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Can Capitalism Lead to Human Happiness?

By Mamunnyc Oct 15, 2012 690 Words
Issue 1: Can Capitalism Lead to Human Happiness?

This issue consists of supporting and opposing arguments. Adam Smith explains the supporting argument; and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels jointly explain the opposing arguments; all well known philosophers. The debate at hand is whether the capitalism economic system or communism economic system provides the most contentment to people. Adam Smith: YES

Smith argues, ”If we will but leave self-interested people to seek their own advantage, the result, unintended by any one of them, will be the greater advantage of all. No government interference is necessary to protect the general welfare.” Smith supports his argument by explaining, what most people consider the “American Dream”. He is very detailed in describing the process of developing wealth through manufacturing goods and services. He covers the division of labor, explaining that a manufacture owner employs a small number of the population to work to deliver the demands of the greater population. Each division of the manufacturing process conducts specified duties and tasks to create a part of the manufacturing process. The manufacturing process includes both skilled and unskilled labor. By dividing labor and creating specialized areas of the process increases the quantity of output within a shorter time period. As the process is further separated, so is the compensation, which creates a great division of class. The invention of machines has allowed one man to complete the task of many workers. The manufacturing process also creates multiple opportunities for other manufacturing owners to create an item or fixture to be utilized in the manufacturing of the main product. Considering this type of work environment will create a difference in class. The highest class will be the wealthiest, the private owner. The owner would employ all the other classes and level of wealth will be determined by position and compensation, the poorest being the worker the least compensated. The goal is to make as much of a profit as possible to live the life desired. Without governmental influence, this creates an opportunity for any person to achieve their personal monetary goal. Therefore, making earnings limitless and allow individuals to be in control of their own happiness. Maximizing earnings is always considered, leading to outsourcing from foreign companies at an inexpensive rate that which can be home-produced. “… Every individual naturally inclines to employ his capital in the manner in which it is likely to afford the greatest support to domestic industry, and to give revenue and employment to the greatest number of people of his own country.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: NO

Marx and Engels are in great support of communism. They explain that if you “leave people to their own self-interested devices, and those who by luck and inheritance own the means of production will rapidly reduce everyone else to virtual slavery.” Communism eliminates the divisions of class in society created by capitalism, by allowing the government to control everything. Marx and Engels argue that capitalism will increasingly create a great divide causing the wealthy to be wealthier and make the middle class and lower class get poorer until eventually there is no middle class, just a great division between two classes, whereas, communism will create a balance and eliminate all classes. A communist society focuses more on balancing and sharing the wealth to ensure everyone is equally treated and capitalism focuses on individual wealth and success and leave the rest of society to continuously struggle and get left behind. Marx and Engels that the growing competition will cause the workers to form unions to fight for wages; become rebellious and cause riots. The bourgeois will continue to succeed as the proletarians continue to struggle. Marx and Engels believe communism is the best way to go because it focuses on the way wealth is shared to ensure the happiness of society. Capitalism focuses on the development of individual growth and happiness.

What is your opinion on this article?
Do you think that Marx and Engels are correct in their portrayal of capitalism? How are the effects of capitalism affecting us today?
Do you think capitalism has led to human happiness?

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