Maxism Essay, Research Paper
Perhaps if I believed strongly in the work of one theorist, this paper would not prove to be so difficult. The truth is, I find each classical theorist?s work to hold certain underlying principles, which justifies their ideology- therefore, I can not disagree. Whether it is Smith, Marx or Weber, they all have some basic premise, which it would be difficult for opponents to negate. That is why I have decided to present the work of perhaps the three most important theorists, who established the groundwork from which all other theorists began. I will not only support each theorist?s ideas; I will also try them and see where it is that they are flawed.
Since man?s introduction to modernization, it has been the goal of theorists to determine how state?s can reach the age of industrialization. Theorists asked themselves, what are the necessary components for a state to become modern and then how will that state acquire those vital components. It was the work of one Adam Smith, who is a Realist that laid the foundation, from which all other theories are grounded, an Institutionalist including the work of Karl Marx, a Dependency theorist, and Max Weber, (perhaps), an Institutionalist.
When Adam Smith began his work on modernization, he thought of the stages of human development and the ?mode of subsistence? that accompanied it. First, was the hunting-gathering phase; in this phase humans hunted and gathered there food. Second, came the pastoral phase of human development; here cattle is the mode of subsistence. Next, was the agricultural phase; land was the mode of subsistence. Then is the commercial phase where labor, capitol and machinery are the mode of subsistence. By tracking these stages of human development, Smith was able to understand and establish basic guidelines for the role of the state. His model state was one in which the state was the dependent variable of the market. By doing this, he felt that there would be an increase of wealth through free trade. He believed that his market could move capital easily without government intervention and simultaneously take care of itself to run more efficiently. His realistic theory asserts that it is the ?dexterity? of a state that will determine how successful modernity will be, and the state that is most ?dexterous? will lead all other states in the process of modernization. Another concept of Smith?s was ?comparative advantage;? which deals with a country’s decision to export. This concept still makes as much sense today as it did when he first applied it. This ?comparative advantage? as he called it, was the notion that each state should focus their attention on what they have the most of.
To this point, it is safe to say that Adam Smith is mostly correct, however his next concept, ?fellow feeling? is not quite legitimate. He was wrong to assume that ?fellow feeling? was by nature a part of each individual?s morality. Another area where Smith went wrong was his belief that in a fair and just market, all goods would exchange for their true values. As a result of this misconception, his work was criticized and revised.
The next theorist we are going to talk about is Karl Marx. It is important for one to realize that Marx did not replace Smith completely, in fact he borrowed many of his ideas when establishing his own theory. The concept in which both Marx and Smith agreed upon most was the idea that technology changes social ideas. They agreed that technology is the ?demiurge of modernization.? Without technology, industrialization would cease to exist. But Marx did not totally agree with Smith, and so he made corrections to the concepts, in which Smith had failed at, such as his notion of ?fellow feeling.? Marx said that ?fellow feeling? was not the driving force behind a person?s actions therefore it is not universally valid. He instead believed that the force behind human action into modernity is motivation.
Marx also did not agree with Smith?s belief that in a fair and just market, all goods would exchange for their true values. Marx?s reasoning– labor. All goods exchange fairly with the exception of labor. In his theory of Surplus Value, Marx explained that the proletariat does not receive his fair share of the profits of production. As a result, the bourgeoisie keep getting richer, while the proletariat reaps no reward.
Marx also looked at the stages of human development when creating his theory. However, he did not see history as Smith had. He believed that there was first primitive communism, then slavery, then feudalism, and then capitalism. But unlike Smith, he did not believe that capitalism was the final goal. Marx felt that capitalism constantly and automatically created contradictions within it that over time would cause its own demise. He theorized that because industrialization through capitalism was so exploitative that the state should be the independent variable of the market.
Marx categorized all society into two classes, the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. He believed that those who owned the means of production would oppress those who produced. As a result, the proletariat would get tired of being oppressed by the bourgeoisie and revolt to create a communist civilization in which all power would be redistributed back to the people; the means of production would be owned by the people who were producing. Marx has a good idea here, but I find that he is too idealistic. I feel that once individuals are successful in gaining power, they will not be willing to give the power back to the people.
However, the revolution Marx predicted did not happen in Britain like he had thought and it almost did not happen at all. But rather unfortunately, the revolution did begin in Russia nearly 35 years after his death. This revolution in Russia was not how Marx had planned because the proletariats did not revolt themselves, instead they were rallied around a strong, ?charismatic,? yet ruthless leader in Lenin. Lenin adapted Marxism to fit his own needs but the communism he created was not one that Marx predicted, and therefore, floundered.
The final influential theorist I am going to address is also my favorite; he is Max Weber. Weber used much of Marx?s work to create and expand his own theories. He admired Marx?s contributions, and therefore, many of his concepts are quite Marxist in nature.
He was fairly close to Marx?s view on the classification of men, when he stated that class position does not necessarily lead to class-determined economic or political action. Weber?s theory of stratification differs from that of Marxism in that he introduced an additional structural category, that of ?status group.? He classified men based on their consumption patterns rather than their place in the market or in the process of production. In contrast to classes, status groups are normally communities which are held together by notions of proper lifestyles and the social esteem and honor associated with them. Meaning, the class shifting to economics will, in the course of time, also acquire high status, yet successful and unsuccessful alike, may belong to the same status group.
Another concept in which Weber agreed only partially with Marx is power. For Marx, power is always rooted in economics; those who own the means of production exercise political power. Weber agrees somewhat, however, he argues that men do not only strive for power to enrich themselves, but very frequently the striving for power is also conditioned by the social glory it holds.
Weber?s real work lies within his theory of bureaucracy. To Weber, bureaucratic organization is the tool that has shaped the modern polity, the modern economy, and the modern technology. He feels that bureaucratic types of organization are technically superior to all other forms of administration. However, he also noted its problems as well. He realized that the bureaucratization of the modern world has led to its depersonalization. He argued that rationalized systems of law have become incapable of dealing with the individual.
Further bureaucratization and rationalization seemed to Weber an almost unavoidable destiny; to Marx, a transitional phase on the road to man?s freeing from oppression. Weber?s views about bureaucratization and rationalization of the world have obvious similarities to Marx?s notion of alienation. Both men agree that modernity has immensely increased the effectiveness and efficiency of production, as well as organization has allowed an unparalleled mastery of man over nature. But they also agree that modernity has turned into a monster that threatens to dehumanize its creators.
However, Weber was not as optimistic about the final outcome of society as was Marx. He saw it more likely that the future would be more like an ?iron cage? rather than the utopia that Marx imagined. Both theorists failed to see the importance of state?s roles in society.
There would be no point in trying and summarize the work of Smith, Marx, and Weber (as great as it is) in one final paragraph– or in one paper in that matter. It is adequate to say: the work of Smith, Marx, and Weber are crucial milestones to explain man?s mastery over the environment. With that said, I would like to end this with a quote, which summarizes how I feel about modernity in one sentence:
?Under capitalism one person is exploited by another, under communism, it is the other way around.?