The typical example of class conflict described is class conflict within capitalism. This class conflict is seen to occur primarily between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and takes the form of conflict over hours of work, value of wages, division of profits, cost of consumer goods, the culture at work, control over parliament or bureaucracy, and economic inequality.
(I add that, while we fight amongst two main groups, a small percent enjoy profits and pretty much could care less about middle, working class, working poor and unemployable poor class. In India there are the Untouchables, here in Canada its First Nations, in Japan its Koreans, In England its the Irish, and so on, …)
The particular implementation of government programs which may seem purely humanitarian, such as disaster relief, can actually be a form of class conflict. In the USA class conflict is often noted in labor/management disputes. As far back as 1933 representative Edward Hamilton of ALPA, the Airline Pilot’s Association, used the term “class warfare” to describe airline management’s opposition at the National Labor Board hearings in October of that year. Apart from these day-to-day forms of class conflict, during periods of crisis or revolution class conflict takes on a violent nature and involves repression, assault, restriction of civil liberties, and murderous violence such as assassinations or death squads. (Zinn, People’s History)
- a sociologically defined class, especially in contemporary times, referring to people with a certain cultural and financial capital belonging to the middle or upper stratum of the middle class: the upper (haute), middle (moyenne) and petty (petite) bourgeoisie (which are collectively designated “the Bourgeoisie”). An affluent and often opulent stratum of the middle class (capitalist class) who stood opposite the proletariat class;
- a legally defined class of the Middle Ages to the end of the “Ancien Régime” (Old Regime) in France, that of inhabitants having the rights of citizenship and political rights in a city (comparable to the German term Bürgertum and Bürger);
- and, originally and generally, “those who live in the borough“, that is to say, the people of the city (including merchants and craftsmen), as opposed to those of rural areas; in this sense, the bourgeoisie began to grow in Europe from the 11th century and particularly during the Renaissance of the 12th century, with the first developments of rural exodus and urbanization.
The proletariat (/ˌproʊlɪˈtɛəriːət/ from Latin proletarius) is a term for the class of wage-earners (especially industrial workers), in acapitalist society, whose only possession of significant material value is their labor-power (their ability to work); a member of such a class is a proletarian.
Usage in Marxist theory
The term proletariat is used in Marxist theory to name the social class that does not have ownership of the means of production and whose only means of subsistence is to sell their labor power for a wage or salary. Proletarians are wage-workers, while some refer to those who receive salaries as the salariat. For Marx, however, wage labor may involve getting a salary rather than a wage per se. Marxism sees the proletariat and bourgeoisie (capitalist class) as occupying conflicting positions, since workers automatically wish their wages to be as high as possible, while owners and their proxies wish for wages (costs) to be as low as possible.
Karl Marx, who studied Roman law at the University of Berlin, used the term proletariat in his socio-political theory of Marxism to describe a working class unadulterated by private property and capable of a revolutionary action to topple capitalism in order to create classless society.
Usage in the Constitution of the Roman Republic
The proletarii constituted a social class of Roman citizens owning little or no property. The origin of the name is presumably linked with the census, which Roman authorities conducted every five years to produce a register of citizens and their property from which their military duties and voting privileges could be determined. For citizens with property valued 11,000 asses or less, which was below the lowest census for military service, their children—proles (from Latin prōlēs, “offspring”)—were listed instead of their property; hence, the name proletarius, “the one who produces offspring”. The only contribution of a proletarius to the Roman society was seen in his ability to raise children, the future Roman citizens who can colonize new territories conquered by the Roman Republic and later by the Roman Empire. The citizens who had no property of significance were called capite censi because they were “persons registered not as to their property…but simply as to their existence as living individuals, primarily as heads (caput) of a family.”
Although included in one of the five support centuriae of the Comitia Centuriata, proletarii were largely deprived of their voting rights due to their low social status caused by their lack of “even the minimum property required for the lowest class” and a class-based hierarchy of theComitia Centuriata. The late Roman historians, such as Livy, not without some uncertainty, understood the Comitia Centuriata to be one of three forms of popular assembly of early Rome composed of centuriae, the voting units whose members represented a class of citizens according to the value of their property. This assembly, which usually met on the Campus Martius to discuss public policy issues, was also used as a means of designating military duties demanded of Roman citizens. One of reconstructions of the Comitia Centuriata features 18 centuriae of cavalry, and 170 centuriae of infantry divided into five classes by wealth, plus 5 centuriae of support personnel called adsidui. The top infantry class assembled with full arms and armor; the next two classes brought arms and armor, but less and lesser; the fourth class only spears; the fifth slings. In voting, the cavalry and top infantry class were enough to decide an issue; as voting started at the top, an issue might be decided before the lower classes voted. In the last centuries of the Roman Republic (509-44 B.C.), the Comitia Centuriata became impotent as a political body, which further eroded already minuscule political power the proletarii might have had in the Roman society.
Following a series of wars the Roman Republic engaged since the closing of the Second Punic War (218–201), such as the Jugurthine War and conflicts in Macedonia and Asia, the significant reduction in the number of Roman family farmers had resulted in the shortage of people whose property qualified them to perform the citizenry’s military duty to Rome. As a result of the Marian reforms initiated in 107 B.C. by the Roman general Gaius Marius (157–86), the proletarii became the backbone of the Roman Army.
The caste system in India is a system of social stratification which has pre-modern origins, was transformed by the British Raj, and is today the basis of reservation in India. It consists of two different concepts, varna and jāti, which may be regarded as different levels of analysis of this system.
Varna may be translated as “class,” and refers to the four social classes which existed in the Vedic society, namely Brahmins,Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Certain groups, now known as Dalits, were historically excluded from the varna system altogether, and are still ostracised as untouchables.[page needed]