Karl Marx and Michael Walzer Essay

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Karl Marx and Michael Walzer

Many believe that Karl Marx had much to say regarding communism, but that is actually not the case. Marx actually said little about communism, and what he did say was incomplete and relatively vague. His Communist Manifesto, therefore, should really be read with an eye for inquiring into the validity and logic of capitalism, as opposed to an endorsement of communism or the communist party. There is a strong Marxian critique of capitalism to be considered, and it focuses on the private ownership and control of the social means used for production. In other words, it focuses on factories, fisheries, forests, farms, and the accumulated financial capital that they represent. Capital, therefore, is the product of all of the collective efforts of the men and women who do work within society. Marx argues that this capital should be controlled by those who create it, and that it can and should be put to productive use that will serve the needs and desires of those who created it.

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While there are issues and caveats to consider, I agree with this statement. When those who create something are forced or even required to give all of what they have worked for away so that others are able to have something, that is generally not a society that is highly successful. Whether capitalism works can be debated very strongly, but that does not mean that a failure of capitalism makes a good case for communism. The problems with one system, in other words, does not have to be a "green light" for the other system. Instead, it may simply indicate that there are issues with a particular system that should be addressed and corrected in order to make that system as strong as possible.

The Communist Manifesto

Essay on Karl Marx and Michael Walzer Assignment

In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx (1848) addresses capitalism more than he addresses communism. When the Manifesto was created, Marx (1848) was focused on the struggles of the working class in Europe. Having an upper class that was very strong and a working class that was not yet strong enough to move forward with its goal of having rights and freedoms was a serious struggle during that time period. The issue mostly arose from the idea that Europe at that time had evolved from a feudal society. There was a ruling class, and there was everyone else (Marx, 1848). With that in mind, the ruling class obviously saw no reason to change the status quo. It was the way things had been for generations, and because the ruling class was in charge it wanted to remain that way. The working class, however, had other ideas. People did not (and still do not) like working their fingers to the bone and seeing the rewards go to someone else.

That is something that is inherent in human nature, and it is not going to change. However, the working class at the time the Manifesto was written were still struggling because they wanted rights they were not yet able to attain (Marx, 1848). The goal, finally, became the satisfaction of both classes - ruling and working. The working class was not going to back down on what it wanted and the rights it felt it deserved. The ruling class was not simply going to "give in" and stop attempting to control the working class. That was not part of the nature of those who belonged to the ruling class. They were born into the idea of being in charge, and changing that in order to appease "peasants" in the working class was not something to which most of them came around easily (Marx, 1848). Despite the concerns and trials, however, there were those, like Marx, who thought carefully about the issues that were faced by the working class and how society could change and evolve.

This evolution would be to the betterment of everyone involved, and that would include both the ruling and the working class. If the ruling class continued on its path, argued Marx, there would eventually be a revolt. That could cost the ruling class their lives, but it could also cost them their power. The choice was theirs: give some of the power away to the working class, or have all of the power taken away by the working class. While it was not likely that would happen right away, it was something that was coming in the future if changes were not made (Marx, 1848). Marx could see the changes coming, and so could the ruling class. The working class could feel the changes coming. It was clear that the working class was not going to give up on what mattered to it. Things had gone too far for the working class to back down. If a class of people wants something, that class must continue to push for the thing it wants. Without doing that, it is a show of weakness. Those who work hard for something should have the opportunity to enjoy the items for which they have worked.

It is understandable that some of what the working class attained had to go to the ruling class, of course, because the ruling class were the ones who ran the government and made the laws. There were taxes to be paid and similar issues to handle. Still, not all of what was attained by the working class could be owned by the ruling class. There needed to be a balance (Marx, 1848). Without the balance revolution would be the result. The ruling class may win, but they would not continue to win forever. Eventually the ruling class would lose, and then they would lose everything instead of only being asked to give up a little bit of their power in an effort to appease those who provide them with so much of what they have. Rulers are there for two reasons: because they forced their way into power or because they were elected and chosen to have that power.

Theses on Feuerbach

The Manifesto was not the only document Marx created on the issue. The Theses on Feuerbach is another important work, although it is much shorter. In this Theses, it seems as though Marx was arguing against the very thing he was arguing for in the Manifesto, but closer examination of the issue shows that this is not the case. Instead of arguing for capitalism and how people should keep what they earn, or arguing for communism and how the government should keep what people earn, Marx addresses the issue of the materialism of society (Marx, 1888). Marx considers the fact that society, as a whole, is a materialistic creation. While this is true, the way Marx addresses the issue is from a religious, social, and thoughtful standpoint whereby people are asked to consider the idea that holding on to everything one creates or receives may not be the best option.

Society, for example, could be better served by taking the information and products that are collected and/or created by the working class and distributing them to the rest of the working class as well as the ruling class (Marx, 1888). In other words, this is more of a socialist issue as opposed to communist or capitalist designs. Capitalism does not focus on the complete distribution of wealth. Instead, it focuses on allowing people who earned something to keep what they have earned - with the exception of taxes and any other fees they must pay to the government or other ruling bodies. Communism is nearly the opposite, because it focuses on the government's overall ownership of anything a person earns. The person may be allowed to keep some of it, but that percentage is what the government decides he or she can keep, as opposed to the way capitalism is addressed. What Marx was discussing in the Theses was not communist in nature, but it was also not capitalist as people understand the term today. It was closer to socialism, although not called as such specifically.

When individuals focus on distribution of wealth in the way Marx addressed it, they give more than they need to because they want to give (Marx, 1888). This kind of distribution is not about the idea of a ruling class or a government getting more than its fair share, but about people who care about society as a whole providing help and hope to that society. This is a foreign concept to many people, not because they do not care about others but because they see distribution of wealth as the government taking something from them and giving it to other people. Marx was not addressing that, however. He was talking about the people giving to others because they wanted to and because they could see the benefit to society as a whole. That is far different than being forced to hand over a percentage of a person's capital that will be given to others. When those who… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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