End of Capitalism and Rise of Socialism: Can Marxism Explain the Economy and Society in the United States Today?

Carl Marx believed that there are two major outcomes of prolonged capitalism. The first outcome is the gradual formation of a smaller and wealthier social class (the capitalists). Because the wealth of society continues to accrue to this wealthier class, the increasing wealth of society is controlled by less and less. At the same time, weaker capitalists gradually sink into the lower class of laborers. The second outcome is the alienation of workers. While workers produce more and more wealth, they turn poorer and weaker to the point they become mere commodities.

I don’t think it’s hard to connect the dots here. On one side, forclosures, tanked businesses, lower incomes and wages, lower quality of life. On the other, corporate executives getting billions of dollars in salaries and short term severance packages.

Marx: Capitalism is Self-Negating

Capitalism, Marx said, will eventually eliminate itself. Ultimately, overproduction will lead to economic crisis, falling profits, and increased exploitation of the working class. The proletariat (the working class) will become intolerable of increasingly bad conditions and will revolt. As a result, dictatorship of the proletariat will happen. In the new social order the means of production and property will be socialized and class differences will disappear. We are indeed in an economic crisis—it’s called recession. So, where’s the revolt of the working class? The revolt could be popular vote for Obama. But it is hard to imagine a dictatorship of the proletariat.

Views of Today’s American Politicians Are in Conflict with Traditional American Political Thought

American political thought was (and still is) greatly influenced by John Locke (1632–1704), a political philosopher who developed the idea of natural (inalienable) rights. His thought on the aims and purpose of the state is incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Locke’s theory of property rights (which are the natural rights to property) states that people have equal right to property, but they don’t have right to equal property. Most American people, I believe, would agree with Lock’s ideas on property rights. Money is also property—one that the executive branch took from the U.S. taxpayer and “invested” for the good of all.

Finally, look at the new editorial cartoon for insparation of your comments.

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Comments 8 comments

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Rainmaker, thanks for taking the time to point out the issues we are all facing. Do Americans want a dictatorship of the Proletariat? I don't think so. Ask any person which class he belongs to. They will never tell you that they are part of the proletariat. Ninety percent of Americans identify themselves as "middle class."

It's kind of like asking people about their IQ. Nobody is going to tell you that he is a moron. Instead, they will say: "I'm about average."

rainmakerrain profile image

rainmakerrain 7 years ago from United States Author

Thank you for your comment. I'm not saying that the middle class in America is "the proletariat" in Marxism. I'm just pointing out the similarities between what Marx predicted about capitalist society and the current socioeconomic conditions in the United States--but this again doesn't mean that the outcome of this conditions will be the one Marx predicted.

lori763 profile image

lori763 7 years ago from SWFL

It is similar to a business cycle (boom and bust) except here - after a while people become entitled and forget the freedoms (the bust) that were fought for (e.g. WWII) - they want and expect things to be done for them (losing the entrepreneurial spirit) and will vote in a government that will do things for them instead.

beet 7 years ago

Everyone who has to sell their labor for a wage is a part of the working class. Unless you own private property i.e. the means of production - that which allows you to employ others and accumulate more capital - you are part of the working class. Until the means of production are owned by everyone and controlled democratically there will always be inequality i.e. classes.

Evan G Rogers profile image

Evan G Rogers 6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

A few things: if you pay attention to the Fortune 500's list of wealthiest companies - each year it's different. This shows that Marx is mostly wrong: the wealthiest people do change on a decade-to-decade basis. The people that stay the wealthiest are usually the ones that leech off the government. For example, John D. Rockefeller, no matter the stereotype, helped humankind out a lot by inventing hundreds of uses from a previously undesired gunk that was leftover from the processing of oil. He later mooched off the government and was essential in the creation of the Federal Reserve (mooching off the government).

I don't think that Marx's argument that workers get poorer and poorer is accurate. Looking back through history (i do this in my recent "Evan's Easy Economics: #4 Time Travel") shows us that everyone's real wages goes up - this is why you and I have cars with cd players in them but the first model T was just wheels with seats (in terms of inflation-adjusted money, cars cost about the same!)

It seems that Marx was unable to distinguish between Capitalism (a term that he himself invented) and Corporatism/Mercantilism. Michael Moore makes the same mistake in his recent move "capitalism: a love story".

I also just recently wrote a piece about why Capitalism is inherently better than Socialism from an ethics stand point (i'm sure just about everyone is now saying: "what?! Capitalism CAN'T be better than socialism from an ethical stand point!). Please check it out!

The issue with Locke's argument that people don't have the right to equal right to other people's property - if this were true, we'd have corporatism, where they government takes your property and gives it to other people. Imagine a world where Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and the founders of Google HAD to give up their wealth accumulated from helping the world and give it to people who sit around all day smoking crack. This is why people don't have equal rights to equal property - it would be theft if they did.

Nena  6 years ago

I am sorry people you are all capitalist by virtue that you all contribute to the problem . The next time you buy something that is cheap ask yourself where is this made ---if it wasn't in our country prehaps a person in bondage or a child labourer made it ---Marx and Boudelaire say that we are all (prostitutes) we all give in to the dollar> we can say we will fight capitalism that people are only valued by what they have and own (Middle class ) give your head a shake you are a proletariat you pay land taxes --taxes for every thing even if you work for yourself you still are a commodity. I would be asking yourself how do we change this monster Capitalism!

Ryan 6 years ago

Evan- Your argument is not solid, but your effort is appreciated. I find that most people citing and quoting Marx do so poorly because they aren't able to effectively tie in the intricacies of his argument. Moreso, few understand the underlying notions he is putting forth. For example, you say that over time, 'real wages' actually go up because we have CD players in our cars. Do you understand the notion of 'value' and how it is derived?

Secondly, it's easy to promote the stereotype that the people who aren't in a state of financial comfort are falling short because of their crack smoking habits. Sure, for some this is true, but taking a sample of the few to represent the whole or the many is not the most effective way to present an argument.

I mean, do you happen to be white, born in the suburbs, and a college education that your parents helped to pay for? Stereotyping is a lot of fun isn't it?

Nitpicker 4 years ago

It's Karl Marx, not Carl Marx.

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