impact that class, race, and capitalism has on civil rights

Many scholars have attempted to explain the impact that class, racism, and capitalism have on civil rights, particularly democracy. In this regard, Marx, King, and Mill are among the noteworthy individuals who have made significant contributions to the cause. There has been concern in the United States, as in many other countries, about how the government runs. Furthermore, the US constitution allows for dissent for a variety of reasons. The following debate will examine the works of Mill, King, and Marx on just participation in the republic and how this relates to citizen representation. Also, there are various functions that dissent plays in both young and mature democracies. However, the discussion will consider the US in elaborating the role that dissent play, especially, at a time when polarized views undermine trust between citizen and the state.

Marx, King and Mill’s Arguments and Participation in a Democracy

There exist few intellectuals that have been decorated in the leftist world as Karl Marx, for many reasons, among them, being for his argument on economy and race. Marx’s ideas have a bearing on civil rights, the participation of people and their representation in a republic. According to Marx’s theory on classes, he argues that Capitalism breeds classes (Fuchs, 638). In that, in a capitalist society, capitalist exploits workers to create wealth. In so doing, they remain with enough wealth to create different classes. In effect, the system come up with the poor, middle class and the upper class or rather, the rich.

In addition to that, Marx believed that racism has an economic motive, in that, the exploiter uses it to make blacks vulnerable and ready to accept any offer. According to Marx, Capitalists, who happen to own the means of production, are willing to continue using it to increase profit. In this thinking, Marx believes that Capitalist use it to cause division among working class. The division of whites and blacks, thus, benefits the rich by not allowing white workers to integrate with black workers (Callinicos, 71). In the US for instance, there has been exploitation of African-American creating negative assumptions which include but are not limited to, that blacks need to be paid less, do not deserve decent jobs or even vie for elective positions.

Another prominent personality is King, who spearheaded the rights of blacks. He believed that economic equality is not far from racial equality as the two are not only acts of injustice against blacks, but also, make blacks lag behind in the participation of the country’s affairs. Therefore, his idea was that everyone, irrespective of the race was entitled to have a decent job without strings attached to the job or salary. Moreover, King believed that there is the need for formation of a labor movement that will provide avenue for articulating grievances that were affecting black workers (Garrow, 34). He was also of the notion that blacks tend to be judged by their skin color in elective seats but not based on merits. Therefore, by reducing economic, political and racial injustices, the country also makes a move in ensuring that there is active participation of all her citizen.

Moreover, there is Mill who also dealt with the issue of economic, political and racial injustices as far as civil rights are concerned. Mill’s idea resonates more on moral grounds. Additionally, he tries to focus on economic injustices imposed on people. In particular, Mill believes that superiority and dominance of white people are as a result of racial division in areas such as labor and property and that whites are determined to make every attempt to retain the dominance. In addition to that, he argues that moral appeal are insufficient to make dominant group give away this kind of prestige, of political and economic supremacy, but a social rebellion can make the change possible (Mills, 29). In addition to that, Mill is of the idea that racial division in crucial resources such as property and labor is a major impediment for there has to be unity in fighting the forces.

Class, Race and the Ideology in Relation to a Just and Representative Republic

Therefore, from the argument presented by Marx, King, and Mill, it is evident that capitalism is the genesis of all classes in society. The bad thing about this is that capitalism grows through exploitation. On the other hand, racism has made it possible for blacks to feel inferior and the people embracing the vice are reluctant to abolish it for it serves their selfish interest. As far as democracy is involved, blacks’ group are not given the right to participate in legislation or decision-making process, and the ruling class seems not to be willing to put an end to the vice for it serves their interest. Additionally, with the inferiority associated with blacks, it is unlikely that whites can vote blacks in any elective position, something that undermines democracy of any nation. Additionally, a just republic does not treat her citizen with preferential standard based on skin color. Thus, it is evident that the injustices do not only undermine democracy but make it so hard for a just society to be achieved.

Role of Dissent in American Democracy

In any society, dissent plays crucial role in keeping authority in check or by offering alternative decisions. As far as American democracy is concerned, and at a time when conflicting views are tearing people apart from trusting the government, dissent is crucial for some reasons. Firstly, dissent is important in ensuring the state does not change to dictatorial or pointing out abuse of power. In America for instance, the media serves this role in ensuring that those in power do not abuse the law and this is what ensures that the rule of the people, that is, democracy prevails. Additionally, dissent serves to foster social and political change (Martin, 45). In the US, activism has played a crucial role in strengthening the country’s democracy. For instance, blacks enjoy equal rights with whites thanks to activism on racial inequality. Equal rights in all races suggest that all the people have same right to participate in democratic process.

Dissent can be instrumental in enhancing cohesion and integration among various groups and tribes. In America, there exist different religions, tribes, and groups. Democracy cannot be termed as mature when people isolate themselves from those they do not identify with but keep company of people they hold similar views. In a mature democracy, in this case, the United States, dissent serves an important role of allowing people to disagree but at the same time make it possible to find common ground to interact as fellow citizens. Lastly, a democratic life involves a lot which includes but is not limited to allowing a free press, formation of activism, peaceful assembly and attack on governments (Martin, 34). Moreover, dissenting views may extend to incorporate petitioning the government. In the US, dissent offers an opportunity for a democratic life to exist which is important in cases where people or the government has low trust on each other. Therefore, the benefits that come with dissent are numerous and can be used to strengthen the US democracy.


The ideas of Marx, Mill, and King have great bearing on civil rights and also shed some light on the reason why classes, capitalism and racism act as stabling block for fair representation in a democracy or republic. In particular, Marx is of the opinion that capitalists encourage racism for the sake of maximizing profit out of practice. On the other hand, Mill believes that racism is used as a dividing mechanism for oppressors to achieve their objectives. In articulating the plight of blacks, King argues that racial equality cannot be achieved without economic and political equality. The ideas suggest that black’s inferiority is stemming from racism which among other reason resulting from profit motives makes it so hard for any republic to argue that it embraces justice and favors representation of all her citizens. On the other hand, allowing dissent in the US is associated with strengthening democracy. Among the benefits that come with giving room for dissent include but are not limited to keeping the government in check, offering an alternative solution, allowing tolerance and fostering social and political change among the things associated with strengthening democracy.

Works Cited


Callinicos, Alex. The revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx. Haymarket Books, 2012.

Fuchs, Christian. “With or Without Marx? With or Without Capitalism? A Rejoinder to Adam Arvidsson and Eleanor Colleoni.” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society 10.2 (2012): 633-645.

Garrow, David J. Bearing the cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the southern Christian leadership conference. Open Road Media, 2015.

Martin, Robert WT. Government by dissent: protest, resistance, and radical democratic thought in the early American republic. NYU Press, 2013.

Mills, Charles W. The racial contract. Cornell University Press, 2014.

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