Marx and Class Conflict

948 WordsApr 14, 20134 Pages
It is important to recognize that Marx viewed the structure of society in relation to its major classes, and the struggle between them as the engine of change in this structure. His was no equilibrium or consensus theory. Conflict was not deviational within society 's structure, nor were classes functional elements maintaining the system. The structure itself was a derivative of and ingredient in the struggle of classes. His was a conflict view of modem (nineteenth century) society. The key to understanding Marx is his class definition.1 A class is defined by the ownership of property. Such ownership vests a person with the power to exclude others from the property and to use it for personal purposes. In relation to property there are…show more content…
Classes are authority relationships based on property ownership. A class defines groupings of individuals with shared life situations, thus interests. Classes are naturally antagonistic by virtue of their interests. Imminent within modern society is the growth of two antagonistic classes and their struggle, which eventually absorbs all social relations. Political organization and Power is an instrumentality of class struggle, and reigning ideas are its reflection. Structural change is a consequence of the class struggle. Marx 's emphasis on class conflict as constituting the dynamics of social change, his awareness that change was not random but the outcome of a conflict of interests, and his view of social relations as based on power were contributions of the first magnitude. However, time and history have invalidated many of his assumptions and predictions. Capitalist ownership and control of production have been separated. Joint stock companies forming most of the industrial sector are now almost wholly operated by non-capital-owning managers. Workers have not grown homogeneous but are divided and subdivided into different skill groups. Class stability has been undercut by the development of a large middle class and considerable social mobility. Rather than increasing extremes of wealth and poverty, there has been a social leveling and an increasing emphasis on social justice. And finally, bourgeois political power has
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