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Karl Marx, German political philosopher and revolutionist

Some sociologists have marked the course of the history remarkably. Others with lesser impact, have been rapidly forgotten. Karl Marx belongs to those with unforgettable memory. His works didnt perish, but are rather classified as everlasting. Karl Marx, German political philosopher and revolutionist, is one of the most influential thinkers of all times. Hes the founder of modern socialism and communism. Hes by many appraised and glorified and in the eyes of others, hes viewed as a shame to mankind.

Karl Marxs achievements are numerous but the main issue of this paper is aimed to analyze his theory on capitalism. It is as an economist theorist that he commands our interest here. Its important to mention that karl Marx was, in his youth, influenced by many sociologists and it is through their influence and ideas that he had shaped his overall doctrine. To mention, Adam smith, in reference to his economical views; Ricardo, as a political economist; Williams Friederick Hegel, by his dialectical process of thesis, contradiction and antithesis even though he rejected his view about idealism.

Not to forget, his close friendship with Frederick Engels who had an enormous effect on his writings and who had continued many of his unfinished writings after his death. Marxs theory of capitalism firstly emerged in The Communist Manifesto, a book written by Marx in 1847,and which was the first systematic statement of modern socialist doctrine. It contains a statement of principles that clarifies his theory. In few words, The Communist Manifesto embodies the materialist conception of history or historical materialism.

The manifestos propositions are that in every historical epoch, the prevailing economic system by which the necessities of life are produced, determines the form of societal organization, and the political and intellectual history of the epoch is a history of struggles between exploiting and exploited, thats between ruling and ruled, social classes. A further explanation will be given latter on. Karl Marxs theory appeared again in a book written in 1867, the Das Kapital(volume 1).

Its as well, a systematic and historical analysis of the economy of the capitalist system of society, in which he developed the theory that the capitalist class exploits the working class by appropriating the surplus value produced by the working class. Now, the theory of capitalism will be analyzed deeply. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle(communist manifesto). Capitalism, for Marx, is a historical development.

It goes back to the past development of traditional feudalism upon which societies were based on peasant production i. e. the producers were serfs ruled by a class of landed aristocrats and lords. With time passing, economic changes within these societies gave birth to towns and cities, trade and manufacture and many other aspects of industrialization. This new economic and emerging system encouraged industrials to produce goods for sale in open markets.

This new economic order known as industrial capitalism is an economic order based on the private pursuit of profit and on competition between firms to sell their products and which creates a gulf between a rich minority the bourgeoisie who controls the industrial resources and who possesses the means of production the capital, the wealth, and an impoverished majority the proletariat or the working class who receives an income in the form of wage.

In the communist manifesto, Marx points out that throughout the history, oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted fight that each time ended either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large or in the common ruin of the contending classes. For Marx, the modern bourgeoisie society that sprouted from the ruins of feudal society had not done away with class antagonisms. It had but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Karl Marxs epoch possessed a much simplified class antagonism, as it wasnt divided into a manifold gradation of social rank. It was however, split into two great hostile classes: The Bourgeoisie and The Proletariat. Since then, Modern industry had established the world market. This market had given an immense development to commerce, navigation, and communication by land. This later development had reacted on the extension of the industry in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

The bourgeoisie had put an end to all feudal, patriarchal relations. It had pitilessly broken up the ties that bound man to his natural superiors and had left no other link between man and man than naked self-interest called cash payment. It had reduced the family relation into a mere money relation. In reality, the bourgeoisie had resolved personal worth into exchange value and into the icy water of egotistical calculation. It had converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest etc.. into its paid wage laborers. In other words, it had imposed naked, shameless, direct and brutal exploitation.

Doing so, the bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production and by the immensely facilitated means of communication, had driven all, even the most barbarians nations into civilization. It had compelled all nations to adopt the bourgeois mode of production i. e. to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it had created a world after its own image. The bourgeoisie had agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and had concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization.

Karl Marx clarifies his theory by stating that the weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground turned against the bourgeoisie itself. The epidemic of over production had played its role. In fact, the productive forces at the disposal of the society no longer tend to further the development of the condition of bourgeoisie property, on the contrary, they endanger their existence. Consequently, the bourgeoisie had called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons the working class the proletarians. As defined before, these live only as long as they find work, only so long as their labor increases capital.

These laborers who sell themselves to capitalists are referred by Marx as a commodity and therefore are exposed to fluctuations of the market and to competition. Marx adds up saying that the proletarians have lost all individual character, have become an appendage of the machine. Hence, these masses of laborers, crowded in the factory, are very much like soldiers, placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois, they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine. The proletariat goes through various stages of development.

With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first, the struggle was carried against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. At that stage, the laborers still form an incoherent mass spread all over, and broken up by their mutual competition. Also at that time, any attempt against the bourgeoisie was an action compelled by the bourgeoisie to attain its own political ends and was therefore a victory for the bourgeoisie. But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increased in number, it became concentrated in greater masses, and hence its strength grew.

The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat were more and more equalized, as machinery did destroy all distinctions of labor and nearly everywhere reduced wages to the same low level. It was at that point that the collisions between individual workman and individual bourgeois, had taken more and more the character of contest between two classes. There upon, the workers began to form combinations against the bourgeois and with the improved means of communication created by the modern industry, they were able to get in touch with workers in different localities.

It was just the contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. The organization of the proletariat into a union and consequently into a political party had risen even stronger and firmer by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. This later found itself in a permanent battle as it interests had become antagonistic to the progress of the industry. In all these battles, it saw itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, for help and thus to drag it into the political arena.

As a result, the bourgeoisie had supplied the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, it had furnished the proletariat with weapons for fighting it. Thereafter, the proletariat movement became a self-conscious one, working in the interest of the immense majority. Their revolution and struggle will certainly lead, as mentioned in the Communist Manifesto, to the fall of the bourgeoisie and to their victory. The exploitation of many by few will end and Communism will win.

Finally, in further clarification of his theory, findings and beliefs, Karl Marx stresses again on the fact that every form of society has been based on feelings of hatred and opposition between the oppressing in one hand, and the oppressed in another. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions are and must be assured to it under which it can at least continue its slavish existence. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising from the very beginning with the process of industry, had sunk deeper and deeper below the conditions of his own class.

He, however, with time passing by, developed more rapidly than population and wealth, and this was the reason behind the evident reality that the bourgeoisie was unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. Its existence is no longer compatible with society. For that, in place of the old bourgeoisie society, with its classes and classes antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

According to Marx, Communism will prevail. It will in the future, be supplanted by a society in which there are no classes, no large scale between rich and poor. By that, he didnt mean that all inequalities between individuals will disappear. Rather, societies will no longer be split into a small class that monopolizes economic, intellectual and political power, and the large mass of people who benefit little from the wealth their work creates.

The economical system will come under communal ownership and a more equal society i. e. the abolition of private property, the triumph of Communism. To conclude, we can say that Marxs influence during his life was not great. After his death, it increased with the growth of the labor movement. Marxs ideas and theory of capitalism came to be known as Marxism, or scientific socialism, which constitutes one of the principal currents of contemporary political thought.

Marxism has greatly influenced the level of socialist thought, as many scholars have considered Marx a great economic theoretician and the founder of economic history and sociology. His analysis of capitalist economy and his theories of historical materialism, the class struggle, and the surplus value have become the basis of modern socialist doctrine. Of decisive importance with respect to revolutionary action are his theories on the nature of the capitalist state, the road to power, and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The doctrines, revised by many socialists after his death, were revived by Vladimir Lich Lenin, who developed and applied them. Finally, Marxs work has had a far reaching effect on the 20th century world. Until recently, before the Fall of the Soviet Union, more than a third of the earths population lived in societies whose governments claimed to derive their inspiration from Marxs ideas. Communism, however, as it was badly applied, has led to its collapse in the Soviet Union and to the triumph of the Capitalism.

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