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Class Struggle

The perpetual tension, conflict or the antagonism between the owning and the non-owning class is called Class struggle. The concept of class and class struggle is central to Marxian theory of social thought which is based on the famous saying "the history of all the hitherto existing society is the history of the class struggles". 

Marxian sociology is often called "The Sociology of Class Conflict". The term "class" is said to be originated from the latin word "Classis" meaning a group called arms, a division of people. It is an economic group based on criteria of income.

According to Marx the modern society is an antagonistic society and at every stage in the history, there is war between the classes. Example; The landowners exploit the landless and factory owners exploit the  workers. The idea of class war emerges from the theories of dialectical materialism, materialistic interpretation of history and surplus value. The word 'class' was applied to large groups of people  into which human society came to be divided. Therefore, class struggle is the moving power of history which leads to the revolution.

Development of Classes: 

Marx has described certain conditions and the stages of the development of the classes. When the mankind passes from the earliest communitarian life to the village civilization, there appeared social stratification, which slowly consolidated in to the classes.

Factors Contributing to the Development of Class:

1. The Importance of Property:

The property of any nature, land or money is the important means of production. Hence, the classes were developed in relation to the size or amount of property held by individuals.

2. The Theory of Surplus Value: 

It implies the profit in the process of production. It’s the extra value available to the producer after deducting his total investment from the total production.

3. Development of the Proletariat: 

The polarization of means of production has a consequence of the emergence of the large working class. Even the members intermediate or middle class between the capitalist and labors are weakened under the oppressive capitalist forces. So there would be absorbed by the proletariat in the process of class antagonism and revolution.

4. Polarization of Classes:

The polarization of means of production results in the concentration of wealth in the hands of few people. This lead to a development of classes of the haves and have not or the exploiter and the exploited.

5. The Rise of Economic and Political Authority: 

Marx considered the state as one among the major oppressors and the exploiter of the masses. The political power is nearly organized in the hands of the capitalist with intensify the economic exploitation.

6. Pauperization: 

The intense exploitation of working class by the capitalist leads to the pauperization of masses, pauperization is the situation of total poverty of the working class.

7. Class conflict: 

It is the result of increasing size of the suppressed classes to attempt to bring down the oppressors. The polarization of means of production and pauperization of working class results in open confrontation of classes.

8. Social Revolution: 

According to Marx, the social revolution is an inevitable development of an antagonistic class society. The process of desolution of ruling class intensifies as the revolutionary class assumes violent character. In the process a small section of ruling class will cut itself and join the revolutionary class.

9.The Dictatorship of Proletariat:

Marx felt that this revolution terminates the capitalist society and leads to the social dictatorship of the proletariat. Since the revolution results in the liquidation of the bourgeoisie, they will cease to have any power and will be reduced to the ranks of the proletariat. 

10. Inauguration of the Communist Society: 

Marx argued that the state withers away as the final stage of class struggle. Because it would no longer be necessary in the new economic order of classless society, a stateless society is possible only by the establishment of communistic society.

11. Alienation: 

The process of alienation is central to Marxian theory of class conflict. Alienation results from a lack of sense of control over the social world. The economic exploitation and inhuman working conditions lead to increase the alienation of man. When the workers caught in the vicious circle of exploitation, they lose interest on work and the responsibility of the workers get diminished. This situation of alienation ripens the mood of the worker for a conflict.


Marx’s theory of class struggle is a fine and fascinating logical argument that explains the historical process of revolution and evolution of new social order. However it consist of several ambiguis explanation. Karl marx is considerd as the prophet DOOM. Many of his prophecies have not come true, his prediction of two class of society too have not come true. We find many classes in society. Similarly his concept of conflict in society may not hold good. Classes in society may live in relative fees. Marx has built his theoretical arguments in the European social context, it does not hold well in many other parts of the world.

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