Karl Marx

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Karl Marx
1818 - 1883

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Gary Kennedy
Student Number - 12112101

Outline Karl Marx’s Main Theories of Work and Capitalism and Discuss their Relevance to Today’s World.

Introduction

Karl Marx - Possibly the most important thinker of our times. Through his theories of Marxism this philosopher, social scientist, historian and revolutionist predicted our historical evolution. Marx born in Germany in 1818 attended the University of Berlin. After much study he became editor of the liberal newspaper Rheinische Zeitung and with many of his debatable conflicting articles about economics was forced by the Prussian government to close down the paper. Marx then moved to France which led him to first meet German socialist Friedrich Engels which would begin the start of a lifelong friendship. After some time in France Marx became a strong supporter of communism and was later expelled from Paris for his writings on alienation under the capitalist society at the time. His return to Germany forced him back into his study where he and Engels published their most famous book The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels,1848) which was backed by the Communist League based in London. After the breakout of the revolutions across Europe Marx moved to London where he sought refuge and began his greatest work based on his theories of the economy. He wrote three volumes of a book he named Capital which discusses the Theories of Surplus Value and his understanding of the labour theory of value which were later published by Engels after his death.

Marx’s Key Points and Theories

The three volumes by Marx discuss in great detail his synopsis about the exploitation of workers and surplus value under capitalism, and they elaborate on other theorists ideas such as Adam Smith, with his principal of The Invisible Hand and David Ricardo’s labour theory of value. Although Marx sees capitalism as a class struggle between Capital (the employers and owners of wealth) and Labour (the people who do the hard graft), he further emphasizes on alienation and what the workers experience from the capitalist environment. Firstly the whole system of capitalism is based on the idea of the ordinary worker versus the business man, factory owner or perhaps today, the entrepreneurs of society. Capitalism centres around the idea of an employer owning his employees creations and ultimately the fact that workers in general don’t receive the full benefit entitled to them for their hard work. For instance the worker goes to work each day and works hard to produce a commodity. That commodity now belongs to the employer who pays that worker a fixed wage and ultimately sells on the commodity for their own profit - Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity (Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 1, 1867) This outlines the idea of surplus value - the profit difference between what the product sold for and what it actually cost to produce. Marx questioned this process and announced how it exploited the workers. Marx not only questioned this exploitation but broke it down into four main types of alienation. The worker creates the product, be it a hand crafted chair or a work of art, and immediately has their creation taken away from them. Other people experience the enjoyment from the employees hard work. The worker has no choice but to allow this to happen and let the employer reap all the rewards in terms of making the profit. The only person who loses out here is the worker by not receiving the full value for their hard work. Because of this workers feel and view going to work as a torment and to an extent feel as though employers are stealing their skills and knowledge of their various trades away from them. Marx also states that this process leaves the worker alone, confused and separate from their fellow workers, and this can strip away the workers identity and their mutual need of other people. Marx describes...
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