Karl Marx is a key figure behind the development of the conflict theory, one of the major perspectives of modern sociology. He is the author of The Communist Manifesto, a book of his economic and sociological ideas for the 20th century. The Manifesto is divided into five dimensions: class struggle, the oppression of the working class, communism, the concept of internationalism, and the place of religion in society. Class struggle was the dominant concept of Marx’s philosophy, as he saw a conflict between the wealthy ruling class and the proletariat as the primary social issue. Thus, the sociologist believed that the only way to address the gap between the rich and the poor and achieve equality was to destroy the old regime and establish the dictatorship of the working class. In Marx’s view, the society would benefit more from the proletariat gaining complete political control and transitioning from capitalism to communism.
Marx viewed communism as the sole option for further social development, with political power in the hands of workers, the absence of private property, and the abolition of classes. He claimed that, unlike capitalism, “communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society.” According to Marx, the change would not be sudden, with the society progressively evolving from capitalism to communism. Thus, capitalism was the product of evolution from primitive communism to slave society and feudalism. Humanity would need first to go through the stage of socialism to reach the final stage of communism. Overall, Marx saw communism as the last and lasting stage of the development of modern society.
In Marx’s Manifesto, internationalism was necessary for the healthy and equal development of society. His theory was that the unity of nations and the absence of mental and physical borders would be beneficial. In his main work on communism, he persuaded workers from different nations to unite their powers against capitalism in their own countries. It can be argued that Marx viewed internationalization as an opposing power to capitalistic globalization. Marx criticized international exploitation and supported the movement of the working-class people, who were oppressed by the economically privileged ruling classes. Thus, internationalization was essential for overthrowing the oppression of the working-class people, as their unity was critical for realizing communism.
Finally, Marx dissuaded people from subscribing to any religious beliefs. He famously compared it to opium, believing the ruling classes exploited it to keep workers in their place by giving them false hope and a sense of fulfillment. Thus, religion was employed to persuade the lower classes to follow the norms of inequality. In his view, religion was an instrument of manipulation as it offered people a better life after death, ascribed virtue and meaning to suffering, and promised supernatural intervention to solve problems. It created false consciousness, with the proletariat being exploited by the Bourgeois without realizing this because of the religious perception of God’s will. Marx claimed that religion leads to people turning their empirical world into an entity “that is only conceived, imagined, that confronts them as something foreign.” Overall, religion could only be beneficial in an exploitative system of capitalism, where working-class people were not afforded control over their labor conditions and could not have a place in communism.