The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx is a widely known and influential text that has shaped much of modern history. In it, Marx outlines his view of the struggle between two warring classes in society—the bourgeoisie and the proletariat—and how this conflict will eventually lead to a communist revolution. Here is an overview of these two classes and why they are essential for understanding the Communist Manifesto.
The bourgeoisie is the class of people who own and control capital (i.e., the means of production). According to Marx, this group is characterized by its selfishness and greed, as it seeks to make as much money as possible with no regard for anyone else’s well-being. The bourgeoisie also creates an unequal power dynamic between itself and those it exploits—namely, the proletariat.
The proletariat is made up of people who do not own or control capital but instead must sell their labor in order to survive. This includes factory workers, laborers, peasants, etc. According to Marx, these people are exploited by the bourgeoisie in order to make money and gain power. As such, they are oppressed by their higher-ups and have no real chance to better their situations without a radical change in society’s structure—a change which can only be accomplished through a communist revolution.