Essay on the Relationship Between the Economy and Other Parts of Society According to Karl Marx

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Vanderbilt University
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The economy is a fundamental part of our society. It has made various contributions to the society. One classical sociologist was Karl Marx who was one of the first to ever explore the relationship between the economy and the society. Karl Marx lived in the mid-1800s in Germany most of his life. He was a German philosopher, economist, and sociologist. He became involved with a communist party, a group of intellectuals who wanted the overthrow of the class system as well as the abolition of private property ownership. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

Marx wrote largely on capitalism which is a type of economy that dominates the Western world. He critiqued it because modern work was alienated and incredibly specialized thus it led to alienation. He believed that workers are paid little and that modern work was insecure and that capitalist was a way to shrink the wages of workers so that they would make a huge margin of profit. The enraged Marx believed that capitalist ideals teach all of us to be anxious, competitive, politically complacent and conformist. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

In his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx described an ideal Utopian society to be: there would be no ownership of private property or inheritance of wealth, there would be a centralized control of the banking communication and transport industries and that education would be public and free. (B. Croce, 2000)

Karl Marx's economic theory is known as economic determinism. Relationships between the society are based on economic determinisms, economic activities and changes in the state. An interdependent relationship exists between the state and the economy. (B. Croce, 2000)

This theory suggested that cultural, intellectual, social, technological and political aspects are what shaped civilization. He focused on the poverty of the working class. He believed that the most important aspect he found to be in any economy was labor. According to him, an economy exists for the people, thats what the focus of any economy should be. (B. Croce, 2000)

Karl Marx observed poverty and thus began developing economic theories of his own. He did not agree with the view that poverty was a natural component of the society. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

There have been different economic systems in place. These are the capitalist economic system, the command economic system, the traditional economy and a mixed economic system. In a traditional economy, tradition and the people's customs dictated what they would produce and for whom and how it would be produced. The government dictates a command economy also referred to as a planned economy. The government makes all the economic decisions: what should be produced and how much of it should be produced. (B. Croce, 2000)

The individuals determine a market economy or a capitalist economy by themselves. They determine what they will produce and in what quantities. Consumer sovereignty determines supply and demand. In a mixed economy, both the government and individuals decide what to produce. The individual may be in control and have the freedom to own property and set up any business, but the government puts in regulations in place to control price for example. (B. Croce, 2000)

An economic system is the society's way of coordinating supply, demand, and consumption of goods and services. When Marx looked at industrial capitalism, he only saw two classes; the working class also referred to as the Proletariat and the Capitalists or the Bourgeoisie. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

The goals of economic systems are basically: growth, equity, security, stability, freedom, efficiency, and sustainability. Karl Marx viewed that the various economic systems featured a small group of people who are in control. Those who had more could own property; they had the necessary raw materials and the needed plant and machinery to control those who worked for them. This, in turn, resulted in a few individuals acquiring a vast amount of wealth. Marx believed that this was a direct cause of poverty. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

In his book, Karl Marx stated, Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite! He called workers to rebel and take over the factors of production. The main motive of all this was to initiate communism or socialism which ownership in common. (Karl Marx, 1848)

According to Marx, the few who control the economy in the society are at the same time the society's ruling intellectual force. Marx criticized the political economists because they did not understand class antagonism. He stated that society was in conflict with each other and the conflict was between the rich and the poor. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

Marxism is a philosophical and economic philosophy. He saw communism as a way of getting a fairer society. In Marxist terms, Marxism was the antithesis of capitalism which was an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production. Marx came up with his theories during the industrial revolution. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

Marxs view on religion was that religion was a response to earthly suffering. He stated, Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world and the soul of soulless circumstances. Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist disagreed with Marx on his view on religion and considered religion as an important element in the society. He equated other factors such as: art, science, politics, morality and law to be of importance. He believed that religion was very vital and was what the economy was dependent on. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

When it came to the political life, Marx believed that the group that owns society is also the group that controls society. This meant that power came from owning means of production and was in the hands of the ruling class. The argument here is that the one percent of the society controls the political system. The idea was ninety-nine percent of the population was controlled by the elite. The instrumental Marxism perspective states that if the ruling class tells the government to jump, the government would simply respond, how high? Politicians are simply the tools of the capitalist ruling class. (B. Croce, 2000)

Individuals that control the economic elite and the political life share similar backgrounds socially and even similar education. Marxist would argue that politicians will act in the interest of capitalist organizations such as investment banks as compared to the public interest. The economic philosophy on political development according to him was as a result of exploitation by the wealthy and powerful. Political systems reinforced economic conditions where capitalists had the necessary means to control the government. Marx believed that, to overturn this, a revolution was inevitable. (B. Croce, 2000)

It seems that we should all adopt a Marxist approach. We must oppose class interest and embrace communal ownership. Marxs work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of the factors of production and their effects on the society. He largely focused on the conflict between workers and the elite in the society. His theory emphasized on the polarization of the class conflict. He predicted that capitalism led to internal tensions which would lead to self destruction. (B. Croce, 2000)

Karl Marx is a revolutionist, the founder of communism and Marxism. These two concepts have been the foundation of various governments and countries in the bid to create a Utopian society. The focus on labour gave rise to the perspective of historical materialism. Marx felt that politics and religion were secondary to the production and control of resources. He believed that one had to understand the historical materialism they were based on. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

Capitalism causes a bit of destruction. Economies have struggled to recover due to the recession. Share of wages has fallen due to replacement of workers for machines and the mass population is not earning enough capital to survive. (B. Croce, 2000)

Karl Marx was concerned with one question, what does it mean to be free? In doing so he laid the foundation for the questions of power, inequality and how these things can drive societal change. He was concerned with freedom. Humans arent naturally free and we must labour cooperatively to change the world and gradually free ourselves from natural constraints and not entangle ourselves with social constraints. (Francis Wheen, 2001)

Work Cited

Wheen, Francis. Karl Marx: A Life. W. Norton and Company, 2001

Croce, B. Historical Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx. Russell and Russell Publishers, 2000.

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