The Communist Manifesto

by Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx

Start Free Trial

What significant changes occurred with the rise of the bourgeoisie? Why haven't workers started a revolution as Marx envisioned? Has capitalism evolved since Marx's time?

Quick answer:

For Marx and Engels, the rise of the bourgeoisie connects to new financial markets and the expansion of the Western economy. Marx and Engels thought the bourgeoisie's own rapid exploitation would destroy them. The felled bourgeoisie would then align themselves with the working class. Together, they would rise to power and use their control to dismantle class distinctions.

Expert Answers

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

For Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the rise of the bourgeoisie is linked to an expansion of Western economics. As the markets for the West grew bigger, the West needed more people to take advantage of the financial possibilities. That’s where the bourgeoisie enters. As Marx and Engels write:

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.

While such rapacious exploitation supplies the bourgeoisie their privilege and power, it is also, according to Marx and Engels, what will lead to their downfall. Their rapid pace of production and exploitation will eventually lead to destruction, including the destruction of their own class. Once the bourgeoisie collapses, they will join the working class, take power, and use their power to bring an end to class distinctions.

Concerning your question: “Why don’t workers simply rise up and ask for better wages, working conditions, and other benefits?” In some cases, they are. You might want to look at what Amazon warehouse workers are doing to try to gain better working conditions. You might also want to check out how fast food workers have tried to increase their wages.

As for how capitalism has changed since Marx’s call for revolution, you might have noticed how corporations and other areas associated with the bourgeoisie or people of a high economic standing are increasingly involving themselves in social justice issues. They’re trying to link their institutions and brands to people of an array of historically marginalized identities.

You might say the above is a good change. Identities who were excluded or regulated to a secondary role are now increasingly included in the dominant economic structure. Perhaps they’ll be able to use their power so that capitalism continues to benefit more and more different types of people.

If you wanted to argue that capitalism has changed in a bad way, you could contend that people of a higher economic status are using representation and identity politics as a way to avoid addressing increasingly unequal economics. Inclusion and diversity is a smokescreen. It's a way to conceal the fact that things haven’t changed in a good way. Yes, some women, trans people, or people of color might be ascending to some very powerful positions, yet their individual monetary gain doesn’t necessarily translate to a boon for their overall communities. In this scenario, the harmful distinctions are furthered due to the apparent belief that somehow a female bourgeoisie or a Black bourgeoisie or trans bourgeoisie can’t be as harmful and destructive as a white bourgeoisie.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial