What do Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels mean by the term "class struggle"? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For Marx and Engels the notion of class struggle is the key to understanding history. At all stages of history, they argue, there have been power struggles of one sort or another between social classes. In the medieval era, the prevailing class struggle was between feudal landlords and peasants. For many centuries the landlords were on top, achieving an unchallenged position of dominance in society. However, as the economic foundations of society changed over time, a section of the peasantry was able to form itself into a rising middle-class, or bourgeoisie. This sounded the death knell of feudalism and its replacement with a capitalist mode of production.

Capitalism may be radically different from feudalism, but it shares one crucial feature: the persistence of class struggle. Only now the struggle is no longer between landlord and peasant as in the Middle Ages, but between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, or working-classes. At the time when Marx and Engels were writing it was very...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 597 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team