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. ((Karl Marx, Estranged Labor)) Comte de Saint Simon criticized capitalism as well, however focused less on the worker and more on how capitalism could affect the people as a whole. He hypothesized that the competitive nature of capitalism would only allow a small elite group of people to gain from the system and it would also lead to people making fewer honest decisions in order to gain. ((Comte de Saint Simon, The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry))
These two men have very opposing views from Adam Smith, the English philosopher that we as Americans draw most of our influence of capitalism from. Smith argued that a capitalist economy would increase production and instigate innovation. ((Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations)) Neither Comte de Saint Simon nor Karl Marx necessarily disagreed with these points, the question they ask is; at what cost? They ask if we would rather risk our honest work and our sense of self for a few individuals to succeed?
The question I now pose is one based on a term we learned in class the other day: jingoism. Are Americans so strong willed to believe that we are right no matter the obvious issues with our economic system that we would never consider changing it? Comte de Saint Simon and Karl Marx might say so.