The aim of this essay is to argue what Karl Marx meant by his definition of bourgeoisie. In order to do that I would first explain his ideas on capitalism, capital owners and working class generally and then I would analyze in detail his explanation on bourgeoisie. Lastly, I would focus on what he suggests about the future of the society and the class struggle.
Marx explained how the capitalist system works and discussed about it. He believes that capitalism is based on conflicts, since to make its existence; it should do things, which are contradicting its own self-interest. When industrialization occurred, the industrial goods needed to be produced in factories and this caused two different classes to emerge more clearly. The capital owners – or the bourgeoisie, and the workers – or the proletarians. This level of production and the division of labor created a unique class system. Marx suggests that all classes in history progressed as a result of the class struggle; which is to say, the main dynamic behind change is the struggle between two classes that leads to historical social transformation. Marx’s main argument is that the capitalist system is a class-based society. Industrial capital society emerged as a result of a class struggle, and it will and because of the class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletarians.
Marx explains what he means by bourgeoisie in “Manifesto of the Communist Party”. He starts by clarifying how bourgeoisie, as a class, was developed. When modern industry was formed the world market, the fast spreading industry helped bourgeoisie to develop. According to Marx bourgeoisie is the result of a long way development, it I the product of the revolutions in the aspect of product and exchange. It always has an extreme power in politics especially in the executive power in order to keep in control the benefits that help it to survive. “The bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of modern industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political sway” (p. 206). Marx continues by saying that bourgeoisie as a very revolutionary class, has changed the system of the feudal relations into the relation of cash payment. “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom- Free trade” (p. 206). In any society that bourgeoisie enters, regardless of the occupation and profession, people become a wage laborer. They work for someone to get money. In other words, they become paid workers for the labor they do and for the skill they have. Bourgeoisie destroyed the family relations that were based on emotions and formed a new relationship between the members that was based on money. Marx believes that bourgeoisie need to be revolutionary in the instruments of production in order to survive. It changes the instruments of production, which causes a transform in production relations and that affects the social relations. As a result there has to be a consistent change in the society for the bourgeoisie to keep on going. In earlier industrial classes the means of production was not changing, however with bourgeoisie it is in a constant change. “Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones” (p. 207).
In Marx’s opinion, bourgeoisie was in a short time all over because the market they have needed for their products. They were soon spread in many different places and countries to find a market for selling their products and they established connections. Marx also suggests that bourgeoisie is the reason of why there occurred a kind of “cosmopolitan character” in the consumption and production of every country, which bourgeoisie had markets. All the national industries in these countries were having economic problems while international industries were occurring, which were having the raw material from far away countries- probably cheaper than they could have find it in their countries. “They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe” (p. 207). He supports that bourgeoisie is pulling all of the nations into so-called civilization by using all the possibilities it has in its hands. This causes the nations to adopt this civilization so well that they become to the edge losing their own culture. Shortly it creates a world of its own by his image, by his understanding of world. “It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image” (p. 208).
Bourgeoisie got together the population, centralized the means of production and has collected the properties in a few people. That way bourgeoisie was sufficient to maintain the political centralization. As a result of these action states, which were connected to each other loosely with different interests, laws, governments and taxing systems were combined under one government, one system of law, one frontier, one custom tariff and for the benefit of one national class. Ultimately after defining bourgeoisie Marx suggests that the end of bourgeoisie will be in the hands of the proletarians, which is a class created by bourgeoisie. While bourgeoisie continues to develop proletarians do so because the only way they continue to work is depending on the new capitals. “In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed – a class of laborers, who live only so long as their labor increases capital” (p. 211). Marx criticizes that the modern industry caused the small workshop of the patriarchal master to change into the big factory of the capital owner and the workers who work in these factories are becoming more like slaves while days are passing. He points out that while these workers are working like slaves the capital owner doesn’t care about how old they are and if they are female or male. However, Marx says that once this system emerges it becomes impossible to keep yourself away from it. As a worker what you earn from work as a wage is “eaten” by other capital owners like the landlord, the shopkeeper etc. In other he says that bourgeoisie is not limited with the factory owners. Bourgeoisie, for him, is anybody who abuses the labor of the working class. “No sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc” (p. 212). Marx explains the conflict in capitalism as follows; the workers in this system are used as slaves, however to make the workers continue their slavish jobs without complaining about it, capital owners have to fulfill some of their needs. At that point Marx argues that bourgeoisie no longer fits to be the ruling class because he gives so many possibilities to his slaves to continue doing their slavery, since he cannot let them disappear because of his need for them. As a result he feeds the working class even though the contrary should have happened. “And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him” (p. 217).
To sum up, Marx finds the solution to the capitalist system as the transformation of it to communism because of the class struggle. The transformation of capitalism to communism will be the result of the infinite struggle of working class. He argues that communism requires from working class to come to realization of his own individuality. In order for this to happen workers have to assert themselves as individuals and abolish the conditions of their own existence and overthrow the state. If these conditions will happen a communist society will be a stateless, classless society. Communism will be a system of “pure individuality”. There will be no conflict and no struggle anymore. Capitalism has to change and he says that proletarians will be the group to change this system.