Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Rawls’ The Original Position





Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Rawls’ The Original Position

Part 1

  1. According to Marx, what form does the ‘history of class struggles’ take in ‘our age’?

For Marx, the history of the class struggle influences the changes in the outline of existent political institutions and the society in general. Accordingly, the class struggle highlights the struggle between social groups of individuals with the same economic interests seeking to fulfill their economic objectives. The conflicts that occurred during historical periods comprised struggles against economically prevailing classes by economically inferior classes. The inferior classes opposed the economic interests of the superior class. For instance, the disputes comprised struggles between slaves and serfs against their masters and the property owners respectively. Nonetheless, the form in which the history of class struggles takes place in our age involves the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat.

The struggle between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat depicted a history of struggles between classes irrespective of the society. As mentioned, the disputes took the form of struggles between slaves and their masters and serfs against property owners. According to Marx, the struggle between the slaves and the masters comprised the Slave mode. The Feudal mode comprised the struggle between the property owners (lords) and the serfs. As such, the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat comprised the Capitalist mode (Kessler 163). These modes highlight development and a fixed line of oppression by the economically superior against the subordinate. Additionally, Marx believed that the Capitalist mode would eventually culminate and give rise to the Communist one.

  1. Define ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘proletariat’.

The conflict in the society arises from the struggle for resources between two classes. These classes in the society comprise the ruling class, the Bourgeoisie and the subordinate class, the Proletariat. The Bourgeoisie comprises the owners of the means or factors of production. They are the domineering class within the contemporary industrial society (Kessler 164). They possess the authority and influence to manipulate the society, as well as political institutions based on their interests. Furthermore, the bourgeoisie view the world as a global market, thus influencing the adoption of Capitalism as a norm and means of production in this society. As a result, the bourgeoisie have embraced power and influence to the point that they determine the operations of the society. In the modern society, the bourgeoisie comprise the owners of large corporations and organizations.

The proletariat, on the other hand, comprises the average workers. The bourgeoisie cannot incur any financial gains without the proletariat. Additionally, the proletariat cannot gain any wages without working for the bourgeoisie. Therefore, the bourgeoisie who own the means of production employ the proletariat, also defined as labor (Kessler 164). Nonetheless, the relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is an exploitative association based on the desire to fulfill economic interests. In the modern society, the proletariats comprise the contemporary working class. The working class work for the bourgeoisie in order to receive wages for the labor they sacrifice.

  1. What effect has the bourgeoisie had on modern society?

The bourgeoisie, based on their perspective, have affected the society in negative ways. Indeed, this ruling class views the world as a significant global market for trade and commerce. As such, based on this viewpoint, the bourgeoisie have transformed the founding features of the society. Additionally, their actions have altered the family going as far as obliterating the traditional standards of life as well as rustic civilizations. This has led to the development of considerable urban cities that are rapidly replacing the bucolic civilizations. Furthermore, the bourgeoisie has created a capitalistic approach within the society. As such, the society has shifted from embracing proper family values to focusing on fulfilling materialistic tendencies extensively.

The bourgeoisie class has also divided the society along economic lines. This division continues to cause further conflict among members of these classes. By owning factors of production, the ruling class has led to the creation of an underprivileged class, the proletariat, which strives to compete for economic resources in order to fulfill their needs and wants. Additionally, the bourgeoisie has also affected the society in terms of competition for resources. Typically, the bourgeoisie own significant means of production. As such, based on such influence, they are able to amass considerable amounts of accessible resources within the society, which leaves an insufficient quantity of resources within the society forcing the other class to struggle to obtain such resources.

  1. What has happened to the proletariat because of the bourgeoisie?

The actions of the bourgeoisie have created an effect on the proletariat. Foremost, because of the emergence of capitalism and industrialization, the working class sells their labor for shrinking wages. This is because the bourgeoisie knows that the proletariat cannot survive without wages. This is because wages (money) comprise the main medium of exchange. Additionally, the bourgeoisie exploits the working class based on the significance of money in society. The bourgeoisie coerce the proletariat to work extensively and in turn, reimburse with them with insignificant and consistently shrinking wages. In some instances, the result is poverty especially within the society. Poverty arises when the wages do not correspond to the basic needs of an individual.

In this case, if a worker does not receive enough wages to meet his needs, then the society deems him as poor. Additionally, the considerable ownership of resources by the bourgeoisie has initiated a rigorous struggle for the remaining resources in society. This scramble has led to an increase in crime and deviance within the community. Since the proletariats are struggling to gratify their needs, it is no surprise that the forceful use of power is imminent. The indulgence in crime concentrates on acquisition of resources that are unavailable or inadequate in the society. Additionally, other effects arising from the actions of the bourgeoisie comprise overpopulation and degradation in health among the proletariats.

  1. Explain what Marx says about ‘man’s ideas’ and the ‘ruling ideas’.

Marx’s statement concerning ‘man’s ideas’ and the ‘ruling ideas’ involves the development of new ideas by the working class, against those exuded by the bourgeoisie in the society. This statement illustrates the actions that the working class will take after enduring the oppression from the ruling class for a significant amount of time. Indeed, Marx acknowledges that the change in a man’s material existence, his life and social interactions affects his own consciousness, which comprises ideas, perspectives and concepts (Kessler 166). As such, for Marx, the prevailing situation of the working class will coerce it to develop novel ideas and concepts that depict its exclusive circumstances of life and social interactions. Such ideas will develop to the extent that the proletariat will unite and contend with the bourgeoisie.

The ‘ruling ideas’, according to Marx, imply the concepts and thoughts derived from the ruling class within every age. For Marx, the ruling ideas for every era arise from the conceptions of the ruling class. This is because of the changes that arise because of the changes in material production (Kessler 167). Furthermore, the changes in material production affect the yield of intellect within the society. Simply, the ideas that the working class will conceive will undergo influence from the ideas of the owners of the factors of production. This is because the ruling class already exerts intellectual influence of the society.

Part 2

  1. What is the role of justice?

For Rawls, justice constitutes the foremost virtue among all social institutions. It comprises the principles through which judgment for these institutions occurs, similarly as the truth, in which judgment occurs for statements. Justice within the society imposes the rights of every person. Thus, the role of justice involves the distribution of rights and obligations to every person in the society (Kessler 174). As a result, when all citizens share the concept of justice, then there is an achievement of equality. This, in turn, will hinder the utilization of particular types of people as a way to accomplish or satisfy individual ends. Even though each individual possesses an innate need to capitalize on social welfare, justice plays a role in providing equal liberties and stipulates them as absolute and invariable.

Additionally, the role of justice unites different identity interests within the society. As a result, justice advocates for social cooperation. Based on this, advocacy for social cooperation implies that every member in the society is entitled to benefits. Thus, every person benefits from existing in the society. Furthermore, justice’s responsibility also arises from the roles of justice’s principles. Thus, it is vital to stipulate a framework of principles that will assist in the distribution of benefits. Furthermore, justice, based on its distribution of rights and obligations equally, comprises a suitable technique for settling disputes and thus, creates a well-ordered society.

  1. What is the subject of justice?

The subject of justice involves the proper distribution of burdens and benefits of cooperation in society. Thus, for Rawls, the basic subject of justice comprises the society’s primary structure. Based on this, Rawls advocates for distributive justice. This is because the basic framework of the society comprises the manner through which chief social institutions apportion fundamental privileges and obligations. Additionally, these social institutions determine the separation of social cooperation from benefits. Consequently, structures such as the political constitution, standard economic measures and social arrangements determine these chief social institutions (Kessler 174). Therefore, the combination of these factors formulates the primary structure, which favors specific starting locations over other places regardless of the inability to choose where one is born.

Based on this assertion, it is clear that the subject of justice does not embrace a liberal-utilitarian perspective. This is in the sense that the greatest good is usually accessible to the majority. This explains the foundation for Western political notions. Additionally, this particular aspect of justice does not acknowledge prevailing factors that deem it unfair. One of these factors incorporates inequality. Inequalities are present in the society. People usually never choose where they are born or how they are born. Consequently, these people live as a minority. Thus, they do not have a hand in determining such allocations based on the power of the majority over them.

  1. Explain the Original Position (OP).

The Original Position (OP) implies a hypothetical state of fairness (Kessler 174-175). Rawls introduces this concept based on his view of the Social Contract. According to Rawls, the institution of the Social Contract implies a state of nature that illustrates the people’s natural condition with an absent government. The people existing within this state are pragmatic and rational. As such, they possess the ability to think of ways to improve the prevailing condition within their society. Consequently, by cooperating with each other and acknowledging a fair contract, the people establish a government and concurrently, retain their natural rights. From this, Rawls inquires the choice of people given that they existed in a circumstance similar to the state of nature. Thus, Rawls surmises that the situation will be the Original Position.

The OP allows people to consider themselves within the position of fairness in which they possess the ability to select the principles of justice. According to Rawls, if people were to enter such a state, then they would be under the Veil of Ignorance, which will conceal all identities such that no person will know their identity (Kessler 176). Thus, if one existed under this veil, then the person would not possess any knowledge concerning unfairness or favoritism, which would make him or her impartial. Accordingly, impartiality is an aspect necessitated by fairness. Thus, the Original Position would advocate for equality and expunge utilitarian thoughts, which are unfair and disregard the influence of nature on inequality.

  1. Explain the principles of justice.

The principles of justice comprise the values and standards that constitute the role of justice in terms of fairness. Furthermore, the principles of justice also constitute the basic framework for determining the allocation and distribution of benefits and burdens within a respective society. The principles of justice, as Rawls proposes, arise from the Original Position. As mentioned, the Original Position connotes a hypothetical state of fairness. In this sense, if people existed in the fair state advocated by the Original Position, then they would require certain principles in order to ensure fairness. Furthermore, since people will be ignorant of their identities and inequalities, they will select principles for themselves that will ensure equality within the theoretical society.

From this, it is notable that the Original Position plays a fundamental role in the structure of the principles of justice. Since Rawls surmises that justice is fairness, then the principles of justice revolve around this theme. One of the principles that people may advocate for in the OP is the Equality Principle. The Equality Principle implies that every individual in the society possesses an equal privilege to the most general and primary range of liberties. Additionally, every individual has a corresponding right towards freedoms that are compatible with other primary liberties. The second and last principle is the Difference Principle. This principle implies that the arrangement of economic and social inequalities should base on benefiting the least advantaged and should be accessible to every person while linked to positions (Kessler 177).

  1. Explain what Rawls has to say about natural endowments (nature) and social circumstances (nurture).

Rawls surmises the role of nature and nurture in the state of fairness. These two aspects form a significant part of Rawls’ argument against utilitarianism. Additionally, Rawls incorporates the basic structure of the society in order to address the significant effects that nature and nurture possess over social inequalities. Indeed, the framework of the society comprises people born into different social positions, which also possess different expectations. Institutions play a role in furthering these expectations by favoring particular persons or starting locations over others leading to profound inequalities (Kessler 177). Based on this, it is evident that the degree of natural endowments and social circumstances play a significant role in creating inequalities.

If a person has natural endowments, such as a high degree of intelligence or lives under positive social circumstances, such as luxurious living, then social, economic or political institutions favor such an individual over another with fewer endowments and deplorable circumstances. Nonetheless, Rawls argues that a state of fairness, based on the two principles, would strip the society of such prejudices and biases. Every person in the society deserves an equal opportunity and liberty. This underlines the significance of the Veil of Ignorance in this state. Based on the Veil, every person will be able to gain equal advantages regardless of the influence of nature and nurture.















Kessler, E. Gary. Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. New York: Wadsworth, 2008. Print



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