Karl Marx 1818-1883 was born in
to Jewish parents who later converted to Christians. His ideas played a significant role in politics, economics and social science. His most famous work was the book 'Communist Manifesto' 1843. This book was also written by Frederick Engels who shared the same ideas. Marx wasn't interested in metaphysics like other Philosophers had been. Marx wanted to look forward and make a change. Germany
Marx was a journalist and editor of a radical newspaper in
Europe. He believed you could explain everything about society by analysing it. He believed that man is productive ' we are not a figure in the landscape, but a shaper of it.’ Man dominates the world because of the ability to make tools and co-operate.
He was greatly influenced by Hegel; he thought history had an importance. However he rejected Hegel’s view on history, that history is processing towards the geist the ‘sprit.’
This mystical side to Hegel’s theory Marx rejected completely. However he did agree with the ideas behind Hegel's materialist dialectic. Which was about how history was made up of a series of events, these are the thesis followed by the anti thesis followed by synthesis.
Hegel’s view on this was that history progresses with conflict. This is what Marx agreed with.
The synthesis in Marx's opinion would be communism. The synthesis would be similar to Rousseau's state of nature where there would be no state and people could live freely. Marx's perfect state of nature would be utopia. He believed the perfect state would not need a government to rule. People would only need food and water, shelter and love.
Using Hegel's dialectic model Marx said that this communist state 'utopia' could only be reached once the proletariat ( the working class) would dominate dictatorship. Marx believed the only way to reach this is through conflict.
Marx's materialist dialectic model: Capitalism> proletariat> > socialism (utopia)
In the Communist Manifesto Marx really looks at the class struggle in society. He said the main problem is the bourgeois. The bourgeois are the owners of factory's that would employ the proletariats a minimum wage to work for them and make them profit. This is what Marx wanted to banish. He thought the workers are just slaves. He also calls this the alienation of the proletariats. Alienation is the reason why people don't fight as the barrier stopping them is capitalism. The very thing that defines us is 'productive work' but this is the problem?
If you apply this to what is happening now. Society is currently in capitalism and alienation. Class conciseness stops us from protesting.
Capitalism also creates a false conciseness. Marx would say, we do not know what we want. By being in a capitalist system is like being drunk. The things that we need when we are drunk are definitely not something we would really want when we are sober for example a cheap kebab.
Adam Smith, a key philosopher in the Scottish enlightenment was all for industrialisation. In his system workers are they to make money for the owners. A good example of this is the bottle of water. Adam Smith would say that we would pay for a bottle of water to have it. The market will decide. If you are thirsty you will make a rational decision whether to buy one.
Marx on the other hand would say people that are unhappy in their job will buy a bottle of water because they fancy it, they make a irrational decision. The commodities (the things that we want to buy) are too expensive.
Marx believed the only way forward would be conflict and revolutions. I think that this hasn't really happened yet. We are still in a capitalist state and we haven't yet had a revolution recently to change things. In the 60's and 70's every revolution was a violent revolution.
-National Healthcare. Tax payer’s money
-Government owning banks
-Roads are made from the Tax payer’s money. In Marx's perfect communist state we would own our -roads and make them ourselves.
There are very view examples of socialism in our society today.
John Lewis is a socialist business. The staff own the store, this is why their customer service is always high.
Even charity shops are there to make profit and owned by business leaders.
In the news recently it was highlighted how some people feel exploited by the Governments new work experience scheme that started in January. It is offered to the unemployed to get the experience of working. The workers will able to receive their benefits whilst doing this.
I think this is an excellent example of Marx's argument. The bourgeois have all the power and that the proletariats are alienated and exploited. Some people have spoken about this work experience scheme as 'unfair,' people feel that companies are taking them on for work experience to save money, for cheap labour. The government have strongly disagreed as they believe this is their answer to unemployment.
However to act against this scheme some big firms have pulled out. Sainsbury’s and Waterstones have withdrawn their participation as they think the scheme could exploit the young unemployed. Tesco have also rejected this scheme by offering the workers pay.