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Class struggle

Class struggle is class conflict looked at from a Marxist perspective. In Marxist theory, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle", Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto, 1848.

It should be noted that Marx's notion of class has nothing to do with heredity caste. Nor is it exactly social class as we might otherwise understand it ie. upper, middle and lower.

In an age of capitalism, it is economic class. And membership of a class is defined by relations to the means of production. Marx talks mainly about two classes :

What Marx points out is that members of each class have common interests with each other, but interests which lead to conflict with members of the other class.

An example of this would be a factory producing a commodity, let's say a factory that manufactures widgets. Some of the money gotten from selling widgets will be spent on things like raw materials (constant capital) in order to build more widgets. Once this is done, there is a pile of money left over to be divided up amongst the workers and the capitalists. It would be in the workers interest to have as much of that money as possible go to them, and as little as possible to the capitalist. It would be in the capitalists interests to have as much of that money go to them, and as little as possible go to the workers.

Marx felt that this was an irreconcible conflict that would last as long as capitalism. And he thought it would inevitably cause an extreme polarization of the classes, leading eventually the revolution that would destroy capitalism itself.

In practice things are more complex. There are other economic classes :

Marx noted that other classes existed, but said that as time (and capitalism) moved forward, other classes would disappear, and things would become stratified between until only two classes remained, which would become more and more polarized as time went on. Other classes are:

People who do not believe in Marx's predictions think we will continue to have relationships between multiple classes in capitalism forever.

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