This paper is an analysis of Marx and Engel’s theory about the rise and fall of Capitalism. The Paper considers the forces and the relations of production and how the relations of production serve to develop the forces of production but later fetter their further development. Forces of production are seen to advance greatly under capitalism due to technology, industrialization, and better training of workers. However, as Capitalism matures, it blocks further development of the forces of production through stagnation in production. Class struggle is evident between the owners of means of production, called bourgeoisie, and the laborers called proletariat. The class struggle is fueled by the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie. The struggle causes the proletariat to realize their common situation and thereby forms bands and unions, which end in social revolution. Capitalism encourages monopoly where the bourgeoisie works to maximize profits through surplus value.
Karl Marx formulated the theory of the rise and fall of Capitalism and foresaw Communism as the solution to class struggle. Under capitalism, the forces of production were greatly advanced through technology and formal training. However, the monopoly of Capitalism and the relations of bourgeoisie as the owner of the means of production and proletariat as the laborers became fetters of the forces of production. The exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie leads to class struggle, social revolution, and ultimately overthrow of Capitalism for Communism.
Relations of Production and Forces of Production in Capitalism
Capitalism as a political economic system can be defined with reference to forces of production and relations of production. Forces of production mean all knowledge, scientific and technical, that is used in a mode of production (Cohen 37). Labor, skills, knowledge, raw materials, and tools are a part of the forces of production. Under Capitalism, forces of production have improved tremendously with technology making production far much easier and efficient compared to previous modes of production such as feudalism (Cox 31). Relations of production are the social relationships people get into for the production of goods and services. Under capitalism, the relations of production involve a Bourgeoisie who owns the means of production and employs the services of Proletariat (Seddon 28). The Proletariat does not own the means of production but are paid wages for their work. As long as the Bourgeoisie pays the Proletariat for their services, the Bourgeoisie is considered to own the labor power. The Capitalist gains profit when the new value of the product exceeds cost of production and labor at the time of selling the product (Cohen 38). As Cohen states, profit is made by reducing production costs, making more sales, and ensuring monopoly in the market (38).
Capitalist Relations of Production and Eventual Economic Crises
Marx stated that relations of production act to develop forces of production but later, due to the conflict thereof, fetter their further development (Tucker 4). The forces of production become contradictory to the relations of production. Capitalism began as a progressive and revolutionary mode of production. Under the mode, development of the forces of production was stimulated with historically immense advancement in productivity (Kasmir 60). Capitalism advanced the forces of production in various ways such as better equipment and improved skills through education, science and technology. For instance, labor as a force of production was improved through division of labor, education, and training (Cox 31). However, as capitalism matures, it becomes a barrier to the very emancipation it initiated by fettering the forces of production through stagnation of their development. Due to the monopolistic nature of capitalism, few magnates control the production process and advantages of the transformation process thereby becoming fetters to the forces of production (Petras and Henry 40). Capitalism centralizes the means of production whereas labor becomes more socialized. Eventually, these aspects of means of production and labor become incompatible with Capitalism as a mode of production.
Class Struggle and Social Revolution
Under capitalism, the working class is subjective to the Capitalists and it is the Capital that creates and organizes the class. The working class often struggles to end the subordination and exploitation suffered under the Capitalists (Kasmir 61). The working class organizes into bands and unions that fight against the Capitalists. Revolution results from the desire of the exploited class, which is proletariat, to abolish the rule of the oppressor, in this case bourgeoisie. The working class struggles for a future without capitalism and communism becomes the answer to the capitalistic conflicts. Petras and Henry found that, within Capitalism are the very seeds of communism since exploitation of the proletariat leads to resentment against the bourgeoisie (41). The exploited find that they have a lot in common and forge unity. The proletariat then will revolt against the bourgeoisie and overthrow capitalism and capitalists. The result will be a society where everyone participates in production according to their ability and the products will be shared according to everyone’s needs (Kasmir 61). People will share equally the forces and means of production and social classes will be abolished.
Criticisms: Marx and Engels on Rise and Fall of Capitalism
The Marx theory of rise and fall of Capitalism has overlooked various aspects of social relations that would come with communism. First, the theory emphasizes and exaggerates economic relations and presents these relations as determinants of all other relationships such as family, friendship, religion, and education among others (Luke 29). In addition, Marx and Engel concentrate on economic conflicts and thereby overlook other conflicts that are not economic in essence, attempting to show that these conflicts have their roots in the economic relationships. For instance, such conflicts as husband-wife or parent-child conflicts are not economic but domestic (Luke 30). Furthermore, Marxism does not give room for the individual subjective determination of social class. Moreover, as Cox (33) states, Capitalism appears to have persisted longer than Marx determined and the onset of Communism appears to be ever elusive. Finally, as critics have stated, the methodology of Marxism is not scientific and the theory cannot be tested or be possibly falsified because it claims with certainty that Capitalism must be replaced by Communism as a historically inevitable event (Luke 33).
Under capitalism, the forces of production advanced immensely due to advancement in technology, improved education, and training of labor force. However, due to the monopoly in Capitalism, further development of the forces of production is fettered. The relationship of the bourgeoisie and proletariat causes class struggle and eventually the proletariat revolts against the bourgeoisie. The proletariat seeks to eventually overthrow the bourgeoisie, abolish Capitalism and replace it with Communism.
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