In Capital, Karl Marx reveals the ugly truth that capitalism lays on the foundation of class exploitation. Without such exploitation, there is no profit to be made and capitalism will cease to exist. Capitalism, which relies on the reproduction of capital, creates and concentrates wealth to a small portion of society’s population while reproducing poverty and widening the size of inequality.
Marx’s theory of alienated labour is structured around a class-based system. It is vital to acknowledge that Marx’s evaluation of the capitalist system is based focused the Industrial Revolution a century and a half ago, and therefore must be kept somewhat in that context. Within Marx’s simplified capitalist society model, one class of people own and control the raw materials and their means of production. They are referred to as capital, bourgeoisie, or the owning class. The capitalist does not just own the means of production, but also all the items produced. By virtue of their ownership of production property they receive an income and earn a living from the operations of their factories and shops. The owning class owns the productive resources, though they do not usually operate the production means themselves.
Under Karl Marx’s conflict theory, society has two classes of people: the owners and the workers. The theory suggests that owners basically exploit the workers, depriving them of the basic human necessities such as food and shelter. Meanwhile, the workers believe that they are taken care of adequately, and they rely on the owners for their well-being. But the owners do not have the workers’ best interests in mind because they want to produce wealth by any means. “Potent social forces [capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, home ownership] do exist and being homeless is to lose a stake in several of them” (Neale, 2007,
For example, it shapes the nature of religion, law, education, the state and so on. According to Marx, capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction. For example, by polarising the classes, bringing the proletariat together in ever-increasing numbers, and driving down their wages, capitalism creates the conditions under which the working class can develop a consciousness (or awareness) of its own economic and political interests in opposition to those of its exploiters. As a result, the proletariat moves from merely being a class-in-itself (whose members share the same economic position) to becoming a class-foritself, whose members are class conscious – aware of the need to overthrow capitalism. The means of production would then be put in the hands of the state and run in the interests of everyone, not just of the bourgeoisie. A new type of society – socialism developing into communism – would be created, which would be without exploitation, without classes and without class conflict. Marx’s work has been subjected to a number of criticisms. First, Marx’s predictions have not come true. Far from society becoming polarised and the working class becoming poorer, almost everyone in western societies enjoys a far higher standard of living than ever before. The collapse of so-called ‘communist’ regimes like the former Soviet Union, and growing private ownership and capitalist growth in China, cast some doubt on the viability of the practical implementation
“to a mere money relation,” (Marx and Engels  2013:35]. Marx, saw the tear down of the old as the only way for the bourgeoisie to survive. Periodically, a crisis occurred where productive forces threatened their conditions and bourgeoisie would have to bring in new productive forces and destroy the old. Marx believed that these changes to technology and productive capacity were the main influence on how society and the economy were organized. The bourgeoisie had to push for the modern world to quickly and continually develop to protect capitalists’ monopolies. However, constant development caused continual disturbances of social conditions by breaking down stable aspects of human life. Capitalist used their power to push the world to advance so that they could prosper with no concerns to the possible effects on the economy, which would have been most detrimental to the proletariat. For Marx, this showed that capitalists’ self-interest pushed economic progress, which led to societal progress but also risked crisis. Capitalism not only affected society through the creation and separation of social classes but also in influencing societal progress and social relations.
Designed over two hundred years ago, Karl Marx’s philosophy defines specific characteristics known today as the Marxist approach. In this critical approach, whomever holds the power and controls the factories or means of production, consequently controls the whole society. Marx’s opinion states that the laborers running the factories and thus holding the means of production should be the ones holding the power. However, this idea rarely holds true in practical society. Frequently, Marx notes, powerful people hire others to carry out the labor. This division of power reflects current culture. Two main classes or categories of people exist, the bourgeoisie and proletariat. The bourgeoisie is the powerful, or those who are in charge of
Workers may earn more money today than they did in the last century, but so do the capitalists. The wealth and income gaps between the bourgeois and proletariats is greater than ever. The workers relations to their labor, products and capitalists are unchanged from Marx’s day. The only difference between today’s capitalism and Marx’s is because of a more direct involvement of the state in the capitalist economy. Plus Marx theories concentrate on the more advanced industrial capitalist, he never thought that socialism would be achieved in relatively poor, politically underdeveloped countries. Marx’s vision of socialism emerges from his study of capitalism. Socialism is the unseen potential of capitalism. For a more just and democratic society in which everybody can develop their own qualities of being human.
Marx was a big proponent for the working-class movement and the equality in terms of property. To him, the issue that is most important to conquer is the issue of the estrangement and alienation of man, where man himself is the alien power over man – more specifically, it is workers who are being estranged (Marx 1988, 79). Consequences of this estrangement can be seen with private property, because although it seems to be the root of the problem, private property is actually the consequence of “alienated labor”, explaining why capitalism is a horror to him (Marx 1988, 81). It may be thought that an easy way to give workers equality would be to pay them equal wages, but this is yet another estrangement of labor (Marx 1988, 82). Progress, to Marx, would need to consist of a way to diminish the root of the problem – estrangement of the worker. This would consist of “emancipation of the workers” because the emancipation of the workers would have a large ripple effect, and result in the universal human emancipation (Marx 1988, 82). As it has been addressed multiple times, the estrangement of the worker is the root of the problem, and a step towards progress would need to consist of the workers being emancipated so they are no longer alienated and forced to labor while getting nothing but monetary payment for their labor. The alienation of workers furthers the issue by leading a society towards private
Marx's ideas on labor value are very much alive for many organizations working for social change. In addition, it is apparent that the gap between the rich and poor is widening on a consistent basis. According to Marx, the course of human history takes a very specific form which is class struggle. The engine of change in history is class opposition. Historical epochs are defined by the relationship between different classes at different points in time. It is this model that Marx fleshes out in his account of feudalism's passing in favor of bourgeois capitalism and his prognostication of bourgeois capitalism's passing in favor of proletarian rule. These changes are not the reliant results of random social, economic, and political events; each follows the other in predictable succession. Marx responds to a lot of criticism from an imagined bourgeois interlocutor. He considers the charge that by wishing to abolish private property, the communist is destroying the "ground work of all personal freedom, activity, and independence". Marx responds by saying that wage labor does not properly create any property for the laborer. It only creates capital, a property which works only to augment the exploitation of the worker. This property, this capital, is based on class antagonism. Having linked private property to class hostility, Marx
Central to Marx’s economic model is the contraction of the capitalist class through the function of competition and the corresponding increase in the proletariat. This immizeration, coupled with the increasing degradation of the working classes, was to set the stage for the revolution. What Marx didn’t foresee was the pragmatic decision on the part of capital to allow the standard of living to rise among the workers, thereby easing tension and providing a market for their wares.1 Capitalism also became more complex structurally than the Marxist model. Public ownership of corporations via the stock market and the rise of a new class, the technician (brought about by an explosion in manufacturing technology), blurred the lines of societal stratification. To further complicate matters, liberal democracies began to manage national economies, thereby stabilizing the marketplace and apparently ending the old bust-or-boom business cycle. The oppressive nature of industrial capitalism seemed to be giving way before a more egalitarian consumer society, fueled by an ever rising standard of living. Put simply: capitalism was giving the people what they wanted. Or was it?
As capitalist societies expanded, Marx argued that exploitation amongst workers became more apparent. Marx believed that the only way to get rid of the exploitation, oppression and alienation was for a revolution amongst the proletariat workers. Marx suggests that it is only when the means of production are communally owned, that class divisions among the masses will disappear.
Karl Marx, also a philosopher was popularly known for his theories that best explained society, its social structure, as well as the social relationships. Karl Marx placed so much emphasis on the economic structure and how it influenced the rest of the social structure from a materialistic point of view. Human societies progress through a dialectic of class struggle, this means that the three aspects that make up the dialectic come into play, which are the thesis, antithesis and the synthesis (Avineri, 1980: 66-69). As a result of these, Marx suggests that in order for change to come about, a class struggle has to first take place. That is, the struggle between the proletariat and the capitalist class, the class that controls
Karl Marx is the first in a series of 19th and 20th century theorists who started the call for an empirical approach to social science. Theorizing about the rise of modernity accompanied by the decline in traditional societies and advocating for a change in the means of production in order to enable social justice. Marx’s theories on modernity reveals his beliefs of modern society as being influenced by the advancement of productive forces of modern industry and the relationships of production between the capitalist and the wage laborers. The concept of modernity refers to a post-feudal historical period that is characterized by the move away from feudalism and toward capitalism. Modernity focuses on the affects that the rise of capitalism has had on social relations, and notes Karl Marx and Max Weber as influential theorists commenting on this. The quick advancement of major innovations after the Enlightenment period known as modernity stood in stark contrast to the incremental development of even the most complex pre-modern societies, which saw productive forces developing at a much slower pace, over hundreds or thousands of years as compared to modern times, with swift growth and change. This alarming contrast fascinated Marx who traced the spawning of modern capitalism in the Communist Manifesto, citing this record speed as the heat which generated the creation of the global division of labor and a greater variety of productive forces than anytime before. Ultimately,
Though Marx’s theories were first conceived over 150 years ago, his work continues to be tremendously influential and is perhaps the most well known scholarship within the sociological canon. Despite their prominence, some of Marx’s most famous ideas have yet to be proven by the course of history. Neo-Marxists may insist that the revolution is coming, but the fact remains that the overthrow of capitalism has yet to materialize. I argue that the communist revolution has not yet occurred because the proletariat has been unable to develop the universal class consciousness that Marx asserts is a necessary condition for his predicted mass uprising. Additionally, I postulate that the theories of Weber and Simmel reveal the factors impeding
The definition of utopia is an ideally perfect place especially in its social, political, and moral aspects (dictionary.com). This paper will discuss the changes in capitalism since Marx’s critique in 1848. Marx’s fundamental critique remains correct today. Marx is still correct about his critique of capitalism because even though there have been changes made to capitalism to prevent some abuses, capitalism still produces inequality, reduces the family relationship, destroys small business, and enslaves.