Capitalism - Essay Example

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Capitalism could be described as the ownership of a means of production and accumulation of personal wealth and profits through investment of capital and employment of labour. Capitalism is based on the concept of a free economy and business enterprise with limited or little government intervention…
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Capitalism
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Download file to see previous pages Protection of private property was never so legally simplified before the advent of capitalism and the legal implications of private ownership suggested greater independence of private property owners and provided clear protected ownership that could be legally validated. Capitalism brought in the standardization and integration of property rules, increased trust in economic transactions and laid down the risks of ownership with possibilities of insurance against such risks. Loans and borrowing became easier as personal credit history could be checked and there was an increased standardization and transferability of statements documenting ownership of property (Levi-Faur et al, 2005). This specification of property limits and rules and regulations of ownership indicated a smoother flow of property between individuals and enabled a well-defined role for companies so that they could easily operate in national and international markets.
The concept of capitalism has often been criticised by the fact that ownership of enterprises shows the division between the employer and the employee as the profits seem to go to the employer and is not shared by the employees. The growth of multinational companies is thus a direct influence of capitalism and the changing global economy has also been directly shaped by the spread of capitalism across society and nations. In fact, the world today could never have been the same without capitalism and considering this, it is important to examine why and how capitalism first emerged in the 16th century and what are the social, historical and political implications.


Capitalism - A Background

Capitalism is often contrasted to feudalism on the one hand where a monarch has ownership of property and socialism or communism on the other in which means of production are owned by the community collectively (Sweezy et al 1976).

Karl Marx, used the term 'capitalist' in the Communist Manifesto although the word 'capitalism' introduced by Thackeray in 1854 meant as the possession of a large amount of capital. The ideology of the capitalist class also known as the bourgeoisie is known as capitalism which closely relates to the capitalist system (Marx, 1890/1976).

Considering a social history of the distribution of wealth, Marx contended that human society has passed through several stages and modes of production. The mode of production has changed from ancient communism to primitive slavery, then to feudalism and capitalism. Marx sees society as being divided into two major social classes - the class that has control of the means of production (the exploiting class or bourgeoisie) and the class which do not have any control or does not own the means of production (the exploited class or the proletariat) (Marx 1890/1976). In ancient slavery, the slave-owners exploited the slaves. In feudalism, the lords exploited the peasants. Under capitalism, the capitalists exploit the workers and exploitation happens through the expropriation of surplus value. The surplus value is the total value of the products made by the worker minus what the worker is paid. The exploited class resists this exploitation and the resulting class struggle or class conflict is what drives human history forward. Marx argued that under the capitalist system, workers are treated like a commodity or equipment rather than a person and also ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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