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Nabeel Solehdin

English 114B
Professor Srmabekian
30 January 2015
Communist Manifesto vs Black Mirror
The Communist Manifesto by Fredrick Engels and Karl Marx, portrays a
socioeconomic idea of communism that involves a struggle between the middle class and the
lower working class; Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. In the television show, Black Mirror; season 1
episode 2 Fifteen Million Merit, ideas about the class struggle from the Communist Manifesto
are portrayed in this utopian world. In the television show there are two types of people, first
type of people collect merits while riding a bicycle every day to satisfy the basic needs of a
person which include food and shelter. The second type of people are the ones who do not have
to work and they put on commercials for the people on the bikes to watch. Although there are
two types of people in the utopian society from the show, in the Communist Manifesto, there are
also two types of classes which have a struggle of meeting basic needs which leads to a
comparison between the two struggling for basic needs and the ability to move up in society.
In the Communist Manifesto, the bourgeoisie own the means of production allowing
labors to work for them with a certain wage. For example bourgeoisie will be the owner of a
factory and in the factory they have workers producing work for wages. The proletariat class are
the workers who work hard to make money but the problem they have is that the money they get
is only good for spending it on necessities to live such as food and shelter. In the television show,
the same concept of the two classes intertwine with the bicycle runners and the people on the

commercial. The people on the bicycle represent the proletariat class because they ride their
bicycles to receive some type of credit or currency. The credit is only used to either pay for food
or other basic necessities, such as tooth paste, and also for a ticket on attempting to go on a show
to prove you are a star. The ticket to prove you are a star costs a lot of money which is almost
impossible to get. The only way to receive so much money is by reducing basic necessities
meaning a person cannot eat. A common struggle for the proletariat class and the bicycle runners
is only working to survive. In a sense it is like a prison because it is almost impossible to move
classes.
The Communist Manifesto explains capitalism as an unfair trade because the proletariat
class work for the owner of the means of production meaning continue to produce wage and
production all by meeting the basic living necessities. Essentially the proletariat have a very low
percentage in getting out of the class by moving up to the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie own the
means of production so if you are born in that class you will remain in that class due to
inheritance of the means of production. For instance, a family owns a factory and the head of the
household in the patriarchal society dies meaning the next male of the family is considered to be
the head of the factory. The worker remains a worker and have no way of moving up owning the
means of production. In the television show the idea of moving up in the utopian society remains
the same way as Marx and Engels see it. The bicycle runners have to sacrifice basic needs such
as food to get a surplus on their credit. The ticket to go on the show costs fifteen million merits
which is very hard to get but once that is achieved, a test is still being placed before you can
move up. There are many other people that try to get on the show and the person is usually
picked at random. For instance women have a high chance of moving up because of their body
and in reality, women still have a chance of moving up because of marriage with an owner of the

means of production. If a person was randomly selected to go on the show, if they had talent they
would be tested by 3 judges which is even harder to theoretically move up in society. In a way
movement between classes is possible but it is ridiculously hard to move up while still
maintaining basic needs.
Capitalism is also unfair the proletariat society because the owner of the means of
production picks the wage in which the labor works for. The extra surplus that is given to the
production, the bourgeoisie keep it because they are greedy in a way that they do not want to up
the wage. If the wage goes up then the owner of the means of production loses more money for
themselves to live their extravagant middle class life. In the show, it is also portrayed as unfair
for receiving so little credit for working long and hard for a daily meal. In the end, they still
needed talent in order to move up in their class. If they were not the best of the best singers,
dancers, etc, then they could not move up in rank.
In season 1 episode 2 of Black Mirror, it depicts an ideal utopian world in which life is
related to the social theories from the Communist Manifesto. The comparison from the complex
text into the show depicts broad ideas of capitalism and the class to class struggle mentioned in
Marx and Engels work. In a utopian society in which everything is the same, the difficult part is
moving up from everyone else just as the proletariats are in moving up to be bourgeoisie.