The Contradictions Of Marxism

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Marxism refers to the body of ideas first worked out by Karl Marx. These ideas shape a theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to a higher form of human society (Sewell et al., 2008). Capitalism on the other hand, is the social structure that emerges on the basis of the social relationship between the consumers and the sellers of labour power (Ritzer, 2000). This essay will discuss the preconditions for capitalism, which include: commodities, surplus value and labour power. The contradictions of capitalism such as; alienation, exploitation and the decline in human development and will also be discussed, as well as contemporary examples of these found in South Africa. Karl Marx was one of the first people to criticize the capitalist…show more content…
One of the pre conditions for capitalism is commodities. Capitalism was the only economic form where the majority of the products were produced as commodities (Ritzer, 2000). A commodity is a useful object or thing that is produced, not for immediate consumption by the producer, but for the specific purpose of exchange with other consumers using a medium of exchange such as money (Ritzer, 2000). As the majority of products were produced to make commodities in this manner, satisfaction of needs was no longer important nor was it the aim of the capitalist. Production now took on the sole objective to produce items for the purpose of exchange and for the subsequent acquisition of profit. In capitalism there is an impersonal social relationship where commodities are bought without knowing who has produced them and how (Ritzer,…show more content…
Exploitation refers to the taking advantage of vulnerable workers. As stated before, workers are virtually seen a commodity (Best, 2003). By exploitation, Marx means that workers are not paid their ‘true’ value for their labour-power (Best, 2003). Workers add value to the commodities that they produce but they are only paid a small fraction of the value that they have added to the production process (Best, 2003). This labour power is the only commodity that is paid for only after it is consumed (Sewell et al., 2008). This exploitation can ultimately lead to loss of wages through the workers being cheated out of their true value (Sewell, et al., 2008). An example of exploitation in South Africa is the recent controversy surrounding the Marikana mines. This controversy resulted in what is known as the ‘Marikana Massacre’. The reason for the protests and strikes was as a result of dissatisfaction among the mineworkers. Miners felt that the mines owners, Lonmin, were exploiting them. These feelings came about because of the huge discrepancies between the high profits earned by the owners when compared with the low wages of the workers. There was also talk of ill treatment of workers who were forced to work in dangerous, poor working conditions (Business Report, 2012). It can therefore be seen that as exploitation increases, so too does the resistance of the proletariat increase resulting in conflict
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