Elitist Approach

Topics: Karl Marx, Marxism, Socialism Pages: 6 (2150 words) Published: February 14, 2013
Marx asserted that the key to understanding human culture and history was the struggle between the classes. He used the term class to refer to a group of people within society who share the same social and economic status (Marx K. and Engels F. 1945). According to Marx, class struggles have occurred in every form of society, no matter what its economic structure, or mode of production: slavery, feudalism, or capitalism. In each of these kinds of societies, a minority of people own or control the means of production, such as land, raw materials, tools and machines, labour, and money. This minority constitutes the ruling class. The vast majority of people own and control very little. They mainly own their own capacity to work. The ruling class uses its economic power to exploit workers by appropriating their surplus labour. In other words, workers are compelled to labour not merely to meet their own needs but also those of the exploiting ruling class. As a result, workers become alienated from the fruits of their labour (Marx K. and Engels F. 1945).

Marx perceived a class struggle raging between the bourgeoisies or capitalists who controlled the means of production, and the proletariat, or industrial workers. In their view, the bourgeoisie appropriated wealth from the proletariat by paying low wages and keeping the profits from sales and technological innovation for themselves. The central focus of Marx’s economic theory is the labour theory of value. According to Marx, the value of a good is determined by the quantity of labour required to produce it. The labour theory of value is in direct contrast to capitalist assumptions, which hold that productive value is a function of labour plus three additional factors; land (raw materials), capital and management (such as machinery and tools) generally placed a part in the production of goods. Since capital is nothing more than “stored-up labour” (that is, labour that had been used in inventing and constructing machines, tools and assembly lines) the only value capital contributes is determined by the proportion of labour required to eventually replace it. Marx valued capital less (R.H. Popkin and A. Stroll, 1989).

Since only human labour contributes to the value of a product, the total value of a commodity is equal to the total wage cost involved in its production. Within a capitalist system, however, the cost of a good always exceeds paid wages. The reason for this is that the employer, by virtue of his superior economic position, is able to obtain the full services of workers without paying them fully for the value of their productivity. Wage costs, in other words, are always less than the value of goods produced. Marx called the difference between the two surplus values; it represents the value created by the labourer but appropriated by the employer. Since the ownership of a factory or business firm could not itself contribute to the value of production, any surplus value generated by a business manager represented the illegitimate appropriation of wealth by the bourgeoisie from the proletariat. Surplus value (profit), in other words, is a measure of the exploitation in society. This resulted into class consciousness which led to the people retaliating with their masters (R.H. Popkin and A. Stroll, 1989).

The newly revised minimum wage has been an issue to most investors and companies. This issue has been a source of concern to ignite the fire. Today almost all companies or institutions are complaining to adhere to the demand. This has resulted in civil protests to implement the revised policy of the general workers; hence this is a clear manifestation of the class theory orchestrated by Karl Marx. According to Marx “class consciousness" refers to the workers' general resentment and feeling of being systematically cheated by the boss, where any aggressive action from complaining to industrial sabotage is viewed as evidence. Class consciousness is essentially the...

Bibliography: Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Wright Mills C. 1962, The Marxists, New York, p.115.
Lukacs G. 1971, History and Class Consciousness, trans. Rodney Livingstone ;Cambridge Mass.
Marx K. and Engels F. 1945, The Communist Manifesto, trans. Samuel Moore, Chicago.
Nicholaus M. 1969, "The Unknown Marx," The New Left Reader; Carl Oglesby, New York.
Popkin R. H. And Stroll A. 1989, Philosophy, Heinmann, Made Simple Books.
Wolpe 's H. 1970 "Some Problems Concerning Revolutionary Consciousness," The Socialist Register; London, Miliband R. and Saville J.
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