Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism / Communist Manifesto PART 2

I consider many parts of the communist manifesto to be melodramatic. In his book, Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism, Ben Singer especially touches on the melodrama presented in the communist manifesto when he writes that "melodrama reflects the revolutionary shift in political and ideological power". In terms of the communist manifesto, Ben Singer's "revolutionary shift" can be interpreted two ways. On one hand, the revolutionary shift in power could refer to the broad gap in power between the bourgeoisie and proletariat. However, the communist manifesto proposes a reactionary, revolutionary shift of their own in which the proletariats gain power and eliminate the oppressive upper class.

The use of melodrama in the manifesto is to ultimately paint a simple picture of the divide between the working class and the elite. Staying true to Ben Singer's statement about "melodrama's ability to portray powerlessness within the harsh and predictable material life of modern capitalism", the communist manifesto describes work in a manner that aims to further stratify the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The communist manifesto reads:

"proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market."
The manifesto aims to depict the proletariat as workers whose work ultimately contributes to their perpetual conditions. Sure, the proletariat work for the bourgeoisie, but the proletariat still receive compensation. The language in the passage above almost implies some sort of slave trade or slave labor. The manifesto uses an extremely negative, melodramatic tone to propose that a capitalist society is a society in which, for the working class, movement to the upper class is impossible.

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