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Essay/Term paper: Smith and marx

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Religion

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A.Smith& K.Marx -The role of individual- The task of political economy, Marx argued, was to understand all the presumptions within productive and social relations which made social life in a given form possible at a particular time.(Peterson,17). In some nations, as Hobbes states, the lives of the poor are "nasty,brutish and short", by contrast in other nations , the poor do better within same levels of wealth. The aim of political economy is to understand the processes that produce these differences. The two historical figures that analyzed capitalism were A.Smith and K.Marx. Their philosophy differ in the way each viewed the human conditions and the role of the individual. It could be argued that history has shown Smith to be right and Marx to be wrong but the fact is that each of these men understood capitalism on different terms although both had similar material aims. The main difference between Marx's and Smith's thoughts is found in the values that each concerned. Smith suggested that the economic process can be forever unchangeable in its natural stage as individuals seek their own advantages.If people are left free they will try to improve the quality of their lives.This can be achieved in two ways : by individual effort or at someone else's expense. Most individuals will search for or make something that others will pay for rather than live at someone else's expense. On the other hand, Marx noticed a growing consciousness among the working class of society which he believed was formed by economic development and that would create a transformation of the whole social system: He asserts that "it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence , but their social existence that determines their existence.At a certain stage of development , the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production...Then begins the era of social revolution ." (Marx,140) Marx is talking about consciousness and the development of the society.He believes that the wealth produced by the industrial system develops the introspective thought in all people, more importantly among working class. The individual comes to a self-realization through creative labor and develops a self -identity through relations with other members of the society . He considers the potential for intellectual growth as a way to take society to a new level of equality.(Everling,16) For Marx the most basic human needs have to do with recognition of oneself in the products of labor..Through material labor and the labor that involves them in social relations, humans create their environments.Through their activities, the world becomes a place where humans can live and feel secure.Since one can have a place through activities, his individuality based upon how creative he is. Marx believes that in his society labor activity is not a pain since one class isn't forced to work for the other. Thus, for Marx the needs and capacities of labor are universal. Activities of people determine how they develop their capacities and the society determines the result of these activities. For Marx, human nature is changeable and that new social conditions create new kinds of individuals. So, Marx disagrees with the fact that capitalism is inevitable because it is formed of basic human desires. Marx would argue that capitalist society itself creates those desires. Because humans create the social and natural environment and as a result improve themselves during this process, they become historical beings. They have the power to decide their future and change things. In fact, the ability to control one's future and develop in the process is how Marx describes freedom. His freedom is positive on one hand and social on the other. It focuses on the capability of activity, many of which are social and therefore can be appreciated without other individuals.(Moon,8-10) In order to understand Marx's human nature, we have to take a close look at alienation. The basis of his argument is that capitalism alienates humans from their essence in labor. Capitalist society is undesirable since it doesn't allow the individuals of society to improve their natural potentials which is for Marx to express and develop oneself through labor in one's environment.This system of labor made up of four relations:The worker is alienated from his or her productive activity,playing no part in deciding what to do or how to do it.The worker is alienated from the product of that activity,having no control over what is made.The worker is alienated from other human beings ,with competiton and mutual indifference replacing most form of cooperation.Finally, the worker is alienated from the distinctive potential found in the notion of human beings. Marx argues that alienation and capitalism are stuck to one another. To get rid of alienation, one has to abolish capitalism. In capitalism, labor power of a certain group/class of people is exploited. This results in alienation in both sides, exploiter and exploited. (Sismondi,69-70) Besides all these explanations, it is necessary to examine A.Smith's perspective. He simply states the reasons why all men naturally follow self interest and that this process leads to the greatest production of wealth in society.He asserts "...But it is only for the sake of profit that any man employs a capital in the support of industry;and he will always ,therefore, endeavor to employ it in the support of that industry of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value....(Smith,85) Smith was not so much concerned with the development of consciousness among men.Little mention of two classes- the bourgeois and the proletarians- is made by Smith , because according to him all men do decisions based on self interest(Sismondi,52) Since he defines the individual as sovereign (within the laws of justice), and he defines liberty as freedom from constraint, his argument begins with the individual, defining a man's labor as the foundation of all other property. (Smith 215). He uses his economic theory to support his belief that this limitation on government action creates the most overall good for society. He believes that the economic order should be independent from the political order.Smith's Wealth of Nations was a critique of the existing system of state controls that he called merchantilism.He argued that the state intervention not only restricted freedom but also was economically inefficient. In contrast to Marx, Smith doesn't see laborers as slaves:rather as free men with something to sell-their labor.According to Smith's view all men are laborers since all must use effort to create their industry,thus final profit for themselves.He believes that all men are capitalists in a free economic society. Smith suggests that those who possess wealth have an interest in increasing it and such increase could never be motivated by giving society free exercise of all individual interests. He states " The sum of individual private fortunes makes up the wealth of the nation; there is no wealthy person who does not strive to become richer; let him do as he pleases; he will enrich the nation by enriching himself" (Sismondi,53) Each of these philosophers had valid points to make but they are focused on different targets. They in fact agree that the production of wealth in society is good but they would not agree on the conditions of the workers. If Smith possibily ask who stop the workers leave their profession and to join another,Marx response would be the social conditioning. That is among the valid answer for the failure of the communism.People need to believe that if they had made right choices ,or worked hard enough ,they would have gone to the top of society .But in communist plan there was no top to reach to motivate people.  

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