The Consequences Of Capitalist Production

The most obvious consequence of the value processes at work under capitalism, and of their culmination in surplus value, is the division of modern society into two great classes between which there exists an ir­reconcilable clash of economic interests. The existence of classes with con­flicting interests Marx held to be a universal historical phenomenon. He and Engels wrote into the "Communist Manifesto" that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." The Marxian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, and the Marxian economic interpretation of history jointly support this conclusion, which continues:

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a com­plicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold grada­tion of social rank. In Ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lord, vassals, guildmasters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinc­tive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other—bourgeoisie and proletariat.