Does Capitalism, in theory, exploit workers? Why/why not? Give evidence both from Marx’s text AND from your own independent research.
Capitalism is a system based on exploitation. “Exploitation is the use of someone or something in an unjust or cruel manner.” Mostly it is used to refer economic exploitation that is, using another person’s labor without offering them adequate compensation. According to Karl Marx, a German economist and social theorist, Marxist theory states capitalist class as an exploitative entity and focuses on exploitation done by large sections of society. According to Marxian economics, exploitation refers to the “subjection of producers (the proletariat) to work for passive owners (bourgeoisie) for less compensation than is equivalent to the actual amount of work done.” The workers or the proletarian is forced to sell his labor power, not a set quantity of labor, and gets back a wage in order to survive and the capitalist gather the surplus value of their labor.
The kinds of exploitation described by other theories are usually called "super-exploitation"—exploitation that goes beyond the normal standards of exploitation prevalent in capitalist society. While other theories emphasize the exploitation of one individual by an organization (or vice versa), the Marxist theory is primarily concerned with the exploitation of an entire segment or class of society by another. In Das Kapital, Karl Marx argued that greater the freedom of market, there will be greater the power of capital and hence will result in greater scale of exploitation. The main problem is related to structural context in which the free markets operate. And the solution proposed is to abolish capitalism, and replacing it with socialism initially and after a certain period of time converting it into communism. “In the Marxist view, "normal" exploitation is based in three structural characteristics of capitalist society: The ownership of the means of production by a small minority in society, the capitalists; the inability of non-property-owners (the workers, proletarians) to survive without selling their labor-power to the capitalists (in other words, without being employed as wage laborers); The state, which uses its strength to protect the unequal distribution of power and property in society.” Because of these things, workers do not have any option left but to pay their surplus value to the capitalists in order to survive. They always have unemployment factor keeping them down. “In brief, the profit gained by the capitalist is the difference between the value of the product made by the worker and the actual wage that the worker receives; in other words, capitalism functions on the basis of paying workers less than the full value product of their labor.” The surplus value goes to the capitalist as profit. The capitalist has not contributed anything to the labor process, and therefore this is a form of parasitism. Profit is the unpaid wages of the working class. According to my understanding of Marx’s theory and concepts, the first classes exist and then, every now and again, one class exploits the other. It is also the case that Marx’s concept of exploitation differs fundamentally from what it is the dominant conception in our society. According to the dominant conception exploitation is either mainly a thing of the past – examples such as child labor was exploited in the Industrial Revolution – or exists today only by way of exception , practiced by rogue employers who pay especially low wages. For Marx, however, exploitation is the norm not the exception. Even relatively well paid workers employed by so-called ‘good’, even ‘generous’ employers are, nevertheless, exploited. Exploitation is inherent in the capitalist wage labor relation. The employers and their supporters argue on this by saying that when we employ workers it is a fair exchange, wages for work, and a voluntary contract freely entered into by both parties....
Cited: 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique_of_capitalism
Please join StudyMode to read the full document