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The history of man shows that people came together at a point in time to form society. The reason for this is for human beings to have a peaceful co-existence, society therefore is a human creation.
How can a society be adjudged as just? These are question yearning for answers and a great concern for political philosophers. The idea of capitalism has it’s origin in the west and it is highly practiced in the Euro-American world.
Capitalism as a principle in a society spread like wild fire that today it is practiced all around the world. On the face value capitalism appears to be nonconsequential as it seems to bring about rapid growth and development in society. But Karl Marx, who is regarded as the father of socialism vehemently, rejects capitalism in all its ramification. For him, capitalism can only be described as exploitative. It is in this light that this study shall evaluate Marx’s idea of capitalism with a view to addressing the above question.
1.0 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Capitalism is an advancement of feudalism. Some basic contradiction or flaws in this system of capitalism, is one that generate and depends on social inequality. What makes capitalism unique is not it’s industrial technology but the very way it organizes interpersonal relations in the work organization.
It is note worthy that the system of capitalism has to do basically with exploitation and alienation and in this sense, Marx held that when the worker’s income, wealth, prestige and power are not equal to those of the owner’s of the means of production then the relationship between the workers and owners of means of production becomes one of exploitation.
Alienation is another great tool of capitalism, were Marx argued that the social interaction between worker’s and owner’s in the organization is alienating, workers are dehumanized and the concept refers both to social situation which people find themselves (alienating work situation) and the perceptions of individuals in those situations (a feeling of being less human).
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problematic of capitalism lies in its exploitative tendency. What is crucial in this regard is to outline the problems raised by Marx about capitalism in an attempt to do away with the system of capitalism. As listed in the background above, exploitation and alienation are basically what capitalism constitute of. However, with these problem of capitalism Marx sought to proffer a salutation through the form of a revolution.
The problematic here is how to achieve a classless society and have the commonwealth in common. This problem posses great challenge especially in the experimentation of socialism and communism. Another problematic is, can socialism truly be a state of classlessness. In other words we are faced with the problem of removing the divide between the have’s and the have not. Another problem to be looked at critically is that of revolution, will it lead to progress or retrogression.
1.2 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This essay discusses capitalism in reference to Karl Marx, not withstanding it will also discuss this concept from the perspective of general conception of capitalism. However, it shall also applaud as well as criticize Karl Marx concept of capitalism.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to highlight the conceptualization of capitalism of Karl Marx with the view of showing that the postulation of socialism may not necessarily bring an end to class distinction. In other words this study aim at showing that socialism and communism could be a worse socio-economic and political agreement compare to capitalism.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
In line with the purpose of this study, the significance of the study will show that we can not remove capitalism from socio-economic development and growth. Again it will help economic planners and leaders to decide and initiate economic policy that will lead to the growth of the nation’s economy for the benefit of every individual rather than some. In line with the above, the study will serve as a call for government to regulate the practices of capitalism where it has being adopted such that worker’s right are protected. Lastly, the study will serve as an intellectual contribution to the improvement of capitalist and socialist economy in such a way that a synthesis can be reached.
This essay adopts both analytical and critical methods. At the initial stage it shall outline in details the position of Karl Marx on the issue of capitalism as well as his profound solution to the annihilation of capitalism. Progressively it shall criticize Karl Marx’s conception of capitalism.
1.6 LITERATURE REVIEW
The first book to be reviewed here is authorized by R. N. Caron Hunt and it is titled, “The Theory and Practice of Communism” (London: Penguin Books, 1950). In this book, the author gives us a short account of Marxism and it’s consequence in Russia, from a highly critical standpoint.
The author clearly explained that modern Marxian thought is a synthesis in which the basic principles of Karl Marx and Engle’s have been tailored by Lenin and Stalin to fit into the twentieth century. The book gives an analysis of the relationship and the difference between Marx’s predictions and the policies of the communist government of the twentieth century.
Another book to be reviewed is authored by Istavian Meszaros titled, “Marx Theory of Alienation”, (London: Merlin Press 1970). This book portrays how the concept of alienation was the base to Marx whole development of a critique of capitalism. The book also assessed the significance of the theory of how the appropriation of the surplus value Marxist can lead to alienation and the historical impact of Marx’s work as a whole.
The author wrote on the development of capitalism and it’s attendant consequences for instance, alienation. He also gives an explanation of the contemporary significance of Marxist theory and approach to social and economic development.
The third book to be reviewed here is authored by Karl Marx and is tilted, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, (Moscow); progress publishers, 1977, English translation) Marx in this book attempted a critical examination of the bourgeoisie society and it’s economy. The core problem that Marx elucidated in this book were the problems of capitalist exploitation, surplus value and alienation. Here the concept of capitalism was used by Marx for the purpose of a profound analysis of social relations. He held that there was a connection between the ownership of private property i.e. (the means of production) and the social system it engenders.
The theoretical generalization in this book was Marx attempt at a scientific analysis of the scientific mode of production and to examine the law of it’s development. This law Marx opined will lead capitalism to an inevitable doom and it’s replacement by socialism.
The fourth book to be reviewed is “History of Political Thought Classical to Modern An Introduction” authored by A. O. Okoh, published in Nigeria by Amfitop Books. The author of this book gave detailed exposition of Karl Marx life and his educational background, his theory of dialectical background, his theory of dialectical and historical materialism, given Mark’s division of history in four parts bringing from the primitive to the capitalist stage. The book also gave analysis of Marx class struggle and his economic analysis.
In another part, the author gave a critique of Mark’s historical materialism holding that there is no justification for his division of history. The author also criticized Marx for holding that only material factors shapes history, for the author, other factors such as culture and social factors. Also in this book Marx scientificity was criticized.
The fifth book under review is “A History of Political Thought: Plato to Marx authored by Subrata Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy, published by Prentice Hall of India Private Limited, New Delhi, 2007 page 351 – 364. This book throws light on Karl Marx life, his concept of dialectics, materialism, class struggle, social change and his analysis of capitalism.
1. R. N. C. Hunt, The Theory and Practices of Communism, (London: Penguin Books, 1950), pp. 84 – 89.
2. I. Meszaros, Marx’s Theory of Alienation, (London: Merlin Press, 1970), pp. 50 – 53, 89.
3. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, (Moscow: Progress Publisher, 1977), pp. 77, 184.
4. B. Oilman, Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in Capitalist Society, (Cambridge: University Press, 1971).
5. R. N. Hunt, The Political Ideas of Marx and Engel, (London: Macmillan, 1975).
6. Berlin, Sir I, Karl Marx: His Life and Environment, (Oxford: Oxford University 1963).
7. R. Schact, Alienation, (London: George and Unwin Ltd, 1970).
8. J. Schumpete, Capitalism Socialism and Democracy, (London: Allen and Unwin, 1976).
9. Subrata Mukerjee and Sushia Ramaswamy, A History of Political Thought – Plato to Marx, (India: New Delhi, 2007), pp. 351 – 364.
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