It was just that which Marx sought to do: end social and economic injustice. Writing at the outset of industrial society, his theories addressed the control of wealth and capital by the few at the expense of the many. Central to his various theses regarding the history (and future) of human social development were the concepts of class and capital. It was Thomas Hobbes who claimed that man exists in a state of nature epitomized by ‘War of every one against every one’1 (Hobbes 2201, p. 100). Marx in his own right approached the history of man in a civilized state as a similarly bellicose one. Only for Marx, the violence was not of one man against another, as was the case with Hobbes, but rather one of whole classes fighting against one another in a struggle which defined human history itself.
The history of all hitherto existing society 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 reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. (Marx 1997, p. 219)
Along with class stood Marx’s formulation of capital. According to him, the breakdown of modern society was not terribly complicated. There were those who had capital and those that did not. ‘The circulation of money, as capital is, on the contrary, an end in itself...The circulation of capital has no limits. Thus the conscious representative of this movement, the possessor of money, becomes a capitalist’ (Marx 1952, p. 72). The capitalists controlled the means of production. The working classes were merely ‘cogs in the machine’. The struggle of the capitalists and the proletariat drew all other remaining classes