Karl Marx predicted that the working class or proletariat would eventually overthrow the upper classes and establish socialist governments that controlled all means of production. Marx believed that this would be due to a concept called class conciousness, the recognition of collective interests and personal identification with one’s economic group. Marx thought that as nations became more industrialized the richwould grow richer at the expense of the proletariat, and this would cause the working class to rise up together.
My first criticism of Marxism is that Karl oversimplified the modern world’s very complex stratification system. Marx divided the people of the world into two groups, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and completely forgot to take into account the many other factors that divide people into social groups, such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, and culture. The American proletariat didn’t join the Soviet proletariat in revolution because they identified themselves first as Americans.
My second criticism of Marxism is that he incorrectly predicted what the modern world’s economic stratification would be like. If Marx had been correct, the most industrialized nations in the world, countries like the United States and Great Britain, should have been the first to undergo revolutions. However, instead of decreasing equality, industrialization tends to increase social equality. Gerhard Lenski, an American sociologist, pointed out in his book Power and Privilege: A Theory of Social Stratification that industrialization usually creates a middle class of skilled and professional workers. Anthony Giddens, another prominent American sociologist, argued in his book The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies that the middle class allows for more social mobility.
So, what do you think? Maybe you believe that the Occupy movement is a sign of renewed tensions between the upper and lower classes. Maybe you believe that mass industrialization only looks good when focused on a superpower like the United States and less appealing when we look at its effects on third world countries. Maybe you believe that these third world nations are better off than they once were and will get better with increased industrialization. Was Marx wrong?