Mulling Over Marxism Essay, Research Paper
Trade and economics have played a crucial role in the lives of people everywhere throughout the sands of time. Before the coining of monies individuals would either barter goods for other goods or swap goods for standardized precious objects, such as seashells. Although commerce is an important aspect of society, Marx took the notion of economics a step further. He believed that economics is the key to understanding history and the motivations of individuals within any given society. He saw economics as the underlying cause of the chain of events in which each nation undergoes. Although I think that ultimately the bad aspects of Marxism outweigh the good, I do believe Marx had discovered several accurate peculiarities about humanity and made a number of positive contributions to mankind.
Despite the fact that he came from a relatively wealthy family, Marx symbolized a voice for the common man. In a time when the ruling class could be cited as a direct cause for oppression of the working class, Marx filled the shoes of a messiah. He informed his compatriots of a holy place where equality was the higher law and the downtrodden were transformed into the saved. Marx preached that the promise land could only become a reality if the working class united in their cause and overthrew the upper class. Marx did not only believe that the key to humanity s future happiness was a revolution brought upon by the common man for the common man, he ventured to declare it inevitable.
The granting of hope to the burdened was not the only good that came out of Marx s philosophy. Marx also did much indirectly (ironically) to improve on capitalism. A great gulf had opened between the manufacturers, who were now a propertied business class, and the men, women, and children who tended their machines for 10- and 12-hour stints. Capitalism was at its worst during Marx s lifetime. The industrial revolution gave way to a ruthless system of intensive labor. Children were often employed for the worst jobs, and forced to work long and grueling shifts. Men and women were also forced to work in harmful conditions and intensive hours without breaks. Marx improved the situation of the industrial age as well as the future of capitalism by virtue of embodying radical ideas. The very threat of Marxism did much to speed up industrial reform. I am sure not by coincidence, the Artizans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Improvement Act, as well as other important pro-labor laws were passed in English Parliament during the years Marx had made his home in London and served the role of an active political speaker.
I think that Marx had the greatest impact on history in regards to industrial reform. He established faults of industry and capitalism like a primitive muckraker, and the agitation resulted in change for the better. Albeit, while he was pinpointing the negative aspects of capitalism, he was helping to perfect the system. Proponents of capitalism included certain social elements of communism to appease the working class in an effort to arrest further progress made by the communist party. Capitalist societies began to cede that it was wrong to treat human beings only as means to an economic end. Since the birth of our current economic scheme we have introduced services to aid what otherwise would have been victims of capitalism. The most important of these services are medical care programs, unemployment benefit programs, family allowance benefits, work-injury compensation, and public assistance. Benefits of medical care may include indemnification for lost wages in addition to medical treatment. Coverage ranges from universal down to only those employed by participating employers. I think that medical care in a predominantly capitalist society is essential. I would not want only the haves to have access to a healthy life. Life and economics should be parallel, and should never intersect. While the current medical situation in the United States is not as efficient and fulfilling as it could be, I know that it is better than not having any type of system at all where the economically ill correlate to the physically ill. Unemployment benefit programs are common in industrialized countries, less so in developing countries. They usually provide 50 to 75 percent of base wages to workers who are normally employed and have become unemployed through no fault of their own and who are willing and able to work. I especially like this program because there is logic reasoning behind it. There are different types of unemployment. Structural unemployment arises when jobs are eliminated by changes in the structure of the economy, such as automation or permanent changes in demand. Unemployment checks allow for workers to go back to vocational schools and community colleges to learn the skills they need to work with new technology. I know from personal experience that this is often the case. I used to periodically take courses at a local community college and at least three people in each class were taking the course for either a new job or advancement in the present one (most of the courses I took were computer related). Another type of unemployment is cyclical unemployment, which arises when the level of economic activity declines. We definitely can afford to help people in the short term if it means they will be productive in the long term. Family allowance benefits are benefits provided by governments to families with a specified minimum number of children. The benefits may be open to all families, in which case the program is a step in the direction of a guaranteed family income, or they may be provided as supplements to other assistance, especially unemployment benefits. As long as men and women do not decide to have more children in order to take advantage of this program, I think this is a good idea. The program is a good thing for the single parented families that result from males abandoning households after children are born. Work-injury compensations are cover all employees of firms above a specified size and are financed by employer contributions to some form of insurance plan. Benefits include medical payments, wage restoration (usually from 50 to 75 percent of actual wage), special indemnities for permanent bodily injury, and death benefits. The previously mentioned benefits are ideal for preventing employers from discarding employees after they are rendered useless by injury. Public assistance is a residual program designed to provide assistance to various classes of needy persons not covered by other programs. Typical classes of beneficiaries include the aged not covered by the employment-related programs mentioned above, the blind, the disabled not covered by work-injury or other employment-related programs, and impoverished families with dependent children. Public assistance guarantees that all persons who would otherwise be doomed because of the inability to work, which is the only means of attaining needs and wants in a capitalist society are taken care of. I am sure that Marx would agree these people should not be left to freeze and starve to death in solitude, and is a prime example of capitalism post Marx. If society had these types of programs before Marx matriculated I doubt marxism, and subsequently communism, would have been born. Marx played the role of the reactionary after capitalism had been conceived. Marx was a test for capitalism, and in the areas where capitalism failed, Marx helped the growing system learn from its mistakes. Although these modes of compensation are not by any means perfect, it is representative of the fact that capitalism has progressed from the point during Marx s lifetime.
Inevitably, we must take a look at why Marx s ideas have historically had an unwelcomed failure. Marx hypothesized the possibility (and necessity) of all members in a society having an equal amount of property, transforming private property into public property. I am convinced the very notion of his foundation is the undoing of his proposed plans. A person does not have to be a capitalist to understand that resources are scarce. Not everyone can have the amount or type of cars they want because the materials to make those cars are limited by the elements in nature. Given resources are scares, the possibility of everyone having everything is relinquished. Capitalism and trade evolved from the need to develop a system where products, composed of limited resources, were allocated in the most efficient and fair way, fair in this context meaning that all would potentially have a chance to enter the selected group of people (those with enough money) that were able to buy a particular product. Marx considered himself a scientist, but did not see that his proposition was scientifically impossible.
In a Marxist type government, then, the duty of the allocation of goods would be that of the government. I am curious to see exactly how the government would allocate the countless number of goods that are in the market. Overall, I look at goods as being categorized one of two things; a need and a want. I have no doubt that some goods are easily distinguishable as either a necessity or a want. However, there are also goods that come close between the two. Where does the government draw the line? And, once this line is drawn, who will receive the those goods classified as wants, even assuming that all the goods classified as necessities are distributed. If the government decides that no one will take possession of wanted goods, all of the population will suffer. As much as I like the idea of making a more egalitarian society, I do not see how Marxism would completely fill the void.
Obviously, Marx s society calls for a strong, involved government. Even if the society was broken up into smaller communities, a physical board of some kind would be necessary to regulate production and allocation Marx did not however present a specific outline of his government s structure. Marx also does not specify a means of exercising control on government because he sustained that man is essentially good and is inclined to look out for his fellow man. Because Marx s statement about the inclinations of mankind is central to his theory concerning Marxism, Marx should provide proof of his statement or how he arrived at this deduction. Since Marx claimed to derive his theories in a scientific manner, this request should not be hard to fulfill. I wonder if Marx believed a be nice to everyone gene would be discovered later and proceeded with the assumption. If this were the case, how far would society have progressed if all of our reasoning relied on future discoveries? Science then would resemble more of a form of entertainment (people at making random suggestions requiring no methodological skill whatsoever- except for an imagination) than as a means of intellectual advancement.
In accordance to his theory that everyone would be more than willing to contribute their personal share to society, Marx denies the existence of deadbeats. I can not believe, given Marx s intelligence, that Marx assumed their would not be one laggard in even a large population. Once again, if Marx provided proof to this corollary of his theory, I would not be raising this question. Without any kind of proof, what stops someone from assuming the opposite? Reflecting on my past interactions with people, I think the difficulty of instilling in the minds of all people that if they are productive everyone would lead a happy life is insurmountable.
Marx postulates that our consciousness is determined by causes of which we are unaware, and that these causes are social and economic in nature. In modern times when we speak of phenomena occurring in our nature in the scientific meaning of the word, we usually are forced to refer to our genes. Therefore, I suppose Marx would have us believe that we are genetically engineered to base all our decisions and to respond to all external stimuli under the watchful eye of money and economics. If this was true, I think there should be evidence during all stages of our lives, when we are infants, adolescents, and aged, that displays our constant heedfulness of economics. Of course, if Marx went on to interpret an infant sucking its thumb as an individual wanting to gain more private property, I would probably consider his theory in the same way I consider many of Freud s preposterous notions. Although I am poking a little fun at this aspect of Marx s theory, I honestly do believe there should be supplemental substantiation of Marx s conviction that we are not guided by any emotions or other external factors, but solely by monetary affairs.
Marx also stated that capitalism was the intermediary between a feudal type system and communism. I believe logic sides with the opposite conclusion. Communism (where people own everything) is the antithesis of feudalism (where people own nothing). I think that communism is the predecessor of capitalism in those countries that have a feudal history. History is like a pendulum, which swings periodically from one end to another. The histories of feudal societies are premier examples of my analogy. After suffering from owning nothing and having an extremely hierarchical society, a revolution (i.e. communism) occurs in order to reach the other extreme, where the common man owns everything and society exists in a strictly egalitarian state. Later, however, through the trial of communism, citizens and officials learn first-hand through natural laws the medium between the two systems: capitalism. By natural laws, I mean the laws of economics in general, centering on the role of labor, capital, resources, government, the allocation of goods and products, etc.
Marx sustained that the existence of private property was the cause for human suffering and therefore the abolition of private property would result in the eradication of alienation. I do not understand how the ownership of property or lack thereof is the sole cause for anxiety. I think that personal relationships, such as friendships and family relationships, and other external factors (that deal with people) play a bigger role in our emotions than a tangible object we have come to call property. Marx failed to realize that economics is only factor in a sea of determinants.
Although I believe that the age of marxism and communism had long ago reached its climax, I predict that society will continue to foster a relatively small amount of communists. Marx s ideas have a tendency to carry more weight with those who embody little socio-economic status in third world countries. South America and South Asia are examples of countries whose internal economic crises cause Communist Parties to spring up representing a change in the way of life for the poor. Often times these peasants are not educated to a great extent and the Communists project false hope to play on the citizens ignorance in an effort to gain power.
No society has had a pure form of economy. In reality we have semi-marxist economies and semi-capitalist economies. In both of these economies, a minority of the population lives much better than the rest because in many cases those who descend from wealthy generations are able to keep and expand their wealth. Besides that, in scientific terms, a limited amount of money exists in society, and therefore not everyone can have a lot of money. Although I believe wholeheartedly in the previous statement, I do not deny that there sometimes are huge discrepancies between the super-rich and everyone else. I believe there should be some type of salary cap in regards to CEO s. Bill Gates, for example, makes a preposterous amount of money. The interest he earns on the money he has in the bank right now is most likely greater than the annual earnings of a lot of middle class workers. I am sure he could do without a couple million dollars a year if it meant feeding the homeless of a large city. I do not understand how we as a society could have continued this long without making this kind of change. However, the problem lies in setting the cap and making it law. Oftentimes money and power go hand in hand, and I am sure that lawmakers would be lobbied against mandating such a law.
Through his actions for the common man, Marx took up the slack for where the churches left off. In capitalist societies, churches claim to be for the people. However, during the Industrial revolution, where oppression was rampant, the churches made hardly a dent in the struggle for reform. The churches did not attempt to initiate a large-scale retaliation for the inhumane treatment of the working class. If churches were truly dedicated to aiding the downtrodden and taking up the slack after the pitfalls of capitalism, then we would not have to pump as much money as we do into our social programs. To an extent, if the government were not forced to act as churches (by providing the services of welfare, social security, unemployment, etc.), our congressmen and senators would have more time and money to deal with more important issues like foreign policy and education. Politics would take on a new face because politicians would be forced to stand firm on issues and could not always rely on If I am elected I will make sure that social security remains untouched, just because a large percent of voters are retired and qualify for social security.
Chairities, like churches, have continually failed to accomplish their overly publicized goals. I was shocked to find out that excluding the efforts of the Salvation Army, ninety-five percent of the money charities collect is swallowed in the great belly of bureaucracy. I think something is definitely awry in this statistic and I am curious to find out exactly where the money that is collected goes.
Although marxism never blossomed as Marx anticipated, Marx accomplished what he set out to do, change the world. Marx helped work out the kinks of capitalism (he was a voice of labor rights) and reform the industrial reformation. He indirectly helped to set up several safety nets society has built for the working class, such as unemployment benefits, social security, and the like.