Marx: I believe you will agree with me Mills, that progress is possible, but only if the proletariat can succeed. This unfortunately, must come at the expense of capitalism as a system that oppresses them (Slaughter, 1975).
Mills: I agree with you Marx, that progress is possible, but only if the class structure is preserved along with its distribution of political power, class as a means for historical change, it’s connection with educational development, and its promotion of personal morality (Broadbent, 1968).
Marx: How can you argue that capitalism can survive as the basis of personal morality considering the current oppressive plight of the working classes and the wretched existence that capitalism affords them?
Mills: Are you speaking of the happiness of the working class as a necessary component of the capitalist society? Happiness alone cannot be the rational purpose of human life and actions, because happiness itself is unattainable (Mills, 1863).
Marx: If the attainment of happiness is not the reason for moral behavior, then surely it must be the great duty of the working class to preserve capitalism for some other reason than to perpetuate the economic monopolies and political privilege of the wealthy (Wheen, 1999).
Mills: Do you not understand that if the working class were to rise up to a level where they were to achieve political power, the force could be oppressive and violent, thus tearing apart the fabric of the capitalist system? (Broadbent, 1968).
Marx: Are you arguing for the conformity of the middle class because it is safe? BAH! The wealthy will always be in favor of their own selfish interests., but without the working class, their economic interest would not even exist (Marx, 1848). The wealth of the nation exists at the hands of the proletariat, not in the bank accounts of the bourgeoisie. If the elite wish to sustain the lifestyle of their choice, they must attend to the needs of the working class, otherwise they are only digging their own grave and the system is bound to fail (Marx, 1848). Reducing class disparity is the only way to save the democratic way of life.
Mills: Preposterous! The individual liberties of the middle-class can only be a sustained by the charity of the bourgeoisie in providing the means for the whole of society to educate themselves and to maintain their individual liberties within society.
Marx: How can you call the economic advantage of the privileged a charity to society. The only thing charitable by them is the lining of their own pockets and the perpetuation of their own monopolies (Wheen, 1999). All of this comes at the expense of the working class and the meager means with which they must carve out their existence. Overthrowing the power of the upper class of society is the moral duty of the working class so that they may achieve sustainability of their future and the ability to continue to contribute to the greater good.
Mills: But surely you can’t mean that. That would create a revolution of mass proportion. A revolution would destroy progress, which I thought was the reason for coming together today.
Marx: Sometimes a revolution is exactly what it takes my friend. As far as progress is concerned, further progress can only come if the proletariat can rise up and receive the fruits of their labors.
Mills: That kind of thinking will destroy us all. Without the educated to manage the affairs of democracy, control of the future of the nation will fall into the hands of the uneducated masses. Surely you can’t mean that this is better, or that it represents any type of progress.
Marx: Indeed my friend, that is exactly what I mean by progress.
- Broadbent, J. (1968). The Importance of Class in the Political Theory of John Stuart Mill. Canadian Journal of Political Science. 1 (3): 270-287.
- Marx, K. (1848). The Communist Manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.marxist.net/marx/m2frame.htm?workingclass.htm
- Mill, J. (1863). Utilitarianism. Retrieved from https://www.utilitarianism.com/mill1.htm
- Slaughter, C. (1975). Marxist Theory and Class Consciousness. Marxism & the Class Struggle, New Park Publications. Retrieved from https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/slaughte.htm
- Wheen, F. (1999). Marx and the Working Class. Karl Marx. Retrieved from http://marxmyths.org/francis-wheen/article.htm