Class struggles: Will they ever be eliminated?

Eva Kadane- Honorbound

Karl Marx’s theory that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” rings true not only in the past bourgeoisie and proletariat society, but also in modern society, as seen through the modern working class and political language. In The Communist Manifesto, he stated that the bourgeoisie and proletariat were simplified class antagonisms and that they replaced old social ranks such as freeman and slave. The working class, or the proletariat, “club together in order to keep up the rate of wages,” while the bourgeoisie, the owners, exploits workers and “has converted—physician, lawyer, and priest, into paid wage laborers.” In class, we attempted to solve the bourgeoisie and the proletariat conflict by eliminating the barrier between them. But then who was the worker and who was the owner? Without someone to oversee the workers, how would anything get done? If everyone was in the bourgeoisie, then who would work? The class struggle was inevitable. Consequently, Karl Marx considered this class struggle to be the struggle to end all struggles. Today, the proletariat has been transformed into a new type of working class, but Marx’s theory of class struggles has continued to exist; that there will always be some form of a working class and some form of a business owner class that oversees them.

Today,  the working class is more diverse and inclusive of women. There has also been a rise in inequality in accordance with productivity. According to a graph on taken from the Economic Policy Institute, “this diverse working class has ‘been receiving wages that fall far short of increases in productivity for more than three decades.’”[1] The cumulative percent change since 1979 for productivity has risen from 1980 to 2010 by 62.7%, while it has only risen for white women by 30.2%, for white men by -3.1%, for black women by 12.8%, and so on. In addition, political language has changed as well. “Our political language has served to ignore the working-class status of most so-called middle-class Americans and, as a result, confined the working-class (workers without a college education)…to a relatively small segment of the population. The working-class has come to be the working-poor and the middle-class as something else.”[2] These points are extremely large, seeing as eighty percent of Americans are members of the working-class, even though “Social surveys downplay or deny the existence of a large and increasingly distressed American working-class.” In an article by David Ruccio,  the author asks, “What kind of language are we going to use to characterize the not-working-class, the class that lives off the surplus produced by the working-class?”[3] (Currently they are the upper class/1 percent/). He furthers this, saying, “Clearly, we need a term that describes…a place in relation to that of the working-class, giving us a pair of positions that define the central relationship within the current economic system”, which will help our society correctly identify classes. Lastly, he points out, “That’s one of the reasons the presidential race right now is so close. Trump leads among white registered voters without a college degree, a significant portion of the working-class.”[4] While the specifics of class struggles today are slightly different from Karl Marx’s time, the main principle of class struggle still remains true today.

[1] “Economic Policy Institute.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed December 05, 2016. http://www.epi.org/.

[2] @RealWorldEcon. “Class Struggles in America (6 Graphs).” Real-World Economics Review Blog. July 28, 2016. Accessed November 21, 2016. https://rwer.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/class-struggles-in-america-6-graphs/.

[3] @RealWorldEcon.

[4] @RealWorldEcon.

Image citation: “From Karl Marx to Karl Rove: “Class Warfare” in American Politics | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective.” From Karl Marx to Karl Rove: “Class Warfare” in American Politics | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective. Accessed December 05, 2016. http://origins.osu.edu/article/karl-marx-karl-rove-class-warfare-american-politics.

 

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