Marx, Plato, and the Matrix Essay

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[. . .] Similarly, the Matrix also explores concepts found in Marx's Communist Manifesto. In the Matrix, class struggle can be analyzed through the relationship between man and machine, which in Marxist terms would translate to the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, respectively. Marx contends, "The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of new ones" (Marx 363). It is established in the Matrix that at one point, machines were submissive to humans and that there was an established hierarchy within the human-machine society. As machines began to recognize the power that they had and revolted, society became " a more and more splitting up [of] two great hostile camps, in two great classes directly facing each other" (363). Ultimately, machines won "The Machine World" and came into power, however, because of their infrastructure, they had to redefine and establish a new method of obtaining energy for themselves (the Matrix). As Marx notes, "modern industry has established the world-market," in the case of the Matrix, a renewable energy source was the commodity and need that was established by this new world-market (Marx 364). The bourgeoisie/machines "cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society" (365). In order to meet the demands of machines and technology within the Matrix, they "stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It ... converted [everyone] into its paid wage laborers" (365). However, the wage with which "laborers" in the Matrix are paid with is not monetary, but rather psychological. In exchange for being used as human batteries, the ruling machines of the Matrix ensure that the humans are not in pain nor are they psychologically traumatized and provide them with false realities (the Matrix). Moreover, Marx contends that the worker "becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous and most easily acquired knack that is required of him" (368). This concept is made real in the Matrix as humans are made into an extension of the machine with the sole purpose of providing energy to ensure the machines' continued rule.

Consequently, the bourgeoisie/machines have "forged weapons that will bring death to itself" (Marx 368). Their need for an excessive source of renewable energy has forced machines to overbreed humans/proletariat in order to get the energy that they need to maintain the Matrix. The proletariat poses a threat to the bourgeoisie as they begin to outnumber those that are in control; likewise, the rule of the machines is put in danger as their excessive supply of human batteries becomes self-aware and sets to revolt against their mechanical oppressors. Furthermore, the higher the demand for energy, the more humans are required. The development of industry requires that more proletariat be put to work; as the number of proletariat increases the potential for successful revolution also increases. In any case, revolution is meant to overturn a bourgeoisie/machine/master-proletariat/human/slave dynamic that appears to be unnatural.

Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave" helps audience members recognize the need for humans to become aware of their present state and their mechanical oppressors in the Matrix, whereas Marx's Communist Manifesto highlights the social inequalities that have risen due to a struggle for power between man and machine. Each text references how unnatural it is to be kept in the dark by ruling classes and the unfairness of being exploited in order to profit from the work of others. By overcoming ignorance and revolting against the machine, Morpheus and his crew, including Neo, help to pave the way for a society in which they are free from their oppressors.

Works Cited.

Marx, K. The Communist Manifesto. p. 362-383.

The Matrix. Dir. Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures,


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Marx, Plato, and the Matrix.  (2012, May 21).  Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

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"Marx, Plato, and the Matrix."  May 21, 2012.  Accessed February 25, 2020.