Categorized as the father of communism, Karl Marx shared many beliefs as an economist, journalist, theorist and most importantly a philosopher. As a fellow Hegelian, Marx believed in the dialectical method, the thought of implementing a new idea with an old one to create a new principle. His critique that dialectics should not accept the world of metaphysical but the world of production justifies his exploitation of social classes and their struggles. Many of Marx’s writings focus on the economic substructure of society. This substructure arbitrates the ideology of religion, economics, morality, and legal structures such as the government and political figures. Marx argues that society’s framework is designed to keep the bourgeoisie rich and the proletariat poor. The alienation of these two classes predetermines their place in the economic substructure; separating human beings and material objects through the relations of production- beginning the creation of capitalism. Capitalism creates a society where the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, own the forces of production including laborers and the factories used. The working class also known as the proletariat, create goods for these owners and are exploited for use of their labor and time. Marx essentially believes this type of system should be abolished or overthrown through a revolution created by the people. In Marx’s eyes, capitalism isn’t essential to a society who doesn’t participate equally. Karl Marx depicts how humans as a whole produce their own way of living to be sustainable for themselves and others. This idea falls under the division of labor, as individuals have to be skilled in all aspects of creation; to be able to make essential necessities for life. During the Middle Ages, labor was a crucial part of living and the skill would be passed down from father to son.
In the Preface to the First German Edition and Capital, Volume One, an introduction to the Capital, Marx’s’ depicts and pulls apart what “Capitalism” really means as he analyzes Capitalist methods. Societies present themselves as an “immense accumulation of commodities.” These so-called commodities are resources that people rely on in more ways than one. The commodities can be used in various ways as well. Marx looks at commodities, as “a total abstraction from use-value.” The use-value of a commodity is basically the use you can get out of the resource itself; how much it takes to make it useful. It requires less labor to create a commodity, therefore, the value of that resource decreases. For example, within a category of commodity, one resource can be substituted for another with similar results. Examples of commodities, in a more common sense, include sugar, wheat, gold, and oil along with a whole number of other products. Use-value then interacts with exchange values. The exchange values of commodities must be capable of being expressed in terms of something common to them all, of which thing they represent a greater or less quantity. Exchange value is the only form in which the value of commodities can manifest itself or be expressed. This acts as the base of Capitalism leading into the division of labor. The division of labor is highly important to protect the uses of commodities Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. Under a capitalist society, many skilled workers are displaced and forced them into less skilled, lower-paying positions. These people are no longer looked at as actual intellectual beings. In a vulnerable way, they must now adapt to being used and discarded as interchangeable objects and looked as a number.
As human beings Marx believed that we are created in a sense that we are able to live in a productive and united environment, inclining that humans produce everyone’s necessities. Marx analyzes how humans produce their needs and furthermore, trade their products. This extension falls under the separation of production and commerce. Through the creation of products, people fall under the division of labor as they try to sell their products. Each person who falls under this construct has a social role, or occupation to take on. Marx also points out that from the division of labor, humans begin to rely on the production of other peoples goods. These production and social relations are determined by the level of productive forces, essentially being the mode of production. The main mode of production that Marx analyzes is Capitalism. Capitalism involves the means of production, supply, and demand, commerce negotiation and trade. Essentially, it’s all about controlling the resources that go into products. These resources are capital, and the overall goal of capitalism is to exploit these resources for the owner’s benefit. In Marx’s case, capitalism is based on the bourgeoisie and the working class. For example. The bourgeoisie owns the means of production, while the working class exploits most of their time working, to obtain money and make a living. These wealthy higher ups own all the factories and land while the working class trades their social relationships in efforts to make money. The only way to remove this cycle of living is by “remov[ing] the abolition of private property and of labor itself” (179). He believes that we have already indicated several times how this subsuming of individuals under the class brings with it their subjection to all kinds of ideas.
Alienation is a consistent troubling factor in the means of production; isolating the user from outer experiences and the world around them. The idea behind alienation stems from early capitalism, where laborers lacked a sense of identity from the products they produced. The Marx-Engels Reader suggests:
“…only since the introduction of machinery has the workman fought against the instrument of labour itself, the material embodiment of capital. He revolts against this particular form of the means of production, as being the material basis of the capitalist mode of production” (Tucker 411).
Exploited by unions, capitalism was based on the concept of making full use laborers, eliminating all natural relationships, and making sure the products created were at the forefront of their system. This enduring process ironically turned laborers into resources themselves, making them commodities, offering themselves as a resource to continue their mechanistic process. People may have the freedom to make their own decisions and form their own ideas, however through the process of manipulation and exploitation, decisions are imposed on people they seem to believe what is presented in front of them. The mind believes what it wants. According to The Marx-Engels Reader,
“…for only mind is the true essence of man, and the true form of mind is thinking mind, the logical, speculative mind” (Tucker 111).