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I bought an apple for 5 cents, spent the evening polishing it, and sold it the next day for 10 cents. With this I bought two apples, spent the evening polishing them,and sold them for 2O. And so it went until I amassed It was at this point that my wife's father died and left us a million dollars".
What does it all mean? Karl Marx sought the answers to these questions by trying to understand how our capitalist society works for whom it works better, for whom worsehow it arose out of feudalism and where it is likely to lead.
Concentrating on the social and economic relations in which people earn their livings, Marx saw behind capitalism's law and order appearance a struggle of two main classes: Some socialist ideas can be traced as far back as the Bible, but Marxism has its main intellectual origins in German philosophy, English political economy, and French utopian socialism.
It is from the German philosopher, Hegel, that Marx learned a way of thinking about the world, in all its fluid complexity, that is called "dialectics. From the French utopians, especially Charles Fourier and the Comte de Saint-Simon, Marx caught a glimpse of a happier future that lay beyond capitalism.
Along with the paradox of an Industrial Revolution which produced as much poverty as it did wealth, these are the main ingredients that went into the formation of Marxism. With dialectics, changes and interaction are brought into focus and emphasized by being viewed as essential parts of whatever institutions and processes are undergoing change and interaction.
In this way, the system of capitalism, the wider context, is never lost sight of when studying any event within it, an election or an economic crisis for example; nor are its real past and future possibilities, the historical context, ever neglected when dealing with how something appears in the present.
Whatever Marx's subject of the moment, his dialectical approach to it insures that his fuller subject is always capitalist society as it developed and is still developing.
The actual changes that occur in history are seen here as the outcome of opposing tendencies, or "contradictions", which evolve in the ordinary functioning of society. Unlike Hegel's dialectic, which operates solely on ideas, Marx's dialectic is materialist.
Marx was primarily concerned with capitalism as lived rather than as thought about, but people's lives also involve consciousness.
Whereas Hegel examined ideas apart from the people who held them, Marx's materialism puts ideas back into the heads of living people and treats both as parts of a world that is forever being remade through human activities, particularly in production.
In this interaction, social conditions and behavior are found to have a greater affect on the character and development of people's ideas than these ideas do on social conditions and behavior.
How do the ways in which people earn their living affect their bodies, minds and daily lives? In the theory of alienation, Marx gives us his answer to this question.
These are owned by the capitalists to whom the workers must sell their "labor power", or ability to do work, in return for a wage.
This system of labor displays four relations that lie at the core of Marx's theory of alienation: Someone else, the capitalist, also sets the conditions and speed of work and even decides if the worker is to be allowed to work or not, i.
This applies not only to relations with the capitalists, who use their control over the worker's activity and product to further their own profit maximizing interests, but also to relations between individuals inside each class as everyone tries to survive as best he can.
Through labor which alienates them from their activity, product and other people, workers gradually lose their ability to develop the finer qualities which belong to them as members of the human species.
The cutting of these relationships in half leaves on one side a seriously diminished individual physically weakened, mentally confused and mystified, isolated and virtually powerless.
On the other side of this separation are the products and ties with other people, outside the control and lost to the understanding of the worker. Unknowingly, the worker has constructed the necessary conditions for reproducing his own alienation.
The world that the worker has made and lost in alienated labor reappears as someone else's private property which he only has access to by selling his labor power and engaging in more alienated labor.
Though Marx's main examples of alienation are drawn from the life of workers, other classes are also alienated to the degree that they share or are directly effected by these relations, and that includes the capitalists.Marx's labor theory of value also provides a detailed account of the struggle between capitalists and workers over the size of the surplus value, with the capitalists trying to extend the length of the working day, speed up the pace of work, etc., while the workers organize to protect themselves.
Karl Marx (–) is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world.
Karl Marx was expelled from Germany and a number of other countries for his radical ideas Theories of Social Class Karl Marx was one of the first social scientists to focus mainly on social class. However marx saw the material side of the division of labor, he noticed that in reality the division of labor caused a large exploitation of people.
Therefore, in marx's point of view the material reality of the division of labor would drive history. Marx’s point is that the production of commodities is a social process, dependent on exploitation and giving rise to antagonistic relationships among classes, an idea that is .
Capitalism — a social political-economic system characterized by individual or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.