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Lessons from Karl Marx

Karl Marx is perhaps one of the most important thinkers of recent history. Wars have been waged in his name by the followers of different brands of Marxism and communism. The academe and even the realm of art and society have been affected by the ideas of Marx. By studying the ideas of Marx, any serious student will have several ideas regarding the institutions of society, how they work, and how they could be interpreted in light of the different factors at work in the society.

Contemporary society is still built upon the ideas of capitalism. Up to a certain degree, the promises of capitalism have been severely discredited due to the collapse of the USSR and the apparent foray of China into capitalism. Yet, if the ideas of Marx will be analyzed and understood properly, they could yield important insights as to the modes of production and the relationships of labor and capital as well as the process of generating wealth and producing products and services all over the world.

The ideas and concepts of Karl Marx have significant impact on the economics of a nation, particularly, in understanding the changes in labor and the overall process of producing products and services. In recent years, there have been significant changes in the mode of production. The traditional means of producing products are still in place. There are raw materials that are meant to be processed through the use of labor and other means of production. However, in addition to people making products out of raw materials, there are now a lot of machines and even robots that aid in the process of production.

In this case, labor, the way that Marx understood it in his time has changed radically. In a more specific meaning, labor now refers to the workforce of any given company when Marx used it, labor referred to the process in which humans changed nature to produce something meaningful and which can give value and resource. Labor is just like the machine that transforms raw materials into the finished products. Usually, the means of production advances first before the rules in governing such means are devised.

As an example of this, we have already seen, and still continue to see, the phenomenal rise of the Internet and the way it is impacting the lives of people all over the world. Now that the Internet is being used freely by peoples all over the world, the rules and regulations that should apply to the Internet are not yet fixed and are not yet implemented. This is perhaps because of the lack of capability to enforce such rules and regulations or as Karl Marx pointed out, the relations of production, which refers to the different relationships and processes that people implement to produce something, have not yet been put in place.

Apparently, Karl Marx has been right in saying that the discrepancy between the means of production and the relations of production do create conflicts and disruptions in the system. This can be seen, too, in our experience with the Internet. Although it is a very relevant and useful tool in conducting all kinds of businesses in the world today, there are also those whose economic security and social power are being eroded by the Internet. Take the example of hackers and online pirates who only want to gain economic and perhaps political advantage through such illegal activities.

They are but exploiting the weaknesses of the system. Yet, with what they are doing, they appear to be taking the means and mode of production to another level. True enough, the contributions of individual laborers are still important. What is happening, however, is that workers now are pressured to know more knowledge and more skills to effectively beat the competition. Capital also has changed drastically in the past several years. There is greater mobility nowadays.

Thanks to the advances in travel technology and high-speed Internet, transferring money, making investments, and talking to clients across the seas have become highly possible. It is no longer a surprise to see the money of a company from Japan or the United States to be taken to Malaysia or Indonesia for investment in different industries there. Capital therefore has moved beyond borders and is being used in financing different business and public efforts in both developed and less developed countries. This movement in capital is also accompanied by a movement of labor and workers.

The number of migrant workers all over the world is increasing. This is because of the lure of greater money. Economics is still a great power to deal with in the society. It displaces people, disrupts the process of production and introduces new sets of behaviors and social processes. Although Karl Marx wrote his ideas in a place and time vastly different from what is now in place, there are still important lessons that must be drawn from him to better understand the situation of the society, specifically that of the economics and distribution of wealth of the country.

Marx lauded communism as a viable and workable alternative to capitalism. Social institutions are built upon a large section of economics just as Marx wrote. But economics is also an important pillar of any given society. By understanding the process of production, the role of labor and capital and how they apply to contemporary society, a better world can be created.

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