World History since 1500
Essay Assignment (#1)
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto (New York: International Publishers, 1948)
In opening the Manifesto, Marx proclaims that every society in human history has been gripped by
“class struggles.” Unlike liberal assumptions that saw society as comprised of free, atomized individuals,
Marx indicates that relations of power between groups are at the core of actual human experience.
Assignment: In a 4.5-5.0 page (1,125-1,250 word) essay discuss Marx’s critique of capitalist economy
and society (circa 1848). In examining this problem be sure to develop what Marx means by the term
“class,” how classes are formed, their relationship to other classes, and most importantly, the two
classes he sees as in increasing “struggle” (conflict) in the industrial capitalism of the early nineteenth
Marx analyzes (and prophesizes) that industrial capitalism is subject to an increasing series of crises and
ultimately will produce its own doom. What is the source of these crises (depressions)? What is the
impact of industrial crisis upon the proletariat (industrial working class)? How does Marx predict the
industrial working class will respond to the increasing poverty and misery that accompanies the
intensifying crises of industrial capitalism?
Be sure to include relevant quotations from the Manifesto as well as page indicators in parentheses.
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