PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS ON A Marxian Critique of Capitalism: A Contemporary Approach
This project is intended to expose the nature as
capitalism as well as its merits and demerits. An exposure of the
Marxian critique of the capitalist system and how marx pressed for the
replacement of the system with the inauguration of communism through
socialism shall then be explicated. It should be noted that according to
marx, the only was to attain this goal is through a mass revolt bloody
revolution. Hence a critical evaluation of the Marxian critique of the
capitalist system as well as his suggestion of a bloody revolution will
be done to see how valid these suggestions are when applied to the
Thereafter, a workable alternative solution/recommendation shall then be done in place of Karl Marx’s own solution/suggestion.
while many workers today are indeed better off, many others are met.
They are occasional sweat shop conditions even in countries like the
United States, and there are many countries where the majority of
workers are as relentlessly exploited today as they were during the
capitalist era in Karl Marx’s time. Hence the general trend on which
Marx had his eyes still prevails: the rich still get richer and more
powerful, while the majority of ordinary employees can count themselves
lucky if they have steady employment and more or less adequate benefits.
In Africa for example, the income gap between the rich and the rest of
society has been wealth usually translates into an imbalance of
political power and influence as well, many capitalist countries tend to
be, for all practical purposes, oligarchies rather than genuine
democracies. Although their democratic institutions may be intact and
functioning, their policies tend to be determined by wealthy elites much
more than by citizens at large.
It may have
been time in the 19th century that workers had to work under sweatshop
conditions, that the workday lasted twelve to fourteen hours, that
sometimes children were literally chained to machines to work, that
workplace safety did not exist, that workers were deprived of education,
and most of all, that wages were so low that workers rarely could
afford to buy the things they produced. But all these have since become
very different. Capitalist in the 19th century may have been rather
brutal, but the system has been reformed. Wages have increased, all
sorts of benefits are provided by employers or social security system,
and today’s industrial workers sometimes own and consume more material
goods than even members of the old political cartoons that showed the
capitalists with to[p hats, coat tails, and big guts, while depicting
workers and their bedraggled families as emaciated, subdued wrecks, are
surely outdated. Today’s workers are not as exported and miserable as
marx describes them, and the relation of capital and labour is not so
antagonistic and bad as to justify such old concepts as “class struggle”
or “class war”.
It should be noted that the above objectives are
not pointless due to the long and often ardius struggle of unions, as
well as the vastly increased productivity of industrial labour, the
economic position of many workers has significantly improved since the
days of the Industrious revolution.
1.1.BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
has become increasingly common to hear that capitalism with its
exploitative nature is dehumanizing and alienating – that is, alienating
man from the product of his own labor, from his own self, from the
society, as well as from nature. This kind of economic system, because
of its exploitative nature of many people by few rich individuals, has
led to the situation of man’s inhumanity to man. In this case, profits
are made at all cost even at the expense of human life. In this type of
economic system of government, few rich individuals amassed wealth at
the expense of the majority and as such income is distributed
inequitably to the detriment of the common man. Hence, Marx was
dissatisfied with the system and called for its replacement with a
better and humane one (communism).
Throughout Karl Marx’s life,
the central theme of his writings and activities was centered on man and
how to liberate him from the slavery that comes from man’s inhumanity
to man. The subject of Karl Marx’s worry has been the isolated
individual; an individual estranged from other people, from the fruit of
his own labor, from nature, and even from his own deepest self and
emotion. This doctrine of alienation in Marxism described the condition
of the working class in the capitalist system in Karl Marx’s days
whereby the workers (proletariats) were exploited and dehumanized by
their employers (the capitalists/bourgeoisie). The product of their
labor was taken from them. Hence, Marx called it “alienated labor”1 Thus
the worker in the capitalist system is dehumanized and
instrumentalized; he is no longer treated as a human being, but as an
instrument of production in the hands of the bourgeois employers who use
him to their own advantage. Hence, Marx proposed a remedy for this
deplorable condition of the workers. His solution was the total
destruction of the capitalist system with its concomitant evils and the
establishment of communism through socialism. This solution, Marx says,
can only be achieved through mass revolt/bloody revolution.
by the philosophy of Heraclitus and the dialectic of Hegel, Marx
believed that “conflict is the universal law of progress”2. Both
Heraclitus and Hegel considered war as good and necessary for progress.
Heraclitus in particular, felt that perpetual peace would be undesirable
since it would mean social stagnation and the end of progress. The
universe, according to Heraclitus, is a universe of conflicts and clash
of opposites, “we must know that war is common to all the strife is
justice, and that all things come into being and pass away through
strife”3. As for Hegel, harmony and progress are the results of
conflicts. In his dialectic, progress or development is the result (the
synthesis) of conflict or contradiction between two things (thesis and
anti-thesis). The whole universe, according to Hegel, “is a
self-projection of the absolute Spirit who develops itself through
conflicts and contradictions, through thesis, antithesis and
Marx therefore gave the philosophies of both
Heraclitus and Hegel social interpretation and maintained that social
progress can only come about through class conflicts. Hence he advocates
for the total destruction of the capitalist system through mass
However, the question that seems
disturbing is the validity and tenability of Karl Marx’s critique of
capitalism. The statement of problem is thus presented below.
1.2STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
we cannot but subscribe to the Marxist condemnation of exploitation of
man by man, nevertheless, we cannot go along with his commitment to
Machiavellianism. For we do not believe that any means employed to bring
about a good end is morally justified. We hold on the contrary that the
end does not and cannot justify the means.
Consequently, it is
an evil in itself to employ a bad means to bring about a good end. We
can therefore not go along with Marxism in encouraging class conflicts,
class antagonism and violent revolutions. Nor do we subscribe to the
Heraclitan-Hegelian-Marxist dogma that social change and progress can
only come about through violent conflicts and bloody revolutions. Nobody
wins a war these days; in the long run both sides are the losers. Worst
of all, it is generally the poor and the innocent who are sacrificed as
victims to the “gods of revolution”. This itself is evil, and an evil
means should not be used to bring about a good end.
although Marx’s intention was to safeguard the welfare of the people,
but by calling for a violent revolution, the welfare of the people which
he was trying to safeguard will no longer be safe. This is because the
violence that goes along with a revolution is a threat to security of
lives and property.
Furthermore, Marx seems not to be concerned
with the method but with the ends of the struggle. This is prone to
error because goals achieved by proper means are always more lasting and
are of permanent duration than those achieved by improper means.
Therefore, for a lasting peace and stability, it is not the end that
matters but what matters is the method by which these ends are actually
To push it further, Marxian theory of state is not so
sound as prima facie it may appear. His emphasis on armed revolution is
rather too much and cannot be justified especially today when nations
are thinking more in terms of peaceful co-operation rather than war. Who
can deny that violence brings with it hatred and destruction of lives
(especially the innocent ones) and property and counter-revolutionary
forces will breed more destruction and instability in the society.
Settlement of disputes by violent revolution is bound to retard
political and social progress. It is therefore beyond all reasonable
doubts that the changes brought about by an armed and violent revolution
is less durable than the changes brought about by peaceful means and
method on the one hand, and persuation on the other hand. As I put it,
“persistent, unflinching and patient persuation can break even the
Going further, Marx’s method of
over-throwing one economic system and its replacement with another is
dangerous to the extent that it has never paved way for enduring
stability. Instability which this revolution will bring with it, shall
always remain alive in the minds of the capitalists who in turn are
bound to over-throw the workers regime at the first available
opportunity. This will be never-ending struggle which is unwanted both
for nation’s economic progress, cultural advancement and political
stability. This is not to say that an oppressive economic system should
not be confronted and replaced but the confrontation should not be that
drastic to the extent that stability would be elusive.
believes that the only way to bring about a change is through bloody
revolution. But he forgets that there are peaceful methods also for
bringing about changes. Gandhiji brought change in Indian political and
social life without any bloody or violent revolution in the Marxian
sense of the term but by non-violent means and method.
further, Marx has not realized that on the collapse of state many other
factors and classes might emerge. It should be noted that break-down of
capitalism might result not in communism but in anarchy from which there
might emerge some dictatorship unrelated in principle to communism.
it should be noted that the baby should not be thrown away alongside
with the bath water. But Marx fell prey into this problem. While
pressing for the elimination of capitalism and the inauguration of
communism through socialism, Marx inevitably threw away hardwork which
leads to invention and innovation, which in turn encourages faster
economic and societal development and progress. It is a known fact that
capitalism which leads to faster economic growth and societal
development is as a result of hardwork. Therefore, while pressing for
the elimination of the capitalist system, Marx was inevitably
eliminating progress and development from the society.
Having presented the statement of problem, I shall now proceed to the purpose of study.
1.3PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this research work is presented below:
Firstly, it is to critically analyze and evaluate capitalism with its exploitative nature as put forward by Karl Marx.
it is to objectively weigh the suggestion of mass revolt/bloody
revolution put forward by Karl Marx as a way of destroying the
capitalist system to see how valid and tenable this suggestion would be
when applied to the contemporary era.
Thirdly, an attempt shall
be made to bring out the flaws in Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism as
well as his suggestion of communism using the tool of mass revolt/bloody
revolution. Thereafter a workable alternative solution/recommendation
in place of Karl Marx’s own recommendation of bloody revolution as a way
of alleviating the pitiable condition of the working class from the
hands of their bourgeois employers shall be proffered.
Having presented the purpose of study, I shall now expose the significance of study.
1.4SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this research work is enormous. However few of them shall be exposed below:
it will serve as an analytic-cum-critical review of the much esteemed
doctrine of Karl Marx criticism of capitalism and his proposal of
communism through socialism as an alternative to the capitalist system
using the tool of mass revolt/bloody revolution.
will serve as a medium of courage to all those, especially the poor who
are victims of the exploitative, alienating and dehumanizing condition
in the society in which they find themselves, that there is a workable
solution to their problems if only they can unite with one voice, but
which must not necessarily result to a bloody revolution as recommended
by Karl Marx.
Thirdly, it will serve as a clarion call for all
workers of the world to unite, as unity is a basis for a successful
protest against an unwanted system of government in the society. In
other words, this research work will instill on the minds of the people
(the working class) the spirit of unity and co-operation which is a
necessary tool for the achievement of their freedom from exploitation
and dehumanization in the hands of their employers by enlightening them
on the way forward on how to carry out their struggle of freedom from
the oppressive nature of the capitalist system. As Karl Marx puts it,
“the proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a
world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTLESS, UNITE!”5
this research work will also serve as a deterrent to the few rich
individuals in the society who are agents of marginalization of the poor
and less privileged. It will go a long way to tell them that when you
so much push someone to the extent that he has gotten to the wall, he
may have no other option than to turn and face you for a fight.
this research work will as well be of great importance to critically
evaluate the position of those philosophers and thinkers who sought for
solution to such kind of problems (like the ones posed by the
capitalist) following the pattern/ideology of Karl Marx’s mass
Having exposed the significance of the study, I will now proceed to the scope of study.
1.5SCOPE OF THE STUDY
research work shall in scope be limited to the doctrine of capitalism
as well as the Marxian notion of capitalism. An attempt shall be made to
explain Karl Marx’s critique of the capitalist system and how he
pressed for a communist society free from the exploitation of the
working class posed by the capitalists. Thereafter a critical evaluation
of Karl Marx’s critique of the capitalist system as well as his idea of
replacing it with communism through socialism will be made to see how
valid and tenable they are. Thereafter a conclusion as well as a
recommendation will be made.
Having made known the scope of study, I shall now move to the methodology.
1.6METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
method of this research work shall be analytic-cum-critical in nature.
Analytic in the sense that the issue at stake will be examined in
detail. It has to do with a thorough breakdown; a conceptual
clarification, a detailed explanation of the issue at stake. And
critical in that, it is not a negative appraisal, but rational,
impartial, articulate and fair appraisal whether positive or negative.
To be “critical” of received ideas is accordingly not the same thing as
rejecting them: it consists rather in seriously asking oneself whether
the ideas in question should be reformed, modified or conserved, and in
applying one’s entire intellectual and imaginative intelligence to the
search for an answer.
As a result of the above, materials to
prosecute the research work will be gotten from the library as well as
other relevant sources.
A Research proposal for a marxian critique of capitalism: a contemporary approach :
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The method of this research work shall be analytic-cum-critical in nature. Analytic in the sense that the issue at stake will be examined in detail. It has to do with a thorough breakdown; a conceptual clarification, a detailed explanation of the issue at stake. And critical in that, it is not a negative appraisal, but rational, impartial, articulate and fair appraisal whether positive or negative. To be “critical” of received ideas is accordingly not the same thing as rejecting them: it consists rather in seriously asking oneself whether the ideas in question should be reformed, modified or conserved, and in applying one’s entire intellectual and imaginative intelligence to the search for an answer... philosophy project topics
A Marxian Critique of Capitalism: A Contemporary Approach