Is There a Modern Bourgeoisie and Proletariat in America?

Gracie Motta – Period 6

The idea that hard work can lead to success is usually considered a lie. In America, this is reality. Today, people make minimum wage which is barely enough to support one person, let alone a whole family. Most people are blind to the fact that there is still a bourgeoisie and a proletariat here in America as described by Karl Marx in his Manifesto of the Communist Party. In American society, taxes and technology are two important factors that contribute to the large divide between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat classes today.

From the past to the present, there has always been a great divide between the rich and the poor, but I believe that Karl Marx’s definitions of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat classes still apply today. Marx defines the bourgeoisie as “the leaders of the whole industrial armies”[1] who create social production and employ laborers, a very similar definition of the rich today. He also defines the proletariats as “a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work,”[2] like the modern working class.

In America, our working class continues to shrink from year to year. The top 10 percent of Americans constantly pay increasing amounts of taxes meaning they continue to make more money. “The top 10 percent of income earners paid 68 percent of all federal income taxes in 2011, though they earned 45 percent of all income. The bottom 50 percent paid 3 percent of income taxes, but earned 12 percent of income.”[3] The bottom 50 percent usually are positioned below the poverty line or slightly above, making their contribution virtually nonexistent. As this continues, the rich want to increase profits by looking to foreign suppliers in order to keep prices high. This leads to an increasing spread between classes, causing more of a divide. The rich today continue to see the working class as Marx says, “A mere money relation.”[4]

As technology continues to grow, the rich take advantage of every chance they can get in order to improve their businesses. This makes the working class less important causing them to have less bargaining power to earn higher wages. A CEO will always choose a cheap machine that works 100 percent of the time at maximum efficiency and never needs breaks over a worker who is not exactly the most efficient and needs breaks. “The human body is only 20% efficient,”[5] so if our efficiency correlates with production, workers competing with machines for a job will most likely lose. However, Marx does believe that advancement of industry is necessary for the long run; the reason that previous attempts failed at communism, besides not being Marx’s communism, is that they did not have a growing industry to sustain a whole country.

It can be seen that taxes and technology are two of many factors that widen the gap between the rich and the working class. Higher taxes cause the rich to earn higher income which leaves the workers’ contribution to be basically nonexistent. On the other hand, technology allows the rich to be more efficient while leaving the working class with fewer opportunities to find a job.

[1] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (Offenbach: Verl. Olga Benario und Herbert Baum, 1997), 2.

[2] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (Offenbach: Verl. Olga Benario und Herbert Baum, 1997), 5.

[3] Curtis Dubay, “How Much Do the Top 1 Percent Pay of All Taxes?,” The Daily Signal. April 14, 2015. Accessed April 30, 2017. http://dailysignal.com/2015/04/15/how-much-do-the-top-1-percent-pay-of-all-taxes.

[4] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (Offenbach: Verl. Olga Benario und Herbert Baum, 1997), 3.

[5] “Muscle.” Wikipedia. April 26, 2017. Accessed April 30, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle.

Image Citation: “Communism, Marxism, Leninism and Maoism : A short Introduction.” Simply Decoded : Making sense out of chaos!!. Accessed May 01, 2017. http://www.simplydecoded.com/2014/03/25/communism-marxism-leninism-maoism-short-introduction/.

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