1 Zulkinris

Marx Mode Of Production Essay Outline

 

Karl Marx: On Capitalism

By Frank W. Elwell

The forces of production are, strictly speaking, the technology and work patterns that men and women use to exploit their environment to meet their needs. These forces of production are expressed in relationships between men, which are independent of any particular individual and not subject to individual will and purposes. While industrialism would be a particular “force of production,” capitalism would be a particular “relation of production.” By relations of production, Marx means the social relationships people enter into by participation in economic life. The relations of production are the relations men (and women) establish with each other when they utilize existing raw materials and technologies in the pursuit of their production goals.

While Marx begins with the forces of production, he quickly moves to the relations of production that are based on these forces. For Marx, the relations of production are the key to understanding the whole cultural superstructure of society. The relations of production (economic organization) constitute the foundation upon which the whole cultural superstructure of society comes to be erected. Marx gives the relations of production the primary focus in his analysis of social evolution. The forces of production basically set the stage for these relations, and other than this are given little independent treatment by Marx. Problems of modern society are therefore all ascribed to capitalism by Marx and his followers, rather than ascribing some of them to industrialism—a problem we will return to shortly.

According to Marx, men and women are born into societies in which property relations have already been determined. These property relations, in turn, give rise to different social classes. Just as a man cannot choose who is to be his father, so he has not choice as to his class. [Social mobility, though recognized by Marx, plays no role in his analysis.] Once a man is ascribed to a specific class by virtue of his birth, once he has become a feudal lord or a serf, an industrial worker or a capitalist, his behavior is proscribed for him. His attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are all “determined.” The class role largely defines the man. In the preface to Capital Marx writes: “Here individuals are dealt with only as fact as they are personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class interests.” Different locations in the class structure lead to different class interests. Such differing interests flow from objective positions in relation to the forces of production. In saying this Marx does not deny the operation of other variables in human behavior; but he concentrates on class roles as primary determinants of that behavior. These class roles influence men whether they are conscious of their class interests or not. Men may well be unaware of their class interests and yet be moved by them, as it were, behind their backs.

The division of labor gives rise to different classes, which leads to differing interests and gives rise to different: political, ethical, philosophical, religious, and ideological views. These differing views express existing class relations and tend either to consolidate or undermine the power and authority of the dominant class. "The ideas of the ruling class are, in every age, the ruling ideas; the class which is the dominant material force in society is at the same time its dominant intellectual force.” For example, the business of America is business. We think naturally in these categories. The goal of the economic system is to grow; our goal is to make more money to buy nice things. The point of the educational system is to provide education and training so that young adults can eventually assume their role in the workforce.

"The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production.” This is done through control over the media, educational curricula, grants and such. This is not the result of a conspiracy; rather it is the dominant viewpoint that pervades the culture. Because the dominant class owns and controls the forces of production, the social class in power uses the non-economic institutions to uphold its authority and position. Marx believed that religion, the government, educational systems, and even sports are used by the powerful to maintain the status quo.

Although they are hampered by the ideological dominance of the elite, the oppressed classes can, under certain conditions, generate counter ideologies to combat the ruling classes. These conditions are moments when the existing mode of production is played out; Marx terms these moments “revolutionary.” The social order is often marked by continuous change in the forces of production, that is, technology. Marx argued that every economic system except socialism produces forces that eventually lead to a new economic form. The process begins with the forces of production. At times, the change in technology is so great that it is able to harness “new” forces of nature to satisfy man’s needs. New classes (and interests) based on control of these new forces of production begin to rise. At a certain point, this new class comes into conflict with the old ownership class based on the old forces of production. As a consequence, it sometimes happens that “…the social relations of production are altered, transformed, with the change and development…of the forces of production.”

In the feudal system, for example, the market and factory emerged but were incompatible with the feudal way of life. The market created a professional merchant class, and the factory created a new proletariat (or class of workers). Thus, new inventions and the harnessing of new technologies created tensions within the old institutional arrangements, and new social classes threatened to displace the old ones based on manorial farming. Conflict resulted, and eventually revolution that established a new ruling class based on the new forces of production. A new class structure emerged and an alteration in the division of wealth and power based on new economic forms. Feudalism was replaced by capitalism; land ownership as the dominant form of capital was replaced by factories and the ownership of capital.

Those classes that expect to gain the ascendancy by a change in property relations become revolutionary. When this is the case, representatives of the ascending classes come to perceive existing property relations as a “fetter” upon further development. New social relationships (based upon the new mode of production) begin to develop within older social structures, exacerbating tensions within that structure. New forces of production—based on manufacture and trade—emerged within late European feudal society and allowed the bourgeoisie, which controlled this new mode of production, to challenge the hold of the classes that had dominated the feudal order. 

As this new force of production gained sufficient weight (through technological development and the resulting accumulation of wealth of the ownership class), the bourgeoisie “burst asunder the feudal relations of production” in which this new mode of production first made its appearance. "The economic structure of capitalist society has grown out of the economic structure of feudal society. The dissolution of the latter sets free elements of the former.”

Like feudalism, Marx maintained, capitalism also carries the seeds of its own destruction. It brings into being a class of workers (the proletariat) who have a fundamental antagonism to the capitalist class, and who will eventually band together to overthrow the regime to which they owe their existence. We will get into the evolution of the revolution in a future lecture.

For a more extensive discussion of Marx's theories refer to Macro Social Theory by Frank W. Elwell.  Also see Sociocultural Systems: Principles of Structure and Change to learn how his insights contribute to a more complete understanding of modern societies.

Bibliography:

Elwell, F. (2009), Macrosociology: The Study of Sociocultural Systems. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press.

Elwell, F. (2013), Sociocultural Systems: Principles of Structure and Change. Alberta: Athabasca University Press.

Engels, F. 1847. The Principles of Communism, (P. Sweezy, Trans.),  http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm

Engels, F. 1883. “Eulogy for Marx.” Retrieved March 22, 2008, from 1883: The Death of Karl Marx: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1883/death/dersoz1.htm

Marx, K. 1847/1999. The Poverty of Philosophy. Retrieved March 19, 2008, from Marx/Engels Archives http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/poverty-philosophy/index.htm

Marx, K. and Engels, F. 1848. The Communist Manifesto. (F. Engels, Trans. and Ed.) Public Domain Books, Kindle Edition, (2005).

Marx, K. 1867/1887. Das Kapital Volume I (Capital). (S. Moore and E. Aveling, Trans.) Public Domain Books, Kindle Edition (2008-11-19).

Marx, K. 1894/1991. Capital: Volume III. (D. Fernbach, Trans.) New York: Penguin Books.

Marx, K., and Engels, F. 1962. Selected Works, 2 Vols. Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House.

Marx, K. 1964. Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy. (T. Bottomore, Trans. and Ed.) London: McGraw-Hill.

Marx, K. 1964b. Early Writings. (T. B. Bottomore, Trans. and Ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.

Referencing this Site:

Karl Marx and the Rise of Capitalism is copyrighted by Athabasca University Press and is for educational use only. Should you wish to quote from this material the format should be as follows: 

Elwell, Frank, 2013, "Karl Marx and the Rise of Capitalism," Retrieved August 28, 2013 (use actual date),
http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/Theorists/Essays/Marx3.htm


©2013 Frank Elwell, Send comments to felwell at rsu.edu

 

 


Sociological Theory: Karl Marx: Major Features Of Capitalist Mode Of Production

Sociological Theory: Karl Marx: Major features of capitalist mode of production Introduction.

Karl Marx is one of the outstanding and influential social scientists of the 19th century, an undeniable founder of modern social science. Some critics, however, believe that Marx was not an original thinker and that his claim to recognition lies in the fact of his remarkable synthesis of German Philosophy, French Sociology and English Economics of his time. He collected the stray and isolated thoughts in these fields and constructed a coherent intellectual mansion for academic enlightenment and practical application, very much according to his own design. Hegel's dialectical process or principle of development through thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis provided the philosophical background for his theory of historical development through 'contradiction and conflict'. However, he replaced Hegel's notion of the development of the 'Idea' through the dialectical process to its final and highest form with the 'Materialism' of Feuerbach and introduced the concept of dialectical materialism to explain the historical process through 'class war'. He derived both the phrase and the concept of "class war" from French socialists like Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier. On the Economics side, Marx adopted in its entirety the Ricardian theory that labor was the source of value and developing it drew conclusions which Ricardo might have disdained. Thus, in short, Marx's social theory consists of three parts, with a fourth one thrown in later, and very ingeniously interwoven to present a coherent picture of a social organization, at once dynamic and in a state of flux. First is a philosophy of history anchored in the theory of Dialectical Materialism, which is manifested in a recurring class war in which the negation of the negation produces ever new negations. Secondly, there is the economic analysis which gives an exposition of a theory of value in an attempt to discover the secrets and the process of capitalist exploitation. Thirdly, there is a view of the state, about its present structure and nature, and techniques of changing it through revolution. We may also mention the fourth, a prophecy and a vision: the prophecy about the development of capitalism and its ultimate destination, and the vision of the final culmination of dialectical materialism in a classless and stateless society. In this paper our concern is to discuss the major features of the capitalistic mode of production.

Capitalist mode of production

Nowhere in Marx's writings can we find a complete definition of the capitalist mode of production, although it can be said that, in a profound sense, in its entirety Das Kapital is itself his 'definition' of the concept. However, from this and his other writings we can glean the meaning of a 'mode of production' as the...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Karl Marx - Labor and Production, Dialectics and Materialism.

1241 words - 5 pages Karl Marx was born in a time of contradiction. Capitalism was becoming the economic basis for society. The Industrial Revolution pushed people out of a life of agriculture in which they had decided how to do their work, into factories where they produced as...

Comparing and Contrasting Sociological Theorists Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx

1711 words - 7 pages Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber are all important characters to be studied in the field of Sociology. Each one of these Sociological theorists, help in the separation of Sociology into its own field of study. The works of these three theorists is very complex and can be considered hard to understand but their intentions were not. They have their similarities along with just as many of their differences. The first theorist to...

Life of Karl Marx

2078 words - 8 pages Life of Karl Marx Karl Marx was possibly one of the most influential thinkers of his time. Marx was born in Trier, Germany on April , 15 1818. His father, a Jewish lawyer, provided a comfortable life for Marx and his siblings. His mother, Henrietta, was of Dutch decent. His parents goal was to provide a family life that would foster an environment conducive to the...

Biography of Karl Marx

1676 words - 7 pages Biography of Karl Marx Karl Marx was a professional intellectual and philosopher. Throughout Marx's life, chance meetings with other professional intellectuals and philosophers helped guide Marx to his final destination. Although Marx died in March of 1883, some 122 years ago, his theories are still being studied, and in some cases, used in some governments. In his lifetime Marx explored many different social settings and...

Biography of Karl Marx

1112 words - 4 pages Biography of Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, social scientist, and revolutionist whose writings formed the beginning of the basic ideas known as Marxism. Although he was largely disregarded by scholars in his own lifetime, his social, economic and political ideas gained rapid acceptance in the socialist movement after his death. With the help of Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx created much of the theory of socialism and...

Biography of Karl Marx

1432 words - 6 pages Biography of Karl Marx Karl Marx, the author of the Communist Manifesto, is viewed to be one of the greatest social thinkers of his time. His social, political and economical thoughts are still highly regarded today. The life of this man is stamped with many accomplishments and ideas that have been adopted by many prominent figures. As a historian, philosopher, and revolutionary, Karl Marx has helped shaped the society of the...

Biography of Karl Marx - 1231 words

1231 words - 5 pages Biography of Karl Marx Only in the course of the world’s history can a person born over a hundred years ago be as famous today as they were back then. Karl Marx is one person that fits this category. He paved the way for people of the same political background as his own. Marx’s ideas were unique and started uproar all over Europe. Marx helped write the Communist Manifesto one of the most important pieces of literature on Communism...

Biography of Karl Marx - 1293 words

1293 words - 5 pages Biography of Karl Marx 15Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 to Heinrich and Henrietta Marx in the historical city of Trier. Karl was one of seven children raised within a comfortable middle class home provided by his father. Marx’s father worked as a counselor-at-law at the High-Court of Appeal in Trier. David McClellan believes that, “Trier first imbued Marx with his abiding passion for history.”1 Although the Marx family was...

The Political Philosophy of Karl Marx

2443 words - 10 pages Workers of the World Unite; You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Chains. -- Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto Karl Marx had very strong viewpoints in regards to capitalism, making him a great candidate for this assignment. People constantly debate over whether his ideologies held any grain of truth to them. I believe that although not everything Marx predicted in his writings has come true (yet), he was definitely right on about a lot of issues. As...

Karl Marx and the Authorship of communism

3229 words - 13 pages It has been said that Karl Marx wrote his theories concerning socialism from a liberal starting point. This essay will discuss this possibility, in relation to socialism and if Marx's theories would in fact, create a conflict free world. There are two main areas within this question: firstly, the differences and similarities between...

Summary of Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

2323 words - 9 pages Summary of Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx Introduction Karl Marx was born in 1818 into a middle-class, German family. During his studies, Marx was heavily influenced by the philosophy of Hegel. He joined a group called the “Young Hegelians.” The group, though “inspired by Hegel, [was] determined to champion the more radical aspects of the old master's system.”[i] Though he was a strong scholar, he got into trouble because of...

Leave a Comment

(0 Comments)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *