“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” This is the first line in infamous The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engel’s. This one line summarizes the direct motivation for why they formed the Communist party. They have observed how clashes between various social and economic classes have always occurred and continue to happen. Marx and Engel felt that society is in an endless loop of the haves and have-nots, they decided the only way to heal the ailments of exploitation in society is to do away with private property. Marx and Engle’s believe that private ownership property is ownership of capital. If a person owns the capital, then they have the power to exploit laborers. While I understand Marx and Engle’s perspective about private property, I don’t believe that the abolition of private property will solve the problem of exploitation. This paper will explore Marx and Engle’s arguments about how to create a more just society via way of communism. I do agree that those who own the means of production do have a history of exploiting laborers to maximize profit, but I believe the solution to this problem shouldn’t be to take away private property and make everyone have a more equal social and economic standing. I will argue against Marx and Engle’s and say that to create a more just society the focus should not be on equality it, but instead, it should be on equity.
To understand to know how Marx and Engle’s ideas may affect society, we must first explore and understand their primary goal: Abolition of private property. To abolish something, you are putting a complete end to a system. The word private means that all decisions concerning a person, place or thing are controlled by a singular person or group. Property means possessions or belongings. The argument in the Communist Manifesto is to abolish private property. They believe that problem with private ownership is that it raised social standings and created a means of economic wealth. If you own private property, which can also be referred to as the means of production, then you have the power generate capital. The factory owners, are an example of private property owners, forced people to work long hours in unsafe conditions and who hired child labor and paid their workers next to nothing. In doing so private property owners were able to maximize profits. They also were able to keep wage-laborers under their control because the laborers were unable to achieve any social or economic advancement with the wages that they received. This is where Marx and Engle’s get the idea that if the works unite and overthrow owner’s private property, then societal exploitation will cease to exist.
While Marx and Engle’s believe they that abolishing private property is crucial in a communist society, the men also go on to describe the individual identities that the ‘bourgeois,’ as well as members of the communist party, will no longer have. They say that “The abolition of the bourgeois is individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubted aimed at. By freedom is meant under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying” (Communist Manifesto, 24-25). They want to remove the economic freedom that bourgeois has because that is how they exploit the wage-labor and in a communist society. They even call for, “Abolition of the family” (Communist Manifesto, 26). Marx and Engle’s argue that basis on which ‘family’ stands is all a way to keep wealth within one class and keep others disadvantaged. They also go on to say that are, “desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The working men have no country” (28). There are nationalistic divides between the people of the communist party because their one identity is as workers. Marx and Engle’s want remove all characteristics that the bourgeois or “owners” influence modern society.
After taking into account the various arguments made in the Communist Manifesto, I hold my position that these ideas will not bring about a more just society. The first problem I believe is the idea of ‘just.’ What does it mean to be ‘just’? We sometimes use fair interchangeably with just and because we do that, therein lies the problem. Marx and Engle’s are looking to create a decent society where there will be no exploitation of workers. In their minds, a fair society, equal society, is a just society. Also, we must ask the question that if every person in society has to agree that it is just for it to be a just society? One of the members of the working class may feel that a just society provides justice for the years of exploitation that he may have faced. He may feel as that reparation is owed to him and his family. I believe that just society is an equitable society. Equality is about ensuring that every person is given the same thing versus equity which is about providing what is necessary to promote fair opportunity and access to success. To rephrase, I don’t think Marx and Engle’s Communist Manifesto would have created a just society because, in my opinion, the society they envisioned was not an equitable one.
My first reason for believing that this society would have been unjust or inequitable is because they mostly ignore fundamental divides between people. There is an expectation that people will rally together over one common thread. There are racial, cultural and, ethnic divides that exist within society. Removing nationalities, like Marx and Engle’s propose, won’t resolve deep-rooted tensions that groups may have with one another. Also, Marx and Engle’s seem to believe that the working classes desire to fight back supersedes the importance of their claim to familial structures, national identity, and religious beliefs. People, throughout history, have fought extremely hard for threats against these aspects of their identity. I believe it’s a little naïve to believe that people are willing to break from everything they know to adapt many of the ideologies outlined. Marx and Engle’s mention, they are in favor of “Abolition of all right of inheritance” (Communist Manifesto, 30). I disagree with this point because although this is the way for the rich to keep wealth within the families. I also do recognize that if we can create a way for the working class of people to compound wealth throughout generations, then there would be a possibility for social and economic mobility. Instead of abolishing the system as they suggest, finding there was a way to create compounded wealth throughout generations is an equitable solution.
The Communist Manifest fails to explore the dynamics of humanity, so many of the ideas suggested, therefore, are idealistic. In Marx and Engle’s society, there is, “Equal obligation of all to work” (Communist Manifesto, 30). On the surface, this statement seems fair and “just.” Collective participation. What if there are people within a society some do highly skilled, intellectual work while other perform tasks which require a lower skill, but physical work? Will a clash not occur between the two because they each may feel that are contributing more to society than the other? There is another assumption that is made in the Communist Manifesto. There is an assumption that people would like live contently with all their needs met. There is no credence given to those who would like to be business owners, make a profit and have leisure and luxury. There is an assumption that if bourgeoisie is taken down, then it gone forever and nobody would ever think of aspiring to replace them. The capitalist system in Europe wasn’t implemented, it was formed over time. People strived for affluence. This strive resulted in some people receiving the short end of the stick. Overhauling the system and suppressing others from trying to attain wealth, is another reason why the society that Marx and Engle envision is utopia. It is the place where everybody works and contributes without complaint and is happy and content with their position. In reality, people have ambitions and goals. There are problems with the capitalist economy and society in the way it exploits people but it easy for oppressed to become the oppressor.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were correcting in assuming that that unfair working conditions and the wealth gap are society problem. Their methods on what their society should like are flawed because it creates a forced upon sharing does account for human ambition and motivation. The problem with the system that Marx and Engel’s were attempting to break away from was it lack a way for social mobility. Throughout history, we have seen a few examples of ‘communism,’ each of them considered to be a failure. Although they aren’t valid examples of Marx and Engle’s communism, it does provide a basis and reference to see how little economic activity and prosperity is. This lack of success occurs because there is lack of job and industry growth as well as isolation from other large non-communist societies. There is a lesson from the Manifesto, one of them being that class struggle is something that has been happening forever under all economic systems. No matter how any society aims to fix the problems that exist they must first question, what does their ideal society look like? Is this vision for society beneficial to all? Would everyone have equal chance to prosper and compete? Will the system develop enforce uniformity over unity? It is important to note that equality is not equity and there needs to be an analysis of what needs a society has. A just society can be created if the community, all levels, and classes, can come to some consensus or majority ruling on makes a nation strong and what will make them prosperous.
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