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Is Capitalism What Marx Says It Is?

December 8, 2010
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Capitalism has its pros and cons, successes and failures. I believe more in the pros and successes, but do not deny the cons and failures. One major issue with a capitalistic society is the idea of a business cycle and no matter how, the economy finally declines and it always will decline. Yes, it grows to and grows more than the losses that will happen in the future, but those declines are when people lose faith in the capitalistic system. There are many ways the capitalistic system can fail. Just look at present day crashes.

The most recent began because of the housing bubble, mainly because the supply of houses was way to high and value of houses went down and people were not buying new ones and the housing market finally collapsed as construction could not be afforded anymore which led to other issues. This is not something unexpected, but this is something that Carl Marx does a good job at discussing and it is interesting to me that before the real American capitalistic society could really take hold in the final parts of the 19th century up until now, Marx could describe what would happen. Real crashes happened after he described everything.

Marx states, “In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seen an absurdity—the epidemic of overproduction…a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence, industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence…the productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property…by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented” (801).

The overproduction was a major issue during this most recent crisis, which cut off subsistence and destroyed every part of creation in the market, both with industry and commerce. Though we will get through this crisis, the odds are great that in the future, another crash will happen, maybe one that is worse than this one. Also, since the great depression until now, the crashes have not been horrible, but have been getting worse. This was by far one that was going to happen based on Marx’s view that they will get worse and less preventative. People are getting greedier.

3 Comments
  1. December 8, 2010 11:54 AM

    Very provocative post! It seems that your main point can be found in your short last sentence. You stated that, “people are getting greedier,” and, hence, the economic crashes we have seen in history and have experienced in our lifetimes are the result of this greed. But is it really greed that is fueling an increasing gap in social and economic inequality? I have to disagree with you. I think Marx’s explanation is more accurate. I believe that the nature of capitalism is highly correlated with greed and that greed will always be present in a capitalist society. I think the crashes we have seen and experienced in the United States are simply part of Marx’s “cycle”. Eventually, enough economic crisis’ build up and, in turn, the proletariat group get bigger in numbers and eventually revolts against the economic system and the bourgeois. My point here is that it is NOT greed that causes economic turmoil, it is the nature of a system (capitalist) that is gradually wearing down.

  2. darriensherman permalink
    December 9, 2010 12:40 AM

    This is a very thought provoking post. I can’t help but allude to the question whether capitalism will be able to sustain itself within the next couple of centuries. Will we experience another growth like the “cycle” predicts or are we on our way down to poverty? I would have to agree with the previous post that greed is what drives this capitalist system. However, there is no way in telling that a revolt or revolution will take place if the gap between the classes increasingly grows larger.

  3. cwatson872 permalink
    December 9, 2010 1:00 AM

    I think there’s an interesting distinction between Marx as an economist and as a moral theorist. He wouldn’t have necessarily viewed himself as a moral theorist but I think Marxism does more for morality than economics. It’s interesting to see the holes you’ve been able to pull out in terms of his economic theory.

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