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The Capitalist Class And The Proletariat Essay

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Adam Smith and Karl Marx both examine the capitalist mode of production as an issue of central theoretical concern. I will be addressing many issues regarding capitalism from both theorists that will demonstrate the general theoretical orientation that each has towards the nature of capitalism and the roles of the capitalist class and the proletariat. This includes the moral character of the capitalist class, the tendency of capitalism towards crisis, the effects of the division of labour, and the permanence of the system in a historical context. Further, I will also demonstrate why these issues are relevant today, and how many of the arguments made by these theorists are still being used.
The first issue surrounding the nature of capitalism I will address is the moral character of the capitalist class as perceived by Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The overall position that Adam Smith adopts in the Wealth of Nations is that the pursuit of self-interest for personal gain of the capitalist can be beneficial for the general welfare of society, so long as it is channeled through the market rather than through the interference of the state (Baumol 1976; McNally 1998). However, this does not imply that the interests of the capitalist class should be the guiding interests of the market. Baumol (1976) argues that Smith repeatedly attacks the personal morality of the capitalists, arguing that the intentions of the individual should not determine the economic fate of society. Smith
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