Karl Marx describes “Society as a whole [as being] more and more [split] up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other-bourgeoisie and proletariat” (Marx 124). As Marx made his distinction between upper class, bourgeoisie, and lower class, proletariats, it is important to keep in mind the societal structure at the time. To understand how classes were created and the disparity between the rich and poor, or, bourgeoisie and proletariat, it is necessary to examine how people came to be rich and poor. Exploring a time before money existed will help us to process and understand reasons why the binary between rich and poor exists and how it is reflective of low and high art distinctions.
To reach a time before money was instituted, the philosophies of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau have each conceptualized human nature by studying man before the development of society and law. This process of moving into society with laws from a completely natural state, are referred to as stages of the state of nature.
Rousseau’s conception of the state of nature deals with man living simply in nature and how the progression of society ultimately turns man against his fellow man. Rousseau’s model of the state of nature begins with 1) the happy savage stage, in which man is a free agent with motives of self-preservation, pity, and compassion. This stage is before the establishment of money and society, and man operates on instincts to survive and does not belong to a diverse group. This period with regard to time is before art exists or at least before anything can be interpreted as art. Motives for man at this stage are primarily of biological and physiological needs, such as food, sleep, and reproduction (Rousseau). This stage is void of any class distinctions, but these natural characteristics and needs based on instinct have been deemed barbaric and “primitive” with regard to art and within society.
The nascent stage is stage 2), which involves emerging society and is characterized by one being born. There is no dependency upon others and there is no concept of property, and therefore no inequality within this stage (Rousseau).
The breakdown of an emerging society is stage 3), which is signaled by the introduction of the division of labor and the creation of metallurgy and the arts. During this stage, property comes into the equation as natural resources become utilized in everyday life and people become dependent upon each other as a result of not providing for themselves as they did in the happy savage state. With the commodification of natural resources, there becomes a dependency between those who control the resources and all those who need to use them. At this stage of society people are no longer self-sufficient, but rely upon the network of society to provide food, shelter and jobs (Rousseau). At this level of society, the founders most often control the...