For centuries, many philosophers have discussed the issue of class struggle. Karl Marx and Andrew Carnegie both developed theories of the unequal distribution of wealth a long time ago; however the only Carnegie’s ideology could apply to American society today. In “The Communist Manifesto”, Marx first introduces the two main social classes: bourgeois (the upper class) and proletarians (the lower class or working class). He points out the revolution of industrialism has made changes of Capitalism to Communism. He suggests that the rich should redistribute property evenly because the proletarians have put a lot effort contributing in the revolution. In contrast, Carnegie analyzes in “The Gospel of Wealth”, the unequal distribution of wealth is a natural consequence of civilization. Both Marx and Carnegie present the problem within society because they want to contribute their own experiences from various views to resolve the tension between the rich and poor efficiently. By eliminating the gap between rich and poor, Marx believes Communism should replace the economic system of Capitalism. In his perspective, he claims, “They have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Working men of all countries, unite” (Marx 476). Because he sees the Capitalist system exploits workers who are unfairly treated, he asserts that the proletarians should become the ruling class. The principle of Communism is the ideology of collectivism. Marx states, “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society: all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation” (470). This means that no private property should be allowed, and no one has even a less or more power in a Communist society. Because Marx illustrates the property ownership would enhance greed, and ambition to win in the competition despite of any consequences, he concludes the more competitions are eliminated, the better people would satisfy into their work. The goal of it is to bring up an economic more and more efficient as well as its equality. Despite the fact both Marx and Carnegie agree that people who work hard deserve to live a successful life, Carnegie insists the great solution to the issue between rich and poor is depend on the wealthy class in society. He expresses, “The best minds will thus have reached a state in the development of the race in which it is clearly thoughtful and earnest men into whose bands it flows save by using it year by year for the general good” (495).
Instead of conforming to Marx’ ideology of letting the proletarians rule the society, Carnegie thought that the rich provide an important responsibilities which means to improve the better standard of living in society. Since the poor will always be among us, he has mentioned the word “best minds” to identify the rich who represent the most educated and successful group within the population. Carnegie offered the solution of having the wealthy provided institutions and education programs, so the poverty could learn how to build their own wealth and have the great social benefits. In “The Gospel of Wealth”, Carnegie also mentions in the theory of Social Darwinism, society can’t be better because the wealthy have such a great deal amount of money, but they are not thinking carefully in what and how to spend their money properly. He said it is only useful when they find a good way to use that money to help the poor’s problems. He doesn’t support everyone who give generously to charity because the poor are not educated enough to use the money wisely, perhaps spend it on useless frivolities. He condemns, “It were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy” (494). Thus, instead of spending money on useless things, he suggests that the rich should leave their wealth for public good. He used the Cooper Institute to expand his point that the public had used this institution to have themselves better rather than using the money Cooper had donated to them. He illustrates, “Of every thousand dollars spent in so-called charity to-day, it is probable that $950 is unwisely spent; so spent, indeed, as to produce the very evils which it proposes to mitigate or cure” (494).
In the Communism and Individualism, Marx and Carnegie passionately contrast against each other’s ideologies. In Marx’s perspective, the wealthy doesn’t seem to consider the effort of laborers so there is an inequality gap between two social classes. However, Carnegie strongly refuses Communism because he believes Communism only work on theory but not in reality. He asserts that through Communism, people expect to be treated the same, so it maybe lead them to do nothing better for their lives and society. On the other hand, Carnegie explains the concept of Individualism can promote independence and enhance good communication between two separate social groups. He adds, “Not evil, but good, has come to the race from the accumulation of wealth by those who have the ability and energy that produce it” (488). It means people work hard individually can achieve good education and as well to have a better chance to develop their standard lives. Nevertheless, Marx is also against Carnegie’s perspective. Marx proved that Communism promoted equality among individuals, creating a mutual agreement in regards to moral standards. Moreover, all different classes have the rights to trade and sell any products of manufacture to create a best standard living.
Even though, Marx and Carnegie both represent the unequal distribution of wealth in capitalist societies, they discuss the tension between two social classes in different perspectives. In Marx’s ideology of Communism, he wants the proletarians ruling society while Carnegie believes the bourgeois are qualified to improve the standard of living. Carnegie also mentions that the rich must spend their wealth in appropriate way such as contribute their money wisely to public uses. Each of their ideologies propose the advantages and disadvantages in the Communism and Individualism; however, the purpose of presenting the different perspectives of Marx and Carnegie is to reducing the gap between rich and poor as well as bringing the economic equally to develop a better standard life for all social classes.
Carnegie, Andrew. “The Gospel of Wealth.” A World of Ideas: Essential Reading for College Writers. Ninth Ed. Eds. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2013. 485-495.
Marx, Karl. “The Communist Manifesto.” A World of Ideas: Essential Reading for College Writers. Ninth Ed. Eds. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2013. 456-476. Print.