[Karl Marx sits in the hallway of his dorm room. Claud de Rouvroy, who goes by “Simon”, trips over Marx’s outstretched feet.]
K: [quickly pulls his feet back] Ooh, sorry, man!
S: [getting up] Don’t worry about it… er, what are you doing?
K: I’m locked out of my room… Adam’s MIA. Have you seen him?
S: [dropping his bag and sitting down] Nah, not since Econ this morning. I’m kind of glad, though… it got a little intense today.
K: Ha, yeah, he was getting really defensive in the class discussion. Tonight will probably be a little awkward.
S: Well yeah, the Industrial Revolution and communism/capitalism conversations always rile people up… we were totally right, though.
K: [excitedly] Oh, I know! What was he even saying?
S: I don’t know… division of labor… laissez-faire…
K: That industry was toxic, though. He agreed with that.
S: [shaking his head] No no, he disagreed. He thought the industrial boom was great for society. He kept talking about all the jobs and merchandise it created.
K: Well yeah, but at the expense of the workers. The free market in the UK led to the Industrial revolution, which led to a huge gap between the rich and poor.
S: I think what Adam was trying to say was that when labor got competitive, wages went down, because everyone wanted whatever job they could ge-
K: Right, which is bad for the working class. Low wages mean more members of a family are forced to work. They devote so much of their time to work that hardly pays off- literally, because wages still drop. And then on top of that, they were expendable. Anyone could learn to do their job, and they could be replaced immediately. How does that help the working class?
S: Well it doesn’t, but he did mention afterward that on the other hand, when employers got competitive, wages went up. Like a fluctuating cycle. I think Adam was sort of saying that it could benefit the eco-
K: [scoffs] How?
S: [he takes a moment to see if Karl is going to continue] -…benefit the economy by stabilizing it. The whole “division of labor” idea. Everyone gets really good at one thing, does it really well, and production increases exponentially. This creates a booming economy, and benefits all the citizens. [He pauses, frowning.] That’s where I really disagree, though. What good is having a booming economy if the workers can never enjoy it? Society doesn’t really improve if the rich, business-owning class is the only one that reaps the benefits.
K: Right, and that’s when Adam agreed that the working, proletariat citizens would realize they were being oppressed and revolt against the powerful bourgeoisie. That would lead to a proletarian-controlled society that would then develop into a truly just Communist society, where everyone puts in equal work and receives equal resources.
S: Er… no. That’s when Adam started his spiel on how the proletariat individual doesn’t matter as much as the country as a whole. If the country is being moved along by the progressive inventions of the working class, then it is a success.
K: [glaring] That’s what you think?
S: No! You asked what Adam thought! I’m agreeing with you. The success of a nation can’t just be defined by its levels of production… especially if high production results in low quality of life for the vast majority of its citizens.
K: [throwing his hands up in frustration] Adam doesn’t get it!
S: [he nods, inspired by Karl’s enthusiasm] How can he understand the poor? He doesn’t even get financial aid! What does he know about hard work?
K: [He pauses, furrowing his brow] Simon, isn’t your dad an investment banker?
[Both boys are silent for a moment. No eye contact is made. Just as Simon is about to speak, a portly woman hastily rounds the corner.]
DPS Agent: [out of breath] I got a call for a lockout.