View of Class Essay

Published: 2020-02-14 16:00:55
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Karl Marxs view of class as exposed in his Communist Manifesto suggests firstly the existence of two distinct classes with irreconcilable differences. These are the proletarian and the bourgeoisie. The proletarian or proletariat was initially a derogatory term used for people who had no other wealth aside from their children. Marxs sociological take on the term refers it to the working class. True to its derogatory origin, the proletariat is the class in society that does not own the means of production (Martin, 1998). In short, they are those who are employed to do work and get paid by salaries.

The bourgeoisie or capitalist is a term to connote the owning class. They are considered the upper class of society who owns the means of production. They are the merchants, landowners, and other capitalists. Marxs theory in class revolves around the interactions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and the inevitable consequences thereof. Marx argued that the bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat. Since the workers do not own any means of production like their own farm or business, they must seek employment from the bourgeoisie in order to survive. They are hired by capitalists to work on making goods or providing services.

These fruits of production then become the property of the capitalist, who sells them and gets a certain amount of money in exchange. Some of the money earned from the selling of the products or services is used to pay the workers wages, while the rest called surplus value is used to pay for other expenses of the capitalist and his profits. This gives the capitalist the ability to earn money out of work done by his employees with very minimal effort on his part (Martin, 1998). Since obviously, new wealth or profit was created through work done by the employees; the capitalist gained wealth or an excess of wealth which he did not work for.

If that happened, then that means that other people, that is the laborers did not receive the full wealth which they should be receiving as just compensation for the work they did. In other words, the workers were exploited by the capitalists. On the other hand, Scott and Leonhardt (2005) argued that society cannot actually have the distinct perception of classes that is proposed in Marxist doctrine. They base this on the fact that people regardless of race or social stature are experiencing luxuries that were not as equally distributed just a few decades ago.

Marxist principle usually claimed that the normal, everyday worker is of an inferior class to the capitalist. This principle was based on external markers that connote poverty in one and wealth in the other. Scott and Leonhardts article makes an attack on the markers of such a principle, arguing that at present, it has become very difficult to know a persons class from the color of his skin or the gods they worship, much less on the clothes they wear or whether theyre employed or are running heir own business.

However, the article itself does not belittle the concept of distinct classes and in fact moves on to argue that class is actually still a very powerful factor in society. What the article simply argues is that this difference in classes can no longer be seen in Marxs idea of proletariat bourgeoisie dynamics but has transferred to other aspects such as meritocracy, where a man who starts out poor can actually strike it rich if he had what it takes. It is my stand to agree with Scott and Leonhardt that the concept of class has shifted into from hereditary wealth to the idea of meritocracy.

On the first level of argumentation, I say that the assumption of untouchability of the upper class no longer applies today, where big companies such as Enron can be brought to its knees by the public and where several big business tycoons such as Bernard Ebbers of Worldcom can actually be put behind bars for a good long time. This means that both worker and capitalist stand on equal footing where the law is concerned which implies that the supposed unfair, overwhelming power that big companies hold over its employees has been reduced to a memory.

On the second level of argumentation, I believe that meritocracy has transcended barriers between countries and provided an avenue by which worth is determined by what a person can do rather than what his heritage is. The first support to this is the advent of public corporations. These entities build an administrative base that is dependent on meritocracy. A public corporation is owned by all the people who invest in it which can be considered as capitalists, but the top notch directors that they hire dont need to be stockholders, nor do these executives get hired because they are relatives of the shareholders.

More so they get hired because their credentials, from educational background to previous work experiences, says that they can get the job done better than anyone who has money in the company, and that if they should be handsomely compensated if they are expected to work for that particular company. The top CEOs incomes usually surpass the lot of a public corporations investors. I disagree with Marxs portrayal of class and class struggle on two levels. The first level is that workers have at present various protections against exploitation by their employers.

Labor unions lobby for progressive compensation based on the companys own profits. This means that laborers today are actually getting their wages based on their companys progress. The more profits they bring in, the better leverage their union has in negotiating wage increases. On the second level, even todays capitalists recognize the importance of obtaining and maintaining an efficient labor force. Corporations consistently compete for worker bases in the country and abroad, trying to outdo each other with better benefits, more convenient working conditions, and higher salaries.

This indicates that the capitalist can no longer be viewed as the laborers enemy. Rather, quality labor itself has become the product of laborers that makes them capitalists in their own right, since the demand for quality labor has become so that capitalists are willing to purchase their labor at their price. In conclusion, class is a concept that has evolved through the years. Situations that may have been applicable during Marxs time may no longer be effectively used to describe what is apparent in todays economic world.

We must reflect on the value of labor today and see our own worth that for us to market, making us all equitably equipped for lifes challenges ahead.


Martin, Malia. (1998). The Communist Manifest of Marx and Engels. New York: Penguin group. Scott, Janny & Leonhardt, David (2005). Shadowy Lines That Still Divide. Retrieved May 6, 2007 from New York Times Website: http://www. nytimes. com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL. html? ex=1273809600&en=2fb756e388191419&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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