Analysis of Political Economy versus Marx’s Historical Materialism

Marx's Political Economics and Revolution

Marx's political economics advocates the concept of revolution in the economy, politics, and labor in order to achieve social liberation. Notwithstanding his philosophical training, Marx was devoted to radical political economy, political activism, and historical research. The primary goal of this analysis is to contrast Marx's political economics with historical materialism and how these ideas complement his vision of social, political, and economic revolution.

Political Marxism and its Origins

Political Marxism arose in the 18th century from moral philosophy. According to this, political economy has nothing to do with political leadership and is instead concerned with economic and social issues. According to Marx, capital gain is the primary objective of political economy, and without capital, it cannot exist. Political economy is the dominance of some individuals in the society in the upper economic ladder of production.

The Oppression of Laborers and Wage Labor

The owners of means of production, or capital, are at the top of the production chain, and they are oppressive of the laborers. Political economy comprises wage labor in that the owners of capital pay workers little wage when they work for them to achieve more production and profits. According to Marx, the worker's crude needs are far much greater than the needs of the refined, wealthy men. The crude needs refer to basic needs that are essential for human survival such as shelter, food, and clothing. Therefore, workers have to work to meet these needs, but these requirements are not a problem for the wealthy. For example, in the article, The Marx-Engel's Reader, it is indicated that "The cellar-dwelling in London bring more to those who let them than do the palaces. That is to say, regarding the landlord, the tenants constitute greater wealth as they seek to have a roof over their heads, and thus social wealth." Thus, the owners of means of production continue getting wealthier with the money of the laborers that earn from working for them. In addition to that, when capital is reinvested, it leads to the production of more capital and thus capital can be used as a raw material in the realization of profit. Moreover, labor is used alongside capital such as machinery, making it capital itself. Hence labor is the reproduction of capital, and the worker works to produce his life's capital. Regarding the capitalist, labor is part and parcel of his capital activity. Hence, for the political economist, earns his economic status from the relationship between capital and labor. In that regard, Marx was a critic of the political economy because he perceived capitalism as inhumane against the laborers.

Historical Materialism and Human Needs

On the other hand, Historical materialism is based on human needs and requirements, and the desire to meet them. According to Marx, development in production is made possible because of the evolving human needs through history. These needs are met through production forces that evolve through changing inputs, advancement in technology, and improvement of labor skills. Marx's political economy revolves around historical materialism. It is about understanding what is produced, how it is produced, who produces it, and for whom it is made. It is about an individual's capacity to exploit their physical world to maximize and improve production. Marx argues that the development of production methods should give rise to more complex divisions of labor and thus the decline of pure capitalism. With new labor divisions, there is a likelihood of having surpluses in production that will keep everyone just above survival levels. Hence, new classes will emerge that will lead to class conflict and the emergence of new capitalists. This is characterized by the class struggles in France between 1848 and 1850. In the article, The Marx-Engel's Reader, one of Marx's letters talk about the history, present, and future of the family from Engel, "The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State." Marx, in his Engel letters, includes his 1894 comments to Starkenburg on the role of "great men" in history. This is evidence that contrary to Weber's caste system, people can change their economic status and classes over the years through labor and accumulation of capital. However, the relevance of historical materialism in the fight against capitalism has prompted debates from both sociologists and economists who still believe that capitalism is more relevant and practical.

The Significance of Political Economy and Historical Materialism

In conclusion, Political economy and historical materialism are the fundamental concepts behind Marx's ideas on economic revolution and social classes. They form the basis for other concepts such as communism, labor alienation, wage labor, and socialism. Moreover, the two concepts are still applicable in today's economy. For example, today we have the middle class that is a result of historical materialism and the work of great men as mentioned by Marx in his Engel letters. However, political economy is not entirely extinct because we still have few capitalists who dominate the global economy. For example, there are still top companies that are owned by few individuals who are the primary owners of means of production. For that reason, no economic class can exist alone at any given period.

Work cited

Robert, C, Tucker. The Marx-Engel's Reader. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1978. Document. .

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