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Sociological Theory: Karl Marx: Major Features Of Capitalist Mode Of Production

4093 words - 16 pages

Introduction.Karl Marx is one of the outstanding and influential social scientists of the 19th century, an undeniable founder of modern social science. Some critics, however, believe that Marx was not an original thinker and that his claim to recognition lies in the fact of his remarkable synthesis of German Philosophy, French Sociology and English Economics of his time. He collected the stray and isolated thoughts in these fields and constructed a coherent intellectual mansion for academic enlightenment and practical application, very much according to his own design. Hegel's dialectical process or principle of development through thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis provided the philosophical background for his theory of historical development through 'contradiction and conflict'. However, he replaced Hegel's notion of the development of the 'Idea' through the dialectical process to its final and highest form with the 'Materialism' of Feuerbach and introduced the concept of dialectical materialism to explain the historical process through 'class war'. He derived both the phrase and the concept of "class war" from French socialists like Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier. On the Economics side, Marx adopted in its entirety the Ricardian theory that labor was the source of value and developing it drew conclusions which Ricardo might have disdained. Thus, in short, Marx's social theory consists of three parts, with a fourth one thrown in later, and very ingeniously interwoven to present a coherent picture of a social organization, at once dynamic and in a state of flux. First is a philosophy of history anchored in the theory of Dialectical Materialism, which is manifested in a recurring class war in which the negation of the negation produces ever new negations. Secondly, there is the economic analysis which gives an exposition of a theory of value in an attempt to discover the secrets and the process of capitalist exploitation. Thirdly, there is a view of the state, about its present structure and nature, and techniques of changing it through revolution. We may also mention the fourth, a prophecy and a vision: the prophecy about the development of capitalism and its ultimate destination, and the vision of the final culmination of dialectical materialism in a classless and stateless society. In this paper our concern is to discuss the major features of the capitalistic mode of production. Capitalist mode of production Nowhere in Marx's writings can we find a complete definition of the capitalist mode of production, although it can be said that, in a profound sense, in its entirety Das Kapital is itself his 'definition' of the concept. However, from this and his other writings we can glean the meaning of a 'mode of production' as the following: that it is a specific combination of productive forces which include human labor-power, machinery and tools and technologies, materials, buildings and improved land; and social relations of production which...

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