Many of you will have never had to produce a piece of philosophical writing before. Accordingly, I thought it might be helpful to walk you through what such a document is like. For this first assignment, you will be writing a short, pre-designed essay to summarize one of the main themes in this week’s reading. For some of you, the instructions for this task will be a bit frustrating, since there will be little room for you to give expression to your own voice as a writer. But bear with me just this once: future assignments will be much less restrictive, and you may learn more than you think from this exercise.
Write a short essay that follows the structure below:
- For your first sentence, write: One of the key themes of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto is the emergence and eventual supremacy of a new social class: the so-called “Proletariat.”
- Begin your second sentence with: “According to Marx, the proletarians are”. Then finish the sentence by explaining in your own words (briefly!) who the proletarians are.
- For your third sentence, write: Under capitalism, proletarians find themselves subordinated to another class: the bourgeoisie.
- Begin your fourth sentence with: “As Marx characterizes them, the bourgeois are”. Then finish the sentence by explaining who the bourgeois are.
- In a sentence or two, explain why the bourgeoisie are able to subordinate the proletarians.
- Now start a new paragraph by writing: According to Marx, however, the process of capitalist development brings proletarians together in cities, where they are increasingly made aware of the circumstances faced by other proletarians like them.
- In your next two sentences, describe what Marx thinks will happen to the proletarians’ views when they are concentrated together in the cities, and then say a bit about what kinds of political changes they will support at first.
- Start a third paragraph by writing: In time, Marx thinks that capitalism will reach a point where further increases in productivity are not possible without decreasing profitability. When this happens, the economy will find itself in a recurring state of crisis.
- In a sentence or two, explain what the proletarians will do when this happens.