class conflict and inequalities

Written by Muhammad Wajahat Sultan 12:33 pm Articles, Current Affairs, Published Content

Class Conflict and Inequalities in Capitalist Societies

Although capitalism can be credited with creating wealth and opportunities, the author, Muhammad Wajahat Sultan, claims that it has also aggressively divided class systems. Hence, he proposes for capitalism to pivot away from an economic outlook and towards that of an ethical or social frame. The economic aspect of capitalism, he believes, is causing social class antagonism and class warfare.
About the Author(s)
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Mr Muhammad Wajahat Sultan has a BSc in Transportation Engineering From the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore and a BA in International Relations. He has a Master's degree in English Literature and he is currently pursuing his second Master's degree in Political Sciences and Sociology.

The Capitalist Order

Mathew Arnold, a literary giant, referred to three social classes: the barbarian class, which is regarded in a modern context as bourgeoisie class lacking the sense of reciprocal altruism for society, the second class is Philistines, in contemporary context regarded as petty bourgeoisies class lacking the importance of moral virtue and just busy in making money for survivals; the third and last critical social class is the populace, which in the modern context is regarded as the proletariat class.

In recent decades, due to changes in moral shift, Richard Dawkins referred to it as moral zeitgeist. The capitalist order attached different connotations with the meanings of life. From macro-corporations to micro-corporations, the change in ethical responsibilities causes a lethal disruption in the social order.

For example, the normal morals are to maximize capital and profit from the collective level to the individual level. Capitalism has failed to procure democratic values, a shared sense of coordination and cooperation, and social and ethical values towards other social beings. The constant emphasis on individualistic values, conformist tendencies, and ritualistic behavior condoned by capitalism causes class warfare in modern contemporary societies.

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Class Warfare

To quote an example, with the emergence of the modern digital finance system of credit cards and ATM cards, people have lost the sense of worth and value of paper money. To quote this social change as an accelerator for many in social realms, realistically speaking, disrupts spending over commodities and social order.

There is no system to sustain or combat this vicious cycle of uncontrollable expenditures in the hand of one social class and relative deprivation for other social types. Capitalism requires to be re-organized, not defeated. No other system appears near to providing the inventions and economic development that capitalism has spurred worldwide.

Paul Collier, in his book ‘The Future of Capitalism,’ asserted that if you gauge things like GDP growth and lifespan, life is reasonable for more people worldwide than ever in history and yet several people are challenging the capitalist policy that generated those profits. There’s a good sense and vivid manifestation that the system is in crisis.

Shifting to the Community

In this era of breakneck technological advancement, we need to shift the spectrum of morals from the corporate level to the community level for preparing a social class with a shared sense of harmony and prosperity. The capitalist doctrine to maximize wealth for its stakeholders is problematic and not functional for a complex interdependent and interconnected world.

Class conflict and inequalities are observed from the rising slum population and issues of social pathology. People are alienated from the essence of their origin due to a commercialized life. The rise of rape culture can be deduced as the result of class antagonism; the capitalist order failed to provide social identity to the particular social classes that created the vacuum of self-identity.

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The people with a lack of self-identity are motivated to commit such heinous crimes to proclaim themselves or superego. When a person fails to attain a particular identity, they are encouraged to encounter deviant behavior to restore their identity. In recent years, rapists have been found to biologically force someone to accomplish power and self vigorousness as a source of peace and conformity for their behavior.

Such violent crimes are rising due to class antagonistic attitudes cultivated due to indifferent social stratification. When someone has tremendous wealth in one street, and someone has nothing to share, the sense of wealth and consciousness of relative deprivation, this class warfare is initiated.

Mitigating Class Conflict and Inequalities

The capitalist indoctrination of “economic man” borrowed from utilitarianism should be shifted to “social man”. If capitalism desires to rule over the social classes, it is high time to change the culture of economic capitalism to ethical or social capitalism. There is no doubt that capitalism created recognition and wealth in recent decades.

Still, at the same time, it created a rift between the privileged and underprivileged classes. Capitalism is sharing the best economic and political system, but the direction taken after the birth of neoliberalism is scary. The system is scant to cope with the emerging complex social order in the 21st century, so it should be re-directed with the blend of modern economic recipes.

Capitalism is creating new jobs, new markets, new opportunities and new differences, new discriminations, and new social identities. The continual war of social identities, social approvals, and social recognition is the new form of warfare, and capitalism is playing the role of militarism in this regard.

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Too much concentration on the self and individual identities is parting individuals from the virtue of physical identities to virtual identities that absorb the comfort and belongings that will be a vibrant contributor for coming apocalyptic social identities if not shifted in terms of structure. Hence, to label capitalism responsible for class alienation in the words of Karl Marx wouldn’t be wrong.

To end the thesis, a “shared individuality evolves the foundation for farsighted reciprocity.” Returning to moral pragmatism can steer our politics and regenerate the capitalist network from its recent polarized disappointment to deal with the divisions wrecking our communities. In Pakistan, it is also a need of an hour to protect the identities of subcultures that are threatened due to the hegemony of mass culture.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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