Karl Marx, Essay Example

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Essay

Marx on Alienation in Labour and Life

According to the works of Marx he considered that the concept of alienation was a direct result of capitalism.  He based this upon empirical research and observation of workers involved in the productive lifecycle.  He stated that the workers are deprived of the right of self-determination in their actions and the character of such actions.  As such they become mere actors playing out their role in life. He believes they become directed by the bourgeoisie in order to satisfy their goals and objectives a manipulation to maximise the degree of output and profit from individual workers.  The concept of alienation occurs because in a capitalist society the worker lacks freedom of expression and can only function through a production system which is not a collective but privately owned and as such the worker merely becomes an instrument honed to achieve that specific goal.

Marx felt that capitalism was an economic system that was constantly crisis prone and did little to benefit the social aspects of mankind.  Marx stated that the relationship that is built between wages, labour and capital determines the complete character of the capitalist system. Everyone who is either rich or poor has the right to purchase bread at a certain price.  Marx however by analysing the underlying concepts of production  was able to expose the class contradictions under such assumptions, which go ignored by concepts of capitalism. (Easterling).

Form of Exploitation and Domination

Marxism that was formed in the 19th Century was supposed to be a form of socialism that would eliminate exploitation and domination.  Essentially a social revolution of new ideas that advocated against the exploitation of the capitalist economic system.  Marx stood for the rights and ascension of the working class in a power struggle for recognition. Exploitation was seen as the bosses subjugating the workers in order to carry out their demands with the objective of creating wealth or money.  In doing so they eroded the dignity of the worker and treated him merely as a simple economic unit with the objective of making money at the workers expense. Domination was the power that the bosses had over the workers in terms of the job and reward system.  Much of this thought process was brought about by the socio economic conditions in 19th Century Russia and a class system that denigrated the worker or working class.

Marx saw the central conflict in society between the property owners who were the masters and those without property who were the serfs that created a feudal society. i.e. one of Lord and Master to Servant relationship.

Marx refers to the systematic misrepresentation that occurs in the dominant social relations and consciousness of subordinate classes.  This being the so termed ‘false consciousness’ and the workings of a subordinate class structure.   Marx illustrated the social order of class by a person’s status relative to owning property and as such the rights and privileges that are attached to such status.

WOMENS RIGHTS AND WORK

Modern perspectives –  There is more a collective consciousness that was born from feminist movements in the 1960’s and 1970’s where a group of women talked openly, developing a mode of inquiry that challenged the conventional norms of research. These women collectively became known as feminists and enlightened individuals that formed a new basis for knowledge. Although the original works were conducted outside of an academic setting, it soon became apparent that there was a lack of feminine representation in mainstream sociology or social science.  Over the last 25 years female sociologists have made significant advances in pushing back the prejudices against women and in general interpreting the workings of society. Feminism was essentially born from a movement and a belief in resolving gender inequalities.

Within the general claims to male dominance in social theory, three challenges have emerged (i) the criticism against that of female knowledge and its’ inability to demonstrate adequate work that illustrates scientific or unbiased knowledge. This resulted in feminists coming under scrutiny in order to demonstrate abilities to rationalise knowledge, perform verification, subjectivity and freedom from political bias.  Secondly, how different influences shaped women’s lives.  The danger here is one of stereotyping and simply branding women as one gender that provides a uniform result.  The third challenge intertwines that of knowledge and gender whereby in essence women are taken for granted. Since 1993 this has caused feminists to re-evaluate the position and rewrite much of the subject matter.

It was Marx who took up the subject of the oppression of women and subjugation of their rights but it was Engels who later championed this cause and gave it more social dominance.  Marx used this more in the context of reinforcing points on class distinction.

Marx is correct in his historical rendition that capitalism was largely formed by violence and plunder.  He was largely referring to the conquest of the Americas and the accumulation of wealth by conquest and plundering these nations of gold and silver.  He equally referred to the slave trade from Africa and the exploitation of India  as all pointers that heralded the dawn of capitalism.  This concept of greed he considers to be a throwback to more primitive days of asset acquisition at the expense of people who could be subjugated and exploited by the powerful and the wealthy.  This is perhaps a barbed reference to the capitalistic nations of Europe  at this time.

Works Cited

EASTERLING, STUART. Marx’s theory of economic crisis. 3 2003. http://www.isreview.org/issues/32/crisis_theory.shtml. 2 4 2012.

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