Marx’s Criticism of Capitalism, Part 2
Marx opposed the standard arguments for “profit, wages, and value because those explanations, in accounting for the difference between the labor embodied in and the labor commanded by a commodity, did not lead up to a condemnation of profit as resting upon exploitation, which Marx believed it to do” (Cropsey 816). Due to private ownership of the means of production, “production is carried on not directly for its true purpose—the satisfaction of wants—but for the special advantage of the owners of the means of production” (Cropsey 817). And so labor’s social quality is interfered with and distorted by the mode production. Thus, ironically, what Adam Smith perceived as a unique advantage of private enterprise (i.e., “voluntary performance of a social function” influenced by a motive for personal benefit) is in contrast considered by Marx as the basis for “the inequity and instability in the prevailing system” (Cropsey 817-818).
Cropsey, Joseph. “Karl Marx.” In History of Political Philosophy. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, eds. 3rd ed. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
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