Study Guide

The Communist Manifesto Society and Class

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Society and Class

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx argues that struggle between and among economic classes is the fundamental factor explaining our lives and the history of society. Um, okay, but what is class, exactly, anyway? And what is different about the rich (the bourgeoisie), the poor workforce (the proletariat), and those in between? What is the solution to ending class struggle? Marx thought the answer was revolution led by the proletariat, and his words inspired massive changes in certain parts of the world. Yet the problem of class struggle has never gone away.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. How does the work of the proletariat and the work of the bourgeoisie differ? Compare and contrast, for example, the jobs of day laborers and investment bankers.
  2. Many people in the United States don't know how much money others make. According to this article, the top 1% average more than half a million dollars per year in income, and the middle class is made up of those who make about $50,000 a year. Are you surprised?
  3. Marx talks about (Section1.43) members of the upper class who intentionally leave it and join the proletariat. What might motivate people to do this? Consider what role religious or political beliefs might play, or simply different ideas about how someone should best spend his or her own time. Are there good reasons not to try to climb the income ladder?

Chew on This

What defines our individual lives most is our economic class.

Our economic class doesn't primarily define our lives.

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