Robert Shulman?S Dreiser And The Dynamics Of American Capitalism Essay, Research Paper
Capitalism and Communism are two antagonist economic, political, and social systems. Capitalism is characterized by a free market for goods and private control of production and consumption, and by different social classes. In Communism calls for a classless society, where the leadership is in the hands of workers, and all means of production are owned in common, and not by the individuals. The fundamental theory of Communism is Marxism, which viewed political, social, and economic reality as based in the class struggle, and predicted that Capitalism would destroy itself because of the struggle between the leaders and the workers/antagonist forces.
Robert Shulman?s criticism, essay over Dreiser?s novel is based on the ideology of Marxism. At the beginning, he emphasizes the characteristic features and the basic processes of Capitalism as the processes of commodification, which provide the divisive pressure of American Capitalism (non equal division of labor, non equal division between production and distribution, which leads to a fact that there is no connection between human labor and its results. He uses Marx?s words from his famous Das Kapital, the term that this kind of connection is mystified, impossible to understand or to explain that ?A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing?. Another very important fact to understand the character of Communism and the thinking of their leaders, and of course Shulman?s attitude towards Dreiser?s Sister Carrie is to understand the indictment of a capitalistic society and their 2 fundamental critiques ? those of alientation and of reification. The opinion of Communists is that people become a means of the exchange system of Capitalism, they become commodities (objects and possessors of objects), as well as their labor. Shulman is talking about the ?fragmentation of self and society?, and stresses that this is exactly what was the main feature of the 19th century America. In other words, Capitalism creates human relations, which operate more as exchanges of goods, leave no room for one?s selfhood, and bring impersonal isolation. Shulman?s opinion was also influenced by Torqueville?s Democracy in America, which examines the unresolved conflict between America as a democracy and America as a market society, and its impact on the consciousness of individuals, their social values and beliefs.
It is the Capitalism, which tends to equate happiness with financial success and is a potential cause of the tragedies of individuals( that the individuals themselves are not the reasons for their personal tragedies, but it?s the result of the unsatisfying mechanism of Capitalism, which is the forced desire to achieve financial success without a guarantee of happiness). This kind of believe explains Hurtswood?s decline and the discontent of Carrie.
Shulman in his essay points out the character of consumerism, the obsession of achieving material possession. He believes that it is the primary driving force in the commodified society as well as the fundamental part of Sister Carrie. The general opinion about consumerism explains that a capitalist economy manipulates the desire of the consumer without ever completely satisfying it. The unsatisfied desire drives the consumer to continue buying more material goods and brings constant frustration of people. There is always something more to want. Carrie suffers from this kind of chronic dissatisfaction, which leaves her unfulfilled at the end of novel.
In the second part of the essay, Shulman presents his critique and analysis over particular parts of Dreiser?s novel and its characters applying his theory and belief.