Carnegie v. Marx

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Communism Pages: 6 (1202 words) Published: April 21, 2014
Andrew Carnegie v. Karl Marx
Andrew Carnegie was the epitome of the “self-made man.” Karl Marx has been dubbed “the father of communism.” Carnegie was a capitalist at heart, while Marx strongly believed in socialist and communist ideals. These men are clashing opposites, yet both men share several points in common. But when it comes to Carnegie’s and Marx’s stances on distribution of wealth and role of government in the economy, their views are on both ends of the spectrum. I believe Carnegie’s and Marx’s economic and social circles influenced their theories.

Carnegie was born in Scotland during 1835 and immigrated to the U.S. with his family, at a young age. When he started working in the U.S. he was at the bottom: a cotton mill worker. Several years later he started working for a telegraph company, which paid better than the mill. Two years later, Thomas A. Scott (President of the Pennsylvania Railroad) hired Carnegie to be his assistant, for a substantial increase in pay. With the right friends and advice, Carnegie rose to the top. Being a true capitalist, Carnegie took advantage of the need for steel based products during the Civil War (Jacobus). As Jacobus states, “. . . in 1892 the Carnegie Steel Company, [was] one of the largest in the nation” (482). Carnegie received little education when he was younger. Now that he had the resources, he furthered his education and published several works. His most famous work was “The Gospel of Wealth”. In “The Gospel of Wealth”, he explains why capitalism is good for society and the advancement of the human race. He also states that the wealthy have an obligation to give back. Carnegie sold his company in 1901, for an unbelievable amount of money. Towards the end of his life Carnegie, gave away hundreds of millions of dollars towards public services. Carnegie’s donation went to funding/building universities, the construction of, thousands of, public libraries, music halls, building church organs, and retirement funds for his workers. Carnegie died in 1919 (Jacobus).

Karl Marx was born in Germany during 1818. Unlike Carnegie, Marx received education early in his life and studied at a university, until earning a degree in philosophy. Marx applied for a job at the university, but was not accepted. After this rejection, Marx became a journalist. He spent time travelling throughout Europe. After a while, Marx immigrated to a new country with his family, like Carnegie. But instead of the U.S., Marx immigrated to England. Carnegie was a wealthy business man, while Marx was a poverty stricken scholar. According to Jacobus,” his friend Friedrich Engels contributed money to prevent Marx and his family from starving” (219). Carnegie and his work were well known throughout his life, but on the other hand Marx’s work and ideas were not well known, until after his death in 1883. Marx’s most popular work is “The Communist Manifesto”. “The Communist Manifesto” is a three part book, which expresses Marx’s socialist theory on the social structure, economy, and government. While Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth had few followers, Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” fueled the Russian Revolution in 1917 (Jacobus).

Carnegie was completely at ease with the distribution of wealth during the 1800s and the 1900’s. At that time a small few held the majority of wealth while the majority of citizens lived in poverty. Carnegie was also okay with the inequality of wealth, in fact he advocated for it. As he states, “ We accept and welcome, therefore, as conditions to which we must accommodate ourselves, great inequality of environment, the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of few, and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential for the future progress of the race” (487). He believed that capitalism advanced the race, and therefore the inequality of wealth was necessary.

Marx on the other hand disagreed with this point of view. He believed...

Cited: Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. 1848. A World of Ideas. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/st. Martin’s 2002. 222-242. Print.
Carnegie, Andrew. “The Gospel of Wealth.” 1889. A World of Ideas. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2013. 481-495. Print.
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