Karl Marx And Capitalism Essay

1179 words - 5 pages

Bertrand Russell once expressed that “advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” (Russell). Even in a relatively capitalist society, there are always criticism regarding the capitalism and its disregard for “the unfortunate” and the tyranny the “fortunate” exert over. The foremost proponent of this antagonism would be Karl Marx, who claimed that capitalism is ultimately hurtling toward its downfall.
The basic premise of the capitalism that Marx denied was as thus: in the modern industrialisation inevitably creates a bipartisan system, in which the bourgeoisie, or those who are the owners of the means of production, will rule the common labourers, or the proletariats. As the bourgeoisie class is exclusive unto itself and it will only decrease in size and never expand, eventually the proletariat population will outnumber them. This follows the logic given by Rousseau’s social contract theory, in which he states that the balance between the ruling class and the ruled must be maintained. Bourgeoisie, in its attempt to extort the labourers and milk as much profit as possible, will eventually be dominated by the oppressed proletariats and be overthrown. This comes from his premise that material exchange in society only occurs because people entre production relations, in which a division of labour is produced. This leads to those who live the means of actual labour, and those who survive by owning the means of labour; the former is the proletariat, and the latter bourgeoisie. Because the bourgeoisie owns the means of labour and in essence, the proletarian livelihood, the class is free to extort as much as they wish (historical materialism). This is clearly influenced by Hegel, who claimed that history and reality should be viewed dialectically; however, unlike Hegel, Marx decided to take a materialist approach, arguing that tangible matters should take priority over ideals. This, in turn, would create a dissention from the proletariat and lead to an uprising. Marx actually predicted that the first ones to have revolution would be the more industrialised countries.
Marx never addressed the actual capitalism we face today in his Das Kapital. Instead, he proposed a setting of ideal capitalism, in which there are “no monopolies, no unions, no special advantages for anyone. It is a world in which every commodity sells at exactly its proper price. And that proper price is its value” (Heilbroner). The value is defined as the amount of labour it took to create that certain merchandise. This obviously has a flaw, as if products were traded at its true value there would be no margin of profit. The margin is produced via the discrepancy of the labour value and the value of the actual labour performed; that is, if a labourer needs six hours of labour to survive at the rate of one pound a day, the...

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