The economic manuscript of Karl Marx was written in 1847. In this manifesto, Marx, a diehard philosopher takes a different turn and focuses on the ideologies of work and the working conditions. He together with Friedrich Engels starts out a campaign to end such alienation of workers. Marx points out that the era has a character of being in two distinct classes that is the bourgeoisie and the proletariats. The bourgeoisie is the rich private property owners who use laborers to make wealth for their own good. The proletariats are the workers who have to give up their working powers and a sense of self-worth in working hard to earn a decent living. Unfortunately, they end up in the hands of capitalists who make them do hard labor but pay them poorly.
This type of hard work and less pay makes the worker feel alienated and discriminated against. He then starts relating to his produce as an object. This alienation also makes the laborer hostile towards himself and toward the capitalist. They eventually lose self-identity and worth. The era also moves from socialist to communist. Socialism is the era when the state took full control of the distribution of goods to the members of society. Communism on the other hand is the epoch in which the state has actually faded away and everyone has the right to own property. Marx joins a group called the International Association for workers, which aimed at fighting socialism. They wanted a classless society. They fight for a society where workers are paid rightly for the work they do. Marx wants to ensure that there is equality in property allocation. He wants to see a world in which even laborers are able to be property owners and those who cannot own property are paid well for their labor.
The Life and Times of the Author
Karl Marx is widely known as a German social philosopher and the originator of modern socialism and communism. From birth, he was known as Karl Heinrich Marx and was born in Trier Germany on the fifth of May in 1818 to a normal middle-class Jewish family (Burt, 2001). His father was an advocate who overwhelmingly supports the philosophy of enlightenment. Marx’s parents converted to Lutheranism when he was a little boy to save the family from the discrimination that Prussian Jews faced at that time. Marx’s father took him through a rich secular form of education from where he came across Freiher Ludwig von Westphalen, a Prussian wise man who later became his mentor. He talked about many topics with Ludwig including famous philosophical and literary people of their time.
Marx continued with his education and proceeded to take a course in law and Bonn and Berlin universities respectively. While at these institutions, he developed great influenced by the Hegelian philosophies and admired the Hegelian philosophers as well. However, he was more interested in the study of philosophy, and therefore, he later on changed to the study of philosophy at Jena and graduated with a Ph.D. in 1841 (Gradesaver, 2014). He wanted a profession in education but his ardent political support did not allow him to secure a position as a lecturer in any of the universities. He instead turned to journalism and became a radical politician, attracting many Prussians.
Initially as a supporter of materialism and demanded crucial changes in the way things were done when he was editing the Reinische Zeitung magazine the magazine was burned later in 1843, due to its politically incorrect reports (Burt, 2001). This closure infuriated Marx and he decided to move to Paris with his wife. At this time, Paris was known internationally to be an active center for politics, art, and a social meeting place for activists and revolutionaries from various parts of Europe. While here Marx becomes an active socialist and met Friedrich Engels who turn to socialism after he observed the pathetic and poor conditions of his father’s laborers, who worked in the textile industry (Tester, 2002).
Together they decided to come up with ideas that lead to the evolution of proletarian socialism better known as communism. He promoted communism with the aim of addressing the injustices and appalling working situations found in the labor force. Marx was not happy with the way factory owners and other people treated their workers (Gradesaver, 2014). He observed that the laborers worked so hard but earned so little under deplorable conditions, while the employers gained so much and cared less about the safety and well–being of the works.
Citing antiroyalist writing, the Prussian government exiled Marx from France in 1845. He then went to Berlin in Germany where he continues to promote the philosophies of communism by joining a group of artists known by the name Communist League. This group accepted Marx and Engel and asked them in 1847 to write down a statement detailing their beliefs and aims for communism (Gradesaver, 2014). This manuscript was later referred to as the communist manifesto. Marx had written this manifesto in anticipation of the 1848 communist revolution. The revolution finally came and Marx did his best to encourage its progress in Germany but to no avail.
After the failure of the long-awaited communist revolution, Marx moved to London where he lives with his wife (Gradesaver, 2014). He then got a breakthrough in his wait when the French came to Europe to spread socialism to most countries of the continent. He joined the group called the international working person’s association and delivered his first speech at the inaugural ceremony and made clear his intentions to become the leader of the group. They fought for a free working environment in which workers would take charge of their pay. This turned into massive bloodshed and the group was dissolved. Marx also became known for his publication known as Das Kapital (Burt, 2001). His main aim as stated earlier was to ensure that the common worker got what they rightfully deserved; that is better pay and better working conditions. When all this failed, Marx moved to London, where he stayed until his death in 1883 still awaiting the much-anticipated rise of the revolution.
The economic and philosophical manuscript of Karl Marx talks about socialism and communism. The work entailed in the manuscript mainly seeks to address the labor force and the nature of labor during these times. Karl Marx was known to be an activist who fought against poor working conditions and unfair treatment of workers. In this piece of work, the term socialism refers to a point in the Marxism theory that lies between capitalism and communism (Beuzekom, 2012). This era is marked by inequalities in the allocation of goods and labor pay based on the amount of work done. In socialism, the allocation of goods and labor pay is controlled by the state. Communism on the other hand is the last stage in the Marxism theory. According to this period, the rule of the states has waned away and goods are equally distributed among laborers and factory owners.
In this manuscript, Marx widely expresses his interest in the state of the economy concerning labor and wealth distribution. He intends to fight the classification of people based on class. It is apparent that during this time, the state was composed of two classes. Those who owned proper and the property fewer works (Sparknotes, 2014). In this division, the workers suffer impoverishment and are alienated from the rest of the world in with the property owners exist. The alienation occurs because the worker becomes hostile to himself or herself because he relates to his own produce as an object. These situations make the worker put himself and his life in the object and the rest of his hard work is devoted to the object (Tester, 2002). However, because the worker does not enjoy the fruits of his labor, which according to capitalism should actually belong to him, the more he produces the more he becomes alienated.
This worker becomes more estranged because everything he produces s used by outside that he does not belong to. Thus, the produce goes to the property owner while the property–less works remain with absolutely nothing after sweating to make the produce. He learns to retreat to a world of objects, which he creates but does not possess in any way. The worker’s class and the property owners’ class do not meet and live a distance and very separate lives with the property owners becoming rich while the workers become poorer (Sparknotes, 2014). This is the socialism era that Marx abhorred so much and he wanted such categorization of society and state based on class to end. Marx did not like the way the state alienated workers and distributes factory and farm produce. This is because they were not economical but instead were so biased towards the worker who did much of the job.
The alienation of the worker came in four categories. The first type was the discrimination or alienation from the product that came as a result of their hard work. Thus, the worker was exempted from enjoying the fruits of his labor. This type of estrangement ensured that the worker did not benefit from his produce. In fact, t the more he worked, the less he gained from the produce. The second type of discrimination saw the workers being alienated from the production activities (Sparknotes, 2014).
This means that no matter how hard they worked, the workers did not take part in the production process. In this type of alienation, the work that the laborer undertakes does not belong to him. Instead, it is a means of survival that the worker is coerced to carry out for another person. Thus, the working activity of the worker does not originate from within him spontaneously a natural action of being creative but instead occurs outside of him thereby indicating self-loss. This means that the worker does not find or feel any sense of self-worth in the production activities and this is why the worker feels like an object in the production process.
The third type of alienation refers to the discrimination from human identity also called discrimination of species being. In everything the worker does, the activity should not be an end to itself but the activities in his life should be meant for physical existence. Marx believes that work creates a life process for human beings. He believes that the procedure of transforming organic matter or raw materials into finished products (goods) forms the core identity of humankind. This manifesto seeks to clarify the human beings are what they do, their act of changing nature into objects through practical activity. Unfortunately, in the modern method of private ownership and division of labor, the worker is denied the privilege of enjoying a source of identity and human species.
The fourth type of discrimination is the type in which workers are alienated from other workers. This is also called man-to-man discrimination. The worker regards the capitalists or the person who owns the worker’s production as alien and hostile (Engels & Marx, 2008). He, therefore, feels discriminated against and detached from the entire world. The worker feels separated from and opposed toward the whole classification of private property through which the capitalist utilizes both the objects of production for his own satisfaction. The capitalists do this at the expense of the worker and the worker’s sense of recognition and wholeness as a human being. According to Marx, the capitalist misused the worker’s abilities and efforts by making them do hard labor with poor or no pay (Engels & Marx, 2008). The capitals had but little or no respect for workers the denying them the right to many opportunities and alienated them based on their classifications.
Marx and Engels (2008) state in the manuscript called the communist manifesto that 1840 had the societies grouped into two distinct classless the bourgeoisie and the proletariats. Marx says that these two strata of the society sat opposite each other in great differences. The bourgeoisie were the property and industry owners who used the laborers for their own gain. They owned both the laborer and the products from the industries. They lived better lie and controlled the distribution of goods within the society. The proletariats on the other hand were a class of workers who did not own any property or factory. They worked hard to enrich the bourgeoisie but did not earn anything (Engels & Marx, 2008). They were alienated from their hard labor and were used to the maximum without any better pay. They also lived in deplorable conditions in utter poverty.
Since the proletariats had, no means and ways of producing their own goods turned to sell their labor power in order to earn a living. The most unfortunate occurrence was that their labor power was poorly rewarded and the industry owners to make gains for them used them. Marx believed that if such working conditions for laborers continued to exist, the alienation of the worker from his work would make a person be uncoordinated with his normal world in which he believes (Engels & Marx, 2008). He further explains his ideology that alienation results from the way human beings value their own labor.
Marx has revealed himself in this manuscript as a great philosopher of work, who fights against maltreatment of laborers. He sees work as an avenue that is used for converting raw materials into objects of quality that can be used by many. Marx points out that the process of production (work) is very vital in a human being’s life (Sparknotes, 2014). This is because work gives a personal identity and self-worth within the world in which he lives. He follows up by criticizing capitalism, which he says undermines labor as a source of identity and allocation. This is because capitalism is hallmarked by the act of private property ownership which is only guaranteed to the factory owners.
Capitalism also ensures that workers without property surrender their labor in exchange for earning a living. That is, they have to work for factory owners so that they can earn a livelihood. The workers also end up handing over their identity as human beings, their self-worth, and productive abilities to the factory owners, who are the wealthy capitalists (Engels & Marx, 1888). The era of capitalism really undermined and mistreated the worker to a greater degree. The capitalist used their wealth to the disadvantage of the workers. This kind of discrimination is not just overwhelmingly frustrating and unsatisfying to the worker but it also turns him against the capitalists and the method of private property ownership that is the origin of their aggravation.
Within the capitalist society, human necessities were characterized by the system of private ownership. Instead of the common need for food, clothing, and shelter, human beings required money (Engels & Marx, 1888). Furthermore, capitalism ensures that there are differences in the needs of the different social classes that exist within the capitalist community.
Importance and Legacy
Karl Marx is seen to have put a fierce fight against the segregation of societies based on class. The importance of this manuscript is clear in the way it describes the poor working conditions of the worker in the 1800s. This is a few of the works of philosopher that attempts to bring an end to the alienation of the worker. In this piece of work, Marx aims at influencing the workers in society to stand up for their rights and fight for better rewards of their labor. Marx brings out the fact that capitalists are using and alienating workers for their own enrichment (Engels & Marx, 1888). He brings out the point that capitalists do not care about their work and make them lose their human identity and self-worth while working for them.
The manuscript is important in that it was written at a congregation attended by the ten-day’s human activists. Even though it was not a total success in 1847, the ideologies of Marxism are clear in this era. Most organizations have a better pay scale for their employees. Most people in the era of today do not have to work hard for meager salaries. As time went by, some laborers were able to become property owners. Industries are now owned and controlled by the government and some are still privately controlled. There is no distribution of goods and services unfairly by the state. Things have greatly changed in the history of the economy despite the fact that some private and public employers still pay meager salaries and wages to their employers.
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