Will the Proletariat Ever Take Over?
In The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx says:
Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industry army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.
As you can see in the cartoon above, the working class, also known as the Proletariat, have become slaves to the captains of industry. It seems that the bourgeoisie have gotten rid of their sentimental veil and have become money-hungry beasts, treating the workers as appendages of their machines rather than human beings. Many workers, especially in factories, work in conditions that should not be tolerated under any circumstances. They are forced to work long hours, receive less than minimum wage, and work in unhealthy environments. However, how much is enough? When will this mistreatment of the Proletariat come to an end?
…with the development of industry the proletariat not only increase in numbers; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength…The workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois.
[The bourgeoisie] furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting [them]…[they] also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress…
It is a matter of time until the working class gains more power. It definitely is necessary to have leaders who can lead the masses and oversee industries, but the inequality between the classes should slowly begin to disappear. The proletariat are no longer weak, but have in fact gained significant power throughout the years, especially with the formation of unions, which have forced the bourgeoisie to listen to them. In addition, due to the competitive and selfish nature of the bourgeoisie, some of them are constantly being forced into the proletariat, providing the working class with members that have necessary inside knowledge to cripple the bourgeoisie.
Furthermore, the existence of the bourgeoisie society could be in crisis. Considering the immensity of today’s industrial world, overproduction could become a major problem, providing the proletariat with an opportunity to take over. Marx says that if such a thing was to happen:
Society [would] suddenly find itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed…Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce…[and it would] endanger the existence of bourgeois property.
The proletariat are a result of this fear. However, they are the weapon that will bring down the bourgeoisie. In order to avoid overproduction, consumption needs to take place, and the only way for that to happen is if people have money. Additionally, in order to have capital to spend people need to work, placing the bourgeoisie into an endless cycle and making them dependent on the working class, bestowing a power in them that they can never take away.
While the gap between the rich and the poor has been widening throughout the years, I believe, like I said before, that the working class will eventually gain enough power to narrow the difference between the classes. The fact that most of the United States’ wealth is controlled by about 1% of the population seems unfair, especially considering it’s the proletariat that do most of the hard work. Will this wealth ever be distributed among the masses? Will our nation go from being a bourgeoisie State to one run by the working people? Only time will tell.