In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels present their
view of human nature and the effect that the economic system and economic
factors have on it. Marx and Engels discuss human nature in the context of
the economic factors which they see as driving history. Freud, in
Civilization and Its Discontents, explores human nature through his
psychological view of the human mind.
Marx states that history '...is the history of class struggles' (9).
Marx views history as being determined by economics, which for him is the
source of class differences. History is described in The Communist Manifesto
as a series of conflicts between oppressing classes and oppressed classes.
According to this view of history, massive changes occur in a society when new
technological capabilities allow a portion of the oppressed class to destroy
the power of the oppressing class. Marx briefly traces the development of
this through different periods, mentioning some of the various oppressed and
oppressing classes, but points out that in earlier societies there were many
gradations of social classes.
He also states that this class conflict
sometimes leads to '...the common ruin of the contending classes' (Marx 9).
Marx sees the modern age as being distinguished from earlier periods by
the simplification and intensification of the class conflict. He states that
'Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile
camps... bourgeoisie and proletariat' (Marx 9). The bourgeoisie, as the
dominant class of capitalists, subjugates the proletariat by using it as an
object for the expansion of capital. As capitalism progresses, this
subjugation reduces a larger portion of the population to the proletariat and
society becomes more polarized.
According to Marx, the polarization of society and the intense
oppression of the proletariat will eventually lead to a...