An Evaluation Of Karl Marx’s Idea Of Capitalism

Project and Seminar Material for Philosophy

An Evaluation Of Karl Marx’s Idea Of Capitalism


The history of man shows that people came together at a point in time to form society. The reason for this is for human beings to have a peaceful co-existence, society therefore is a human creation.

How can a society be adjudged as just? These are question yearning for answers and a great concern for political philosophers. The idea of capitalism has it’s origin in the west and it is highly practiced in the Euro-American world.

Capitalism as a principle in a society spread like wild fire that today it is practiced all around the world. On the face value capitalism appears to be nonconsequential as it seems to bring about rapid growth and development in society. But Karl Marx, who is regarded as the father of socialism vehemently, rejects capitalism in all its ramification. For him, capitalism can only be described as exploitative. It is in this light that this study shall evaluate Marx’s idea of capitalism with a view to addressing the above question.

Table of Contents

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Scope of the Study
  • 1.4 Purpose of the Study
  • 1.5 Significance of the Study
  • 1.6 Methodology
  • 1.7 Literature Review
  • Endnotes

Chapter Two:

Karl Marx’s Biography and Conceptual Clarification of Capitalism

  • 2.1.1 Life and Works of Karl Marx
  • 2.1.2 Influence on Karl Marx Political Thought
  • 2.2.1 An Over-View of Capitalism
  • 2.2.2 Fundamental Features of Capitalism
  • Endnotes

Chapter Three:

Karl Marx Conception of Capitalism

  • 3.1 Historical Materialism of Karl Marx
  • 3.2 Dialectical Materialism of Karl Marx
  • 3.3 Analysis of Capitalism in Marx’s Political Thought
  • 3.4 Fundamental Bases of Marx’s Critique of Capitalism
  • 3.4.1 Exploitation
  • 3.4.2 Expropriation
  • 3.4.3 Alienation
  • 3.5 Revolution and the Ideal Marxian State
  • 3.6 Substructures and Superstructure
  • Endnotes

Chapter Four:

Critical Evaluation

  • 4.1 Critical Evaluation of Marx’s Idea of Capitalism
  • 4.2 Conclusion
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography

Chapter One


1.0 Background of Study

Capitalism is an advancement of feudalism. Some basic contradiction or flaws in this system of capitalism, is one that generate and depends on social inequality. What makes capitalism unique is not it’s industrial technology but the very way it organizes interpersonal relations in the work organization.

It is note worthy that the system of capitalism has to do basically with exploitation and alienation and in this sense, Marx held that when the worker’s income, wealth, prestige and power are not equal to those of the owner’s of the means of production then the relationship between the workers and owners of means of production becomes one of exploitation.

Alienation is another great tool of capitalism, were Marx argued that the social interaction between worker’s and owner’s in the organization is alienating, workers are dehumanized and the concept refers both to social situation which people find themselves (alienating work situation) and the perceptions of individuals in those situations (a feeling of being less human).

1.1 Statement of the Problem

The problematic of capitalism lies in its exploitative tendency. What is crucial in this regard is to outline the problems raised by Marx about capitalism in an attempt to do away with the system of capitalism. As listed in the background above, exploitation and alienation are basically what capitalism constitute of. However, with these problem of capitalism Marx sought to proffer a salutation through the form of a revolution.

The problematic here is how to achieve a classless society and have the commonwealth in common. This problem posses great challenge especially in the experimentation of socialism and communism. Another problematic is, can socialism truly be a state of classlessness. In other words we are faced with the problem of removing the divide between the have’s and the have not. Another problem to be looked at critically is that of revolution, will it lead to progress or retrogression.

1.2 Scope of the Study

This essay discusses capitalism in reference to Karl Marx, not withstanding it will also discuss this concept from the perspective of general conception of capitalism. However, it shall also applaud as well as criticize Karl Marx concept of capitalism.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to highlight the conceptualization of capitalism of Karl Marx with the view of showing that the postulation of socialism may not necessarily bring an end to class distinction. In other words this study aim at showing that socialism and communism could be a worse socio-economic and political agreement compare to capitalism.

1.4 Significance of the Study

In line with the purpose of this study, the significance of the study will show that we can not remove capitalism from socio-economic development and growth. Again it will help economic planners and leaders to decide and initiate economic policy that will lead to the growth of the nation’s economy for the benefit of every individual rather than some. In line with the above, the study will serve as a call for government to regulate the practices of capitalism where it has being adopted such that worker’s right are protected. Lastly, the study will serve as an intellectual contribution to the improvement of capitalist and socialist economy in such a way that a synthesis can be reached.

1.5 Methodology

This essay adopts both analytical and critical methods. At the initial stage it shall outline in details the position of Karl Marx on the issue of capitalism as well as his profound solution to the annihilation of capitalism. Progressively it shall criticize Karl Marx’s conception of capitalism.

Chapter Four

Critical Evaluation

4.1 Critical Evaluation of Marx’S Idea of Capitalism

Karl Marx was basically the most important socialist philosopher of the 19th century who had great ideas that influenced many others. Marx pin-pointed the significance of class struggle, he developed a scientific socialism that is based on economic determinism. He was also aware of such evil that results in making workers mere minders of machines.

Marx claimed to have proved the existence of two classes in the society: the bourgeois and the proletariats. Marx intended a classless society in which there would be equality of all persons. But we know that trying to resolve the question of classlessness and equality even in communism is like pursing the wind.

Karl Marx contemporary supporters have argued that alienation is still a problem at large due to the fact that people refuse to adhere to the solution proffered by Marx.1 His postulation of alienation actually did not exhaust modern causes of alienation which Marx actually situated in the workplace. Alienation can also be viewed in the exploitation and expropriation of a peoples resources.

The historical materialism of Marx has been faulted on the ground that there is no justification for his division of history into four period because each period contains several events and where not to be lumped together.
Marx did not provide a medium for the government that emerged after the out come of the dictatoriship of the proletariat. He proffered no solution to the problem of governance but rather he focused on the evil of capitalism.2

There is also the question of why dialectical movement should stop once capitalism has been overthrown. We must also ask the question, why did Marx not imagine a new form of ruling class exploiting the masses in a new form such as the communist party as a ruling class that exploits the masses through its control of state.3 Dialectics can not end with socialism or communism, for by the law dialectics socialism or communism must also contain within it a contradiction that would lead to a better state of affairs.

Marx argued that material misery of the worker increases in capitalism. Against this view economic or material misery has not increased in advanced capitalist world, but on the contrary there has been general increase in the material standard of living. Wage workers have also generally improved their economic conditions and decrease their hours of labour.4

According to Karl Marx exploitation is built into capitalism as an economic system and this increase the chance for revolution. This statement of Marx sounds as a moral judgment or argument about theories of value. It is a moral judgment disguised as an economic statement. The point here is that conditions that may be judged as right or wrong pertaining to exploitation have not yet increased the chances for proletariat revolution in any modern and advanced capitalist society.5

4.2 Conclusion

The importance of Marx’s thought can not be undermined in our present day society even though we may not agree with most of his postulation. Marx intention was to raise human dignity that had become dehumanized in capitalist society. But we must state that capitalism is not all that evil as Marx would want us to believe. What we need to do is to improve on capitalism by trying to correct the abnormality in the system .We can also try to synthesize both capitalism and socialism by harnessing the good in both system.

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