Marxism and capitalism essays

Here becomes clear the importance Marx gave to the strategic political struggles for the conquest of power, that is, to the action of individuals. It is this attitude, although it does not disregard economic determinations, in the final instance, that belies the stigma that Marx overemphasized economic factors that is affirmed by those who are restricted to a mechanical interpretation of his reference to "natural laws of capitalist production" in the preface of the first edition of Capital. Related to this clarification is also the Marxian position concerning the workers participation in revolutionary progress, which reveals once again a refutation of the idea that for Marx, the sole protagonist of history is the proletariat.

Effectively, although Marx begins with the principle that only the independent struggle of the proletariat can lead to workers' liberation from the yoke of capital, his analysis of the Paris Commune gives a vote of confidence to the participation of popular groups in the struggle for structural transformation. Thus, in relation to this event, he demonstrates acceptance of all resources and tendencies that contribute to the reconquering of political power by the popular masses, considering to be most important, in the Republic implanted by the communards of Paris in addition to the substitution of the permanent army by the "armed people" , the creation of an executive committed to the people and administeed by it.

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This is what can be inferred from the following statement:. Nevertheless, in terms of the historic importance of the political form assumed by the Commune, which was characterized by alliances between the working class and broad sectors of the French population - the urban petty bourgeoisie and peasants - and by universal suffrage in the election of the directive councils, Marx still did not see this as a socialist revolution, but as a necessary preparatory phase to achieve this goal.

For this reason it is understood that for Marx the Paris Commune represented a concrete example of anti-capitalist reform within capitalism, which took shape in the transition from a monarchy to a republic, and as such, was a prerequisite to a later and more radical transformation. The Commune - an uprising of the discontented masses of the proletariat and petty-bourgeois against the French monarchy - before realizing the transformation of the social and political organization of France into a federation of autonomous municipalities, began to support the route to communism, supported in formulas that, according to Lenin's criticism , signified a petty-bourgeois democratic government; or that is, a popular government that, despite its radical break with the bourgeois state and the implantation of direct democracy, did not outline, as Marx foresaw, the route to future proletarian revolutions; and this is because, among other problems, the revolutionaries confused the struggle for the republic with the struggle for socialism.

Nevertheless, despite the contradictions and obstacles experienced by the Commune, it was the successful preamble to a socialist revolution; and as a process of popular political participation, it continues to be the most significant example of the action of anticapitalist movements linked to Marxian thinking. In addition, the history of the Commune awoke strong interest among Marxist intellectuals in the West, who came to recognize, according to Mommsen and Meschkat, that Marx's thinking had only become converted into the Marxism that is known today thanks to his reflections about the experiences of the Paris Commune.

Technology, innovation, growth, and capitalism

Moreover, the rebellions of , in France, not only revived even if temporarily the experience of the Commune, but also came to demand a deeper theoretical analysis of political participation, conceived by Marx, in the current revolutionary process, with an eye on a "society" of well-being.

Therefore, the tracing of the concept of well-being in Marx's work will also have to consider his writings on economics and detect in them the reaffirmation of his interest in the conquest of social equality found in his political writings. Marx and the English welfare institutions. In both his political and economic reflections, Marx was little concerned 8 with the welfare institutions found at that time the Poor Law , of , for example and with the growing state intervention in Victorian England; nor in understanding them in their specificities. Foreseeing the extinction of the state, Marx did not see how well-being would be achieved through the operations of state organization that were committed primarily to the interests of the dominant classes.

Therefore, he maintained that the state would always be a tool for the domination and maintenance of the class structure and as such, an institution incapable of guaranteeing social well-being. Therefore, to detect Marx's involvement with some aspect related to the regulatory action of the state in the social field, and then draw inferences about his position concerning the conquest of well-being by workers at the heart of capitalism, what should be examined is the factory legislation discussed in Capital. Here, unlike any of the classical theoreticians or even the old and modern socialists, Marx analyzed laws that regulated factory activities the Factory Acts ; reports of the public health authorities; factory inspections; and the various investigative commissions established by the English Parliament.

Even so, the study of the factory legislation as an institution for worker protection, assumed a limited scope in his theory. The analysis merely collaborated with his broader proposal to better understand the social relations of production in its multiple determinations and in its more evolved form of representation and control under capitalism. Therefore, in terms of Marx's contributions, both to the study of legal regulation of capitalist labor processes, and to issues related to the living conditions of workers, and to social programs as in the case of accident prevention, healthcare and education , the profile of his concept of well-being must be detected in passages spread throughout his work.


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This is not to say that Marx's analysis of English factory legislation and about equality and liberty cannot indicate elements of a Marxian sociology of well-being. What is to be emphasized is that this sociology, because it is not easily perceivable, becomes fallacious if it is restricted to isolated interpretations of Marxian thought about the theme.


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  • It is in the attempt to avoid this fallacy that I intend to relate Marx's analysis of factory legislation with his positions about political participation inscribed in his reflections on the Paris Commune. And based on this relation, identify the common thread that articulates the philosophical, scientific and political principles that serve as a basis for his transformative vision. Actually, it is not possible to differentiate the political and scientific limits of Marx's theory and praxis, or of his intellectual and ethical posture, given that these spheres are inseparable.

    Therefore, it is valid to affirm that there were never breaks between the young and the mature Marx, nor between Marx the philosopher, scientist or political activist. In reality, Marx's great originality consists essentially in his impressive ability to articulate, with critical creativity, the multiple aspects of social life and the multiple intellectual supports of various thinkers from different tendencies. This fact is substantiated in his analysis of factory legislation, a type of case study within the realm of his theory about labor, in which can also be identified his position in relation to social reform, to the bipolar confrontation of classes and to the priority of the economic over the political, already detected in his writings on the Paris Commune.

    Effectively, in his study of factory legislation, Marx reaffirmed his regard for the struggle of workers within capitalism, with the goal of improving their living and working conditions and their salaries. This, in his perspective, is perfectly compatible with the correlation of forces existing in the realm of the productive system and with the disputes related to the confrontation between the antagonistic interests of the fundamental classes bourgeois and proletariat. Thus, he understands that the effort to achieve the factory legislation to be one of the first conscious reactions of the working class against the exploitation to which it was submitted, and for which they had the support of other groups and class factions, who were also harmed by the privileges and domination of the industrial capitalists, as was the case of the agrarian aristocracy.

    Without underestimating the importance of these adhesions to labor's cause a fact that once again indicates his predisposition to emphasize all the forces that contribute to the success of the worker's struggle, and his non-alignment to an orthodox concept of bipolar class conflict , what appeared to him to be more significant in this process was not so much the conquest of this legislation, but the restriction this conquest imposed on the despotism of capital.

    This is related to a position counter to the thesis of absolute pauperization, which was incorrectly attributed to Marx. In the understanding that salary is composed of two elements - the physical and the social-historical - Marx affirmed that: the latter element is susceptible to alterations that can result both from spontaneous factors, related to the ups and downs of the economic cycles, as well as the political action of the workers against the reduction of the real salary to that needed to meet their real physiological needs.

    It is thanks to the historic-social element of salary that it is possible for the working class to conquer not only salary increases, but to also impose legal restrictions that, beyond the economic "iron law" of salaries, check the propensity of this law to limit the remuneration of the labor force to the absolute minimum. This is why labor legislation earned Marx's sympathy. In and of itself, it had little significance in terms of social transformation, although it had brought physical, moral and intellectual benefits to workers.

    But, if seen from the perspective of the principle that it represents, or that is, that it is possible to counter the economic policy of the property-owning class with the economic policy of the working class, more than a political conquest, the factory legislation is a theoretical confirmation. However, it is worth emphasizing that Marx's recognition of the importance of factory legislation as a conquest of workers against the interests of capital has stirred polemics about the incompatibility of this recognition with his revolutionary proposals.

    It is that an analysis less attentive to the nuances that permeate this proposal tend to identify in Marx two ideas of change: one, political, the result of permanent conflict between productive forces and the relations of production that, in turn, will stimulate the contradictions in the different realms of social life, especially between the antagonistic classes; and the other, economic and legal, which, in the case of factory legislation, appears to point to the defense of a reformist process in which changes take place gradually within the capitalist system.

    But, this dualism does not occur in Marx. A closer examination of the Marxian theory of revolution will show that the theory is mounted on the bases of the process of production, but is not reduced exclusively to this. Therefore, everything that contributes to the necessary and growing awareness of man in the labor process is converted into consciousness of the labor process and of the possibilities for change in a spiral of distinct determinations. The revolutionary process encompasses economic, cultural and political components that are mutually reinforcing, although the principal weight falls on the changes of the economic base.

    For this reason, revolution for Marx appears not to mean only the total revolutionary process. It can be a political revolution, as that of the Paris Commune, supported in cultural values that were determined, in the final instance, by the internal contradictions of the economic process in a specific historic context 9. For this reason the importance of factory legislation as a contribution to the awakening of the proletarian consciousness that the domination of labor by capital is not inevitable, and of Marx's effort , p.

    So much so that, by having this possibility in mind, he affirms: "even when a society discovers the tracks of the natural law of its development [ But it can abbreviate and reduce the birth pains. This is a line of thinking in Marx about the state - which is little explored - which discredits the handling of social policy only from the perspective of its functionality to the capitalist system, as is seen by various authors who call themselves Marxists. This, however, is not to say that Marx was unaware of the ambiguities of the capitalist state, in regard to compliance with legislation, as well as the limitations and precarious nature of this compliance imposed by the structural power of capital.

    Marx was aware that, in capitalism, the state constantly falls into contradiction before the incompatibility of the legal principle of isonomy, with the conflicting and unequal reality of a society divided into classes. Despite recognizing in the preface of Capital that the British government, unlike the German, imposed some control on industrial owners, he never had an illusion about the fact that the state gave priority to the interests of the dominant classes. And despite confessing that "where capitalist production is fully implanted in Germany for example , in the factories themselves, the conditions are worse than in England, because there is no counterweight from the factory laws" MARX, , p.

    Thus, in Capital , he describes various ways in which owners ignore the law, with the compliance of the state, as well as the manipulative and deceitful manner parliamentary authorities investigated irregularities by employers, in detriment to labor justice. Marx's disbelief in the transformative power of factory legislation is thus clear, as well as his conviction that the proletariat should see this power as merely a strategic component of their greater struggle for complete well-being, which he identified with human emancipation from the fetters of capital - despite the gains provided by the law.

    This is because, under capitalism, in fact, the principles of economic competitiveness and of political coercion that, based on mechanisms such as the industrial reserve army and its depressive effects on salaries, lead to a growing but not absolutely fatal pauperization of the labor force, despite the liberal utopian measures for social protection.

    Thus, total well-being for Marx is a phenomenon that is based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation, identified with an effective attention to human needs, morally and historically founded on the collectivized process of production and distribution of the social product 10 ; and not on the principles of competition and coercion, which are identified with the process of private profitability that results from the exploitation and manipulation of the labor force as a special commodity, as is implicit in the liberal-bourgeois concept of social protection by the capitalist state and of the rights of citizenship.

    Pinto Ribeiro. Obras escojidas. Tomo II.

    The Relevance of Marxist Political Economy

    Madrid: Editorial Ayuso, MARX, K. Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert, Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, Madrid: Editorial Ayuso, a. La guerra civil en Francia. Madrid: Editorial Ayuso, b. Terceiro manuscrito. O capital. Volume I. Volume I, Tomo 2. Manifesto do partido comunista.

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    Marx and Welfare. Sociological Review , New Series, v. Society and Social Policy : theories and practice of welfare. Historia 2. Madrid: Ediciones Rioduero, USA : a crise do Estado capitalista.

    Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, Capitalismo monopolista. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, Received Aug. Approved Sept. Potyara A. Pereira potyamaz gmail. All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. On the other hand. Marx is still correct about his critique of capitalism because even though there have been changes made to capitalism to prevent some abuses, capitalism still produces inequality, reduces the family relationship, destroys small business, and enslaves.

    In Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto which was a formal statement of the communist. Biography However he also developed and constructed many theories when talking about the economy, philosophy and history and is best known as a communist Biography. A great part of his life was used writing two of his well-known books, Das Kapital, written in Marx, xii , and The Communist Manifesto, written in Marx and Engels.

    ADDITIONAL READING

    Two sociologists named Karl Marx and Max Weber have explained what they saw the historical emergence of modern capitalism. Although both of the sociologists have differing views on how they. Karl Marx, in the Capital, developed his critique of capitalism by analyzing its characteristics and its development throughout history. Although it was written in s, its values still serve an important purpose in the globalized world and maintains extremely relevant in the twenty-first century.

    Their wages are kept down to the subsistent level in order to maintain profits for the capitalists. Just like the slaves in slavery and the serfs in feudalism, the wage-laborers are exploited tremendously. Capitalism, under the disguise of fair exchanges, carries its exploitation nature from previous economic systems. Many proponents of capitalism argue that the wealth is shared with the workers.


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    • But is it true? According to an annual report in , an average American CEO makes as much money in one day compared to what an average worker earns in one year1.

      And the disparity between business leaders and average workers continues to grow over time. The social consequence of this disparity is the concentration of wealth on a small percentage of population. In Capital, Karl Marx reveals the ugly truth that capitalism lays on the foundation of class exploitation. Without such exploitation, there is no profit to be made and capitalism will cease to exist. Show More.