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Manifesto+NotesSp09 - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels The...

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Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto Basic assertion of historical materialism: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle,” (9). The bourgeois epoch has simplified class antagonism by largely dividing society into two camps – the proletariat (workers) and the owners of capital. The bourgeoisie has also accelerated the system of production and vastly expanded the market, “Meantime the markets kept growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, modern industry, the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires – the leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeoisie,” (10). The bourgeoisie played the role of revolutionaries in history, and, “has at last, since the establishment of modern industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie,” (11). Having achieved supremacy, Marx argues that the bourgeoisie turned all human social, political and cultural relations into the commodity relation of exchange, and now defines all worth through exchange value. Free Trade is thus rendered the only freedom, “In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation,” (11). Rendering oppression transparent is a big part of the reason Marx thinks a proletarian revolution could smash oppressive class relations for all time. The bourgeoisie needs to constantly revolutionize commodities and the means of production to continue to profit, “Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones…All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind,” (12).
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