European Society During The Time of The Communist Manifesto

European Society During The Time of The Communist Manifesto

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European Society During The Time of The Communist Manifesto

At the time the Communist Manifesto was written, European life had become far more urbanized than the previous years. During this period, society in Europe was undergoing great change. This great change arose from many influential factors. Among these factors, modern education, social structure of the bourgeoisie and laborers, and Marxism had immense effects on the everyday life of European citizens.

During the 1800’s, an integral step towards building a more modern society in Europe was the change in education. Formal learning and obligatory attendance began to take place in schools. The demand for children to attend school kept them out of the work place that they had inhabited for so many years. Another important aspect of schooling was the enforcement of teaching both sexes. The education of boys had been increasing for years, but at this point girls now had the opportunity to learn. As this change in education became more popular, literacy increased among young students. The ability to read and write became commonplace. The change in the way education was formatted increased the number of students willing to learn.

The increase in the number of students caused even more change in the structure of education in Europe. Older schools were forced to offer new curriculum to keep up with the times. New schools had to keep bringing in new classes for students to choose from. It became hard for old universities to adapt to this societal change. As the schools began to change, they eventually became more expensive and necessary. Those who attended or worked for a university became more respected and honored in society. Professors were among those of the elite class and were thought of as extremely well educated. Their place in society was far ahead of that of pre-university teachers. They had a high salary, educational assistants, and good vacation time. Before this change in education, some teachers were not much farther ahead of their students and did not have the allowances of the professors in the late 19th century. The educational system change in Europe in the 19th century greatly improved the life of children. There were more agencies to help families and widows with children. The middle class became more considerate of their children and these children began to populate a large portion of the world.

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Another factor in European society is the structure of the bourgeoisie and the laborers. The bourgeoisie were "the class of people in bourgeoisie society who own the social means of production as the Private Property, i.e., as capital." It was often thought that the bourgeoisie class would push down the proletariat class. Although most people thought the factory workers would be pushed down in society, the conditions for the factory workers became more sufficient in the 19th century when wages began to rise. Along with the increase in factory workers, the white-collar class also grew. This white-collar group depended on their salaries just as much as those who worked in the factories. This group included those with very high status and those who were just personnel. Of course, the salary of the average factory worker was much less than someone of the bourgeoisie class. The factory workers were also seen as inferior in the eyes of those surrounding them. At times, those in the bourgeoisie class "saw themselves as feudal lords ruling over thousands of workers, usually in a paternalistic fashion. Below them were layers of white collar employees whose ideal was the civil servant who enjoyed the social prestige and job security they did not."

The laborers were seen in a much different light than those of the upper class. Some workers were considered skilled, while others were not and there was a large difference between the two. The unskilled laborers were replaceable and were not valued very much. Those who were considered unskilled tended to be workers who relied on their muscles to get a job completed. Conditions for the workers began to get better. Their incomes rose and they benefited from "governmental regulations limiting hours, imposing safety devices for machines, better aeration, rest periods, sickness insurance and old age pensions."

These new conditions left good feelings of progress and achievement, but the workers also had the complaints. Laborers tended to express their anger by lowering their efficiency. They were upset that their living conditions were not the same as others. The highest paid workers moved to suburbs, while laborers lived in "rundown apartment buildings lacking adequate plumbing and sanitation, with small often windowless rooms, and overcrowded given that workers’ families were still large and rents were high." The differences between the bourgeoisie and the laborers were prevalent. They made up the basic societal structure of European society and influenced the modernization of Europe in the 19th century.

Marxism had a great impact on European society in the 1800’s. Marxism is "a body of doctrine developed by Karl Marx and, to a lesser extent, by Friederich Engels in the mid-19th century. It originally consisted of three ideas: a philosophical view of man, a theory of history, and an economic and political program." Because of these ideas, Marx became known as one of the influential thinkers of this period in history. He chose to take the historical approach and he worked towards finding "the laws of social and economic development over time." Marx came up with components that primarily dealt with changes in the economy, technology, and labor. These changes were considered "’forces of production and relations of production’". They "formed the basis of society upon which rested a ‘superstructure’ of ideologies, political formations, religion and culture in general, all of which were conditioned by the basis or substructure." This idea became the belief of how society should run for many citizens.

By the end of the 1800’s, Marxism became a well-known idea held by some socialists. It became a new belief that held the conviction that "history would inevitably generate the overthrow of capitalism and, in the end, inaugurate a rationally ordered society in which individuals could at last be truly free." Most socialists agreed with Marx in that there should be a society devoid of classes and everyone should be treated equally. Although, Marx was an atheist, most socialists believed in God (Marxism was not an atheist belief system.) Another common belief that most citizens held was that through a revolution, the proletariat would rise up and overcome the bourgeoisie and ultimately agree that religion was useless and follow Marxism. This Marxist belief would encourage a society effort to change the view of humanity.

Most believers in this philosophy tended to be laborers. Marx fought for their rights in the modern world. The Communist Manifesto formed a new system of thinking for the middle class. It took a stance that most middle class Europeans were not willing to take on their own: "Nothing, according to Marx, could be hoped for from arguments to persuade people that change was morally desirable. Everything depended on the way history was actually going, towards the inevitable creation of a new working class by industrial society, the rootless wage-earners of the industrial cities whom he termed the industrial proletariat." This way of thinking greatly influenced the changes being made in European society in the 19th century. It influenced many people in their way of life.

Education, the social status of the bourgeoisie and the laborers, and Marxism were all very influential factors in the changes being made in Europe during the 1800’s. During this time, each aspect intertwined with beliefs brought on by the Communist Manifesto. These aspects continued to be influential to all of European society for centuries to come.

Works Cited

“Communism.” <>

Atkinson, Jason. The Latter Rain Page. 14 March 2002, p.1

Bannon, Alicia. SparkNotes on The Communist Manifesto. 3 March 2002, p. 1

Brians, Paul. Karl Marx and Fredercih Engels: The Communist Manifesto. 3 March
2002, p. 3.

Kuhn, Rick. Manifesto of the Communist Party. 3 March 2002, p. 1.
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