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“”The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
|—Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto, 1848|
Conflict theory is a sociological perspective deriving from Marxism (specifically dialectical materialism) and most closely associated with that philosophy's many variants. It is an abstraction, or generalization, of Karl Marx's idea that "class struggle" was the dominant theme of world history. But what analysis orthodox Marxism limits to class struggles, its derivatives have applied to other social conflicts, so conflict theory has dropped the "class" (in the exclusive sense, anyway) and focused on the "struggle."
Marx believed that conflict was an inevitable part of societies that had not eliminated social class by being organized along "pure communist" lines. It must be noted that such pure-communist societies have never existed outside Marxists' heads. All historical change, he asserted, was attributable to class conflict rooted in particular modes of economic production. He saw society as progressing from a primitive society to a slave society to feudalism to capitalism to socialism and finally to the ideal stateless and classless society of pure communism.
Marxists, however, are often criticized for this exclusive focus on class conflict, often ignoring gender, race and ethnic/national inequalities or perceiving them as manifestations of class conflict; for example, orthodox Marxist analysts considered the British conquest of India to be at least somewhat of a positive development as part of the worldwide development of capitalism, thus hastening the day of the International Proletarian Revolution. One of the most infamous modern day examples of this was Neo Marxist Slavoj Zizek endorsing Donald Trump over Clinton as he believed that the political left would unite under the common threat of him, as well as alienating working class people enough to induce Class Consciousness and thus unite them together as a modern movement of the Proletariat.