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Essay: Explore Marx's Theory & How Capitalism Affects Social Structures

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Evan Rambo

Legal Studies 103

Professor Lieberman

8 October 2018

Marx Paper

    Karl Marx believes fundamentally in the ideology of communism, which strives for common ownership of means of production, eliminating social classes. Conversely capitalism depends on trade and property being controlled by private owners, where assets are invested to create more profit. The prevalence of capitalism and systems like it throughout the history of human society have pushed Marx to create communism. Marx’s disapproval of capitalism stems from his social theory, or his framework of the social relationships of contingency and necessity. Marx’s constantly argues that society interacts through conflict rather than collective decisions resulting in exploitation. Ultimately, Marx's suggests that conflict and exploitation between classes drives humans society, and this is perpetuated by private ownership and subsequent laws of capitalism that protect private property to uphold the socioeconomic foundations of society.

The laws of capitalism continue to put priority on protecting the right of property in order to maintain an exploitative system. Throughout the history of capitalism,  human interaction and social construction has revolved around private property and the symbolism that came with it. Ownership represented wealth, which represents importance and value of life. There is the constant struggle to get out of the situation that caused you to not have wealth including race, gender, and familial ties to move up as many classes as possible. This way human life is reproduced through various generations and cultures. Through Marx’s theory of historical materialism we see an endless cycle of exploitation as society finds a  way to produce and reproduce the ways of human existence. Karl Marx used historical materialism to look back at past societal constructs and ways of existence, and in the overwhelming majority he sees a small bourgeoise class dominating the masses of the proletariat class. Bourgeoise being the wealthy elite who own means of production, and the proletariat being the rest of the population who constitute the working class labor force. Marx states, “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production and thereby the revelations of society” (162). This social class controls the ways of which capital is gain and property is owned.  Whether you look at medieval Europe, feudal Japan, or various other cultures, the structures were similar when regarding the bourgeoisie's total control of the proletariats. Marx disapproves of this human social construct that continues to reproduce itself across time periods and cultures. But because of the controlling nature of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat are hardly able to fight the system. Marx states, “The proletariat do not fight their enemies but the enemies of their enemies”(166) They must do the work of the bourgeoisie, while in a constant fight for their own individual rights. This cycle tries out the will of the proletariat in an effort to keep them needing to work to maintain survival in society.

History continues to favor capitalism and systems that involve private property. Regardless of the culture, ownership was an important aspect of how societal hierarchies were constructed. This continues to be the case in modern day capitalism where your ability to own more things, as well as make whatever you own more valuable is used as an indication of a person status and importance within society. Capitalism continues to protect private property as it is an important component of a system that has been used for human social interactions for many millennia. In Marx’s eyes, capital is not only wealth but social power in society.

  The laws of Capitalism also emphasize protecting of private property as it is a propelling force in capitalist society that allows it flourish. Private property stimulates the conflict between bourgeois and proletarians creating exploitation.  As Marx explains, “Property in its present form is based on the antagonist of capital and wage-labour”(170).  These two factors in capitalistic society provide the framework for control for only a select amount of people. Wage-labor helps to divide classes while reproducing a system of work exploitation. As long as there is an ability to make a profit individuals will continue to create ways of producing income form others work. Jobs that are necessary for the livelihood of people become trapped in this wealth driven system. Marx sees that “The bourgeoisie has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into paid wage-labor”(161). Capital takes precedence over the what is best for society. Individuals in these fields of work are susceptible to become more worried about the wealth they make than the people they help.  Whether it is the bourgeoisie who work to own even more property to hold more power or the proletariat who work in hopes of superseding the working class to push for upward mobility, the counter balance of both drive the system of capitalism.

Private property has worked for an extremely long time and continues to operate through different means of production and tactics that are created by the bourgeoisie. Marx states, “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production”(177). This holds true as we see the passing of different labor laws, implementation of minimum wage to control what the proletariat are paid, and also the use of free trade where there is no restriction on the things that were produced by the labor of workers. The system of capitalism survives off the ever changing laws that are used to benefit the bourgeoisie. The goal for this group is to use the means of production to have control over property and ultimately control over the ways in which society can benefit themselves. Capitalism with private property as it’s engine provides and efficient allocation of resources, quality products, and a strong economy through competition. America is currently a good example of a country with extremely high standards of living that could not be sustained without capitalism and the laws in place to help this system. Private companies ability to go overseas to basically exploit  the proletariats for cheap labor allows those in america to prosper with quality goods for an extremely affordable price. This exploitation system has given birth to a country with one of the largest annual Gross Domestic Product in history.

In conclusion Marx’s unique form of social theory puts into context the framework of the social relationships of contingency and necessity. Marx sees that society interacts on the basis of conflict and exploitation between classes instead of consensus. This can be seen with the conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the system of capitalism which works to make groups wealthier off the work of other individuals. We see that private property drives this conflict and exploitation while creating a stable socioeconomic model that is the most efficient and creates the best standard of life only for the bourgeoisie. This model benefits and is reproduced through the laws which look to protect the wealth and property that has been accumulated over the years. To counter this system, Marx believed that communism is the solution to creating equality for everyone in a classless society. Systems that hold private property in high esteem namely capitalism, have produced and reproduced itself in cultures in time periods throughout human existence. The ability to exploit others for resources through labor will continue to be reproduced with the adaptation of laws and technology. But through bringing awareness of the human conditions that look to stratify a group we can look to change the system as a whole.

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