The Class Division

When viewed from a capitalistic perspective, the class division based on the differences between people who control the factors of production (the bourgeoisie) and those who provide labor (the proletariats) still exists in the modern world. Marxist theory on the history of class struggles highlights these differences. The paper provides a detailed explanation of Marxist theory, proves that the class division still exists in the current society, and discusses and rebuts criticisms of the abovementioned view.

Marxist Theory of Class Struggle Between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat

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According to Karl Marx, societies have always been categorized into classes. He concentrates on the economic perspective and argues that the capitalist nature of the economy led to the formation of classes. According to him, the economic means of production determine these classes. The classes are divisible into three levels.

The bourgeoisie capitalists belong to the first level of classification. They own and control the means of production (Butler & Watt, 2006). The bourgeoisie do not mind exploiting others if that would lead to an increase of their profits. The petty bourgeoisie belong to the second class. They own a small percentage of the means of production. According to Marx, this class is usually assumed to no longer exist as the bourgeoisie eliminated it. Their disappearance was caused by the bourgeoisie acquiring more capital (Allan, 2005). With more capital, demand for labor increases. It, in turn, means that the bourgeoisie get fewer surplus profits as most of the profit is used to pay the increasing labor force. With the decline in profits, the bourgeoisie reduce production, hence causing an economic crisis. As a result, workers lose jobs and small businesses belonging to the petty bourgeoisie are forced to close down. The bourgeoisie then buy the businesses belonging to the petty bourgeoisie, forcing the latter to become part of the proletariat.

The proletariat, or the working class, belong to the third level of classification. They do not own or control any means of production. Instead, they provide labor to the bourgeoisie (Gilbert, 2014). As the bourgeoisie own the means of production, they acquire power and form the ruling class in a capitalist society. They are, therefore, able to control the proletariat. In addition, they use their wealth and power to protect their properties. Thus, the bourgeoisie mercilessly exploit the proletariat in the process of creating wealth for themselves.

According to Marx, capitalism will cause the destruction of a capitalist society because the class divide ultimately leads to a social revolution.  As the bourgeoisie’s wealth depends on the labor of the proletariat, the working class has the real power (Allan, 2005). The proletariat have also increased in number as the petty bourgeoisie joined them.  Due to the exploitation by the bourgeoisie, the proletariat may decide to unions to fight against the dominance of the bourgeoisie. During a social revolution, the capitalist state will be replaced by a classless state that believes in the idea of categorizing people according to their abilities and not according to the means of production.

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The Class Division in the Current Workplace and Society

As capitalism still exists in the world, class divisions and struggles subsist. The bourgeoisie are still present in the workplace and the society. They control big corporations in the US and the world. In the US, the capitalist class comprises 5 percent of the population (Gilbert, 2012, p. 252). In addition, persons who receive high income, for example, judges and CEOs, or own shares in big corporations also belong to this class. The people in this class have the power to control the governments that they finance. An example of the modern day members of the bourgeoisie is the Rockefeller family. It is also known to finance several political agendas and, therefore, has the power to influence the U.S. government (Gilbert, 2014).

The working class also exists in the current society. The majority of employees belong to this class. They provide labor in order to earn resources to survive. The class struggle between these two categories is evident. The proletariat make profit for the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, in their turn, pay the proletariat for their work, but employees receive much less in terms of resources than they have produced. As a result, the proletariat have gained social consciousness and discovered that the bourgeois depend on them to create wealth. It has given them a sense of power and has consequently led to workers initiating strikes at workplaces to demand an increase in wages and better working conditions. At the same time, the bourgeoisie use their wealth to control the government and advance the policies that are beneficial to them. The proletariat, tired of being unfairly treated by the bourgeoisie, have on several occasions revolted. The 2011 Egyptian revolution and the 2011 English riots are vivid examples of the struggle between classes in the modern world (Gilbert, 2014). In both cases, people were revolting against unemployment and low wages perpetrated by the bourgeoisie.

Criticisms

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The viewpoint expressed above has not recognized that the modern society is more complex than just a mere classification of the society into the bourgeoisie and proletariat. There are also the petty bourgeoisie, who do not exist according to Karl Marx. However, this class is present in the modern society, especially in the workplace. The people who belong to this class do not depend on the labor provided by the proletariat. They rely on their own labor (Butler & Watt, 2006). Examples of those individuals include professionals, like doctors and lawyers, who do not control the primary means of production. In addition, it is not right to assume that the workers fight with capitalism when they strike for an increase in wages and better working conditions. Sometimes, they just fight for economism because they want to survive in the world of inflation and the rising standards of living.

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