Jingoism in America’s Economy

Most Americans would argue that a capitalist economy is one of the strongest factors in forming a nation, however Karl Marx and Comte de Saint Simon, two enlightened philosophers, found major flaws in this system. Marx points out in his essay “Estranged Labor” how a capitalist economy alienates certain workers. Specifically he pointed out how some workers do not own the goods they produce and solely work for others, which in turn lends to a loss of self.Read the rest here

Dehumanized: the Individual in Regards to Industry

Karl Marx’s “Estranged Labour” details the ruthless system that is ‘The Money System.’  This system strikes chords similar to those of Thomas Hobbes’ theory on the state of nature where every human is in competition with one another; Marx states that “the political economy promotes greed and competition amongst the greedy”1  which adds a layer of economy to Hobbes’ theory.  However, Marx takes it yet another step forward by asserting the dehumanization of those who work in industry. … Read the rest here

Socialist Opinions in an Industrial Society

Robert Owen

Author

  • Robert Owen
  • English cotton manufacturer
  • “Utopian” socialist and workers’ rights advocate
  • Headed England’s Revolutionary Trades Union movement in 1830s
  • Worked in America/England

Context

  • Industrial Revolution is booming
  • Working conditions are not good and there are few laws in place to protect them
  • In United States, President Andrew Jackson defunded Second Bank of U.S. on March 28 (much to many peoples’ disapproval)

Language

  • Negative opinion on the flaws of the system
  • Persuasive with extended flowery (yet still understandable) language

Audience

  • Literate upper/middle class
  • Voters, landowners, business owners (people of everyday influence)
  • Great Britain’s people

Intent

  • Explain why the current system is so flawed
  • Incite change in a bloodless revolution

Message

  • Unite as Consolidated Union
  • By holding a strong moral influence, help man reach its full potential outside the evil grasps of the current flawed system

Karl Marx

Author

  • Karl Marx
  • Wealthy middle class
  • When this was published he was working as the editor to a paper in Paris

Context

  • Industrial Revolution
  • Very poor conditions for workers
  • France during the July Monarchy

Language

  • Very philosophical… breaks down each basic element and defines/redefines to reach a certain conclusion
  • Rational
  • Easy to understand and follow

Audience

  • Workers
  • Lower classes of Paris

Intent

  • Reach the workers and convince them of a socialist system where they are not devalued

Message

  • Political economy based on greed and competition
  • Workers are objectified, estranged, and treated poorly in a system based on greed
  • People are alienated from their products by the system which contradicts their nature
  • Private property causes this estrangement

Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon

Author

  • Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon
  • Scientist, businessman, and theorist
  • Writing had more influence after his death

Context

  • France under Napoleon’s constitutional monarchy
  • Industrial rev with poor working conditions and a lot of angry, hungry workers

Language

  • Emotional and persuasive
  • Many questions

Audience

  • Working class and middle class

Intent

  • Offer an opinion against laissez-faire economics

Message

  • Personal and social interests do not always coincide, which is why laissez-faire economics don’t always work
  • Those at the top become corrupted while those at the bottom suffer

Critiques of Capitalism

“The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry”:

Author: Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) a French political and economic theorist that became a strong advocator of changing the free trade “laissez-faire” system of political economy, to a more individualized approach; focusing on the poor. His writings impacted generations of French theorist.

Context: Claude is writing during the French Revolution, as apart of the rebellious Third Estate. Tired of seeing what he calls an imperfect industry thrive, seeing several fortunate individuals triumph over the many, he advocated for a change in the political system that addressed more the needs of his fellow commoner; the third estate.… Read the rest here

Wollstonecraft and Marx

“After attacking the sacred majesty of kings, I shall scarcely exit surprise by adding my firm persuasion that every profession, in which great subordination of rank constitutes its power, is highly injurious to morality.” I chose this line because this is where Mary Wollstonecraft transitions from her criticisms of the monarchy and those ruling civilians to her criticisms of all who are more powerful in the workplace and who utilize power over others to their benefit.… Read the rest here

Interchangeable Parts

“These workers, forced to sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, and all the fluctuations of the market.”

I chose this passage because it relates directly to the readings and class topics that have been discussed over the past week. It expresses very similar ideas to those of Oastler and Heine, and the tones are very similar to Marx’s estranged labor.… Read the rest here

The Dangers of a Laissez Faire Economy

Owen, Comte de St. Simon, and Marx share similar disdain for laissez faire economies. All three vilify the effects of a free market, in stark contrast to the beliefs of Adam Smith. Owen and Comte de St. Simon are most explicit in their attacks on the free market, blaming its systems and its supporters for the overwhelming decadence of industrial Europe. They argue that laissez faire economies rewards those who exploit others while punishing those with any shred of decency or respect for their fellow man.… Read the rest here

The Economic Option

All three of the historians that we examined had different viewpoints regarding economics than did Adam Smith. While Smith believed laissez-faire capitalism was the best economic method a country could employ, his opponents (Marx, Saint-Simon and Owens) all believed that it belittled the poor to such an extent that it was not a viable option. Although the capitalist method increases production to unforeseen levels, it creates an undeniable divide between social classes. The owners of the companies become much richer than the working class people, while all they have to do is sit down and watch the money being made in front of their eyes.… Read the rest here

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

[Marx, St. Simon, and Smith enjoy a casual evening gamenight together: The three are gathered in a small, softly lit apartment. Plainly furnished and with a worn in feel it could be any of the three. They are conversing easily around a small board game table and Smith reaches down into a bag at his feet]

Smith: [while rummaging around] Well…since it is my week to provide entertainment, I have brought choices! Three classic games for us to choose from.… Read the rest here

Kibbutzim Illustrating the Limits of Authority’s Power on Culture

I would like to examine where culture comes from. Plato argues that they come from education and government-organized social conditioning, and More seems to say that they come from leadership; it was, after all, Utopus that set the tone for a culture of acceptance and tolerance of different beliefs in Utopia. Marx, by contrast, argues that the economy is the root of all culture; every element of our culture and society is really a tool for and product of bourgeois power.… Read the rest here