Elizabeth Huynh – Aparicio Period 2 Honorbound
History has been defined in many ways. However, Karl Marx states in the Communist Manifesto that “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 needed, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” This quote refers to how there are always two conflicting classes that will contradict each other until the fight results in the destruction of either or both classes1. However, in each example Marx uses, whether it is the freeman and slave or the guild-master and journeyman, how are they standing in constant opposition of each other when both parties actually rely on each other to survive and be successful?2 In addition, how does this relate to the modern day?
Marx implies that each class will always be in constant opposition, but in reality, the two classes have to work symbiotically in order to survive. For example, the freeman and the slave: the plantation master owns the slave and forces him to do his bidding. One would state that the plantation master is the oppressor whom the slaves strive to be free and independent from, but others would beg to differ and argue that the two positions actually rely on each other to live. The master needs his slave to pick the cotton in the fields to be sold as a crop, which in turn will be used to supply food and shelter for himself and the slave. Therefore, the slave relies on his master to be able to provide sustenance to survive. The two need each other to be able to function in their society.
Respectively, in modern day society, the United States specifically, there are two superpower groups that dominate the United States government: the Republicans and the Democrats. Each party has its own beliefs; beliefs that create the divide between parties. However, these two opposing parties actually have to cooperate to make the United States economy function. There are three branches of government, each work with each other in a set of checks and balances so that one branch does not take full control of the government and turn democracy into tyranny. Because there are both parties within the House of Representatives and the Senate, they both need to collaborate and work together to get the simple majority needed to pass bills and laws. If the parties refused to corroborate, standstills occur and the government may shut down. Because of that necessary majority, discussions over bills leave room for debate and compromises. Within each election, there is a constant battle to win majority in the Senate and the House. More often than not, there is a change in policies that occurs every time the opposing party takes control of the government.
In the Communist Manifesto, history is the repeating pattern of class struggle where one class would overthrow the reigning party. Marx refers to the bourgeoisie and the proletariats, who were the two conflicting classes at the time. He describes how the bourgeoisie, the class for the elite, were essentially aiding in the destruction of the class by doing what they needed to be successful at that time, eventually leading to the rise of the proletariats.1 Within each era, history repeats itself as classes are overthrown and replaced through rebellion, commonly resulting in bloodshed or violence. Several economists have analyzed Marx’s Communist Manifesto, and the author of “Marx’s Manifesto: 150 Years of Evil” David Horowitz confirms that “the solution to all fundamental social problems… lies in a conflict that will rip society apart and create a new revolutionary world from its ruins.”3 So if the current political parties are participating in Marx’s idea of history, does that mean that the Republican and Democratic parties will eventually destroy the United States and its society?
In any type of class war-fare, there is always the elitist group and the party of the common people. Does this exist in the United States government? Indeed it does. The Republican Party is often portrayed as “elitists” or “kingmakers,” the total opposite of the Democratic Party, who look out for those in need.4 It is very difficult to have a third “in between” party because any intermediate party will eventually have similar policies as one of the parties and become part of one of the bigger parties. Case in point, the Tea Party is an example in which a party becomes a part of one of the two parties, in this example, they became known as the extremists of the Republican Party/ Aside from the third party talk, there are the elitist conservatives and the common party liberals. So far, the setup is quite familiar, isn’t it? It sounds like the bourgeoisie and proletariats. Check that off of the list for Marx’s idea of history. Step two; the Democrats need to “overthrow” the Republicans, just like the proletariats and the bourgeoisie. In order to do so, the Democratic Party needs to win the majority in both houses as well as the Executive Office. That means that they need an overwhelming amount of people to participate in the elections. Empty or big promises about equality for all or adequate care provided by the government could then be introduced as motivations to vote blue. The more dependent the citizens become on the government, the more power the government has to control society. In the end, if the Democratic Party can destroy the Republican Party and make it so that they will be only party remaining, then phase two of Marx’s plan is completed.
But even if the Democrats never stop the Republican Party, will United States government take a leap towards communism? Indeed it will. Power is weighed in how dependent the citizens are on the government. If each person could take care of himself then there would be little reason to have a large government with power to help out. That being said, the government also relies on its citizens. The government itself does not make money; instead, they take taxes and divide it among the citizens in programs such as healthcare, food stamps, and much more. As they develop more and more programs for the citizens to rely on, the government must tax its people more heavily to fund these programs, thereby becoming a “big government”5 Time goes on, and soon society is completely different than it was before. Because of the high taxing, the upper class begins to fade, blending in to the middle class, and the lower class, which was dependent on the government, has also been raised up in status. Everything begins to balance out, and the government changes from capitalism to something else. Let’s see, what was it? Oh yeah, socialism. To go even further, as the giverning body decides to make society a little more even by only allowing government given necessities or no freedom of religion, what does that equal to? Communism: that’s 3-0 for Marx.
If these calculations are correct, will this be how the United States government will turn out? If so, what will happen afterwards? Will the history that Karl Marx had described in the Communist Manifesto come to and finally come to an end? Based on Marx’s implications, the answer is yes. As each class is overthrown and replaced with another, so history continues, so how do you stop one class from overthrowing another class? Simple, have no classes at all. Make everyone the same – become a communist country. That way, there will be no conflict, and history will cease to exist. So says the Communist Manifesto, but what is stopping a third party from entering and perpetuating history as it is? No one can predict the future, but by calculating the paths we are currently taking, these futures just may become inevitable.
- Marx, Karl The Communist Manifesto (Ursuline Academy: Mr. Aparicio, 2014)
- Horowitz, David “Nature and Goals of Communism / Socialism” Discover the Networks, 2014, www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=285
- O’Brien, Cortney. “Schlafly: Don’t Let Republican Elitists Nominate Someone Like Jeb Bush.” Townhall.com, 2014, townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2014/11/13/schlafly-dont-let-republican-elitists-nominate-someone-like-jeb-bush-n1917721
- Anonymous, “Big Government” Dictionary.com, 2014, dictionary.reference.com/browse/big+government
- “Big Government.” Dictionary.com. Accessed December 9, 2014.
- “Nature and Goals of Communism / Socialism.” Discover the Networks. Accessed December 9, 2014.
- Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, and Frederic L. Bender. The Communist Manifesto: annotated text. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988.
- O’Brien, Cortney. “Schlafly: Don’t Let Republican Elitists Nominate Someone Like Jeb Bush.” Townhall. November 13, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.