"Are Marx's views on social class applicable to late 20th century capitalist society?"

Essay by neddy96University, Bachelor'sA-, March 2006

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Not a lot has changed since Marx first started expressing his ideas on social class over 150 years ago. Writing during the emergence of Industrial Capitalism, Marx foresaw such concepts as globalisation, multinationalism and privatisation - tools of Capitalist society employed to ensure that the balance of money and power leans heavily towards the Capitalist class, or Bourgeoisie. These concepts have created a world in which economics is far more important than sovereignty. Nations can no longer be defined in terms of boundaries alone - the world is dominated by the Capitalist Bourgeois who keep the Third World subordinate. The Capitalist West maintains its power by oppressing the East. In Marxist terms, this is one social class oppressing another - on a global scale.

"Just as it has made the country dependent on towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West"(Marx 1975:38).

Despite claims of Australia's 'egalitarian' system, this is a farce. In fact class divisions only increase as the 20th century moves into the 21st. With policies such as the controversial Nelson Review and plans to axe Medicare, it is evident that the gap between social classes in only increasing. 'The rich get richer, the poor get poorer', as the saying goes.

Marx's theory of social class sees a constant struggle between the bourgeoisie (ruling, land-owning class) and proletariat (working class). The ruling class own the means of production, which produce Capital. In any Capitalist society, there is a ruling class who exploit the working class in order to remain the dominant social class. In Marxist theory, "classes are formed by markets out of those people who produce a specialized type of labour or capital" (Encarta 2001).

S. Encel (1984:83)...