Research Paper on Karl Marx
All of the underlying theories and concept of in Marxian theoretical perspective revolves around a sociological model based on materialistic conception and the historical model that illustrate the social changes in the society. The dialectical method of Marx was inspired of that of Hegel’s concept of dialectics. For Hegel we live in a world of appearances and it is the ideal that is the true reality. The dialectics of Hegel focused on Ideas. This view of dialectics was rejected by Marx. For him it is the material world that is reflected by the human mind that is then transformed into forms of thought and not the other way around. It is not that the material world is just an external form of the Idea. In Hegel’s dialectics, it is perceived that things are to be understood on the real changes in them and their interconnections and not through an abstract system. This is what Marx has extracted from the idea of the dialectics of Hegel. Though he had some contentions on Hegel he believed that the phenomenon happening on the society are not isolated from and are not independent of each other.
One phenomenon could be understood through the existence of many other phenomena. This form of dialectic views that it is not a simple one-way relationship among the phenomenon. There is an interrelatedness or connectedness of the happenings in the social world. Any phenomenon could be understood only through the analysis of its relationship between the past and the present realities. For Marx and Engels, the nature is always on a constant flux and not immobile and static. Phenomena should also be taken as things that are constantly changing or developing. There were some that would wither away and there would be some that will be constantly developing. In this dialectic method, it is perceived that there would be movements of phenomena. These movements were not seen as movements as cyclical. They undergo through a real history not that of a repeated circle. New developments could further arise or cause unexpected transitions. There would be upward or downward movements among the changes and transitions in phenomena. Quantitative changes were to bring about qualitative changes. This dialectics also hold the view there is an inherent contradictions among things. There would always be the opposites and the struggle between them. There would be the old and the new, the withering away and the developing, the high and the low.
The contradictions between them bring about the development or the social change.
This dialectic method of Marx and the application of its principles are very important in application on the study of social life and history of the society. He viewed the history based on the analysis of the distinctions between the modes of productions including the forces of production that includes all the factors that are needed for the production of material goods and the relations of production which are the arrangements that define who holds and control a specific mode of economic production.
Marx believed that in every historical period in a given society, the modes of production changes; its
forces of production and the relations of production. It changes because of the changing needs, demands and skills of people. Through history the productive forces were seen to developed and undergo transitions. The transition of digging stick and stone tools to bow and arrow is accompanied by the transition the hunting life of men in primitive communal society to the domestication of animals in a pastoral society. The improvement then on metal tools like the iron axe and the plow marked the transition of a pastoral society into an agricultural one. The separate development of handicrafts from agriculture and the handicrafts tools paved way for handicraft industry. The improvement on the tools used in handicrafts started the manufacturing with the use of machines. This machine system soon rose into a modern and large scale industrial machineries production which then marked the industrial society. These improvements on the productive instruments accompanied the changes in men and their relations of production and their economic relations. In primitive communal societies there is an egalitarian mode or common ownership of production wherein everybody engaged in hunting and gathering activities then share the accumulated gains afterwards. In this system everybody is obliged to work in common and the fruits of their common labor were shared. Here, private ownership and classes still do not exist. It is then by the slave system where the relations of production occur between the slave owners and the slaves. There is a forced labor among slaves. Slave owners can sell, purchase, command or kill their slaves. This system marked the start of private ownership, the concentration of wealth among the few and the suppression of many majority by the minority. A struggle of the poor and the rich and the distinction of those who have rights and who do not were started in this period. It is then replaced by the feudal society, where the agricultural mode of production is dominant. It entails a relationship among the landlords and the serfs wherein it is the landlords who own the means of production which is basically the lands and the serfs were the one who till and cultivate the land for agricultural purposes. The feudal lords unlike in slavery do not fully own the workers. Serfs personal enterprise would be through their own labor for the landlords. In an industrial society, the manufacturing or the capitalist mode of production is the dominant mode. The capitalist owns the means of production, from factories to the instruments and machineries needed for the needed products. The ploretariats were the ones who work for the capitalist and sell their know- how skills and capabilities through and labor. Through different forms of production, the character of a specific social system is also determined. Its fundamental problems and the contradictions that are happening on it are also determined. As said earlier, the evolution of one society from another is fuelled by the changing needs of people. If the existing society can no longer accommodate the demands for the new needs of people then another form of society will emerge.
The dialectic method is used as an analytical tool for understanding the social changes that happened in history or are currently happening. As it goes over the understanding of the changes in relations of production and the productive forces it can also provide an understanding over the problems that the specific society is confronted of specifically the struggles between classes. It can provide an analysis towards the changes of the whole social system; its political views, social ideas and social institutions. This dialectic view on history of Marx means that the history of the development of the society is the history of the transition of the means of production. It is the history wherein the modes of production are replaced by another in the course of time. It is the history of the owners of the materials for production and the labourers whose skills are very essential in carrying the process of production. The history of society can not be found through the ideas and views of men about society but rather on the economic life of the society in a given historical period. Marx’s view of history as dialectic gives us better understanding on how situations from the past societies and the present or even the future society are interconnected. It gives us a clearer view on evaluating social system and social movements in history. We can further understand the causes that brought for the disintegration of a particular society and the emergence of the others. The dialectic view towards the contradictions and the struggle of the opposites as bases of social changes helps us further understand the social movements and upheavals that had happened throughout the history. The struggles of the slaves against the slave owners, serfs against landlords, and proletariat against the bourgeoisie can be better viewed upon the existing economic relations among them. Struggles between the opposing parties were brought about from the ideas about the material conditions. The bourgeoisie will always maintain their hold on economic power and maintain the present economic conditions while the proletariats will continuously assert their rights for freedom and ownership of the products.
According to Marx, the ploretariats will continue to overthrow the bourgeoisie through revolutions. Those revolutions will then imply social changes that will alter the existing forms of governments, relations of production and some laws in society. In line with this concept of social change of Marx, those contradictions can only be halted through a resolution in terms of exterminating the other classes’ interests. The fall of one class through the eradication of their interest will be achieved through overthrowing it. According to Marx, this should be won by the lower classes or the proletariats whose endured hardships and labors need to be credited. When the proletariats manage to win the revolution, Marx foresees that a new classless society will emerge.
The ideas of Marx regarding the class conflict can also be put under challenges or scrutiny. First, economic reductionism was always a criticism to Marx. He tends to just reduce everything into economics or relations of production without taking into account other variables. Secondly he also had given much emphasis on the class struggle as a driving force of social change without taking into account the other factors like agreements between the classes, technological advancements and changes in the social organization. Thirdly, Marx assumption of the unity in classes’ interest is questionable. People although from same classes have individual differences. It does not mean that if you belong in a certain class, you will always act and think like the others. People within the same class can also have varying interests. There were some proletariats who does not have interest on overthrowing the bourgeoisie because they it is already inculcated in them that it is their fate. There were bourgeoisie who tends to do some philanthropic activities because they wanted to ease the poor conditions of the proletariats and they too are having some conflicts with their own class. Marx’s idea of false consciousness may then enter the picture but still it has to be subjected into further validation.
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