The current paper aims to analyze the Karl Marx’s suggestion that capitalism could not exist without taking advantage of the middle class. The thesis of the paper is that it is possible for the middle class to coexist with capitalism. It is important to note that Karl Marx did not divide society into the three classes. His basic idea was that there are only two basic classes, which are usually in opposition to each other. In conditions of capitalism, the two classes are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Karl Marx highlighted that the representatives of the bourgeoisie own the means of production (Roberts 28-29). At the same time, the representatives of the proletariat are used to become wage earners in order to survive. This distribution of the common good looks unfair. In such a situation, Karl Marx supported the proletariat and proposed to build the ideal society without the owners of the means of production. The political system of the Soviet Union functioned in accordance with the idea that it is crucial to avoid the formation of the bourgeoisie and give all the means of production to the proletariat.
The revolutionary slogans by Karl Marx were based on the assumption that the middle class is doomed to be destroyed due to the power of the large capitalists. It means that the formation of the middle class is impossible because big corporations will always try to undermine the initiatives of the small and medium business. In such a case, the bankrupt business owners will face the necessity to join the proletariat class and hire a job (Sowell 132-133).
It becomes clear that in the Karl Marx’s theory any financial crisis will inevitably lead to the destruction of the three-class system. Nevertheless, this statement could be doubted on the basis of the existing information about the economic development of the nations in the 20th and 21st centuries. The popularization of free markets and liberal theories gave a unique opportunity for many people to start their own business. At the same time, the improvement of the education system was beneficial for the personal development of the individuals. As a result, the percentage of the middle-class started to grow.
According to Leszek Kolakowski, the U.S. economic and political system was perfect for the development of the middle class in the middle of the 20th century (Kolakowski 133). Thus, almost 60% of the American citizens belonged to the middle class. It means that many people had an opportunity to start their own business without the external pressure of the large capitalists. This information shows that Karl Marx was mistaken in making the suggestion about the sustainability of the middle-class system.
On the other hand, the economic and social situation in the U.S. has recently changed. The growth of the transnational corporations gave an opportunity for capitalists to use the cheap labor force from China or India. Therefore, the middle class in the U.S. faced the significant challenge. It is hard for a common citizen to start a business due to the issues with the competition with the huge corporations. One of the primary reasons for it is the pressure of the big business on the local markets. Nevertheless, the new U.S. President Donald Trump wants to change the situation and make the U.S. economy competitive again.
It is possible to conclude that Karl Marx was not right in making the suggestion that big business will always dominate the middle class. Obviously, there are some issues connected with the sustainability of the middle class in conditions of globalization. However, the general trend in the developed countries continues to be positive for the owners of the medium and small business. It becomes clear that the rational governmental policies could optimize the interaction between the players in the market.
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Kolakowski, Leszek. Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders – The Golden Age – The Breakdown. Norton and Company. 2008.
Roberts, Michael. The Long Depression: Marxism and the Global Crisis of Capitalism. Haymarket Books. 2016.
Sowell, Thomas. Marxism: Philosophy and Economics. Quill Press. 1985.