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Why Does Communism Choose the Proletariat?

DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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6/14/2013 12:06:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It's been a while since I've read the manifesto, or really read Communist literature. However, if my memory serves me correctly, although Marx and Engels DO break down society as becoming the two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and although they DO define history as being a series of class struggles, one thing I notice is kind of a gap in their thesis:

Why do they choose the proletariat as the class who should be victorious?

I understand the "common sense" morality behind it--the oppressed proletariat deserve to rise up and establish their own government, etc. However, I don't remember/know why the proletarians should be the ones to be the "winners" in the struggle.

If I forgot, or I'm just missing something, let me know. However, as I recall right now, the Communist Manifesto, and a lot of Communist literature and Communists themselves, never offer any reason why the proletariat is the morally superior class who deserves the power, versus the bourgeoisie.

What do you all think? Am I wrong?
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I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

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ConservativePolitico
Posts: 8,210
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6/14/2013 12:16:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
An interesting and true observation. Morally, they'd say it's because the oppressors are wrong and should not win based off a position of exploitation.

However, by establishing communism are they not exploiting and oppressing the bourgeoisie?

Also, the proletariat are more numerous and therefore provide a larger base to draw support from.
DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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6/14/2013 12:19:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 12:16:41 PM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
An interesting and true observation. Morally, they'd say it's because the oppressors are wrong and should not win based off a position of exploitation.

However, by establishing communism are they not exploiting and oppressing the bourgeoisie?

Also, the proletariat are more numerous and therefore provide a larger base to draw support from.

Thinking about it now, it might also be something like the proletariat by definition HAVE to exist for a society to function. Sure, an entirely bourgeoisie society could have everyone owning their own individual means of production--however, with no one to actually PRODUCE, nothing happens.
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
DanT
Posts: 5,693
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6/14/2013 12:21:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 12:06:19 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:
It's been a while since I've read the manifesto, or really read Communist literature. However, if my memory serves me correctly, although Marx and Engels DO break down society as becoming the two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and although they DO define history as being a series of class struggles, one thing I notice is kind of a gap in their thesis:

Why do they choose the proletariat as the class who should be victorious?

It is a David and Goliath thing. People naturally favor the little guy, or the underdog. This is actually a propaganda trick that the Media uses to get the audience to favor the right side in films and TV shows. Ever notice how in NCIS the FBI is always calling NCIS "cowboys". Also the FBI is shown to have superior technology, and to always steel the spotlight.
Another example would be Rambo, where Rambo takes on superior forces, with inferior technology.
Or how about starwars, where the rebels take on the empire, or the Gungans take on an army of droids.

Another explanation is that it appeals to the masses. The majority are Proles, so by appealing to the Proles, they can obtain more support.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
Citrakayah
Posts: 1,500
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6/14/2013 12:51:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The realpolitik "to gain power" doesn't hold much water. You could more easily get power by siding with the ruling class.
PrivateEye
Posts: 972
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6/14/2013 12:57:32 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It's not that communists think the proletariat deserve power over the bourgeoisie but along with them. It's about equality. Or that's how i think anyway...
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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6/14/2013 4:01:17 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Sorry, why is this an "interesting" observation? It's of course a legitimate question, but they answer it very clearly.

The proletariat are currently oppressed.

It's really as simple as that. The oppression of the proletariat (as with any group) creates discontent and friction with the higher class, the bourgeois. So, the oppressed class, after realising they have been oppressed and develop class consciousness, rise up and overthrow their masters, are liberated from their chains, and society moves on. This is inevitable, as history teaches us (slaves vs masters, serfs vs landowners, and others). Or so the story goes.

Also, Marxism says this, not communism. Communism is different. Sovietism for example isn't Marxist, nor is, say, Hussite communism.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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Stephen_Hawkins
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6/14/2013 4:07:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Remember Marx and Engels are not constructing an ideology, but a science. They are following the Hegelian tradition in saying that history teaches us what we ought to do, as history tells us where we are progressing. And we are always experiencing class conflict between two groups. This is not the political ideology of the normative claims. This is not the Plato and the Aristotle, the Hobbes and the Locke form of politics. They aren't talking about how society should be run. This is how society works.

Again, so they say.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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FREEDO
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6/14/2013 4:16:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
As Marx is happy to point out, the whole point of his theories is a sort of romanticism. Choosing the proletariat doesn't follow from it. It's the basis.
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fnord
The_Chaos_Heart
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6/14/2013 4:33:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Why do they choose the proletariat as the class who should be victorious?

Two reasons. One, because it's inevitable, and two, because the proletariat are well in the majority.

When I say it's inevitable, I mean the struggle will not stop happening until the proletariat are successful. Capitalists can't "win", they only keep the struggle going. So the only way in which struggle ends is with the proletariat's victory.

As for what practically makes them win, they're the majority over the Capitalists. This is one of the main complaints of Communists and Socialists; that so much power and wealth lies in the hands of an undeserving minority. Once the proletariat all unite behind the cause, nothing stops them. It's happened before in history, and it can, and almost assuredly will, happen again, and on a much grander scale.
RyuuKyuzo
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6/14/2013 4:41:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Because if you remove class, you can't have a "ruling class", so you can't have a bourgeoisie. Everyone becomes proletariat.
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RyuuKyuzo
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6/14/2013 4:44:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 4:41:53 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
Because if you remove class, you can't have a "ruling class", so you can't have a bourgeoisie. Everyone becomes proletariat by default.
If you're reading this, you're awesome and you should feel awesome.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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6/14/2013 5:19:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/14/2013 4:44:19 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
At 6/14/2013 4:41:53 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
Because if you remove class, you can't have a "ruling class", so you can't have a bourgeoisie. Everyone becomes proletariat by default.

I'd be careful there, because simply it's not 100% accurate (or is based on some faulty understanding, though a minor one). Marx believed in historical materialism, which concluded in his mind that:

1) There has always been a ruling class and an oppressed class
2) Each society progresses by the oppressed overthrowing the ruling class

Without going into superstructure/base frictions in much detail, there have been other cases where he would promote revolution (revolution of the serfs for example in Russia was ironically an example I've heard he gave to move towards Capitalism - though it may just be an irony of a conclusion of his work). However, it doesn't necessarily mean the removal of ruling class. In fact, his dictatorship of the proletariat is the position that there needs to be a ruling class after natural revolution, but that ruling class is comprised of the oppressed class, reflecting the economic base (which society is based on). Once the superstructure (government, art, culture) mirrors the economic base, utopia - or the best possible society - will arise because tension between the base and superstructure will disappear.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...