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Karl Marx, the Class Struggle and Capitalism

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Karl Marx: capitalist and communist philosophy.

It is no secret to any philosophy student that Karl Marx was an influential pioneer in his day. Although he was heavily critiqued by his peers when he was alive, his ideologies continue to be relevant and influential today, especially in Western societies in which capitalism is the main economic and political system under which the people live. Marx, a visionary ahead of his time, spent his time studying societal philosophy, politics, and ethics, and predicted that capitalism would indubitably result in internal tensions between the rich who benefit from it and the poor who do not benefit from it. Such internal tensions can undeniably be observed in the United States today.

Karl Marx’s ideas were all centered on class struggle. Raised in a middle-class family, his vantage point of society was unique and he developed powerful theories about the inner struggle between classes. As a matter of fact, his theories about society, economics, and politics – collectively known as Marxism – argue that all societies experience the dialectic of class struggle. According to him, capitalism, which is the current socio-economic system under which Americans operate, could also be understood as the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. When it came to social classes, Marx defined class as one’s relationship to the means of production. In other words, under Marx’s ideas, members of the wealthiest social class (the bourgeoisie) benefit the most from capitalism while members of the working class (the proletariat) benefit the least.

A brief description of capitalism is necessary here. As already stated, the U.S. operates on a capitalist system premising that competition between private businesses that seek to make profit and grow is key to a successful society. Within that system, private persons or corporations own the mechanisms of trade, industries, and the means of production while workers sell their labor to the owners. As labor, under this system, is treated like a commodity, the obvious flaw of the system is the exploitation of labor meaning that, basically speaking, those who own the means of production always want to pay as less as possible for labor while profiting as much as possible from it. As can be observed in the world today, those who own the means of production are the rich and those who sell their labor are the poor. And, as evidenced by the laws governing the American society, the poor is constantly being exploited and



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