Politics in Minutes (2016)

Class struggle

Central to Marx’s theories of socialism and communism was the concept of tension and conflict between classes, and in his analysis, the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle. His interpretation of the progression of history was based on the dialectic: two contradictory concepts in conflict resulting in a third, new idea.

In the ancient world, Marx argued, the conflict was between masters and slaves, which was resolved by the creation of a feudal system. This in turn produced a class of nobility opposed by a class of serfs, and the conflict between them, with industrialization as its catalyst, created capitalism. Under capitalism the class struggle is between bourgeoisie and proletariat, and Marx proposed that the synthesis of this conflict, communism, can be brought about by working-class realization of their situation. The Communist Manifesto ends with a call for greater class consciousness, and for the proletariat to use the class struggle as a tool for change.