio-economic power as well. It allows for even more investments into the free market economy.
The family in his view has also become a tool for production and in the end a tool for oppression. The state whose primary purpose is to protect its citizens now seem as if it too persecutes them. In his world, nothing is as perfect as it seems and struggles among classes play an important role in the transformation of our world.
Based on his beliefs, the ruling class oppresses the workers. The family, government, and property are seen differently compared to the mainstream idea. He states that through the mastery of the Bourgeois, social units and social roles that were clearly defined before have changed into mere modes of production. Though it is up to us whether to crucify his thoughts and principles or take something from it to enrich us and provide an alternate perspective of reality.
Marx, K. (2005). Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy
of Right. Retrieved 21 May 2008, from
Marx, K. (2005). Estranged Labour. Retrieved 21 May 2008, from
Marx, K., ; Engels, F. (2005). The Communist Manifesto.
Retrieved 21 May 2008, from http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/61