Social Class And Social Order: Marxism Versus Confucianism

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Class, as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, means a group of people sharing the same economic, social status or rank while the Cambridge Dictionary describes the same as a group of people within the society who have the same economic and social positions. Social order is a fundamental concept in sociology that refers to the way the various components of society work together to maintain the status quo which include: social structures and institutions, relations, interactions and behavior or cultural features such as norms, beliefs, and values. This is the organization of many interrelated parts of a society and is present when individuals agree to a shared social contract which states that certain rules and laws must be abided to and certain standards, values, and norms maintained.

Thomas Hobbes an English Philosopher in his book Leviathan argues that modern states were created to provide social order and in such a case people agree to empower the state to enforce the rule of law and to give up some individual power. Marx believes that having each problem examined in its own dynamic relationship to others and relating them to historical, social, political, and economic realities would be of greater influence rather than making abstract affirmations on groupings such matter, human nature and knowledge.

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According to theorists Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, religion plays a very important role towards social life. Philosophers view Marxism as a method of socioeconomic analysis viewing class relations and social conflict based on materialist interpretation of historical development which takes a dialectical view of social transformation.

German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 19th Century Works

Marxism can be translated to mean a society of grand course or great unity and a world in need of order, stability and development to develop change and has been understood differently by different people and bodies such as social movements understanding and practices before the year 1914 and the Soviet’s Marxism work-out by Vladimir Ilich Lenin which was modified by Joseph Stalin under the name of Marxism-Leninism. This later became the doctrines layout for communist parties before Russian Revolution in 1917. Marx does not formulate his hypothesis in any exact manner and we can therefore deduce that different things or expressions served him for identical realities.

Confucius on the other hand believes in an existence of a spiritual Supreme Being who controls the universe, of people living within the standards set by heaven and that man is responsible for everything that transpires in his life. In his argument, he believes that man cannot do anything within their ability to change their destinies, their fated span of life, but have the only ability to determine his accomplishments and what to be recalled for when they are dead. He focused on laying out of educational standards, initiating of ethical family models and engaging public interaction, hence advocating for personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.

Man do not belong to himself but serves the purpose unto which the heaven designed and mandated for him and for the service of fellow mankind. He bases his argument towards the practice of forms of the Golden Rule: “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others;” and “Since you yourself desire standing then help others achieve it, since you yourself desire success then help others attain it” (Lunyu 12.2, 6.30). He holds that social cohesion can only be mastered by people who have learned self-discipline. Every person needs to administer respect to his superiors and to perform his role in a manner that proves his worth to society, earning him respect and living to the standards fulfilling his purpose for life.

For Confucius he believes that what characterizes ones supremacy is his possession of ‘virtue’ which according to him a kind of moral power allowing one to win discipleship without resorting to physical force. He concludes that such virtue is what enables a ruler to maintain good leadership without the worry of relying on loyal and effective assistance.

In summary, these presents both Marxism and Confucianism hypotheses in great contrasts. While Marx believes in a person’s class and social order to be determined by his own activities hence determining his economic development and social position in a society, Confucius believes inequality to all and that man’s social class is heavenly determined and that everybody has to behave in a manner that creates good relationship between him and others. According to Marxism, a society of great unity and is partially the responsibility of capitalism and of an interim socialistic society built toward communism, while to Confucianism, it is an expression of establishing a moderately prosperous society.

In conclusion, both Marxism and Confucianism reveal that man, whatever principles he bases his lifestyle on, is responsible for his own destiny, what social class to be identified with and what to be remembered for when his time is gone. Whichever way one lives, whether spiritually basing on religion or on an individual basis, one has to be in control of his own life.


  1. Will Barratt¬- Social Class on Campus: Theories and Manifestations Paperback- March 9th, 2011
  2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Published Wed Jul 3, 2002
  3. Manifest Der Kommunistischen Partei the Communist (1848)


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