Using Karl Marx’s Marxism it is apparent that today’s capitalist society represents a great unfairness among the people within it and is not sustainable.
Most people would agree that today’s social and political system needs to be improved upon. In a society that endangers the planet through excessive consumption, and experiences mass inequalities among its people, it is critics such as Karl Marx that can be looked upon for some guidance. Karl Marx is one of the most well-known and noteworthy social/political theorists to have ever lived.
Since publishing The Communist Manifesto in 1848 along side Friedrich Engels, the Marxism theory has been a common reference point when analyzing political and societal structure. Social theories such as Marxism are supposed to analyze both existing and past societies to help shine light on the good and bad areas within. These analysis’s can then be used to better determine a course of action for potential changes. The aim of this paper is to argue that the current capitalist society can be approved on using some of the fundamentals of Marxism.
To reach that goal, a breakdown of the Marxism theory will be used.
Karl Marx is considered the founder of modern socialism. He was born in what is now Germany in the year 1818 and died in London, 1883. He attended the university of Berlin to study law and philosophy. It is there where he discovered the work of philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel’s work on things such as the philosophy of right, would play a huge part in the theories created by Marx.
Much of this work was based on the critique of the industrial capitalist society that had been developed in England and spread across Europe. He first became familiar with communistic views while in Paris. After some time, he would be expelled from France and travel to Brussels. This is where Marx and long-time friend Friedrich Engels would write their most well-known literature The Communist Manifesto and lay out the foundation for communism. Shortly after he would be expelled from Belgium, ultimately ending up in London where he would live out the rest of his life, while continuing his work. From this lifetime of work, the theory of Marxism would be created.
Marxism is the philosophic theory created through the lifetime of work by Karl Marx. It was created as a critique of capitalism, with many of the alternatives derived from it being used in communist/socialist type societies. Many people assume Marx believed in communism, but in reality, Marx never said communism was the right path. He mainly critiqued capitalism with his best solution being a form of communism. The main principles of Marxist beliefs are; social and economic equality. One of the main areas of disdain from Marx was the distribution of surplus value from the sale of produced goods and services. Marxist beliefs state that capitalist societies are based on the exploitation of the proletariat (working class), that by working for a wage and distributing the surplus value from the sale of a produced good to the owners (upper class) you devalue the labor in producing the good. This results in labour being a commodity, restricting the freedom of the people. He also believed this is a form of one class structure oppressing the other. Marx believed by having this class structure the lower class would eventually revolt against this inequality of labour-to-proceeds. He also believed that under this system that eventually the labourers would not be able to afford the products they produce or afford the necessities of life.
This can be seen in the United States of America, possible the most capitalistic country in the world. In the past few years there has been countless strikes and protests regarding the wages paid to the lower classes, while this has resulted in minimum wage increases time and time again, the capitalistic system remains as strong as ever, with many believing it is due to those in the upper class having the most power and benefitting the most from the current system. In a true Marxist society, all production of goods or services would be valued based on the labour put into it, with the full value being given to the labourer. For example; a McDonalds worker being paid based on the labour put into making the big mac they just sold, with the owners being the collective group of labourers involved and being paid based on their labour involved in the sale also. The big mac would be priced based on the total labour and cost involved, most likely resulting in a lower price, and a more equal distribution of the proceeds. Under this type of system, there would be no class structure.
This raises the question of; what if a person cannot/will not work? In this case any surplus labour/ proceeds would be collected by a governing agency and distributed equally among all.One of Marx’s most accurate criticisms of capitalism is that it facilitates the exploitation of others for personal gain. This is still relevant almost 200 years later. As previously mention it is common practice in current businesses to pay as little as possible for labour, with further exploitation coming from the ever-growing international trade system, outsourcing cheap labour to impoverished countries.
Marx also noticed and predicted that a self-regulating market would result in periods of crises or what we now refer to as recessions. Marx saw the solution to these problems in the form of a revolution of the working class leading to the dissolvement of these systems, and a communist type government structure replacing it. While many countries such as the USSR have tried this approach, none have succeeded in attaining Marx’s vision of a utopian society. Their have been some smaller scale solutions to these problems that are based on the fundamentals of Marxism such as; worker unions, welfare programs, and regulatory facilities of financial markets.
Criticisms of Marxism: Karl Marx and his Marxism ideology carry a lot of negative stigma in todays society.