Failed Revolutions In "Office Space" Essay

1717 words - 7 pages

The film “Office Space” depicts several employees at a software firm trying and failing at rebelling against the company they work for. The revolutions against the management and their subsequent failures are explained by Karl Marx’s theories on the proletariat and bourgeoisie in The Communist Manifesto. The problem that the workers encountered was a result of not going far enough in their attempts at improving their lives.
In proving the failed rebellions of the employees can be explained by The Communist Manifesto, it must first be proven that the movie accurately represents the struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie classes. In this movie the employees at Initech and their upper management represent the continuation of the “freedman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman” in the many forms of “oppressor and oppressed” in society (Marx Ch. 1). If true this means that the movie should serve as a microcosm of the eternal class struggle.
The bourgeoisie are described by Marx as increasing their power by “naked, shameless, brutal exploitation” of the working classes (Marx Ch. 1). This describes the actions of the bosses at Initech, with the movie driven mainly by the exploitation of their workers. This is best seen by their laying off all the employees they can to maximize profits, and their manipulation of Milton’s problems in articulating his grievances (Office Space). Marx also writes that the bourgeoisie are constantly “revolutionizing the instruments of product, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society,” in their pursuit of more capital (Marx Ch. 1). This is also displayed at the Initech company, with the employees being occupied with changing software so that it uses use four digit dates instead of two (Office Space). The management also is changing things with the layoff of employees and in the constant rearrangement of the employees’ cubicles (Office Space). The bosses at Initech have been shown to be representatives of the bourgeoisie as described by Karl Marx, now the employees must be shown to be representatives of the proletariat.
The first mentions of the proletariat in The Communist Manifesto are accompanied by the descriptor “the modern working class,” so even from that the employees at Initech can be described as being part of the proletariat (Marx Ch. 1). It still must be shown that they represent the proletariat class, for this movie to be an accurate microcosm. The proletariat as Marx describes them are people “who live only so long as they find work” (Marx Ch. 1). In the film when the main character Peter talks about quitting his job the first thing he is asked is what is he “going to do about money and bills,” showing the main reason people in the movie want to keep their jobs is survival (Office Space). Marx also writes that because of “the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the...

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