Marx opens the first chapter of his 'Communist Manifesto' by proclaiming that the whole history of society is, in fact, a history of class struggles where one faction of society has continually exploited another. During the "epoch of the bourgeoisie," when Marx wrote 'The Communist Manifesto' in 1847, the antagonism between the classes had become completely polarized between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marx observes that the seminal elements of this bourgeoisie class can be found in the Middle Ages with the rise of small peasant proprietors and the subsequent burgesses. It was in this feudal society that the means of production and exchange were established as a foundation from which the bourgeoisie flourished. The feudal system, where industrial production was monopolized by the closed guilds, could no longer suffice for the ever-increasing demand of the new markets found in such places as America, the East Indies, and China. The guild-masters were consequently pushed aside by the manufacturing middle class. But the markets increased to the point where even manufacture could not suffice and it was only the Industrial Revolution that enabled the bourgeoisie to satiate this escalating consumption. Marx observes "The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together." It was in the eighteenth century, when Christianity succumbed to rationalist ideas, that feudal society was dethroned by the revolutionary bourgeoisie. The French Revolution is probably the most clear-cut example where feudal property was instantaneously eradicated in place of bourgeois property. In its last gasps for survival, the English and French aristocracy resorted to propaganda pamphlets that attempted to recruit the exploited working classes against the bourgeoisie. A mutated form of feudal Socialism was prematurely born but Marx points out that "they forget that the modern bourgeoisie is the necessary offspring of their own form of society." It is impressive how Marx's detailed account of the rise of the bourgeoisie eerily foretells our current controversial issues of gentrification, globalism, and American Imperialism.


Thomas Cummins art philosophy