One basic tenet Karl Marx’s defines in his famous Manifesto of the Communist Party is the distinguishing characteristics of two opposing social classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie also known as the “capitalist” are the ones who own the means of production. Because of their wealth, they also have the power to control pretty much everything. The proletariat known as the “workers” do not own nor have any control of the means of production but earn money from the bourgeoisie by providing their labor for very little money. How is the proletariat held in subjugation?
Well the bourgeoisie has ownership of the mean of production, class consciousness because the proletariats worked too hard that they had no social relationship with each other and religion. The proletariats used religion to more or less forget their problems. When it comes to the value of commodities, Marx introduced three evaluating commodities: use, exchange, and surplus value. The use value is a direct relationship between you and a product. For example, a cup holds water so you can have a drink. The exchange value is anything that has a direct value and can be exchanged for other commodities.
For example, diamonds have very little usefulness but have a high value in trade for other commodities. The surplus value is the total cost of a manufacture product minus what it costs to produce it. For example, a company makes a car for five thousand dollars but sells it for twenty thousand even though it only cost them five thousand to make it When it comes to use value of labor, exchange value of labor, and surplus value it helps us understand the exploitative nature of capitalism because you can reduce the cost of production by reducing the proletariat pay, increase the speed that the proletariat produce, or cut their hours and benefits.
Basically all these things are manipulated by the bourgeoisie. Karl Marx believed that there are five aspects of proletariats alienation that occur in a capitalist society. The product of labor, the work process, co-workers, species-potential, and themselves are the five specific aspects of alienation that occur in a capitalist society. When it comes to the product of labor the worker is alienated from the object he produces because it is bought, owned and disposed of by someone else, the capitalist. In all societies people use their creative abilities to produce items which they use to exchange or sell.
Marx believes that under capitalism this becomes an alienated activity because the worker can’t use the things that he produces to engage in further productive activity. The work process is the second factor of alienation which Marx describes. Marx identified this as a lack of control over the process of production. He is basically saying that this lack of control over the work process transforms our capacity to work creatively into the opposite and the worker in turn experiences activity as passivity.
The worker now sees his actions as independent of himself and does not believe that these actions belong to him anymore. Alienation from co-works is the third factor of alienation that Marx describes. Due to objectification, the proletariats become so estranged from each other that it does not allow them to have any social relationship while working together which creates alienation. The worker is alienated from his potential. Since there is no incentive for the worker to work hard, his full potential will never be reached.
If the worker is producing labor with no net gains for himself then there is no need for him to work up to his potential and the final aspect is themselves. By working so many hours they lose track of time and forget about themselves. Marx talks about class consciousness. Class consciousness is where a person is aware of his/her class position in the society and I believe during this time the proletariats were not class consciousness because they were too involved in working long hours and had no time for social relationships with their co-workers.
If there is no social relationship with other co-workers then how do they know where they stand in the society? However, they eventually become class consciousness because of the proletariat revolution. With the proletariat revolution, the workers were starting to see how much they had in common, found out they had many shared interests, and worked together to created associations. In conclusion, Marx helps me understand that the world is corrupted and everything can be manipulated. The bourgeoisies are the ones who are home owners and have more personal income and run pretty much everything whereas he proletariats are poor and have nothing besides a job working for very little money. If we did not have any class consciousness I believe the bourgeoisies would keep taking advantage of the proletariats and if we were alienated today from the products of labor or work process we would probably have the same attitude by not showing any pride in our work. At least today we do see the end product and we could be proud on what we made. In today’s world, I do believe though the bourgeoisies are still getting richer and the proletariats are still getting poorer.