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Smith and Marx on Capitalism

Smith and Marx on Capitalism

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Published by Jared
I wrote this essay for my History of World Civilization Class. It is an essay capitalism, comparing Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' The Communist Manifesto.
I wrote this essay for my History of World Civilization Class. It is an essay capitalism, comparing Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' The Communist Manifesto.

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Published by: Jared on Nov 09, 2009
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04/25/2011

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Jared Moreno20 October 2009Bill JonesTwo Views on the Industrial RevolutionThe Industrial Revolution and the new economic system, capitalism, changed everythingfrom previous epochs. The way people produced, the way people survived, the way people livedand the ideas that people had were completely revolutionized in an extremely short period of time. Both Adam Smith and Karl Marx observed this new system. Adam Smith wrote about thissystem as it started and Karl Marx a hundred years after once the consequences were revealed.Adam Smith brought the idea of capitalism into being with his book Wealth of Nations. KarlMarx critically critiqued this new system in his pamphlet called “The Communist Manifesto.”The debate between the two philosopher's ideas continues long after their deaths.There would have to be conditions met for the Industrial Revolution and the neweconomic system to be established. There needed to be large populations living in centralizedareas, so they could work in factories. A problem with this was that the majority of people livedout in the farmlands living as peasants. They worked in agriculture, so they could feedthemselves and their families. Technology and changes in how agriculture was handled helpedliberate people from this laborious task of farming. With the level of food production increasingand because of advances in agriculture, less people were needed to work as farmers. Therefore,farmland became concentrated among a few large landowners and the rest of the people movedto urbanize cities to find new ways of living. These people became the first workers in a newkind of society advanced in technology and production.
 
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What encouraged the Industrial Revolution more than the advances in agriculture wasthe improvement in technology. It was the change in technology which greatly contributed to theincrease of production. New technological advancements made factory work and productionfaster. Technology also helped the transportation of products and resources. Some of the earliestinventions took place in Britain. The first inventions were used to increase cotton textile production. The Flying Shuttle was invented in 1733 and the Spinning Jenny in 1764. Alongwith these inventions, Strayer stated how “the great breakthrough was the steam engine, which provided an inanimate and almost limitless source of power beyond that of wind, water, or muscle and could be used to drive any number of machines as well as locomotives andoceangoing ships.”1 Combined with the invention of steel, railroads and steamships provided afast transportation of goods and resources. Inventions also helped the extraction of resourcessuch as iron and coal. In every area of life, technology greatly improved the productioncapabilities of Europe, especially Britain, at the start of the Industrial Revolution.Another step in improving production beyond the advancement in technology was AdamSmith’s ideas on the division of labor. Smith describes about how this new style of productionwhen he says “the greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater partof the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.”2The division of labor was the assigning of specifictasks in the development of a product to one person instead of that one person making the entire product. To make a product today, it goes through an assembly line where every worker 
1Robert W. Strayer
Ways of the World A Brief Global History 
(Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009)528.2Adam Smith “From the Wealth of Nations” in
Worlds of History A Comparative Reader,
3rdEd., Kevin Reilly (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007) 235.
 
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contributes to a specific job in building that product. It takes more than one person doing arepetitive task to make a shoe today. This division speeds the time of production because theworker does not waste time switching from one task to another. As well, each worker becomesexceptionally good at doing one specific task, over and over again, without tiring. Division of labor successfully made workers far more productive than at any other time in history.As well as the concept of division of labor, Smith created the idea of the “InvisibleHand.” When comparing importation of products from foreign countries in contrast to producingthe same products within the country, Smith said:He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows howmuch he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, heintends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, . . .led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.3 According to Smith, those who could produce goods within their own country could better their wealth by seeking their interests, but they also promoted the interests of the rest of their countryand all the people who lived there, even unknowingly to the producer. With the assistace of theinvisible hand, they were able to promote the wealth of everyone because they promoted their own interests.Although it almost seemed like the ideal world of Smith was coming true, this newsystem left many people behind. His ideas encouraged new levels of production far greater thanany previous system. The wealth of the world was increasing rapidly. Instead of all this wealth
3Adam Smith “From the Wealth of Nations” in
Worlds of History A Comparative Reader,
3rdEd., Kevin Reilly (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007) 239

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