Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other -- bourgeoisie and proletariat." This is Karl Marx's biggest mistake: his assumption that all of the societal classes in an industrialized world will coalesce into two remaining classes: wealthy industrial property owners and starving labourers. The critical distinction is between people who work for a living, and people whose money works for them. This is no small distinction, and Marx's divisive description is still echoed today by the political left wing. However, the analogy of "hostile camps" suggests warfare, which in turn suggests that one is somehow a traitor or a deserter if one moves from one "camp" to the other. This is simply not the case; we all strive to become "financially independent" (read: "bourgeoisie") someday, and many of us achieve that goal, even from the humblest beginnings. He also ignored the existence of the middle class (which has actually grown since his era, rather than shrinking away to nothing in his predicted polarization). Most of the middle class has both employment and investment income, and will eventually retire to live off their money, thus making them the true middle ground between wage earners and capitalists: at different stages of their lives, they will be both. Since virtually the entirety of Marx's argument for communism relies upon the assumption of two distinct, polarized, hostile classes, the existence of a viable middle ground literally cuts his knees out from under him.
"The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers." This is really just a repetition of his earlier attempt to pretend that society is polarized into those who work and those who live off their money. Now, I don't mean to suggest that our society, either in its current state or in Karl Marx's time, is ideal. However, his artificial polarization was an inaccurate description of events in the 19th century, and his writings proved an inaccurate prediction of events in the 20th century. Events have shown that a free-market system does offer great opportunity for those with ambition and intelligence, contrary to what Karl Marx predicted. Professionals with valuable skills do work for their wages, but it's not a prison; they also invest in things like houses and retirement funds, and most of them will eventually retire on those investments. Moreover, those who would defend him by saying that he couldn't have known about future events would be well advised to consider the fact that all of these objections were also raised in his era. Clearly, his detractors knew something that he didn't.
"Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells." Here he tries to portray one of the strengths of the free market as a weakness, by complaining that someone should be in "control". But why does someone have to be in "control" of the economy? "Laissez-faire" capitalism is based on the fact that free markets control themselves. The laws of supply and demand and the free-market forces of competition control the economy, without any government bureacracy holding the reins. The strong survive, the weak perish, and the group as a whole becomes stronger (it is an historical irony that Darwin and Marx published within a dozen years of each other, since Darwinian evolution is analogous to the free-market system which eventually triumphed over Marxism). The only role for the government of a true free-market economy is to ensure free competition rather than monopoly (which destroys...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document