Failed Revolutions in "Office Space"

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The film “Office Space” depicts several employees at a software firm trying and failing at rebelling against the company they work for. The revolutions against the management and their subsequent failures are explained by Karl Marx’s theories on the proletariat and bourgeoisie in The Communist Manifesto. The workers were not going far enough in their attempts to improve their lives.

In proving the failed rebellions of the employees can be explained by The Communist Manifesto, it must first be proven that the movie accurately represents the proletariat and bourgeoisie classes and their struggle. In this movie the employees at Initech, especially the main character Peter Gibbons, and their upper management, specifically Bill Lumbergh, represent the continuation of the “freedman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman” in the many forms of “oppressor and oppressed” in society(Marx). The movie then serves as a microcosm for class struggle.

The bourgeoisie are described by Marx as increasing their power by “naked, shameless, brutal exploitation” of the working classes (Marx). This behavior describes the actions of the bosses at Initech, with the movie driven mainly by the exploitation of their workers. This is best seen by their laying off all the employees they can to maximize profits, and their manipulating Milton’s problems in articulating his grievances (Office Space). Marx also writes that the bourgeoisie are constantly “revolutionizing the instruments of product, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society,” in their pursuit of more capital (Marx). This is also displayed at the Initech company, with the employees being occupied with changing softw...

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...thing because they did not want the complete overthrow of the bourgeoisie, they want things to change but they do not want to be in charge. They would not be described as Communists but as bourgeois socialists, for they “want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers” (Marx.) The problem it is that the bourgeoisie would need to be “for the benefit of the working class,” and in Marx’s work and in the movie the bourgeoisie have done things only for their own benefit (Marx).

The characters and events in the movie “Office Space” are an iteration the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, and the conflict between the two. The actions and events can be explained by Marx’s theories on the interaction between the two. It is from his theories that we are able to realize why the characters do not really succeed in escaping their mundane lives.

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