Karl Marx and Communism - Ms. Carpenter's English Classes

Beliefs expressed in
The Communist Manifesto
 German
political thinker in 19th century.
 Journalist
 Did most of his work in Britain.
 Influenced by German philosopher
 Published Communist Manifesto in 1848
with co-author Frederick Engels.
 Wrote multi-volume Capital (Das Kapital),
starting in 1867.
Marx studied British economic records
for 20 years to develop his theory that
everything is based on the economic
system, including: politics, law, social
structures, family relations,
even religious belief.
history of all hitherto
existing society is the
history of class struggle.”
- Karl Marx
 Communism
- a government where
people shared work fairly and were paid
 The
word “Communism” comes from the
Latin word “Communis” which means
common or belonging to all.
 The
Goal of Communism is to get rid of
social classes and make everything fair
for everyone.
 All societies are divided into two groups
• Owners
• Workers
 Marx said that there were two social
groups that existed:
• The Bourgeois
• The Proletariat
 Our society is capitalist.
• Owners are bourgeoisie
• Workers are proletarians
 Bourgeois: modern
capitalists who own the
means of production and therefore get to
keep all the profits.
• Today, this would include major stockholders in
 Proletarians: modern
wage laborers who sell
their labor to live and don’t get any of the
profits that they help to create.
• This includes everyone who is not a stockholder or
owner of capital, even professionals who work for a
 Owners
exploit workers and live off the
money which the workers earn
 Workers put up with this inequality
• They are oppressed wage slaves and cannot
fight the system
• They are indoctrinated by ideology and religion
into believing what they are told by the
 Marx
believed that in most societies, the
rich get rich, while the poor get poorer.
 ‘The
worker becomes all the poorer the
more wealth he produces, the more his
production increases in power and
range.” – Marx
 Economic
systems go through historic
cycles. Over time, an economic system
becomes rigid and cannot adjust to new
technologies, so a new system emerges,
with new class relations and oppression.
 Someday, a
perfect classless society will
emerge and there will be no further
1. Slave system gave way to feudal
2. Feudal economy broke down with
growth of manufacturing, towns,
navigation & transportation, emergence
of middle class
3. Industrial capitalism emerged, with only
two classes: proletariat and bourgeoisie.
 Destroys
important human values,
replacing even religious belief with
naked exploitation.
 Undermines an individual’s sense of
personal value in one’s work.
 Undermines human relationships; all
relationships are based on cash.
 Destroys human freedom. The only
freedom it protects is free trade.
 Unprecedented
exploration and
technological advancements.
 War less likely.
 Urbanization opens people’s minds to
new ideas.
 Economic production centralized,
leading to favorable conditions for
communism to emerge.
“The bourgeoisie … has created enormous
cities, has greatly increased the urban
population as compared with the rural, and has
thus rescued a considerable part of the
population from the idiocy of rural life…. The
bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one
hundred years, has created more massive and
more colossal productive forces than have all
preceding generations together… railways,
electric telegraphs, clearing of whole
continents for cultivation, canalization of
Capitalism creates huge factories.
Workers become concentrated and
begin to organize for legal reforms
(higher wages/better working
conditions). Their effort fails.
Fierce competition between capitalists
leads to new technologies, which leads to
lower costs.
In the competition, some capitalists go
bankrupt & have to become workers, and
many workers lose their jobs as new
technology replaces them.
(Consider reports that U.S. workers’
productivity is going up. Fewer workers are
making more goods, which means technology
is replacing them.)
 Greater
numbers of people permanently
unemployed. Misery widespread.
 Fewer people can afford the products of
capitalists, so fewer companies survive.
 Class struggle reaches a climax.
 Conditions now ripe for revolution. The
proletariat, having nothing to lose but
their chains, rise up.
 Revolution
will eliminate private
property. No longer will man have the
means of exploiting another man.
 Bourgeoisie will fight, so revolution will
be violent.
 A dictatorship of the proletariat will
follow to weed out remaining capitalist
 In
the end, a classless society with no
more oppression or internal
 People will be free to choose how they
labor, and can be creatively productive.
They will be able to live to their fullest
potential. Consider the description in
Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1845:
 “In
communist society, …nobody has one
exclusive sphere of activity but each can
become accomplished in any branch he
wishes,… to hunt in the morning, fish in
the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening,
criticize after dinner, … without ever
becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman
or critic.”
 www.barrycomp.com/bhs/ppt0904/marx.
 www.nmsu.edu/~govdept/faculty/Baker/...
 jsdlib.jsd.k12.ca.us/schema_files/.../com

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