From Das Kapital to Today: Understanding Marx’s Vision of Economic Organization [Opinion]

Marxism is a theory typically based on arguments relating to capitalism and communism while focusing on the economic structure of a society.

Karl Marx was a German philosopher and father of sociology who devoted his life to the rights of the proletariat class. He illustrates a perspective of the lower class and their contribution to the economic organization of a society.

Marx in his earlier works in Das Kapital establishes the principle of modes of production and then defines the ideology of materialism. This article will now examine the theory of Marxism and link the theory with the notion of developments in society while focusing on the economic structure in our society with the works of Karl Marx and Engle

Karl Marx was inspired by the German philosopher Hegel, who correlated materialism with idealism. According to him the concept of dialectic materialism deals with the factual knowledge of reality stating how any concept in the real world will be applicable, as seen Philosophy is never related to reality as it deals with emotions rather than facts.

Hence the theory of Marxism rotates around the area of law known as historical materialism and a different theory of dialectical materialism. Firstly, the work of dialectical materialism which was a philosophical approach towards reality adopted by Marx.

He states how there are three stages defined which rely on the concept of senses while opposing idealism. This theory was written down in “Revolutionary Philosophy of Marxism” by John Peterson. Hegel in this area explains a cycle of thesis and antithesis that revolves around this theory, he states the never-ending process of forming a thesis which turns into an antithesis and then a synthesis whereas it spins again like in a loop.

The first approach by Karl Marx was towards the primitive community as it departed from the principle of modes of production e.g., seen in earlier times through the rule of tribe chiefs in order to use the members of the tribe as a mode of production.

Secondly the slave state, in this, Marx illustrates how it is when the slaves were bought and sold or used as labor creating mode of production. After the rise of feudalism, the power conferred to them gave a powerful rule towards the slaves hence they were used as a force of production to forcefully grab lands or have control over a land.

After feudalism departed from the concept of capitalism, as explained by Marx in his famous work Manifesto and Das Kapital the capitalists used communism in order to gain surplus from them whereas this becomes the relation of forces of production and mode of production.

The recent departure of socialism highlighted by Karl Marx that capitalism will by time destroy itself, is a good example of socialism, socialism became the antithesis of capitalism while favoring a utopian society.

Here Pashukanis favours the socialist system while putting into consideration the relationship of master and slave. He concludes the idea of proletariat dictatorship where he states the period of transition from capitalism to communism, he supports the idea of Joseph Weydenegen (who developed the ideology of proletariat dictatorship). He declared this concept in his last work known as the Gotham program which was published after his death.

The principle of historical materialism was established by Engels in his famous writing Herr Eugen where he explained all the stages of historical development in a society relating to economic change. In this theory, he defines the mode of production explained in Volume 1 of Das Kapital where Marx states how firstly the forces of production are the workers or laborers working in the factory where the factory and its owners are the relations of production, both state a relationship of profit and loss.

Historical materialism was itself related to the materialistic approach towards a society where Marx and Engels both state “how a man’s necessity is to provide for himself as the world and society at large runs on material and does not run-on philosophy of God and untouched forces”. Historical materialism itself does apply the logic of dialectical materialism, where it states how the mode of production is the only source of the running of a society.

In my opinion, his views towards proletariat dictatorship are quite unacceptable as in this modern society there can be no such thing as dictatorship of the communist group.

Karl Marx now defines the concept of alienation of workers, here he states how the capitalists in our society alienate the proletariat class, by using labor as a source of producing surplus for the bourgeoisie, he later states this concept in his work Das Kapital where he established different elements of Marxism where commodity and surplus are interrelated and the force of production the proletariat are alienated.

The economic structure is defined with two categories, firstly the economic base which consists of both the forces of production and the relation of production and secondly, the superstructure which resides at the surface of the society dealing with religion, law, socialism, race, and etc. this shows how every aspect of society makes the economic base (interrelated).

The next step towards this was the German ideology, Immanuel Kant as explained earlier was the father of German idealism he states how a man’s duty is to fulfil his desires and needs also stated in his theory of Kantianism.

“Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life,” a quite debatable quotation by Kant states how a man reproduces himself through labor whereas shifting from proletariat to bourgeois is his own duty, this concept is somewhat linked to individualism. Idealism comes in many faces, as stated by Engels in his theory how there are false ideologies having a veil by the higher statuses causes an illusion known as false consciousness.

Althusser narrates Karl Marx’s dogma while establishing his neo-Marxist ideology on two elements, ideological state apparatus and repressive state apparatus, here he defines the roles pre-set by the state for each individual class with a restriction by law which does not develop any sort of socialism however with the help of unity among the proletariat, there can be a change as to what Marx referred as a utopian state.

However, Lenin on the other hand uses an optimistic approach towards Marxism and states once the rule of capitalists is challenged and crushed then from that certain point the law is used for constructing a society led by proletariats.

It could be seen in the African cotton subsidy; the role of the United States is considered to be no more than that of a capitalist hindering the works of the proletariat class. The issue of American overproduction has caused a great fall in the cotton industry in Africa where the poor farmers are the ones suffering to a great extent. It was seen how Marx illustrated the enforcement of international global law as a mere veil on the communist society making it look fair and just for the world however in reality it is nothing but a delusion.

It can be concluded how Marxist views relate the theory focusing on the modes of production while establishing the inequality faced within the economic organization by forces of production towards the mode of production while favoring the utopian state and considering this as a last stage of development in economic history. However, the ideology behind Marx’s theory never applies in the real world as it initiates a further debate among the upper class of society.

As mentioned in “Images of Law” welfare laws are the ones made by the bourgeoisie putting a false consciousness towards the proletariat class. In my opinion, all this philosophy relating to communism is printed by the poor proletariat in a factory, where the factory gains its surplus value from their work, a work which illustrates the rights and equality of all classes becomes a source of income for the factory owners. Is this how we treat the works of our well-known economists and philosophers?


About Author: This opinion piece has been written by Islamabad-based Barrister, Shayan Wadood.

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