Name: Course: Instructor: Date: Karl Marx’s Work and the Importance of the Individual Karl Marx is inarguably one of the most influential men of the 19th century. His socialist views have shaped the politics and social lives of thousands of people in many different parts of the world…
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His ideas regarding objectification and human needs only point out to the fact that he greatly values the potential and importance of man (Marx 10). On the other hand, Marx has an answer for the perceived undervaluation of the importance of the individual: capitalism. This paper looks at Marx’s ideas regarding objectification and his view of human needs, in the context of his discussion of alienation under capitalism. Marx’s opinion on the purpose of production is also an issue that is dealt with in this paper. These issues are examined in detail in an effort to indicate that Karl Marx’s work is often mistakenly criticized as constituting a framework that undervalues the importance of the individual. Marx on Objectification and Human Needs The alienation theory, according to Marx, is the separation of human beings from various aspects that characterize their human nature. In order to understand the concept of alienation in line with Marx’s opinion of human needs and objectification, it is important to understand what he meant by human nature. He describes human nature as the means by which humans are capable of shaping their environment or nature. Marx, in emphasizing the importance of the individual, argues against an abstract concept of human nature. Instead, he insists that individuals express their lives as they are (15). This is to say that one’ individualism is pegged on material conditions of his production. In his 1844 Manuscripts, Marx says that human nature is a “totality of needs and drives” which he says exerts some force on man. This is to say that human nature cannot be regarded in the absence of the need to satisfy certain needs. This is what he says about human needs and drives: “Man is directly a natural being. As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand endowed with natural powers, vital powers – he is an active natural being. These forces exist in him as tendencies and abilities – as instincts. On the other hand, as a natural, corporeal, sensuous objective being he is a suffering, conditioned and limited creature, like animals and plants. That is to say, the objects of his instincts exist outside him, as objects independent of him; yet these objects are objects that he needs – essential objects, indispensable to the manifestation and confirmation of his essential powers” (17). According to Marx, the needs of humans normally change depending on the way they change their environment. He says that “… producers change, in that they bring out new qualities in themselves, develop themselves in production, transform themselves, develop new powers and ideas, new needs and new language” (26). This shows that Marx was not entirely against the notion that individuals are very important. He was only trying to emphasize that that importance is pegged on the level of the individual’s needs. Marx differentiates humans from other animals in many of his writings. He gives examples of religion and consciousness as some of those things that can be said to be distinguishing factors between man and animals. Marx continues to say that as soon as they start producing their means of survival, human beings start distinguishing themselves from other animals. To further explain the difference between an individual and animals in terms of needs, Marx states that: “It is true that animals also produce. They build nests and dwellings, like the bee, the beaver, the ant, etc. But they
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The workers perform labor; they generate output for companies (Plamenatz 1975, 263). The companies sell these products and obtain revenue from it. The revenue earned is invested by companies to invest in machinery which in turn replaces the workers. For example, in the past workers were being used to do construction, but now machines do all the work thus unemployment has increased.
Ritzer asserts the fact that the problem of misinterpretation of these existing sociological theories stems not from illiteracy, but from over-analysis by Marx’s advocates and critics, thereby revolutionizing these ideas from being theories to being axioms whose origins are lost.
Indeed if communism or socialism is considered as a social theory, explaining the course of the evolution of human society as well as human history from a more or less contented viewpoint, the mode of production and the labor put into it, the Communist Manifesto can be accepted as the political guidance for those who are involved in the production system of the modern capitalist society.
Marx has presented extensive argument for his stance and against the existing social structure that he strive to change and uproot in order to establish a society that was free from the strains and shackles of workmanship, bondage, and capitalism (Marx). Although the Manifesto covers a lot of topics in great depth, a complete analysis of the book is beyond the scope of this paper.
d feudalism which were later transformed to capitalism.4 Marx’s use of history and logic makes it difficult to dismiss his criticism of classical political society. However, his criticism of the classical political economy has been the subject of study and debate in the social sciences and economics since Marx’s writings in the 19th century.
I will also shed light on Marx's notion of affluence, what Marx says about wealth and charity, Marx’s solution to this problem and how he justifies it. I shall also attempt to explain what Marx meant when he wrote ‘worker of the world unite’ and ‘religion is the opium of the masses’.
He distinguished between appearances and reality, believing that historically and socially, ideology is what has prevented people in societies from seeing the material conditions of their lives clearly. This belief has been updated and made relevant to today's society through a recent documentary filmed by Morgan Spurlock titled Super Size Me.
Karl Marx’s communist manifesto, for instance, depicts the desire to build “a society without economic classes” or rather a society without social stratification (Marx 11-23). On the hand, John Locke’s
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