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Both Adam Smith and Karl Marx are considered two of the top twenty most influential people in the world for the millennium. They both are respected in their views for creating a perfect society where everyone is happy. Adam Smith, a brilliant Scottish political economist philosopher born in 1723, had the goal of perfect liberty for all individuals through the capitalistic approach. While Karl Marx, born in 1818, believed in individual freedom for society and logically criticized capitalism giving reasons as to why it was irrational and why it would fall. Figuring out what kind of state will ensure the greatest freedom or liberty of individuals was their main philosophical problem. They differed in their views of human nature, the social decisions made in the society, the role of competition, and the effects of the division of labor on human beings.
Perfect liberty according to Smith, will allow a system of natural liberty to establish itself in which every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way. This self-interest produces a market and in effect produces perfect liberty.
In Smiths theory of human nature, Smith suggests that human nature will turn the beneficence of the rich to the poor out of sympathy for their condition. Marx did not agree with Smiths passions of human nature and the phenomena of sympathy. Marx said that, because it was always in the economic interest of capita to take advantage of or exploit workers, nothing could persuade capitalists to change their ways. He thought peaceful progress towards equality and social justice was impossible. The only way to establish justice was for the workers to overthrow the capitalists by means of violent revolution, according to Marx. He urged workers around the world to revolt against their rulers.
Marx says that all injustice and inequality is a result of one underlying conflict in society. He believed there was a class struggle between the class of people who can afford to own money-producing businesses or the Bourgeoisie, and the class of people who do not have buy to supply themselves so therefore are forced to work for wage whom he called workers, or the Proletariats. He believed capitalism caused this conflict. Marx also thought that capitalism turned people into machines. The population would move out to urban areas to find work in factories. There was no protection for them, there were low wages, horrible working conditions and many tragedies occurred during this time.
Smith thought the market should be the main engine and focus on society and the economy other than the state. His theory on the roles of the state is an approach that the wealthy stay out of the state and let the market do its own thing. He believed in the invisible hand concept, which converts the private interests and passions of man into the public good. He believed in free competition, where people compete, the prices are reasonable, and this in result causes them to shop around. He makes a strong argument that this theory for the assertion of a free market will provide overall good for society. He assures the availability of goods people want, encourages an efficient use of resources and production, promotes innovations and productivity, and results in an unfettered market where more goods are produced and more wealth is created.
Marx thinks that the market is just the market setting its own wages. The Bourgeoisie is the urban class that can talk to the state, and the state is under the thumb of the Bourgeoisie. He concluded that competition drove capitalists to cut the costs as much as possible and this was done through cutting the wages of the laborers. The public then could not even afford the products they produced. Also competition led to overproduction which led to lay-offs and periods of depression. He thought this brought misery for all of society. Marx also believed that man should not only labor as an individual, but for society as well. However under this capitalist system, man was working for a boss, who only seeked profit, and not the well being of his workers, or the public. He believed that these workers were getting mentally and physically drained. Marxs solution was through socialism, which would bring a society, which was based on collective ownership, the means of production, equal distribution of goods and services, rational economic planning, and production for human need.
Adam Smith also theorized that the division of labor is the root of all opulence in civilization. He believed that workers working in an assembly line would be more skilled because they could become more specialized in a certain field or function. This would give an increase of dexterity in every particular workman. This increases the quantity of the work he can perform. Also they would be able to learn more skills, and have more leisure time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another. Self-interest would evolve around this notion of division of labor, and he also believed this specialization of skills would increase wages. Marx came back and showed that this division of labor and specialization did not raise wages and that the people that worked in the factories were like slaves in machines.
It is clearly evident that Adam Smith and Karl Marx were two of the greatest men in the history of the world. Both of them focus on society and the economy and how the state would not be the main engine. They both wrote famous documents, Adam Smiths The Wealth of Nations and Karl Marxs Communist Manifesto, which back up their theories for benefiting the society the best.
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