In the last century, the imperialist tendencies of American society were lauded for their promotion of hard labor and economic growth. The social and economic model is designed to ensure that more benefits are paid to those who work well than to those who work less hard. Capitalism, however, has been criticized for the challenges that people are currently facing in America. Society has been broken down into individual individuals and communities of people with common desires to learn their ways to manipulate others and thus control them. As a consequence, those with advantages already developed maintain their gains, while the less privileged suffer more and more. The situation of the country is in line with the observations that the German economist Friedrich Engels made in the 19th C. Engels discussed the capitalistic society from the perspective of historical materialism. To understand how the capitalistic society affects the lives of people in the United States of America, it will be essential to apply the methods that Engels used to analyze capitalism and discuss in the context of the current day economy and politics of the USA. Historical materialism is a point of view that seeks to determine the drive of history and power that causes all important events that involve the growth of the economy of the society (Engels 301). Historical materialism focuses on the shifts in the methods of production. In the current day America, the concept will focus on not only the changes that have resulted from the different market forces, but also the political factors that affect the changes in production and the quest for more profits. The contradictions that Engels discussed are in play in the country leading to the problems associated with capitalism.
First, as Marx observed in his critical analysis capitalism, employers in the country pay meager wages to their employees. Therefore, the wage earners just get enough to keep them alive between paychecks (Engels 301). The situation is a result of the contradiction between forces that drive production and social relations associated with the output. The low class and the middle class work hard only for the few upper-class citizens who own the vast corporations to appropriate the products. The wages that people in the country earn are controlled by the political class that set the minimum wages that workers can earn. Currently, the minimum wage of the workers in the country is 7.25 dollars per hour (US Deoartment of Labor Statistics). The amount is then affected by the taxes that the government imposes on the citizens. The low wages that are dictated by the politicians who are also part of the upper class of the society ensures that the wage earners remain wage slaves as they never earn enough to get themselves out of their class of the society. The slavery of the poor end up benefiting the rich rather than the hard-working citizens. The low minimum wages that the politicians in the country direct ensure that the rich are always advantaged. Also, the situation leads to many middle-class citizens moving to the lower class as a result of the rules set that make survival hard and payment inadequate as compared to the rate of inflation.
Americans who survive by working for the upper-class company owners work harder and for more extended hours to sustain themselves and their families. Therefore, the hard work further improves the position of the capitalist employers who further gain the power to control the economy. As a result, the wage workers retain their position for life and therefore pass the poverty to their children who are not lucky to inherit anything. The increase in the wealth of the capitalists gives them more power to expand and therefore enhance their production systems. More money and more demand results in higher demand for products. Thus, the company owners buy machines that then threaten to replace human labor (Engel 303). Hence, even though the production by the companies in the country has increased, the labor invested in the production process has drastically reduced. The ability of employers to use automated machines in the current day America has led to there being less need for skilled labor and more joblessness despite the increase in industrialization (Kaufman). Therefore, the lower calls citizens are always at risk of losing their jobs as the capitalists keep seeking to improve their profits through the use of cheaper technology that requires less labor and low costs to produce more products than human labor.
The capitalism in the USA is also to blame for the reduced social anarchy. Engels defines social anarchy as the state of being socially equal in the community. According to Engels, the persistence of the employees to gain social anarchy meets high resistance from the upper-class factory owners. The employers buy machines to not only enhance production at lower costs but also to replace the employees who struggle for their rights. The devices then cause a reduction in the need for human capital (Engel 302). The increased profits from the use of automation and mechanization allow the rich to expand. The USA, the automation is obvious in most of the sectors. Machines have relieved people of their duties in both production and service industries that were once thought to be immune to technological changes. For instance, a company called Momentum Machines in San Francisco has created a system that risks rendering fast-food workers jobless. The device can grind meat, package burgers, slice tomatoes and does most of the jobs that people do in fast food shops. Also, the machine can produce as many as 360 burgers every hour. According to the company owners, they plan to sell their machine to fast food chains, open their fast food shops and therefore make the fast food industry more “democratic” than it is now. According to Mr. Alexandros Vardakostas, the founder of the company, the machines will not make the work of fast food workers easier. Instead, it will eradicate the need to hire the workers altogether (Kaufman). The machine that Momentum Machines invented is an example of the devices that Engels predicted the capitalists would use their excess money to buy to earn increased profits by displacing the employees and ensuring that they demand a low minimum wage. The invention at a time when fast food workers are demanding for an increase in their hourly wages threatens to reduce the bargaining power of the employees unless the legislatures control the market to ensure that Americans do not lose their jobs.
Apart from the direct exploitation that is evident from the low minimum wage and many hours of working that the majority of the Americans who belong to the lower and the middle-class Americans are further deprived of their jobs by the corporates moving their factories to China and other Asian countries. The developing nations offer cheaper labor than the American people. According to Bhattacharyya (1999), capitalism has globalized to the advantage of the multinational corporations that once had their production units in the United States of America. It has become increasingly hard to exploit Americans. Therefore, they have decided to seek cheaper labor and raw materials in other places where the laws are weaker than those in the USA. The transnationalism and globalization, in turn, put the Americans who previously provided skilled labor in a state of unemployment. The ones that remain employed have to accept offering their services at meager wages that the few factories in the company are offering. Bhattacharyya (1999) discussed the movement of labor from the United States and other western countries to Asian countries like India and Bangladesh (Bhattacharyya 146). The availability of cheaper labor in the other countries that the USA has managed to infect with its ideas of capitalism provide the large corporations with a pool of potential employees at very minimal costs in case of pressure to increased minimum hourly wages of workers in the country for skilled laborers (Chhachhi 897). The recent times have seen the movement of companies associated with information exchange such as Apple and Microsoft that now have plants in China and other places outside the USA.
Apple, for instance, enjoys an excellent reputation among the users who are mostly upper-class citizens. However, the company’s production is centered in China and has been recently marred by allegations of poor treatment of employees in the country. China is a very populous country that provides the technology giant with the workforce that it needs at a meager price. By doing so, Apple Corporation increases its profits at the expense of the poor people who work in the company in China and those that lose their jobs in the United States of America (Bilton). The effects of the movement of technology companies to China and elsewhere is evident in the many news articles dedicated to the news. Also, the data from the US Department of Labor Statistics shows the negative effect of the movement to the employment of Americans. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the sector that lost most jobs between 2016 and 2017 October is the information sector (US Department of Labor Statistics). Therefore, it is clear that the selfishness of the wealthy few in the United States of America costs the majority of the citizens.
Despite the fact that the government and politicians are to blame for the dire situation in the USA, the country is not the worst in the world. Other countries have similarly been affected by capitalism. The developing countries that have been identified for their cheap labor and resources are examples. Also, the politicians of the country have contributed significantly to the problem in the country. Nevertheless, they are attempting to solve the problem to bring more employment back to the USA. The Republican Tax reforms that have been proposed by the allies of President Donald Trump are a good example (Cole). The changes seek to retain more money among the American low and middle-class citizens. They also plan to offer incentives to large corporations to make them invest in the USA. Nevertheless, the laws propose very little to change the culture. Therefore, it is likely that the reforms will end up benefiting the rich and leaving the power in their social and economic problems that are fueled by the capitalistic greed of the companies.
In conclusion, the capitalistic culture and economy have resulted in the gap between the low and the upper class. Capitalism is also to blame for the many middle class descending to the low class. Politicians have mostly increased the negative impacts of the capitalism through laws that favor individualism rather than collective responsibility. To change the situation, different stakeholders should work together. The rich should agree to let go of their greed, and the politicians should agree to represent the needs of the majority of the Americans rather than the few rich people that finance their campaigns.
Bhattacharyya, Sayan. “The role of information in labor movements: A comparative study of India and the USA.” Contemporary South Asia 8.2 (1999): 145-160.
Bilton, Richard. “Apple ‘failing to protect Chinese factory workers’.” BBC News, BBC, 18 Dec. 2014, www.bbc.com/news/business-30532463.
Chhachhi, Amrita. “Introduction: The ‘Labour Question’in Contemporary Capitalism.” Development and Change 45.5 (2014): 895-919.
Cole, Alan. “Details and Analysis of Donald Trump’s Tax Plan.” Tax Foundation, September (2015).
Engels, Frederick. “Herr Eugen Dfihring’s Revolution in Science (Anti-Dfihring), trans, by Emile Burns, NY.” (1939): 79.
Kaufman, Alexander C. “Fast-Food Workers Could Face Robot ‘Armageddon’.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 11 Aug. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/fast-food-robot_n_5668600.html.
US Deoartment of Labor Statistics. “Employment Situation.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017, www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.toc.htm