Is Capitalism to Blame?

I found it captivating to read The Communist Manifesto Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels shortly after discussing Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Smith advocated for industrialization and capitalism in his work. He believed that as a states’ wealth and productivity grew, class disparities within that state would decrease. Marx and Engels disagreed with this idea. Wealthier, stronger entities dominated over less developed ones for centuries during the time these authors wrote their works. Marx believed that capitalism only extended the potential for this issue. He claims in The Communist Manifesto Party, “Modern bourgeois society, springing from the wreck of feudal society, had no abolished class antagonisms. It has but substituted new classes, new conditions of oppressions, new forms of warfare, for the old.”[1] Rather than restricting class disparities, Marx fully believed that the bourgeois society that rose from capitalism exemplified another dominating, ruthless power.

In my senior seminar for International Studies last semester, we discussed how superior races have dominated over “lesser” peoples since the beginning of time. Whether it was during Christopher Columbus’s reign over the Native Americans beginning towards the end of the fifteenth century or Great Britain’s invasion of India during the eighteenth century, more developed nations have always seen it in their interest to dominate over “lesser” people. Through this domination, these superior nations gained land, territory, and, ultimately, power. Marx would argue that capitalism is completely to blame for this continuous power struggle.

christopher-columbus-631I now pose these questions: Is Marx correct- is capitalism completely to blame for the power struggle that continues to exist today? What are some prominent examples that showcase this divide? How can we combat these struggles? How have First World countries made attempts to understand lesser nations? Or have they only made these issues worse?

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[1] Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in The Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings, ed. Bob Blaisdell (Mineola, New York: Dover Publicans, 2003), 126.

Marx on Estranged Labour

Karl Marx is a German author who is most famous for writing the Communist Manifesto with Fredrick Engels. He was a German who wrote on the final socialist revolution after the industrial revolution began to take off in the mid 19th century. Marx also wrote specifically on the plight of the worker from which he derived his Manifesto. Estranged Labor is essentially a treatise on how the worker is treated in the new industrial society.

Marx begins to talk about how the worker has power over his job as he is specialized into his field, however the better he does his job, the more power he is giving to his bosses. He does this by producing more and more as time goes on. This begins to translate into excess profit as the worker performs his job better and better allowing for the industry to hire more workers at lower wages, and consequently cut those of the original employee.

Marx speaks specifically about workers becoming part of a very objectified system, becoming materials, or resources in the eyes of the industry that they built. Workers during the industrial revolution are objectified like that of the raw materials that are essential for manufacturing.

Marx writes to make the point that the workers are the foundation of the new progressive industrial society, but that they are not revered as the true cogs of the machine. Rather they are replaced like one would replace a broken piece of furniture. The working class which is the quintessential part of the new world order, is objectified and given no rights or privileges as they are under the yoke of Capitalism. Marx advocates that revolution is necessary for the workers to receive what they deserve in a society where the work that they do is revered rather then taken off the assembly line without any appreciation or consideration given to the people who made possible the capitalist engine. Marx advocates that worker’s socialism would be the best system because capitalism is essentially an oppression of the masses with the proletariat caught under the weight of corporations.