Karl Marx 's Theory Of Ethnicity Essay

Karl Marx 's Theory Of Ethnicity Essay

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Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Germany to Jewish parents. His parents converted to Christianity when anti-Semitism reared its ugly head with Hitler’s rise to power which began in the 1920s and ended in the mid-1940s. He was influenced heavily by the philosophy of Hegel, but turned away from what he considered Hegel’s idealism and developed his own theories. He married in 1843 and partnered with Friedrich Engels in 1844. Engels would support him financially and co-authored some of Marx’s most influential works. While his early works focused on philosophy, his later research revolved around economics. He is considered one of the most influential social theorists in history with his ongoing analysis of modern capitalism. His work focuses on the relationship between human lives and a capitalist economy. While he is remembered most for his effect on communist leaders after he died, his legacy actually centers around the effects of capitalism on social life. He died in 1883 in London.

Malesevic tells us that Marx’s theory of ethnicity is comprised of three thematic components. They are:
1. “The primacy of the economic base over the cultural and thus ethnic superstructure
2. Ethnic particularity as an obstacle to the universal progress of humanity as a whole and
3. The historical ascendancy of class over ethnic identity.”

Marx’s theory centers on class conflict. He argues that there is a constant struggle between the two leading classes and while this has occurred throughout history with serfs and lords, and slaves and slave owners, his research focused mainly on the proletariat and bourgeoisie in the era of capitalism. He states that the place where social change and social structure are most relevant is in the econo...


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...ant force. In this way it can mobilize the working population against the bourgeois and capitalism.

Gramsci perceives ideology and hegemony most of all as a strategic device for acquiring the full support from ‘racial and ethnic groups’ in establishing a proletarian society. Here he agrees with Marx that ethnic group membership is second to class identity.

As an example when you think of the word “welfare” feelings and images arise that are usually negative such as unhappy, poor, ashamed, a drain on the taxpayer. There are really no positive words that evoke images of dignity or family pride. Gramsci points out that we have been conditioned by our language to think this way and this serves the dominant ideology. If that dominant force places the fault of poverty on certain groups or classes of people than it can only be shifted by revolutionary change.





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