Karl Marx and Michael Walzer Essay

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Subject: Sociology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #29131663

Excerpt from Essay :

That may "feel" socialist, but in reality it is still capitalism along with a healthy dose of charity and goodwill to others.

In socialism the government requires a person to give, where in capitalism a person gives only if he or she chooses to. There is no requirement for a person to give, but the more people who give the better the chance that society will flourish because there will more help for those who need it. In addition, the people who created most of the capital in the first place will still have enough. Since they were not forced by the government to give too much of what they had, they can keep enough to protect themselves and still have some left over to give to those who are less fortunate (Marx, 1888). In the end, that is a significant boost to the people who need help but it is also a significant boost to the working class. It can also help the ruling class, since happy citizens are easier to rule.

Michael Walzer

While Marx addressed issues with capitalism, there are others who have made the argument for socialism in some form. One of these individuals is Walzer, who considered the idea that socialism and democracy are very close to one another and are often intertwined, even though those who belong to one party adamantly deny that they are in any way related to those who belong to the other party. Where Walzer is concerned the argument is mostly that a town, country, community, or other group of people only has a ruler if they allow themselves to have a ruler. People who are ruled by others have that ruler because the ruler is acceptable to them (Walzer, n.d.). The ruler, in other words, would be overthrown (or simply not reelected) if he or she was not doing a job that the majority of the people considered to be satisfactory. Of course, there is also an argument that there should not be any ruler (Walzer, n.d.).

If something is affecting everyone (such as a law), then it should be decided by everyone. That can be difficult to do, because allowing the vast majority of people to decide on every little thing would quickly become overly complicated. While some socialist tendencies make sense, it is just not feasible to give everyone a say in laws and regulations that affect them. However, if they have created something on their own and that something is bringing them revenue, they should not be forced to get rid of that thing or give all of the revenue away, either. They should have a say in what happens to what they have created and the financial aspect of their labor. By avoiding the issue and not allowing people that freedom, a ruling class can quickly make enemies of the largest majority of the working class (Walzer, n.d.). As people evolved in European society, they began to make their own choices. They soon discovered that those choices were controlled by the ruling class, and they could not make choices that really benefited the working class.

Those who hold opinions similar to Walzer are not trying to stop the ruling class from doing its job, nor are they attempting to encourage the working class to be something other than what it is. The real issue for Walzer is that many people see everything that is not capitalistic as socialist or communist, but most societies are actually a blend of various styles and types of governance. Those who are ruled over are automatically subservient to those who are ruling over them, and there is no way for them to have equality at that point (Walzer, n.d.). If all decisions are made by those who are the rulers, the society is not completely democratic. However, society is simply too large to allow everyone to take part in the decision that continue to keep that society operating. Because those who are rulers are charged with that duty (and trusted by those who are not rulers), the rulers have to be careful about the choices they make. They can help or hinder society very easily, and it would be best for them to keep that in mind when they are making decisions.

Not all rulers are equal, and some are much better at various aspects of ruling than others. Still, that does not mean that a good ruler can continue to retain his or her position forever. Rulers come and go, and the stronger the laws and the society over which the ruler has control, the better that society will be even if its current ruler is not as good as a ruler of the past. In many societies, the ruler is nearly just a figurehead who is not capable of actually making many changes. When that is the case, the ruler is effectively trapped in his or her position because the changes that are needed are not possible. That is not democracy, nor is it capitalism. It also does not help society move forward and be more successful (Walzer, n.d.). Society has to be based on the quality of its people and the quality of its rulers, working together for the good of all involved.


Marx had many ideas about what made society acceptable and how a proper society should be run. Many of his ideas were strong, and some missed the mark. That is true with most individuals throughout history who have had strong opinions. While Marx wrote a Communist Manifesto, it was really not about communist. It was about capitalism and what it took to really operate a capitalist society properly. In many cases the issue is not that capitalism does not work properly, but that capitalism is not being addressed properly and not being correctly handled by those who are in charge of others. Marx's ideas and information are often misjudged by others, even in the present day. Rather than assume that Marx was advocating communism, one should read the writings of Marx very carefully and truly understand the information he was presenting to the world.

Only by gaining a clear understanding of what Marx meant in his critique of capitalism can a person see the changes that need to be made in society and how those changes can benefit everyone. Marx's goal was to show that those who work hard for financial gain should be allowed to keep what they gained. However, those people should want to share what they were given. It does no good to attempt to take things from other people, because those people will eventually revolt and demand to keep what they have worked for and earned. By allowing people the opportunity to do more without requiring it of them, more people will give freely. Ideally, all of society would give freely and there would be a state of near equality. That is the state to which Marx believed societies should strive, but that is, unfortunately, unrealistic when it comes to what most people want to do with what they have earned. Until there is less materialism, the kind of capitalism to which Marx aspired will not come to pass.


Marx, Karl. (1848). Manifesto of the communist party. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm

Marx, Karl. (1888). Theses on Feuerbach. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm

Walzer, Michael. (n.d.) Town meetings & worker's control. A story for socialists.

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