Marxism is a critical socioeconomic analysis tool essential in the analysis of the fundamentals of capitalism and the dynamics of a capitalist society. The review is grounded on a materialist interpretation of historical developments highlighting social transformations over time through an in-depth evaluation of social conflict and class relations. In this context, the study assesses how Marx's ideas have transformed the world in the present day. Here, the primary objective is to highlight the flaws in his criticism of capitalism and its usefulness in shaping the current social system in the capitalist society. Karl Marx anticipated that industrialization would flip over the existing social policies in favor of new and transformative ones. Equally, he projected that the inherent contradictions that characterize capitalism and the volatility of business cycles would play a significant role in reshaping the social systems (Bowles & Gintis, 2012). It is on this basis that the study explores the effects of Marxism in the contemporary societies focusing on the resilience of capitalism.
Background and Significance of the Study
Marx explores the society, the state, and the economy as a single entity. Based on his analysis, it is evident that a capitalist society cannot exist without economic turbulence. As such, all capitalist societies are characterized by economic crises and or unemployment (Harman, 2010). Therefore, it is impossible for a capitalist society to avoid economic crises such as the financial crisis of the 2008/2009 fiscal year. In a capitalist economy, the economic crises are stirred by the practical constraints of the economy, which overrides the perceived benefits of this type of a socioeconomic system. These practical constraints are inevitable, prevail, and rule over the people. Consequently, there is an overwhelming desire among the people to shift the current socioeconomic system from a market-based democracy to a democracy-based economy (Bowles & Gintis, 2012). The rationale behind this desire is the realization of a system that preserves our natural resources and at the same time achieves profits. This necessitates the need for a radical change in the capitalist organization of the economy with an objective of defining a resilient capitalist economy. The significance of this study, therefore, is that it illustrates how best we can utilize Marx's analyzes and ideas to shape the society for the betterment of all humanity.
Marx's core argument was that capitalism was destined for the death in the long run. He backed up this claim by assuming that human nature is mostly plastic and malleable. In this context, he wanted to demonstrate that people align or take up any form depending on the prevailing conditions (Harman, 2010). From an analytical perspective, these assertions are untrue and mare justification for a grotesque experiment in the larger scheme of social engineering. In many aspects, his belief that one can discern the direction of the future based on history was somehow foolish. Primarily, this line of argument represents Karl Marx at his worst. This is because he elevated ideas and hope over experience and logic respectively. Today, capitalism has proved to be more resilient than it was previously envisaged. As such, communism cannot be viewed as an inevitable replacement of capitalism but rather as a potential competitor.
Current dynamics of most capitalist societies have disapproved Marx's predictions on the path these socio-economic systems would follow. For example, Karl Marx foresaw an increase in poverty and unemployment levels in the course of development of capitalist economies (Harman, 2010). Contrary to his beliefs, most advanced market-based economies have experienced a prolonged phase of near full employment. Equally, these states have managed to elevate the poor from abject poverty to reasonable standards of living (Amin, 2014). Karl Marx envisaged a capitalist society that was characterized by a political system that acted in the best interest of wealthy industrialists and landowners. However, the dynamics of modern society have been able to overcome this weakness and replaced Karl Marx fashion of capitalism with a responsible capitalism model (Feenberg, 2008). This model is defined by a ruling class encompassing larger trade unions and a variety of all kinds of pressures groups which represents the interest of the middle class at the political level. Additionally, the society experiences occasional labor governments implying that politics is no longer a preserve of the ruling class comprising of wealthy industrialist and landowners.
A change in guard at the political level has ushered in a new form of capitalism that is more responsible than that envisaged by Karl Marx. Consequently, the need for a revolution engineered by proletariats is no longer necessary because their interests are well represented at the political level. The benefits of the new system include the development of a comprehensive welfare state and the enactment of economic policies that improve people's standards of living. Moreover, the society is increasingly experiencing equity in the distribution of income and wealth. However, this model has not been able to eradicate inequality. Notably, social inequality is an inevitable reality that is equally of significance to the growth of the economy (Steele, 2013). Nonetheless, there is much more equality of opportunity implying that people can now work their way up in the social ladder.
Research Design and Methods
The study is qualitative in nature. As such, the ideal research method is in-depth literature reviews and content analysis. This method allows the researcher to review a large sample of relevant literature materials (Vaismoradi, Turunen, & Bondas, 2013). Through a comprehensive synthesis of various research findings, the research would be able to determine common ground in all of them to make meaningful conclusions regarding Marxism in the contemporary societies.
Preliminary Suppositions and Implications
Undoubtedly, the society embraced some positive aspects of Marxism and utilized them to develop a more responsible capitalist society. The elements of Marxism engrained in modern capitalist society include the concepts of social security on which governments extends support to the underprivileged in the nation and universal healthcare. Others include subsidies on a variety of utilities, provision of free education to the masses, and funding on critical infrastructures, such as highways and public roads. These examples demonstrate some of the aspects of Marxism employed in modern capitalist societies (Steele, 2013). The basis for utilizing these elements of Marxism is to realize equality in the community to avoid class conflict and possible revolutions.
It is evident that capitalism is more resilient than as envisaged by Karl Marx. As such, his analytical approach to capitalism is no longer practical when applied to current capitalist economies. This is because of many factors, such as the inclusions of some aspects of socialism in these societies and the managerial revolution. The former is illustrated above while the latter explains why multinationals and large companies are no longer under the control of shareholders. Today, senior managers have taken control of most of these companies reducing the influence of shareholders, the capitalist class, significantly. Moreover, members of the working class are increasingly experiencing a steady rise in the standards of living. Besides, increased complexity of work has eliminated the feeling of alienation such that the working class enjoys their job (Feenberg, 2008). Therefore, there is a significant difference between modern capitalist societies and those envisaged by Karl Marx.
It is without a doubt that capitalism is more resilient contrary to Marx's predictions. The resilience of the capitalist societies defines the modern realities of Marxism in the contemporary societies. Here, the nation embraced positive elements of Marxism and employed them to build a more responsible capitalist community devoid of class conflict and the possibility of a revolution.
Amin, S. (2014). Capitalism in the age of globalization: The management of contemporary society. Zed Books Ltd..
Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (2012). Democracy and capitalism: Property, community, and the contradictions of modern social thought. Routledge.
Feenberg, A. (2008). From critical theory of technology to the rational critique of rationality. Social Epistemology, 22(1), 5-28.
Harman, C. (2010). Zombie capitalism: global crisis and the relevance of Marx. Haymarket Books.
Steele, D. R. (2013). From Marx to Mises: Post Capitalist Society and the Challenge of Ecomic Calculation. Open Court.
Vaismoradi, M., Turunen, H., & Bondas, T. (2013). Content analysis and thematic analysis: Implications for conducting a qualitative descriptive study. Nursing & health sciences, 15(3), 398-405.
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