“The bourgeoisie…has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts and Gothic cathedrals…. The bourgeoisie… draws all nations…into civilization…. It has created enormous cities… and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy [sic!] of rural life…. The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.”
It was Marx (Communist Manifesto)!, indeed, as Schumpeter notes: “Observe that all the achievements referred to are attributed to the bourgeoisie alone which is more than many thoroughly bourgeois economists would claim. This is all I meant by the above passage—and strikingly different from the views of the vulgarized Marxism of today or from the Veblenite stuff of the modern non-Marxist radical.” (footnote 2, Chapter 1, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy).
In an earlier post I referred to quite critical quote by Adam Smith.Clearly, this should serve as a caution to simplifying the thoughts of fairly complex thinkers.
*UPDATE: A good friend of mine points out that the above quote should be taken against the backdrop that “Marx defines the bourgeoisie’s existence only through the appropriation of labour power (exploitation) [and that] It is certainly implicit here”. It’s a good point, if you’re interested in historical materialist approaches, have a look at his recent book.