Full Text

Class, poverty, and revolution

Paul Rubinson


Subject History, Philosophy
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place World

Period 2000 - present
1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799, 1800-1899, 1900-1999

People Marx, Karl

Key-Topics inequality, labor, labor movements, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00362.x


Extract

Any analysis that examines poverty, class, and inequality faces the challenge of dealing with numerous misconceptions about the poor and working classes. While popular culture conjures up images of tumultuous masses eager to overthrow the oppressive shackles of capitalism, any serious observer quickly finds that poor people have little access to media, so that assumptions and generalizations often speak for them. In politics, conventional wisdom often labels poor people as angry: beneath the surface of poverty churns a volatile mixture of resentment and entitlement, as the poor classes stand ready to unleash their desires through crime, violence, and even revolution. Such an image is a twisted evolution of ancient ideas, as observers since the times of ancient Greece have theorized that economic inequality leads deprived classes to rebel. Most famously in the nineteenth century, Karl Marx posited a formula for revolution, and in the process exhorted the working classes to rebel. Ever since, political leaders and ruling elites have feared the revolutionary power of the underprivileged. To a great extent, protests and revolutions are rooted in economic factors such as class, poverty, and inequality. Many of the most famous revolutions resulted in the dramatic redistribution of wealth. Upheavals like the French and Russian revolutions drastically overturned existing class hierarchies, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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