Current Sociological Issue Using an Explicitly Marxist Perspective Term Paper
- Length: 6 pages
- Sources: 3
- Subject: Government
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #1511508
Excerpt from Term Paper :
economic crisis that hit the international community and the world economies has determined, since 2008, a slow, almost invisible shift in the doctrinal preferences of more and more people in terms of deciding on the right economic approach to be followed in order to avoid such crises from taking place in the future. Although there have been numerous attempts to convince on the benefits of capitalism, the economic crises that have taken place since the 70s on a cyclical basis have been used as counterarguments for the efficiency of capitalism and free market economies as we know it today. In this sense, more and more people, scholars, professors, and even politicians, advocate a more moderate approach to capitalism to include several aspects of apparently long-forgotten economic doctrines such as Marxism. However, Marxism in its purest form is not the solution; yet, it offers the justifications for what is now seen as a struggle between low paid workers and global market demand, on the one hand, and the lack of satisfaction between big and small economies. At this point in time however, as Stuart Jeffries notes in a 2012 article in the Guardian, "The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China's) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America." (2012). In order to have a better understanding of what is exactly the social phenomenon underway at this moment, it is important to consider several theoretical aspects of Marxism and to identify them in the current social environment.
The promoters of Marxism, German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are considered to have offered one of the most controversial political perceptions in regard to the idea of the state in general and in particular terms. In this sense, the analysis of the Marxist theory is rather complex because it is viewed as the most radical and threatening critic of capitalism and of the liberal democracy, but also as the official ideology of governments engaged in the revolutionary fight against the regimes of the bourgeoisie (Dunleavy and O'Leary, 1987). The theoretical analysis of the Marxist thought contends that in fact the ideas Marxism proposed had a three-layer perspective. More precisely, according to Dunleavy and O'Leary, the essence of the Marxist ideas lies in the combination of three sets of beliefs (1987). On the one hand, there were the ideas of the British economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and James Mill. These were interpreted by Marx and concluded that the capitalist process of production represents a source of inequality for the workers who are exploited by their employers. Through further analysis, for the two philosophers the fall of capitalism and the disintegration of its economic system were inevitable.
On the other hand, the German philosophy was used by both Marx and Engels to develop the historical materialism doctrine that proposed the idea that the human societies go through recurrent transformations that occur in a violent manner inside the old societies, managed by the capitalist rule. This conflict arises between the working class which tries to rise from the minimal state in which it is and the dominant class that limits this desire of progress. Therefore, they introduce the idea of the class struggle. In this sense, Dunleavy and O'Leary conclude that according to the emerging Marxist thought, "the engine of history is always the revolutionary change and the class struggle" (1987, 191)
Finally, the French Revolution represented an additional source of inspiration for Marx and Engels who saw the over through of the monarchic regime as being the result of the rebellion of the disadvantaged segments of the French societies. Therefore, they considered that the growing tensions between the large number of peasants, industrial workers, and other parts of the society that was deprived of their right to property at the expense of the bourgeoisie, had eventually resulted in the popular uprising.
These three ideas were the cornerstone of what would be called the scientific socialism. However, in order to reach this point of development, which was considered by Marx and Engels to be the ultimate goal, the regimes had to leave the capitalist system and embark on a new economic and political conception, the communist one. Socialism was in this sense, a transitory stage. Thus, "Marx and Engels theorized in general terms about the transition between capitalism and communism. They reasoned that between capitalist and communist society, there would be "the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. They also contended that the social order during this period would be "a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but on the contrary, as it has emerged from capitalist society. They referred to this transitional social order between capitalism and communism as the "inferior stage of communism and frequently as socialism" (Harris, 1988). Therefore, it can be concluded that communist was the ultimate goal, and in this quest, the societies would develop a socialist rule.
To this aim, the Manifesto of the Communist Party pointed out precisely the ideas that would lead the world to the ideal of socialism, the communist rule. Marx and Engels advocated in 1848 in London the need for unity inside all the oppressed peoples, considering that, "our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, (…) has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other -- bourgeoisie and proletariat" (Marx and Engels, n.d.). Thus, they pointed out the class struggle that would mark one of the most important notes of the communist doctrine.
The Chinese economy is by definition a clear case of communism taken to extreme. However, the emergence of their economy into the world stage demanded a sense of openness towards the concepts of capitalism in the sense that the Chinese government was somewhat forced to deal with the rules of the game in order to benefit from it and its advantages. Even so, there are numerous claims that suggest that working conditions in China do not meet the minimum conditions by far. For instance, in one of Apple's factories in Chengdu or Shenzen, some workers were brought to the edge of physical and mental resistance and some even committed suicide as a result of harsh working conditions, long hours, lack of social life or interaction (The Daily Mail, 2011). There is no clear reaction from the American company; yet, the working conditions in these factories unfortunately are not an isolated case, but rather the rule in China.
The differences in terms of the social situation in China as opposed to other economies such as that of the EU or the U.S. are huge and the living conditions and discrepancies between the amount of work in terms of physical effort and time and the payments and salaries are visible in statistics. The Human Development Index (HDI) calculated on a yearly basis by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) ranks China 101 out of 186 countries for which data is available (UNDP, 2012). Given that China was ranked in terms of economy, the second largest economy of the world, the discrepancies are huge. The HDI indicates different societal patterns, from the life quality to social care and health issues. The average is rather worrisome and therefore underlines the fact that there is a major contradiction between the incomes of the country and how they reflect in the quality of life of the masses.
Marxism predicted precisely that. Taking into account the belief that capitalism, despite its rules of free competition, or precisely due to the freedom of the market, will eventually succumb, Marxism advocated a different state, one that would intervene in the rules of production, of supply and demand. With this in mind, the role of the state would be increased in the sense that it would intervene in order to control the way in which production and consumption would equilibrate the market. This was motivated through the need of the proletariat to escape the misery the capitalist society had brought them in, and, at the same time, to reduce to extinction the differences between classes (Dunleavy and O'Leary, 1987). Another idea related to the issue of classes considers the society as being undivided by such determinate conceptions. In this sense, Marx viewed the notion of "class" as being an obvious proof of the unequal distribution of wealth, a fact that was in total disagreement with the equality of all human beings (Marx and Engels, n.d.).
Following the inception of the anti-capitalist struggle, there were serious voices arguing over the validity of the idea of violent change through the revolution, or the need for a process rather than a dramatic shift. In this sense, the debates over the issue of the importance of the means over…