Demand for social justice and equality has recently arisen with a new strength. Achieving the American Dream manifested itself in upward mobility that has linked to the opportunity with education and employment (Kendall, 2017). However, the idea of creating a more just and fair system without inequality and oppression is not novel. Karl Marx, a famous German economist and philosopher, proposed a concept of a classless society that was supposed to replace a system in which capitalists exploit the working class (Kendall, 2017). Ironically, Marx’s ideas served as an ideological basis for one of the most oppressive and inhumane political regimes in history, such as Pol Pot’s regime in Kampuchea and Maoist China. Nevertheless, I believe that it would be wrong to blame the concept of classless society for the atrocities committed in the name of its creation.
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The Kampuchea and Maoist China cases showed what happens when the oppressed seize power from the oppressors and start using it as a means of vengeance. For instance, up to two million people became the victims of the Kampuchean Khmer Rouge regime (BBC News, 2018). Instead of the classless society, the formerly oppressed formed a beneficial hierarchy, in which they became the new masters and dictated to others. I suppose that mindset is persistent within humanity, and the spectrum of political ideas has a negligible influence over it. For example, the concept of meritocracy is often viewed positively since it provides opportunities for talented people regardless of their social status (Meredith, 2020). As a result of meritocracy, talented people are able to join privileged classes, such as bankers, professionals and merchants (Kendall, 2017). Therefore, one might argue that meritocracy creates a new ground for discrimination because it separates the “wealthy”, “intelligent” and “virtuous” elites from the rest of society, thus reproducing inequality.
It would still be desirable to remove as many obstacles and sources of inequality in society as possible, but without turning justice into persecution. However, a truly classless society in Marx’s meaning is a utopia, which is virtually impossible to achieve. It would be highly challenging to prevent a vicious circle of the oppressed becoming the new masters since the creation of a new, favorable social hierarchy would be too tempting for them. Therefore, instead of building a classless society, we should focus on keeping the elites accountable and ethical.
BBC News. (2018). Khmer Rouge: Cambodia’s years of brutality. Web.
Kendall, D. (2017). Sociology in our times (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Meredith, S. (2020). A ‘society… divisible into the blessed and the unblessed’: Michael Young and meritocracy in postwar Britain. The Political Quarterly, 91(2), 379-387. Web.