Introduction to Philosophy/Marx and Marxists

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There may be no philosopher that has had more of an impact on society and politics than Karl Marx. His theory, in essence, embraces radical and revolutionary change.

Marx argues that the working class, or proletariat, are oppressed and alienated in the process of production (what Marx calls "alienated labor"). Unlike the skilled artisans of the past who could craft a product from start to finish, industrialization has led to the division of labor into many smaller repetitve processes. For example, a worker might only pull a lever, or attach a rivet, instead of crafting an entire product. In this way, workers became alientated from their final product. Likewise, in the competition of workers to be more 'profitable' to their employers, they initiate a 'race to the bottom' of the wage pile, willing to work for less and less. In this way, workers create strife amongst themselves and must sell themselves to their employers. This alienates themselves from each other (undermining class solidarity) and from their humanity — with a similar effect as prostitution.

According to Marx, the means of production must be appropriated by the workers and freed from the dehumanizing commodity form to meet the needs of society (production for the benefit of humankind, not for profit of the property-owning and ruling class, the bourgeois). Marx envisioned and projected a society free from social stratification, in which individual contribution and distribution of goods could be summarized: "From each according to ability, to each according to need." (Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875.)

The most influential book written by him was the Communist Manifesto.

Other works include: