Marx's Key Dynamics of Capitalist Development

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So201 essay: Critically assess Marx’s analysis of the key dynamics of capitalist development. To what extent does his exegesis contribute to our understanding of trends in contemporary capitalism? Explain and justify your answer providing sociological examples. Marx is seen as one of the defining figures in the fight against capitalism as he saw it as the main source of alienation and he was interested in “the oppressiveness of the capitalist system that was emerging out of the Industrial Revolution” (Ritzer 2011:25). Moving from feudal to capitalist society, Marx assesses how life has changed for the proletariat (working class labourers) and the bourgeoisie (owners of capital, means of production) in terms of the process of production and ownership of labour (Giddens & Held 1982:5). He also analyses the class struggle against the capitalist bourgeoisie and how the commodities of capitalism, such as use and exchange value, allow capitalism to grow, expand and control the people which provide the basis for its growth (Ritzer, 2011; Giddens, 1971). Ritzer (2011) and others, then attempt to compare Marx’s beliefs of capitalism to the modern system of capitalism found in today’s society. Through examples such as the U.S. Federal Review Board raising interest rates and blaming the “economy” in order to save the capitalists (Ritzer, 2011) and Morgenstern’s piece in The Economist (2012) on the change of economic wealth within the U.S and across the globe, this essay hopes to shine a light on how Marx’s views have shaped today’s society and how some of his beliefs, such as the eventual fall of capitalism (Giddens, 1971; Giddens & Held, 1982), were quite wrong. In the Communist Manifesto (1848), Marx explains how throughout the years, there has always been “a history of class struggles” (p.14). The bourgeoisie and proletariat classes rose out of feudal society but did not get rid of all the struggles attached, although they did simplify class antagonisms into the two groups above. The bourgeoisie represent the capitalists in society, those who own the means of production, the organisation and own the work of the paid labourers (Giddens, 1971; Marx & Engels, 1848). The proletariat represent all working class labourers who do not own the means of production and must sell their labour in return for wages (Giddens, 1971; Marx & Engels, 1848).The capitalist system brought about a new way of trading, and with the help of the Industrial revolution, trade went from local level to national to international. The introduction of railway systems and roads allowed for a greater ease of transportation and led to the expansion of industries across the globe (Marx & Engels, 1848; Ritzer, 2011) but also meant a decrease in power and control for those who did not own the processes of production. The bourgeoisie relied on the majority group of proletariats in order for mass production to occur and the constant updating of production meant that capitalism was developing at a much faster speed than any other society before (Marx & Engels, 1848). Marx believed that capitalism was a strong force but it was also its own enemy. He analysed that there were two main faults in capitalism which could bring about change and create a new system of socialism (Giddens & Held, 1982). Capitalism, as Marx described, is a contradictory system of production as it was founded on the basis of “private appropriation” (Giddens & Held 1982:5) but in order to make a profit and find a suitable buyer, capitalism had to become social and in turn, it became the most socialised form of order ever created by a society. Capitalism also is very prone to cycles of boom and depression, and these times of depression led to further “centralisation” of leading industries, economies and financial organisations and the disintegration of small businesses (Giddens & Held, 1982; Giddens, 1971). However, with this fast paced world of work came...
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