This paper will argue that the ideas of Karl Marx, are still relevant, though not in the sense that governments should adopt communist approaches, but that his teachings about equality and justice should feature in the course of improving the general welfare of the masses. To attain this goal, the paper will first explore the personal life of Karl Marx, including his perceptions about society and social order. In order to ascertain Marxism’s value as a political framework in the 21st century, there is need to explore its elements. The analysis will strive to connect particular modern applications of Marxism to a relatively general concept, whereby his relevance is explained. In addition, there will be an indirect discussion of how Marxism is vital in solving the problems faced by the current society. An in-depth understanding of capitalism will help the audience know why and how social classes develop, and how they create conditions for the existence of inequality and exploitation.
Karl Marx is thought of as the greatest philosopher and thinker of his time (Burkett 34). He was born in Tier, in May, 1818 (Choonara 31). Though he had three sisters, his father, Heinrich, liked him the most. During his lifetime, historians claim that his mother showed less interest to his intellectual works. Heinrich was a Jewish lawyer, but later converted to Christianity in order to safeguard his professional reputation in the Prussian State (Burkett, 35).
Only historical spheres permit a person born more than one hundred years ago to reflect the same fame that Karl Marx enjoyed back then (Sajovitz 45). It is because he empowered members of his own political background. Peoples’ views, during his time, were revolutionized by his arguments about social structure and life. The uniqueness of his ideas caused a rapid rise of uproar in Europe. It empowered the lower class members of the society to think critically and positively concerning their degraded welfare (Burkett 45). They comprised victims of harsh labor laws and economic oppression as the capitalists thrived (Burkett 45). His campaign offered the poor an opportunity to rise above the aristocrats, but failed because of the presence of an established middle class.
There is a significant level of perceived failure in Marxism, but Karl Marx is still appreciated as a great political scientist as illustrated by Russia, which uses his teachings as the framework for its communist government (Sajovitz 67). He helped to shape the underlying paradigm in the Communist Manifesto (the most vital communist document to ever been written) (Sajovitz 71). The story of his life contributed to the present thought pattern of the masses. What is more, there is also openness and tolerance in socioeconomic ideologies, as well as the freedom to form political frameworks.
Marxism refers to the social and economic systems based on the ideas advanced by Fredrick Engel and Karl Marx (Choonara 88). It serves to criticize the dominance of capitalism. Some modern economists summed it up as a set of remedies that combats the oppressive impact of capitalism on labor through the introduction of a system that oversees a fair distribution of the factors of production (Burkett 101). He proposed the analysis of how capitalism advances class struggle in the process of understanding social change in the Western world. The historical records of the world reveal that the application of Marxism laws did not last for a long time, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its controversial attention campaign ended, and it is currently obsolete (Choonara 109).
The Economic Sub-culture
Doubt does not exist over the wide-ranging influence of Marxism on political and sociological thought (Burkett 189). He advocated for measures that aimed at overcoming the socioeconomic obstacles presented by capitalism, despite of the fact that his ideas did not come out exactly the same fashion that he hypothesized. Though his ideas were not quite significant during his lifetime, they became quite applicable with the advent of the working class. They gained popularity across the European and Asian nations, where they shaped social perceptions and relations. The increasingly growth of strength in the Proletariat is attributed to the principles of Marxism. Through his ideals, a communist government is promoted. Though Karl Marx did not boast of great wealth, the knowledge he passed across the generations is strategic in changing their welfare. He wrote it to dispel the widespread fear that people had about communism. There was a manual on how to apply its principles and dimensions to run the government. Invariably, he became an outlaw, escaping from one country to another. The governments resisted his notion of taking the full control of the state resources in order to combat the poverty and suffering of the peasants (Burkett 190). That there would be no poor or rich person and citizens would be exposed to equality. The only way to attain such a status for everybody comprised the elimination of social classes so that every person would receive a fair chance to exploit their potential.
Sub-culture encompasses the norms, beliefs, lifestyles, and perceptions of people according to the set societal norms and customs (Burkett 199). Karl Marx used the concept to explain how capitalistic and other forces in the economy shaped the behavior pattern of the youth. It is defined as the network of beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that exist within and shows significant differences from a greater culture (Choonara 120). Karl Marx’s perspectives of sub-culture are drawn from his youthful stage, and they seek to explain how subcultures in the European economies advance rebellion and alienation from society (Burkett 200). The framework helps the audience to reflect on the nature and form of a society that was driven alongside social divisions and classes.
Because of the fact that the majority of people reflect overlapping behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes with other societal members, a more rational definition of subculture provides that the young people join the sub-cultures voluntarily because of social and economic reasons. Their subcultures are identifiable through music, hobbies, lifestyle, fashion, and other metrics (Burkett 201). Whereas some youthful members identify with their society’s sub-culture, others do not. In addition, the alienation of the young people from the society occurs through various ways. Firstly, they lack the social and political control over their lives, resulting in a forceful acceptance of conditions that they live with, for instance, their school and family settings. Faced with the alienation from the society and the lack of control over their lives, they opt to rebel against the authorities who manage the society. In contrast, youth subcultures do not reflect any progressiveness or reactionary. Karl Marx argued that solving the issue of youth alienation from the society required the resolve of massive contradictions associated with capitalism.
The differences in social class between groups of the youth helped to explain the direction and emergence of youth subcultures. The nature of capitalism during the 19th and 20th centuries was manifested through high unemployment rates, industrial strikes, poor working conditions, less rights and privileges for the workers, and social decay in the cities. The reaction style adopted by a particular subculture was determined by the nature of capitalistic problem at hand. According to the subcultural theory, the majority of young people (especially males) commit to a distinctive lifestyle and a deviant set of behaviors. Marxism provides that societies form when human beings come together in finding and producing food. As such, the forces of production support social relationships. Karl Marx argued that in capitalistic societies, class features as the most important social setting, supported by the class configuration of culture. The organization of the classes relies on the production modes that give rise to a set of production relations. There are two main classes, including the Bourgeoisie (capitalists) and the Proletariat (who are the workers). The classes are always in constant negotiation and conflict with each other because one of them is superior to the other (because they own the factors of production).
Marxism theory clearly presents the conflict perspective in the social classes’ formation. It places more focus on the ever changing, negative, and conflicted nature of the society. Unlike the functionalist theorists, who avoid social change, defend the status quo, and believe in the cooperation of members of the society to bring about social order, Marxism challenge the status quo and encourage a series of changes, even it means spearheading a revolution. He is against the phenomenon of how the rich and powerful take advantage of their positions to feed their greed through exploiting the poor and weak in the society, as revealed in the industrialization period where most societies developed out of the exploitation of others. Those who owned the factories, land, raw materials, capital, and sundry, bought the services of the workers, but offered them negligible payments. The former did not have the means to produce things for themselves. In this light, capitalists accumulated profits that made them richer day in day out. The workers will eventually come to the realization that they are being exploited and will start a revolution to overthrow capitalists to replace it with a communist government. Such a framework permits the communal ownership of the means of production. In addition, the society will be freed of the ruling class, no inequality, and exploitation of the poor.
Factors of Production and Social Change
A series of interrelated changes conspired to usher in the Industrial Revolution era, which replaced agricultural societies with industrial ones. Immediate changes took place in the type of manufactured products. The knowhow and techniques of production also caused great fascination. Traditional home industries were transformed into large-scale modes of production that necessitated the construction of large factories. Consequently, there was a drastic increase in the rate of productivity and efficiency, causing major changes in the long-established European economies. Other notable changes include the growth of urban centers into cities as rural dwellers moved in search of employment opportunities in the industries. The industrial revolution introduced changes that overturned the entire society and traditional settings, such as the classical economic frameworks (Burkett 250).
Social classes and Conflict
Marxism offered one of the most powerful explanations on the issue of social change and social conflict. He conferred that the rise of industrialization/ capitalism favored conditions that promoted a form of class struggle between the proletariats and the bourgeois. This notion is significant, intuitively persuasive, and dynamic. As such, it appears to fit well in historical records. Karl Marx was successful in his explanation of social change because his analysis offers a description, a prediction, an explanation, and a remedy, all in a single package. It is imperative to understand his thoughts on the structure of society, which centered on the major classes, as well as the struggle in their midst that acted as the catalyst of change. He offered neither a consensus nor an equilibrium theory. The classes were not functional elements and conflict did not show any deviation within the structure of the society. It is because the structure itself comprised a derivative of the ingredient that caused societal members to struggle amongst themselves. The framework analyzes the class struggle in the 19th century, just after the commencement of the industrial revolution (Burkett 312).
The key to understanding the theory of social change as advanced by Karl Marx is to know his definition of class. It means the ownership of wealth and property, which harness power and influence for an individual that enables him or her to use the resource according to how he or she desires. In referring to property, three classes of society are evident, including the bourgeoisie (who are the owners of the factors of production, where they source their income) and the proletariat (who offered their labor in exchange for wages and salaries) (Burkett 400). Consequently, income and status did not determine the class level of a person, but the amount of property that they owned. They are in turn affected by consumption and distribution, which in the end reflects the power and production relationships of the classes. Consequently, the social conditions that favored the production of the ruling class are defined by the level of property ownership. In this light, class simply formed a formal and theoretical form of relating in the society.
The force responsible for the transformation of latent class membership is a form of struggle of interests amongst the social classes. The similar class situations form groups of people who reflect similar behavior trends (Burkett 320). They mutually rely on each other in times of need, and form a community of shared interests interrelated with a common profit, or income, or even wages. The classes form and sustained on common interests, and they (the interests) lead them in engaging in a materialistic struggle with opposite members. The interests associated with rent and land ownership reflects some differences from those advanced by the bourgeoisie (Choonara 345). In contrast, the gradual maturation of the society brings alongside the issues of land and capital ownership arises, together with the interests of the two classes, which run concurrently. In the end, the relation of production determines (including the natural opposition between the two classes) all other activities in the society.
The struggle of the classes and the development of the conflict was confined to individual industries, before spreading to the entire community. The growth and maturity of capitalism promoted a growing disparity between the rulers and the laborers, as well as an increased homogenization in each social class. In turn, the individual struggles grew to become generalized coalitions across industries. Eventually, the conflict came to be manifested at the societal level, and it was marred with increased consciousness. Policies were organized and systems established to safeguard the interests of the ruling class against the perceived revolution that Karl Marx predicted (Burkett 899).
According to Marxism, capitalism was evil because it satisfied the need for power and acquisition as the first priority of life. Its evidence is observed in how global wealth is growing, which conspicuously show disturbing rates of inequality. The gap between the “Haves” and the “Have-nots” is gradually increasing, which includes the lack of equal chances in the opportunities of the mainstream society. In this light, stern evidence does not (in any way) transform or change capitalism, and it supports the concept of economic class, which is seen to create great conflict between the ruling class and the laborers (Sajovitz 599). This essay strove to show how capitalism is responsible for the creation of social classes and equality in the society. Before its onset, societies and economies largely relied on the agriculture philosophy to earn a living. People were less concerned about socioeconomic status, as there was a slowed growth and development rate, as traditional means drove society.
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Burkett, Paul. Marxism and Ecological Economics: Toward a Red and Green Political Economy. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2009. Print.
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Choonara, Joseph. Unravelling Capitalism: A Guide to Marxist Political Economy. London: Bookmarks, 2009. Print.
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Sajovitz, Mathias. The African Diaspora in the Austrian Political Economy: A Marxist Analysis. Raleigh: Lulu Enterprises Inc, 2008. Print.
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