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PHL317Marx and Marxism - Essay Example

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PHL317Marx and Marxism

Marx and Engels underline a leading role of the working class supposing that popular revolution could overthrow the repressive oligarchies of wealth and did not set them apart from the principles of democracy but, on the contrary, placed them squarely in the mainstream of the mid- nineteenth-century democratic tradition. "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority in the interest of the immense majority." Thus they could make the equation that "to win the battle of democracy" would be the same thing as "to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class." A "democratic constitution" would produce the "rule of the proletariat" (Marx and Engels 2006). Thus Communist Manifesto could assert even more plainly in a contemporaneous article that "a necessary consequence of democracy in all civilized countries is the political rule of the proletariat" (Marx and Engels 2006). Marx and Engels did indeed mistake the birth pangs of industrialism for the death throes of capitalism (Selsam and Martel 43).
What is important for is that political strategy rested upon these expectations--however fanciful--of a geometrically multiplying proletariat and an impending economic cataclysm. First, the Manifesto asserted, when free competition is viewed as a process over time, the inevitable result is a concentration of ownership, with the less efficient enterprises going bankrupt or bought up by the more efficient. This law of concentration applies not only to industry but also to agriculture and distributive enterprises. Thus the manifold gradations of preindustrial society give way to a great gray mass of almost undifferentiated wage earners. This tendency of capitalism to replace skilled by unskilled labor is scarcely mentioned by Marx's followers nowadays-for obvious reasons--yet it clearly belonged to the original prognosis. These events lead to dissatisfaction of the working class and force them to oppose the regime. In this case, it becomes the first way of revolution and further class struggle (Szporluk 84).
The idea that the working class leads the revolution is based on the concept of majority rule. Marx conceived that each successive class was "called to rule" and to emancipate mankind in some degree. During each period of emancipation, history awarded majority support, as it were, to this ruling class, because the masses would perceive the leadership of the chosen group genuinely to advance the interests of the whole society. So it had been in proper bourgeois revolutions, when the masses had provided the muscle for the bourgeoisie in its struggle to break out from the fetters of feudalism. So it would be again when the proletariat was called upon to play its ultimate emancipatory role, but not, perhaps, before the compass needle of universal suffrage registered "various deviations" (Szporluk 89). Among these, Marx also seemed to anticipate that the successful creation of a republic would dissolve the tripartite class alliance, leaving the more radical proletarian minority at first in opposition to a "pale" democratic government representing the petty-bourgeois and peasant majority. He implied as much when differentiating himself politically from one of the leading "petty-bourgeois" democrats" The Communist Manifesto states: "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the ...Show more


In Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels declare a leading role of the working class in bourgeoisie revolution and reconstruction of society. In part that faith undoubtedly rested on the still-hypothetical assumption that the masses, given the opportunity, would vote the way Marx and Engels expected…
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PHL317Marx and Marxism essay example
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