Concept Note on Karl Marx

Topics: Socialism, Marxism, Karl Marx Pages: 4 (1255 words) Published: March 12, 2014
A Concept Note on Karl Marx.

In this brief concept note I intend to examine Karl Marx’s key arguments identifying and explaining just 3 of the many important concepts of Marxism. Furthermore I will explore two additional ideas of Marx’s writings by reviewing how they have been criticized by other intellectuals. I will lastly evaluate the relevance and utility of Marx’s theories within a contemporary context and conclude on what my opinions of Marx’s writings are.

To allow me to examine Marx’s argument I have broken it down into 3 key ideas that, when joined together, form a valuable yet shallow overview of Marxism. The first of these is the concept of diametric materialism; this is a theory of economic development history that believes ‘societies all change by passing from different stages and the type of means of production determine these stages’1. Initially, this linear conception of development was thought to be compulsory and that all countries would progress through the 5 societal stages of primitive communism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism and socialism. Marx believed that each passing stage would raise the standard of living for the masses whilst simultaneously possessing inherent conflicts, i.e. the prevention of capitalist development in the Feudalist stage or the alienation of the labour market in Capitalism, which would eventually lead to its downfall.

The concepts of Marxism are diametrically opposed to those of capitalism, and it is here that we find the second key idea that I identified in Marx’s writings. Marx believes that Capitalism is a system based on exploitation, in which class struggles are inevitable. In a labour market, capitalists are motivated by the acquisition of money rather than the need for commodities. They take advantage of their power over labourers by setting wages and working hours to extract maximum labour for minimum cost, selling the products of the workers at a price higher than their true exchange value...

Bibliography: Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967. Print.
Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, Samuel Moore, and Karl Marx. Capital,. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952. Print.
Prychitko, David L. Why Economists Disagree: An Introduction to the Alternative Schools of Thought. Albany: State University of New York, 1998. Print.
Selwyn, B. Karl Marx, Class Struggle and Social Development. ch. 3 The Global Development Crisis. Print.
Marx, K. (1852) The Eighteenth Brumair of Louis Napoleon
Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979. Print.
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