Additional discussion questions

  • Marx talks a lot about the bourgeoisie oppressing the proletariat. Do you think if he was alive today, Marx would have some strong opinions about the race issue going on in our country today? Do you believe that this comparisons is a fair one to make, a white class taking advantage of a black class like we have been seeing in the news?
  • If the ten rules Marx lays out were in place today in our society and it became the norm, which ones do you believe people would speak out the most against? Or do you think if it was already the norm, that no one would mind his ten rules and it would stay that way?
  • How does Marx see the social classes being affected by industrialization? (What social classes arise? How does Marx characterize them?)
  • If the general will is determined by majority opinion, even just a 51:49 vote, why does Rousseau talk about the super majority?

13 thoughts on “Additional discussion questions

  1. acavender Post author

    Marx, based on what we’ve read, wouldn’t classify people by race. His starting point is economic class. That would be his primary approach in analyzing what he sees in our current situation (though he’d likely notice patterns in who tends to belong to what class).

  2. Lydia Simrayh

    Marx describes the classes in terms of binary oppositions. Meaning, one party is the oppressor and the other one is the oppressed. The new economic powers of the bourgeoisie led to their political empowerment. With this political empowerment came the destruction of the social fictions on which previous societies were based. From this came the proletariat, which was the workforce of the bourgeoisie enterprise. They were a class of laborers. They were basically slaves to their bourgeoisie masters. Also, the working conditions were horrible in addition to low wages.

    I can see how the comparison of the bourgeoisie oppressing the proletariat would be compared to that of the white class taking advantage of the black class. However, in our times today I do not think that it would really be the same fair comparison. People now a days have much more opportunities than they did before and they can increase their education, find better jobs, live in their own homes without having to rely on others. I do not think that their race plays a major part because there are blacks who are very successful, more so than whites in some situations. I think that Marx probably would have some opinions about this, but I do not think that it would be as strong because he focused on economic classes, not race.

  3. Devin R.

    Rousseau mentions the super majority when important voting decisions must be made. He says that “the more the deliberations are important and serious, the more the opinion that carries should approach unanimity.” Just like in our own legislative system, when important decisions must be made, we require more than 51% of the body to vote yes. This makes sure that important decisions more likely mirror the general will.

  4. Maggie

    If the ten rules Marx lays out were in place today in our society and it became the norm, which ones do you believe people would speak out the most against? Or do you think if it was already the norm, that no one would mind his ten rules and it would stay that way?

    Had read this article a while ago for some reason, and thought of it upon reading the above question. Certainly makes you think. Thought some of you may be interested in reading it!

    http://www.wnd.com/2011/07/319117/

  5. Alex Morales

    If Marx were living today he would have some strong opinions about the race issue going on in our country. He would quite literally be disappointed to know that this cycle keeps repeating itself. It could be inferred based on our readings about him that he would see the criminal justice system as a modern day Bourgeoisie, and the Proletariat group would be modern day African Americans. This stays on theme with the Bourgeoisie idea of oppression because African Americans are being oppressed through the criminal justice system. More importantly, just like the Bourgeoisie group the system created doesn’t allow African Americans the capability to move up in social class. This is exactly what the Bourgeoisie did to the Proletariat’s. This is essentially what happens when people are being oppressed. Through this reasoning I believe that it is fair to make this claim. I think our modern day situation concerning the criminal justice system is even worse than the system set up by the Bourgeoisie because instead of greed being the motivation for the oppression people are now creating the same problem because of race.

  6. Shannon Rodenbeck

    I believe that the comparison of the bourgeoisie oppressing the proletariat and today’s racial tensions is a fair one to make. Marx would certainly be supportive of a change in our system as african american’s are being oppressed by the criminal system and other ways. Just like the bourgeoisie were discriminatory and unfair to the proletariat, some white americans have a discriminatory attitude towards african americans. Not only are there still tensions between races, but it is clear through recent events in the news that african americans are being targeted and treated unfairly by the criminal justice system in america. It is clear that Marx would see this as a similar if not worse occurrence as the bourgeoisie oppressing the proletariat.

    1. Callie Brown

      I agree, I think Marx would see many problems with the different, yet very similar forms of oppression that are taking place in our society and justice system today. I think Marx would think that the issue in the criminal justice system is worse than the bourgeoisie oppressing the proletariat because the issue is not just a societal issue any more it has become an issue which is institutionalized in our criminal justice system.

  7. Erin Taylor

    I can see how Marx’s primary concern is economic oppression, but when you oppress a race, are you not oppressing their opportunities, therefore their economic prosperity? I agree with Shannon that Marx would see the White class as a comparison to the Bourgeoisie, discriminating against the Blacks and creating an unfair playing field. I believe that Marx would have been happy with the progress our country has made and definitely would have had more to say around the Civil Rights Movement, but I don’t think he would be happy about the recent events in the news. I think he would perhaps see the Blacks as being victimized like the proletariats, being given unfair treatment that keeps them in a cycle of poverty, that therefore leads to them being discriminated against and seen as suspicious.

    1. Meagan Armenta

      I think Marx advocated industrialization because it could have perhaps brought inequality amongst the Bourgeoisie and Proletariats. If his main focus was working with the economic system, why would he introduce race? If he added race to the equation, another social class could have developed. America is a very diverse country but it has taken decades to over come racism/discrimination, therefore in the time of the Social Contract including race would have expanded the oppressed proletariat class. If race was included, then the white society would have dominated the Bourgeoisie class not allowing minority cultures to be apart of the upper class, which would have swelled the proletariat class. Regardless if an African American had the means and ability to own a factory, if race was included during this time period, he would have never been accepted as a Bourgeoisie. Therefore, he would suffer and all people like him would have had to join the proletariats.

  8. Elisabeth Miller

    Out of the ten rules Marx lays out I believe that most people would speak out against number two, a heavy progressive or graduated income tax just because of sheer fact that taxes are already a burden for most people. If they were to be increased, everyone would be angry. Number three would make a lot of people angry as well because some people live off of inheritance. It could be how they pay for college, or even their house. Number six would also be a hard sale. The state should not have sole control over means of communication. Many individuals would argue that what is meant to be private should remain private. If these rules had already been the norm, I still think people would become angry, especially over a heavy progressive or graduated income tax. Increased taxes are more of a burden than a benefit. Just look at Ancient Rome. Many of the emperors chose to increase taxes in order to make up for large building projects, wars, etc., which only angered the people more because no one had any money to give. The government had spent it all. I know I would not be happy if the government decided to raise taxes.

  9. Imani Jerome

    Marx believes that industrialization brings inequality between the two social classes. This present in the Bourgeoisie class since they are the one who own the factory unlike their workers who are in the Proletariat class. One class will always be more economically stable over another class this cause class inequality.

  10. Imani Jerome

    Marx believes that industrialization brings inequality between the two social classes. This present in the Bourgeoisie class since they are the one who own the factory unlike their workers who are in the Proletariat class. One class will always be more economically stable over another class this cause class inequality. One class will also be more powerful then another class.

  11. Meagan Armenta

    I think Marx advocated industrialization because it could have perhaps brought inequality amongst the Bourgeoisie and Proletariats. If his main focus was working with the economic system, why would he introduce race? If he added race to the equation, another social class could have developed. America is a very diverse country but it has taken decades to over come racism/discrimination, therefore in the time of the Social Contract including race would have expanded the oppressed proletariat class. If race was included, then the white society would have dominated the Bourgeoisie class not allowing minority cultures to be apart of the upper class, which would have swelled the proletariat class. Regardless if an African American had the means and ability to own a factory, if race was included during this time period, he would have never been accepted as a Bourgeoisie. Therefore, he would suffer and all people like him would have had to join the proletariats.

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