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Marxism Still Relevant In A Capitalist Society Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 5386 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The UK is a sovereign state which at its height was the largest empire in history. The UK was the first country to industrialize in the world and was the global dominant power however since then the UK has had its ups and downs with problems such as recessions which had effected the population by impacting unemployment which is generally high during a recession. The UK in the 21th century is a very well developed country with a high standard of living and democracy and has one of the world’s most globalized economies and is home to one of the world’s largest financial center [1] . Although the United Kingdom’s economy is the 9th largest economy in 2012 measured by GDP [2] (PPP) in the world there is facts that suggests that the gap between the rich and poor has grown faster in Britain in recent decades than any other developed country [3] . the UK is still recovering from the recession [4] the Office for National Statistics has estimated in 2011 that 14 million people were are risk of poverty and social exclusion, in 1977 this figure was 3 million people [5] and also that there is a risk that one person in 20 was now experiencing severe material depression [6] also 25% of the population have net financial wealth which is negative, while just over 10 per cent have net financial wealth of over £100,000.

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Aims and Objectives

I will look closely at what has impacted and made the United Kingdom so unequal regarding the sharing of wealth. I will also address the various factors which could affect the sharing of wealth, leading to the detrimental damage to the poorer classes. I will also explain the general concepts of Marxism and expand on the social and commodity theories.

1.2 What is Marxism?

Marxism is a social and economic theory with aims to create an equal and better social life for everyone, Marxism rejects the capitalistic economic systems believing that one day the working class will have a revolution and establish a fair classless system. Marxism claims the upper class has had an unfair advantage resulting in the repression of the lower and middle classes in order to gain more power and benefits such as money.

Marxism is a system where the different aspects of a state are controlled by the people and for the people, in essence there is no rich and no poor. It is a point of view which has contrasting ideas on individual freedom, Marxism puts the society before the individual whereas the capitalist view contrasts this ideology. Marxism appeals to people who have an altruistic outlook, whereby they put others before themselves without expecting anything in return. This act in itself is quite noble and goes against the selfish nature of people, however this theory appeals to the persons generous side. The theory promotes a classless equal society where men and women will be together and theoretically wearing the same shoes. Everyone will be equal regardless of race, class, nationality and even religion. The theory of Marxism came from the writings of Karl Marx & his companion Friedrick Engels who later finished Marx’s work when he passed away. Both authors are sometimes mentioned in some pieces of work it’s difficult to distinguish who should take credit for certain ideas.

Marxism involves many theories however condensed down there is four theories which include includes theories such as philosophical Marxism – which covers philosophy that is strongly influenced by Marx’s materialist approach to theory and which is written by people who support his theory. It can be applicable to Western Marxism which drew out of various sources, and was the official philosophy in the Soviet Union. Sociological theory – Marxist sociology refers to sociology from a Marxist perspective it however can be referred as political philosophy as well as sociological with a revolutionary view of change with the help of class struggle.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx was born on 5th May 1818 he was a revolutionary thinker, social activist & a philosopher of the 19th century. Famous writings of Mark include The Communist Manifesto. The writings of Marx have had a lot of influence in many countries.

Marx tried to understand the capitalist system and how it worked in the society & for who it had benefitted and for and who it had not.


1.3 Advantages of Marxism

The advantages of Marxism include; the aim of creating a better classless society, ensuring everyone is equal and no one is at a disadvantage to any other person. This would benefit people who may be homeless or people is less fortunate positions resulting in lack of financial security. In contrast, there are people who may not have worked for their wealth but may have inherited their money and may have never faced adversities due to the fact that they born with a silver spoon in their mouth. In a Marxist society the wealth would be spread to the whole society to benefit everyone. It would also aim to promote the awareness of the working class and seeks to eliminate any wealthy classes or aristocracy as they have a unfair advantage to the main population, and the reason for the aristocracy to rule a luxury rule is because of their divine right to rule, some people may be more deserving of being king/queen but are repressed due to their class. Marxism would seek to eliminate their unfair advantage of wealth and bliss which the average person may never have experienced, ensuring everyone is equal. Also the wealth will be shared equally across the society to ensure everyone is treated alike regarding money, this would benefit the population as it would potentially reduce jealously and envy within the general population.

1.4 Disadvantages of Marxism

Rich people more often than not create their wealth through hard work and perseverance and the idea of Marx is to create a classless where everyone shares their wealth, I believe that people would not persevere enough to create something knowing they would not be able to benefit from it keeping most of the wealth. Most of human’s greatest achievements have been achieved due to the creativity and initiative which benefited the individual e.g through wealth, however even though the individual benefited ultimately it aided and helped progress the society. Nevertheless Marxism may be detrimental to the individual’s creative side displacing their motivation with nothing therefore killing their inventive side.

1.5 What did Karl Marx Envision?

Karl Marx envisioned the collapse of capitalism as inevitable because within itself it had the imperfections which would eventually lead to its demise. These imperfections have the potential to create two separate social classes too form. These social classes would be the bourgeoisie (these generally were merchants from the 12th and 13th century where there was an increase in trade which subsequently led to this class) who were generally owned and controlled of the means of production and the capital, and the unfortunate proletariat who were the common workers who only have their own labor to sell for a wage These social classes were instinctively at odds with one another and as capitalism grew the proletariat grew alongside it outnumbering the bourgeoisie and the rich would grow richer and the poor poorer Karl Marx called the Law of Increasing Poverty [7] . Marx believed the proletariat would grow tired of the oppression and inevitable revolt against the bourgeoisie.

Karl Marx predicted that stateless communism or pure communism would inevitably result from the development of the productive forces or the proletariat. Pure Communism is the post-capitalist stage of society which Karl Marx. Stateless communism is closely related and connected to world communism (world communism would be achieved by world revolution, according to a theory that was popular in the period 1917 to around 1933. World communism is incompatible with the existence of nation-states, so according to an older theory there will be an abolition of the state preceding world communism). Pure communism has never been achieved.

Stateless communism, also known as pure communism or full communism,

Strictly speaking, pure communism is a stage of social development where material and productive forces are advanced to a degree where actual freedom (freedom from necessity, and thus from wage labor and alienation from work) for every person is possible needed. The state apparatus becomes redundant because classes cease to exist. [8] 

2.0 Capitalism

2.1 What is a capitalist economy?

The UK household wealth has recently passed the 7trillion mark for the first time [9] , although this is a lot of money everyone has not benefited equally different social classes seem to benefit differently. The inequality may be linked to the economic system which has made the UK so wealthy as a whole but in contrast made certain social classes to a disadvantage. The top 10% of households are now 850 times wealthier than the bottom 10%

The UK is a capitalist country [10] . The UK has 1000 people who have more than £414.260 which is equivalent to a third of the UK’s debt national debt [11] and just under twice of a country such as Pakistan by nominal GDP this, would be extremely difficult to achieve in a society where capitalism would be rejected. Capitalism is defined as a political and economic system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners and or corporation for profit, rather than by the state. It’s an economic system the means of production and distributions are corporately or privately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market [12] . Capitalism systems generally operate a free market economy which is a market which not regulated by the government accept to prosecute companies who commit fraud or anything else applicable for prosecution within the general law. A free market contrasts to a controlled market where the government directly or indirectly regulates the price. In a free market, price is usually set as a result of excess transactions, rather than a law decree as in a controlled market.

Capitalism uses the investment of money or capital, to produce even more profits. This can lead to a small upper class of individuals having the greatest wealth and the growth of huge corporations. This leads to economic inequality between rich and poor, however governments try to reduce this by numerous social schemes, welfare and education. It is different to the system in the middle ages, such as feudalism, where the control of land and the workers were bonded to that land were the key to making wealth.

In the modern day Capitalist economy, there is a term called laissez-faire this means allowing industry to be free from state intervention like restrictions. The phrase is French and literally implies, “leave it alone” or “let it be”. In a “Capitalist” economy, the term capitalism comes from the writings of Karl Marx, in its modern sense to basically describe a system in which a small group of people control large amounts of capital, or money, and who make the most important economic decisions which end up effecting people at the bottom.

2.2 Advantages of capitalism

The prices of services and goods are controlled usually through supply and demand. So through this system competition can usually develop so this encourages businesses to develop better and cheaper goods or services and at the same time keeping cost down for the consumer. It also gives people a motivation to better them self by self by using initiative and innovation to develop products so to live in wealth. And usually through innovation Capitalism provides employment opportunities for people in the form of labor therefore helping people earn money in any way then can and therefore they have a lively hood to support their family even with the little scraps. Another advantage of capitalism is that people will aim to be more skilled than unskilled as capitalist are more likely to pay more for people who are highly skilled. Capitalism stimulates the economy where consumers regulate the market. Also due to the stock market people can become owners through direct means e.g the stock or indirect means e.g pension funds or saving schemes. Also increasing numbers of shareholders can have an interest in preserving capitalism.

2.3 Disadvantages of capitalism

Inequality is a major disadvantage in a capitalist society as anyone can be rich however everyone can’t so there will inevitably never be equality under capitalism which will cause envy and hate between people. And the fact that the rich have a large amount of disposable income so they can easily have the capital to start a business however in contrast an average person would find it very difficult as they would not be guaranteed to get the money e.g. from a bank. Also poverty can easily develop in a capitalist society e.g. 3.6 million children live in poverty in the UK this accounts to more than one in four children or 27% of children in the UK . As of 2008, the World Bank has estimated that there were an estimated 1,345 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25 a day or less .Also capital holders have freedom to what they want with minimal restrictions e.g. minimum wage. Also when it comes to labor & land decisions they have the upper hand e.g they can easily exploit the restrictions and go to a third world country to set up productions there to so they can benefit from cheap labor without having to take into account dilemmas such as, compensation, workers conditions, environmental safeguards etc. Another disadvantage of a capitalist society is advertising as it’s everywhere be it on the street on billboards advertisement is on TV programs, its marketing constantly telling you need to buy it and you will be better off with it, when capitalists do it they call it advertising and when dictatorships do it they call it propaganda so they are as bad as themselves. Also some people believe that capitalism may lead to a exhaustion of the resources on Earth, as with continuous economic growth this in itself requires the earth’s resources to help provide commodities.

2.4 Difference between Marxism and capitalism

The main differences between capitalism and Marxism is concerning the possession & ownership of the ‘means of production’ or resources in general. Marxism rejects individual/private possession of land or any vital resources. Instead, all the ‘means of production’ such as resources and other land have a duty to be owned by the state. By state I mean the whole community of people in a nation. All resources and land which allow the manufacture of goods and services will be possessed by one and altogether. All will be shared & all decisions about production will be made by the whole public (community) by democratic means. There will be equal wages for everyone. All the choices made will be made benefiting all and not just a selective group.

On the other hand, capitalism relies on in private possession of land and means of production. Every person will have the potential make his wealth with capitalism, the more the person is creative and preservers the more likely they are to be worth more. The main share of the profits made are from a business’s will go to the person who owns the means of production (capital), although the workers who are responsible for keeping the business running will get a small share. Every person will get there wages according to their value and the owner will generally pay more to people who can offer more skills. Generally the people who own the means of production, the capitalists, make the decisions when it comes to shot calling.

Ownership of means of production is a major piece of dispute between the two philosophies. Both are extreme ideas. While Marxism can destroy the idea of individual creativity, which has led to most of the technological innovations we see in the modern world, capitalism can lead to exploitation, where too much power and therefore wealth, is focused in the hands of a few people who call the shots.

2.5 The Problems of Profit

Profit is what capitalisms main aim is to achieve, but the problem regarding profit is that if capitalist paid the laborers their real value of labor then the capitalist would make no profit therefore no income. At the same time factories can generate huge profits while workers get a small cut, this is the problem of profit to achieve profit you have the lower the costs and these costs are generally the laborers.

Profit is a love hate system, if the capitalist adore profit they will live comfortably but if they hate profit they will be without any income and possibly may even be forced to sell their labor as a wage. Profit is the core of the capitalism without profit capitalists would dwindle away like a flower in winter. So Marx decided to try and explain where profit came from, Marx did this by analyzing the differences between the worker and the capitalist. A commodity always comes from a process which involves two things 1) The means of production 2) Labor

Since commodities are bought at their exchange value, than the profit must come from the act of production itself so this may be a factor why the capitalists may want to make more money and exploit them in the process. People in this modern time see two identical products & will generally judge the product on the basis of the price and quality. If the price is the same they will buy the one that is the better quality and if the quality is the same they will buy the cheaper one. However Marxism may not have considered if a competitor had made the same commodity, using say for example new machinery then sold the product at half the price the original person producing the product would go out of business and subsequently the laborers would be even poorer and may even result in crime to get money. The profit the owner can make in one day can in other words equate all the workers make together in one day. So the problem is money people work for money if they don’t work than they don’t make money, so the real problem is the obligation of money as each part of our requires something which can only be bought with money.

In “On the Jewish Question” Marx says “Money is the universal, self-constituted value of all things. It has therefore robbed the whole world, human as well as natural, of its own values. Money is the alienated essence of man’s work and being, this alien essence dominates him and he adores it.” I believe he meant that we are so blind by money that everyone constantly wants it and people go to desperate lengths to require it even though money was not a necessity to people all the way up to the 1600’s it was only needed for country’s going to war. Since we have been oblivious by money, the system of Capitalism and its materialistic(The act of caring more about items more than people and judging yourself and others on the basis of this) customs has made money speak for us and made us to treat each other as objects and the proletariats(working class) are alienated from there selves so in theory the proletariat became aware of their alienation and exploitation so they began the process of creating a class for themselves which emerged as the communist party. In the final words of the communist manifesto Karl Marx wrote “The workers have nothing to lose… but their chains. They have a world to gain. Workers of the world, unite!”

2.6 Difference between Communism and Marxism

There is not much difference between the two ideologies. Communism is really constructed on Marxism and the two cannot be separated. Nevertheless Marxism is the theory and Communism is the real-world implementation of Marxism.

Communism is the recognition of a stateless society where everyone is equal. In contrast Marxism is the blueprint by which such a state is established. While Marxism is a political ideology based on Karl Marx’s ideas, communism can be termed as a political system, which is founded on Marxist ideology. Marxism explores and analyzes the different aspects of a country, there exists no difference between the rich and the poor. And Communism can be termed as a political system where an individual thinks about the state for the state. Communism aims at establishing a fair classless, democratic and stateless society based on common ownership, which encourages equality and fairness (much more so than capitalism).

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Marxism is an ideology, which springs itself on the materialist interpretation of history. It says that history was driven by the materialistic approach of the people, which means the life of a person was driven by what he needed to survive. The Marxist ideology is to prepare the society for communism. Marxism views that just as society transformed from feudalism to capitalism, it would transform itself to socialism and eventually to communism. Well, the method by which the transformation takes place is what differentiates the communists from Marxists. The Communists believe that the transformation will take place through revolutionary means. It is hard to make out a difference between Communism and Marxism. These two are so closely related that it is hard to make a distinction between the two. Communism would not have born without Marxism. Last of all, it can be said that Marxism is the theory and communism is the actual practice. [13] 

2.7 Communism and revolution and what it achieved

The origins of Marxism come from Karl Marx he once stated “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways,” he wrote, “the point, however, is to change it.” , he wanted real action not just ideas which he believed were the key to the future. So Marx joined a small organization called the League of the Just, which would soon change its name to the Communist League. At their request the two men wrote the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx was only 29 and Hegal was 27.

Communism was intended to be a system to be a system of government bought about by a workers revolution which would take away power from the wealthy class of elites (bourgeoisie). The result would be a government that ran factories and businesses for the benefit of te workers and therefore the society , ending the system of labor for private profit. In its ideal form communism would lead eventually to a state of perfect equality, freedom and self-fulfillment for people. The communist system of government in the world today is leftovers of an extraordinary project that aimed at nothing less than the transformation of human life for the better.

True communism has never been realized. What we see now is the authoritarian countries taking their shape from the early days of the Soviet Union. This would be the structure that Lenin and more so, Stalin would have used. Communism works on the premise on the abolition of property and then the eventual abolition of the state entirely this has never been truly seen. What we have seen is state capitalism which has been named communist due to both propaganda and state ownership of major industrial complexes.

First international Emancipation of Labor group

The October Revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin and was based upon Lenin’s writing on the ideas of Karl Marx, a political ideology often known as Marxism-Leninism. It marked the beginning of the spread of communism in the 20th century. It was far less sporadic than the revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end.

Marxists argued that class conflict plays an important role in the history of social classes hierarchical systems such as capitalism and feudalism [14] .

Other Factors

Variation of Wealth and Different Age Groups

Age is generally a key issue in relation to the circulation of wealth because it typically takes people substantial amount of time to amass assets. According to the general lifecycle theory, young people are usually on low incomes as they have not had enough time to amass assets. So when bearing in mind the distribution of assets it is important to note that asset accumulation is an active process correlated with the lifecycle [15] .


There is a correlation between age and wealth with the older people tending to have more money , people between 55 – 64 generally have the highest household wealth in the country which is a median level of £651,000 this figure is increasing, up from £567,000 in the 2006/8 Office for National Statistics data [16] .Nevertheless there is significant variation within this age group as more than one in ten has fewer than £28,000 of wealth compared with the top one in ten who has more than £1.3 million. Since 1995, relative wealth inequality may have fallen due to those in the middle benefiting from house price inflation. But those at the very top have seen huge absolute increases in wealth and there are still significant numbers of people with no or indeed negative net wealth [17] .

Ethnicity as a factor

Religion & ethnicity are another basis of difference in wealth levels, until the Wealth & Asset Survey, there was inadequate amount of data to document the extent of inequality amongst different religious and ethnic groups. And even with the Wealth & Asset Survey, the study of ethnicity and religion is somewhat hindered by the sample sizes for some groups. Nonetheless, the National Equality Panel (2010) shows that there are general differences in the total wealth median amongst ethnic groups, part though of those but not all of them, will reflect differences in age structure.

Table :

The table above shows large difference in wealth by ethnicity in 2006/8. White British households had the greatest level of wealth with on average £221,000 but these were shadowed closely by Indian households who have £204,000. Other ethnic groups were much further behind than the rest. The group with the least amount of wealth was Bangladeshi households who had £15,000 total net wealth on average. There may be caused by a whole range of factors it’s difficult to say because there is no statistics in this area however education may be a factor.

Religion as a factor

Religion may be a factor which may affect people, the class struggle of the people can be illustrated by religion thousands of years ago at the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs. Where instead of manipulating labor by the amount of pay they manipulated the working class via religion e.g. the Egyptian argument for religion to justify free labor was that ‘men were created by Osiris and must obey his will on Earth. They must put up with slavery in the hope that, if they behave well a better after-life awaits them in the next world, no more slavery, only eternal bliss’. This is quite an effective system, however this is not quite an effective way of getting free labor in Britain as it’s a materialistic society and it explains what’s what on the basis of science which has led way to theory’s such as the big bang theory.

As far as statistics goes with religion, the sample size again are quite relatively small but the National Equality Panel (2010) disclosed the group with the greatest median net wealth were Jewish people with £422,000 nearly double as much as the next group, Sikh people with £229,000. Muslim people were the poorest group in terms of wealth with only £42,000 of net wealth, see the table below


Education as a factor

Education enables people to have a wider understanding and perception of the world around themselves.

Education is not necessary it just help us how we need to work. We can’t do anything only with educational degrees, we must need practical in our life.

This is true, but a good education helps you be more successful by giving you information and skills that you can use in your life. For example, if you do not know how to read, you are going to have a lot of trouble in most jobs because almost every job has some kind of paperwork you need to read or fill out. Math is important for figuring out your pay and planning a budget so your money will last, and for inventories and sales. The more you know, the more likely you are to be able to excel at your job instead of just barely making it.

Education is what some jobs require usually the ones where special knowledge is required and employers will tend to pay more There is not much statistics regarding


Throughout my research I have found out Marxism very versatile & adaptable as there are so many things Marxism can relate for example in Wikipedia there are 69 different articles relating to directly from and feasibly thousands from the ideology people may have borrowed from Marxism. Marxism as a whole can cover possibly most of the issues in the 21st century.

Karl Marx influenced a whole range of people such as the working class to whole countries

The theory of Marxism sounds good on paper however it may be a bit to idealistic but it may not be able to happen in reality

Even though there was a recession there has been a growing number of millionaires in the last two years and they were more likely to go state school. [18] 



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