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.

Language: His persuasive attitude towards changing the already “stable” system is very present in this reading. He calls laissez-faire, the inevitable solution that economist of that day schemed their personal interests with, instead of the needs of the individual.

Audience:  This piece is directed towards the fellow poor commoner that Claude eventually became after spending his self earned money on his various publications.

Intent: To alter the economic system in place that tends to benefit the rich, rather than the poor. To focus the needs on this system to the individual, and refocus the system on ideals of science.

Message: The free trade system needs to be abolished so that new ideals can be the catalysts for change towards a new system that benefits/addresses the needs of the poor.

“The Legacy of Robert Owen”:

Author: Robert Owen (1771-1858) was an organizer of cooperatives in England. As an advocator for universal education and workers rights he argues that nations are built upon a deceptive system.

Context: Owen is writing during a time of rebellion, in which these unions and cooperatives greatly impacted various minds during the revolution.

Language: Owen uses a tone of disgust with the population of Great Britain, which he believes is full of injustices that opposes real well being and true interests of every individual.

Audience: His message is mainly for people against the morals of an unjust system. He advocates for Consolidated Unions, and that his stance will not go unheard.

Intent: To not allow the ignorant to deprive you, the individual, of your well-being, happiness, and life. Promoting the value of men of industry, and producers of wealth and knowledge.

Message: The system that nations are built upon are in essence deceptive and/or ignorant. These systems can do no good to man, but only continuously produce evil.

“Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 – Estranged Labor”:

Author: Karl Marx, a revolutionary specialist, the founder of Marxism. His work laid the foundation for understanding capital and labour relations.

Context: Marx elaborates on the vicious cycle that affects workers, and how they become commodities after a grueling production process.

Language: Marx presents facts, rather than opinion, and uses economic rational to establish grounds for a society that leans toward bettering conditions for the proletariat.

Audience: The average commoner and proletariat worker in the workforce.

Intent: To elaborate on the power that capitalist nature has on the average proletariat worker.

Message: The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size.

4 thoughts on “Critiques of Capitalism

  1. First of all, I enjoyed reading your post and the way you applied the “ACLAIM” method. What struck me about the “Owen” reading was the language/tone that he used. He described the system in place at the time as “evil” and stated it had “no redeeming qualities”. While the “Language” piece of the of the ACLAIM method can often be overlooked, in this particular piece I thought it was one of the more significant portions. I believe your use of the word “disgust” did the portion justice.

  2. To add to the points that you touched on in the Karl Marx reading, I think it is important to note just how much Marx thinks socialism is better than capitalism with his persuasive, convincing language. You are correct in his elaboration of the power that capitalism has over the average proletariat worker and how capitalism produces tension.

  3. You hit on every point with the ACLAIM method. I think it is interesting how these authors originally advocated for one single common thing (for workers to be treated and paid equally) but ended up being the forefather to other political ideologies. Henri de Rouvroy disliked the free trade system, Owen wanted equal education and pay for workers and Marx explained the flaws economically with Capitalism/ free market. Yet, their points birthed the ideas of Socialism.

  4. I also find it interesting how individualism plays such an important role in these documents. However, I thought it was especially noticeable in “The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry.” As you state in your post, Claude wishes to stray away from the “laissez-faire” system towards a more individualized system. Claude wishes to give more rights to the workers, so that their needs and requests are heard and they are seen as individuals rather than as a whole.

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