Study Guide

The Communist Manifesto Power

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When one group of people has power over another group of people, some pretty ugly things can happen. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx sees history in terms of exploitation—it's all about the bourgeoisie using their power to exploit the proletariat. That results in class struggle, the battle between and among the lower, middle, and upper classes. But what is the way to solve this problem? Well, Marx totally thought the proletariat should revolt—and violently, if necessary.

Questions About Power

  1. Marx sees the few profiting from the many as exploitation. But many proponents of capitalism, such as Ayn Rand, see the employer-employee relationship as an equal partnership, where one trades labor and the other trades money (and training, health benefits, etc.) back, with no harm necessarily implied. Who is right? Is it possible for a trade economy to avoid exploitation?
  2. Marx seems to believe that if the proletarians were in power, they would be able to use that power wisely to abolish economic classes altogether. Has that been historically the case? Think of Josef Stalin, for example. Is that what Marx had in mind?

Chew on This

If the proletarians were in power, that power would corrupt them.

If the proletarians were in power, that power would liberate them.

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