Through out history money, wealth and capital have dictated a way of life to the masses. Wealth dictated the lives that the rich lived and the lives of the poor that worked for and surrounded them. In some cultures your class could never be escaped in life, you had to wait for your next incarnation, while in other cultures the idea of wealth transcended a life and allowed for growth from one class to another. This is the reality of a capitalist society that was first discussed by Karl Marx in the 19th century.
When Karl Marx first penned his shaping works on communism, he assumed that the relationship between workers and capital would always be opposing. While most rejected his overall theories, they did not argue with the basic idea that the interests of workers would always be at odds with those of owners. This is one of Marx’s only theories that has proven to be true. As a consequence, over the years, that thought has guided the marketplace in terms of deciding wages, working conditions and other worker centered benefits.
The bourgeoisie (rich/owners class), by rapid improvement of production instruments and by powerful means of communication, drew all, even the most underdeveloped nations, into civilization through production. Their fast development and ability in many cases to exploit the worker allowed them to get a foothold in the market. So capitalism evolved into globalization. This is the major reason why all other systems, communism included, found themselves chasing the idea of wealth through production.
According to Marx, the ‘capitalist mode of production’ is a product of the ‘industrial revolution’ and the division of labor coming from it. By virtue of this division, Marx’s capitalist reality is more and more splitting into two great factions directly facing each other off; these classes are; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The processes in which the two classes were formed and the setting in which they presently exist have molded their thinking and the products of their thinking.
In other words, the ‘human nature’ of the members of both classes is largely shaped by their positions within the two groups. Given the conformist nature of the human person, considerable light may be thrown upon the major features of Marx’s reality by means of an investigation of the types of ‘human nature’ that he assigned in this economic theory. In Marx’s capitalist reality, division of labor is a necessary condition for commodity production. This division attacks the individual/worker class at the very root of their life so that they are converted into ‘a crippled being’.
By the process in which they are crippled they experiences acute alienation, which defines them forever. The alienation according to Marx has several dimensions. In the first, the worker is estranged not only from the act of production, but also from the products of his labor. Next, because the workers activities belong to another, namely the capitalist, the worker translates this separation as a loss of his self. Which abstractly means that he is estranging himself from himself through the act of production.
In the last form, the alienation takes the form of estrangement of one man to another man. Partly because the division of labor creates a hierarchical structure among the workers themselves and partly for the previous reason that the workers are the property of the capitalist and are seen as human capital. Nevertheless the non-worker, the capitalist, is also caught in his own web of alienation. But there is a difference between the two and how they interact. By virtue of the property relationship of the worker to non-worker.
The non-worker in theory does everything against the worker, which the worker does against himself; but he the non-worker does not do against himself what the worker does to himself. So, whereas the worker’s activity is a torment to himself, the capitalists’ activity is his means of support and success. Division of labor and the human nature that it has molded in all its alienated and crippling forms are, therefore, fundamental and integral parts of the paradox of facts that Marx implanted in his reality regarding capitalism.
But when Marx wrote this he did not realize or account for accumulation and the concentration of wealth in the hands of individual capitalists. This concentration takes place in a process of fierce competition among the capitalists involved. Consequently, concentration is accompanied by an increasing centralization of capital caused by the transformation of many small into a few large capitals. This advantages of the capitalist process of production, caused or may have even been invented to intensify mass misery, oppression, slavery, degradation and exploitation.
In the long run, in the past, or as we see today capitalism does cause oppression in three major ways. One is the simple systematic theory of the bourgeoisie versus the proletariat. The rich controlling the poor, the rich profiting from the poor, and the rich exploiting the poor and much as is today legally possible. The second is the breakdown of the worker in order to have more control. In past capitalism this has been much clearer but it still exists today, workers fear the people they work for, therefor they don’t demand the necessities they need to work.
They fear the non-worker and don’t demand what they need because they have been broken down, dehumanized, and forced to fight their internal feelings as opposed to their outer conditions. The final way that capitalism breeds or causes oppression is through its growth and profit potential. Just as when the capitalist idea was first imagined it still moves amazingly fast. Money can make more money easier and quicker that people with no money trying to make it. This is why the bourgeoisie have stayed in control and the oppressed proletariat have remained in their positions. Their oppressed positions caused by capitalist thoughts.
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In the nineteenth century, it seemed as if the entire world was moving towards democracy. In the two decades between World Wars I and II, fascism was the main challenge to the democratic way of life. World War II destroyed the military ambitions of the fascist Axis, though. Before the end of World War II, communism surfaced as the next big threat to democracy. At the end of World War I, communism seemed as if it were just a Russian spectacle because Russia was the only communist state in the world.
With the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia became the dominant military power in Europe, and the strength of Communist Russia was revealed. At the end of World War II, Russia quickly communized Poland, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Eastern Germany. It was not just the strength of the Russian armies the proved valuable in spreading communism, but also the force of communist ideology. Communism addressed itself to the world as the true heir of the libertarian, equalitarian democratic tradition. It accepted the democratic ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Its trouble with democracy was not that democracy was too faithful to its ideas, but that it betrayed them. The most significant influence in the development of revolutionary communism was Karl Marx. Marx attended the University of Berlin and studied jurisprudence, philosophy, and history. While at the University, Marx became involved in political activities and joined the staff of the Rheinische Zeitung, a democratic newspaper in Cologne, in 1942. The next year, however, the Prussian Government suppressed the paper, and Marx went to Paris, the European headquarters of radical movements.
While in Paris, Marx met Proudhon, the leading French socialist thinker, Bakunin, the Russian anarchist, and Friedrich Engels, a Rhinelander like himself. Engels soon became Marx’s lifelong friend. In 1845, Marx was expelled from France and he went to Brussels, another center of political refugees from all over Europe. There, Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto with the help of Engels. The Communist Manifesto is said to be the most influential of all Marx’s writings. In 1849, Marx went to London with Engels soon to follow. Marx stayed there until his death in 1883.
Marx writings show a great knowledge of the English economic system. Marx’s analyses of the capitalist system have influenced the making of history even more than the writing of history. In German philosophy, Hegel greatly influenced Marx. Similar to Hegel’s beliefs, Marx believed that history had meaning, and that it moved in a set pattern toward a known goal. Marx believed that history had both a meaning and a goal, and the historical process was dominated by the struggles between social classes. Each phase of struggle represented a higher phase of human evolution than the preceding one.
Hegel and Marx had shared views on history as a perpetual struggle between lower and higher forces; however the outcome of the struggle is predetermined. Marx believed the outcome is the abolition of capitalism. Another important source for Marx’s intellectual development was French revolutionary politics. France was among the most advanced major western nations because its revolutions were most clearly based on social antagonisms. Marx realized the best place to study industrial capitalism and economic science was England.
English economic analysis was the most advanced of any country, and gave Marx the basic tools of economic analysis that could be used in demonstrating that capitalism was both wasteful and exploitative. Marx’s idea was not to abolish the duty of work, but to make work a channel of self-fulfillment. He believed that those who did not work should not eat, and if you did not work, you should take any job that was available. Marx also had strong views on property. He believed that all property should be publicly owned, and that private property was only a power relation.
The romanticism movement in Germany also influenced Marx. Romanticism was a protest against the rise of industrialization. They felt that man was becoming alienated from his fellow man, from nature, and from himself. Marx believed that under capitalism, man is alienated from his work, the objects he produces, his employers, other workers, nature and from himself. He felt that work was not voluntary, but rather forced labor. The work did not satisfy man’s own needs, but rather the needs of the employer making him nothing more than a mere commodity.
According to Marx, all economic systems are condemned because when new productive forces develop, the existing productive relationships stand in the way of their proper utilization. Each system therefore becomes eventually wasteful in terms of their potentialities. Marx feels this same way about the capitalist system. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels explain how social change through revolution actually occurs. When the forces of production begin to outstrip the methods of production, the owners of the means of production do not step aside and thus accelerate the inevitable course of history.
The owners of the means of production will utilize all the instruments of the legal, political, and ideological superstructure to block the growth of the forces that represent the potentially more progressive economic system. Marx’s and Engels’ doctrines made a great impact on social thinkers, reformers, and revolutionaries everywhere. As noted before, the Communist Manifesto was the most influential of all Marx’s writings. The Communist Manifesto was published in London in 1848 as a declaration of principles and objectives of the Communist League.
Largely written by Karl Marx, with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, the Manifesto has four parts to it. Its introduction begins with these strong words: ” A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of Communism. ” In the Manifesto, Marx identifies class struggle as the primary dynamic in history and predicts that class rivalry will generate a revolution in which the proletariat will defeat the bourgeoisie, abolish private property, gain control of economic production, and class distinctions will begin to disappear. Marx identifies the Communists as the partners and theoretical front line of the proletariat.
The Manifesto ends with a call for unity; “Workers of All Countries, Unite! ” The first section is an outlook of his theory of history, and his insight to the end of exploitation. He says the world is the stage for a dramatic confrontation between two struggling classes: the bourgeoisie, or the ruling class capitalists, and the proletariat, the working class. Driven by the logic of capitalism to seek greater profit, the bourgeoisie constantly revolutionizes the means of economic production. The bourgeoisie turned traditional social values into monetary values.
The bourgeoisie expanded into other parts of the globe because they controlled supply. With the exchange of products into different places, so came the exchange of intelligence and the bourgeoisie way of thought. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production. In a word, it creates a world after its own image. The middle class made the country subject to the rule of the town, and with that came the dependence of the peasant of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie overtook the feudal system and replaced it with free competition.
With this, though, the bourgeoisie were no longer able to control its power because of over-production. There was too much substance, industry and commerce for society to handle, and society stepped back into momentary barbarism. The weapons with which the bourgeoisie overtook feudalism were now turned against itself, and the proletarian working class was created. The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. Trades people easily become proletarian because they cannot compete with the new technology.
The proletarians revolt by smashing machinery, burning factories then move to fighting landowners, and smaller forms of control. The proletarians set up trade unions to counter attack the bourgeoisie control on wages. They unite by means of communication, set up by these unions, and are able to influence legislature to their aid. The bourgeoisie finds itself in a constant battle. The bourgeoisie teach the proletarians how to fight them by asking them for help with their other enemies. The bourgeoisie is no longer fit to rule society because it held proletarians down and gave them no chance to rise up.
The working class grew both in population and political awareness, generating what Marx called an “inevitable defeat of the bourgeoisie. ” The second part mainly predicts the method of eliminating class distinctions, by abolishing private property. This will reveal the bourgeoisie culture, the ideology of capitalism. After the revolution, all economic production will be led by the state, organized as the ruling class. The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property.
In a sense, the theory of Communism can be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. 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 conquer the labor of others by means of such appropriation. The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. Marx described the following ten steps as necessary steps to be taken to destroy a free enterprise society:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. 3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance. 4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. 5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly. 6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in he hands of the state. 7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. 9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country. 10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc. The third section criticizes the various socialists’ ideals of the time.
It starts of talking about reactionary socialism through feudal socialism, petty bourgeois socialism, and German or “True” socialism. It next talks about conservative or bourgeois socialism. The socialist bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting from them. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois-for the benefit of the working class. Lastly, it talks about critical-utopian socialism and communism. Here, they wish to attain their ends by a peaceful means.
They want an economic system based on the premise that if capital voluntarily surrendered its ownership of the means of production to the state or the workers, unemployment and poverty would be abolished. The last part compares the philosophy of Communism to other organized parties in Europe. The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things. In all of the movements, it brings up the property question. The famous document closes with these famous words, a slogan of a sort: ” Workers of all countries, unite! “
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Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in a place called Trier in Prussia. His parents were of Jewish descent, however they did not practice Judaism. In 1824 Karl’s father adopted Protestantism. Marx attended the university of Bonn and later the university at Berlin, where he studied in law, while majoring in history and philosophy. After his education, Marx associated himself with the “Left Hegelians,” along with Bruno Bauer, which were a group who formed atheistic and revolutionary ideas from Hegel’s philosophy. The Young Hegelians practiced philosophical idealism.
Here he first meet Arnold Ruge and Ludwig Feuerbach. In 1842 Marx and Bruno Bauer were asked to contribute to the Rheinische Zeitung, a German paper, in Cologne. At the time Marx started, the paper had only 400 subscribers. Marx in October of 1842, became editor-in-chief, and decided to move from Bonn to Cologne. As the paper became more and more revolutionary and widely read, the government decided to censor, and eventually suppress it. The paper was banned in March of 1843. At this time, it had more than 3,400 subscribers from all over Germany.
Karl Marx was married to his childhood friend Jenny von Westphalen, in 1843. Later in the fall of that year Marx along with another Left Hegelian, Arnold Ruge, moved to Paris and began publication of a radical journal entitled Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher. However due to the problems in publishing such a radical paper, only one issue appeared. Karl met his closest friend in September of 1844, when Frederick Engels arrived in Paris. Together they participated in the activities of many revolutionary communities.
They formed the theory and ideas of revolutionary proletarian socialism, also known as communism. Also in 1844, Marx wrote a revolutionary book called the Holy Family. It is a materialist view of the history of man. Basically, it was a critique on his former philosophy group, “The Young Hegelians. ” It expressed the view of history being mans activities. “History’ is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his own aims. ” Finally in 1845 Marx was banished from Paris as a dangerous revolutionary.
He wrote satirical poems for revolutionary-democrats. The paper, “Vorwärts”, was attack by reactionary papers asking for government banning or censorship, but instead they banned Marx from Paris. He decided to head for Brussels, where he and Engels joined, in 1847, a group called the Communist League. At the leagues request, Marx and Engels drew up the Communist Manifesto in 1848. This is one of the most well known works of the pair. Once the Revolution of February 1848 took place, Marx was again banished, except this time from Belgium.
He returned to France for the March Revolution, and then traveled to Germany where he published the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, from June 1, 1848 to May 19, 1849. Again Marx was banished from Germany, and again he returned to Paris. After the demonstration of June 13 1849, Karl Marx, was, yes, banished once again. That would be the last time Karl Marx was banished anywhere. His last trip would take him to London where he would live for the rest of his life. Marx lived a hard life in London. If it had not been for the financial help from his good friend Engels, he would have not been able to continue his lifelong struggle.
Marx got himself involved in political activity in the 1850’s and 1860’s with the revival of democratic activities. Most of the important works written by Marx can be summed up by the results of the revolution in “The Class Struggle of France. ” In these works Marx shows for the first time materialist dialectics to the study of an entire historical period. Marx tells the entire tall of causes, character, and course of the French bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1848. In March of 1950, Marx tried to reorganize the Communist League.
In his efforts to reorganize this League, he wrote several address for the Central Committee. These address’ outlined the need to continue this League and gave local branches slogans and demands. After a few more address’ the League was restored. In 1951, Marx had no regular income. It was difficult for him to support his family. In the summer or that year, he became a correspondent for New York Times. Even then, income was irregular. Because of such hardships, the Marx family lived in very poor conditions. The Marx were so poor that only 3 of the 7 children survived.
Once on better grounds of living, Marx once again studied political economy. He worked with vigor to gain a true understanding of the economy. To do so, he even studied natural science and mechanical science. Through his research, he critiqued Ricardo’s view on capital, the view that it is plainly wealth. Marx concluded that capital was “Capital is the sum-total of values which is again designated for the production, a sum not only of products nor even for the production of products, but a sum for the production of values. ” This means that Ricardo’s belief is a sum of things.
Marx’s belief is that capital is a definite social relation. The social relation coincides with the historical stage of commodity production. In 1857, Marx formed his revolution in political economy. Between 1850 and 1860, the volume of transaction in the world market doubled, railway was tripled, and banks boomed. Marx, with his extensive background, predicted the over production crisis. There were sharp cut backs, massive close downs, numerous bankruptcies, closing markets, plummeting prices and the like. Marx wrote many articles revealing why the world wide capitalist crisis occurred.
Marx’s view shows that capitalism is a cycle where over production is inevitable. Marx then wrote his manuscripts of economy. Marx also became the leader of the International Working Men’s Association, for whom he wrote the first address. He also wrote resolutions and manifestoes for this group. Capital is book on the history and current economy. Capital was published in volumes. In the first volume he summarizes A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, a critique written in 1858. Marx also begins with an analysis of commodity. The meat of capital is placed on exploitation of wage labor.
Marx discovered the fact that it is not labor itself, but labor power that is the commodity which the worker sells and the capitalist purchases. This is the key discovery for the connection for the determination of the commodity value by labor. Capital also establishes two main points. The first is that the capitalist can increase the rate of surplus value by prolonging the working day. This is absolute surplus value. The second is by increasing the intensity of the working day. This is relative surplus value. Marx covers every aspect of capitalist economy, and depicts every flaw.
Though never completed, it is the work of his life time. On December 2, 1881, His lifelong wife passed away. Marx’s health declined due to his strenuous work with the International and the Capital. And just more than a year later Karl Marx died peacefully at his home. Both were buried at Highgate Cemetery in London, where they still lie today. Marx has affected nearly all aspects, whether it be economy, politics, natural science, Darwinism, or even philosophy. His impacts have positively changed the world even still today, Marx’s ingenious is all around us.
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