Karl Marx and the Idea of Communism

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 1 October 2016

Karl Marx and the Idea of Communism

Karl Marx’s claim that capitalism is important to human development but must be overcome and a system put into place that would eventually evolve into communism is unrealistic. Although the idea of communism, a social system designed to promote a classless society where everyone is truly equal and social problems such as racism, sexism and oppression do not exist, would be favourable to a capitalist society, it is unachievable as it doesn’t comprehend an individuals personal desire, the labour classes ability to lead or the growth and change that has occurred within capitalism since Marx.

Capitalism is the social system currently within place in countries all over the world, where the means for producing and distributing goods are owned by a small collection of people, the capitalists, and the labour class, is made up of the majority of the population who sell their labour for a wage. Marx’s primary claim is that an individual’s moral, philosophical and religious ideas are reflections based on our material circumstance and that they are not autonomous driving forces in history as others have claimed. Marx concluded that ‘instead of shaping society, ideas were in fact shaped by society’ (Mann & Dann, 2005).

By this he meant that the economic system of a society determines what values and principles are upheld. Therefore, an outdate society would value attributes such as honour and loyalty to keep people in line, whereas a capitalist society would value freedom and equality to keep the workforce as large and as mobile as possible to keep down wages. When a society’s economic conditions experience a fundamental change and a new class assumes supremacy after a political revolution has occurred and installed that leading class in power.

Marx predicted that a communist revolution eliminating private property and the subjugation of one class by another would occur at the end of history society (Mann & Dann, 2005). Marx believed that through industrialisation, capitalism has increased the productive capability of the world’s economy but had also created two competing classes of people, the bourgeoisie, who controlled and owned the resources of production and employed wage labourers and the proletariat, who were everyday labour who didn’t own anything but their individual right to ell the labour. He felt that the nature of capitalism would guarantee that these two classes would eventually struggle against each other until the point where the working class would become sizeable and subjugated enough that it would takeover the bourgeoisie and its production resources and end the economic system known as capitalism. A socialist system would them be put into place and pure communism would progressively develop (Mann & Dann, 2005).

In Marx’s theory communism is a period of historical progression that occurs from the expansion of productive forces leading to a surplus of material wealth, which allows for allocation based on freely related persons. The self-recovery of capitalism could not be predicted by Marx, as it was the introduction of a welfare state and trade unions that played their part in improving the conditions and wage of the workers of the labour class.

Commons (2009) suggested that against Marx’s idea of the proletariat class becoming the ruling class of society, labour, as a class were inept in managing business and that the worker input and self-management weren’t feasible. Countries where workingmen have united for joint production of goods and rendering all services to become their own employees and have elected their own foremen, superintendents and directors have failed as labour as a class are inept to appoint their own boss because they base their election on compassion rather than the individuals competence and discipline.

Individual labourers who rise out of there own class is capitalism and labourers that rise as a class to become their own boss as a class is socialism, which is unrealistic as the labour class is composed of conflicting races, sexes, religions, ages and there’s an inequality between peoples abilities and intelligence. These conflicting inequalities are brought to light in the competition for jobs and higher wages (Commons, J. R. , 2009).

The great organisers of labour under a capitalist system are elected through natural selection within the industry, where the self-selection of leaders by the survival in the competitive struggle for profits mean that individuals are elected by their own success not by the votes of the individuals who work for them. These leaders are responsible to the capitalists and not to the wage earners they command as they are selected by those whose whole consideration s the profits which the can bring to the company or industry (Commons, J. R. , 2009).

Marxists alleged that profit making is pure selfishness, with the implication that if the wage earners were in control, public service and not ambition would be the motivating power behind manufacture. The difference between wage earning and profit making, if there is one, is hard to see as both are the process endeavouring to get as much as possible for oneself with as little as possible (Commons, 2009). What Marx failed to see is the inherent selfishness of mankind, as each individual is self-serving to a degree, and how it would impact attempts to put into place a communist social system.

In society labour, competition, capital and private property rights play an important role in creating an operational and successful economy. The division of labour allows for increases in the productive capabilities of labour and the specialisation of labour has moved society toward agriculture and manufacturing by encouraging the invention of greater technology. An individuals desire to live a comfortable life with their basic needs met creates and incentive for wage earning individuals to expend more effort within the industry to attain these wants and desires.

Marx’s theory of communism can be centralized around the theory that with the abolition of private property, people would move into the final stage of social order, communism (Butgereit & Carden 2011). But with the abolition of private property and the private ownership of the means to production, the monetary prices generated by exchange that are used to appraise factors of production and determine the proportions in which those factors should be used to produce final product would not exist.

When these monetary exchanges disappear so do the profits and losses the market produce to guide businesspersons on whether final product is needed within society or the resources used are being wasted (Butgereit & Carden 2011). One of the benefits Marx’s saw for communism was that the sovereignty of the proletariat would speed up the already vanishing national differences and antagonism between people due to the development of the bourgeoisies; the freedom of commerce, the world market, the uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life consequent to those changes.

Through this political supremacy, the proletariats would seize the capital from the bourgeoisie to concentrate all tools of production in the hands of the state and therefore increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible. He believed that respectively that as the exploitation of on individual by another would end, so would the exploitation and hostility of one nation by another and the animosity between classes within the nation would disappear (Mann & Dann, 2005).

Although capitalism has seen the expansion of the global market, introduced the concept of civilisation and given it a universal character to production and consumption in every country, Marx saw it as the Bourgeoisie exploiting this world market and creating a universal inter-dependence of nations as all nations are compelled to adopt the bourgeoisie style of production or risk extinction (Mann & Dann, 2005).

Through globalisation capitalism grew in strength and the emergence of new compromising ideologies such as social democracy, which is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005), are making it stronger still.

While social democracy was established from Marxism, it has been effective in generating cooperation and agreement between labour and capital in developed countries, and has helped bring about the creation of new laws concerning to minimum wage, social security and the right to strike and demonstration, which reduced the level of inequalities on the working class.

But in underdeveloped countries, where the free market system and democracy are not established enough, the working class face serious problems, where individuals are forced to work for below minimum wage and have no job security due the high level of unemployment. In these countries it can be seen that capitalism still causes alienation within the labour class and Marx’s idea where a communist society is designed to promote a classless society in which everyone is truly equal would be beneficial.

Although this idea of a communist society is ideal, societies throughout history, such as the Soviet Union, which failed and collapsed on itself and the Chinese, which gradually eroded and had to abandon true communism for functional capitalism in order for the society to survive, have proven through experience and profound failure that communist beliefs do not describe a plausible reality (Post-Communist Economic Systems, 2005).

Although a communist society would be ideal to create equality among society, it is unattainable as Marx didn’t comprehend an individual’s personal desire, the labour classes ability to lead or the growth and change that would occur within a capitalist society to decrease the size of the economical inequality between the two classes. Through the introduction of democracy and globalisation, the capitalist social system was able to recover without dissolving into socialism and allowed laws to be put into place on behalf of labour class better working conditions and higher wages.

The individuals desire to earn a higher wage has allowed for globalisation to steadily increase the need for a larger quantity of products created by the worlds resources. The efficiency and productivity levels of modern society have been steadily increasing because of industrialisation and the progressive taxation techniques implemented after Marx have allowed for the reduction of inequalities between the working and capitalist classes.

By taking into consideration the theories of Marx, the modern capitalist society is working to create a fairer working environment for the working class without turning to communism as history has shown, through failed experiences, that society needs some form of a capitalist social system to use resources in the most efficient and productive way.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 1 October 2016

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