Class Conflict: Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin Ideas Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

Class conflict is defined as the tensions and antagonisms that characterize a society. It means that various classes in society have conflicting interests, which results from socioeconomic positions and outlooks. Class tension plays a critical role in understanding the nature of society right from prehistoric times when feudalism was the only type of class struggle to the modern type of class conflict that is capitalistic in nature. Marx defined class conflict as a struggle between the ruling class (bourgeoisie) and the working class (proletariat). This class conflict is inevitable in any capitalistic society.

Bakunin based his analysis on the European enlightenment to argue that class conflict is a result of the struggle between the learned and the ruling class in society. He never believed that human beings are individualistic, which is a major difference between his views on class conflicts and the views of Marx. His view was that human beings are social beings and tend to live in communities in order to achieve efficiency. However, he supported the idea that individuals are guided by mechanical or natural laws meaning that they aspire to fulfill their selfish interests before they think of somebody else. This article compares the ideas of Marx and Bakunin. The comparison will focus on two major concepts, which include the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and political reform.

Karl Marx was a German philosopher who has extensively written on society and the factors that make it the way it is. His focus was on economics, as well as what causes the ideology and politics of any nation to change and shift in the most unexpected ways. One of the central ideas of Karl Marx was the fact that the battle between different classes in society is born through people having private property and the amount, as well as the quality of the said attributes. The reality shows that there are many people who possess much more than is needed for the necessities of life. This can be said about any society, as there are always people who are more successful than a large portion of the population.

An interesting fact is that this sort of natural law is true for any nation and country. There are places in the world that are considered the third world, but there are still people that are very wealthy and have enormous political or social status. This begs the question of how this happened and what are the results according to the greater good of society. One of the causes of such division is the number of opportunities that people are presented with. The conditions that exist for a certain individual become favorable in such a way that they are able to produce more gain with what they have. This leads to much faster development of an individual. The amount of capital that one has is a key instrument in the development of further resources.

Mikhail Bakunin is another thinker who was from Russia. He was a person who addressed the issue of division between people, and the environment that he was in was very beneficial for the study of such class separation. He was very well educated and was aware of the views of many German philosophers. He later moved to Berlin and decided to stay there, as the return to Russia seemed unbearable for the great mind. This came out of the problem that people in Russia were not favored and respected for their ideologies and heightened views of human abilities. German society was much more favorable and respectful of people who thought that individuals should not be separated. For Mikhail Bakunin, the sort of thinking and actions that he was involved in led to a revolution. His philosophy was that there is a distinct separation in society into two separate entities. One was the national and governmental while the other was social movement focused on revolution. The government was focused on the administration and control of people that are the majority of the social fabric.

In terms of political reforms, Bakunin (2004) was against the idea of the working class fighting for their rights in order to achieve equality in society. To him, this would bring about social and political instabilities since each class is concerned with its own interests. In fact, no class would sit back and watch its power being taken over by the other group. He was of the view that the state is made up of the unnatural monstrosity, implying that any attempt to capture state power would definitely contaminate the ideas of the revolutionaries. In other words, freedom fighters would easily be corrupted once they acquire state power. On the other hand, Marx (2004) was of the view that the state is made up of the committee of the ruling class. In this regard, the proletariat would not manage to acquire state since it is not yet time. For the proletariat to achieve its objectives, class-consciousness has to be attained. The struggle for reforms, according to Marx, entails reorganization, and self-determination. Through this, the working class would turn out to be active agents.

Regarding the dictatorship of the proletariat, Bakunin noted that the working class should rise up against the state since it forms classes. The state encourages the idea of inheritance of property, which is against the natural law (McLaughlin, 2007). The state machinery, such as the police and the military, are major impediments to the individual fulfillment of his or her rights. For the proletariat to achieve its interests, it has to look for ways through which the power of the state would be reduced. The absence of the state would present equal opportunities for the poor in society. Marx was against this view because the state is simply a property of the owners of the means of production. According to Marx, the state does not play any role in creating poverty in society. The ruling class uses the state to create unfavorable laws that would only support their agenda (McLellan, 1988). Therefore, the working class should aim at capturing state power it would support their guest for political and economic power.


Bakunin, M. (2004). Marxism, Freedom, and the State. Whitefish: Kessinger.

Marx, K. (2004).The communist manifesto. United States: Kessinger Pub..

McLaughlin, P. (2007). Mikhail Bakunin: The Philosophical Basis of His Theory of Anarchy. New York: Algora Pub.

McLellan, D. (1988). Karl Marx: Selected writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Read more
Leave a comment
Order Creative Sample Now
Choose type of discipline
Choose academic level
  • High school
  • College
  • University
  • Masters
  • PhD

Page count
1 pages
$ 10