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Why Does the Work of Karl Marx, as a Classical Sociologist in the Nineteenth Century Reflect the Historical Concept of Modernity?

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Introduction

WHY DOES THE WORK OF KARL MARX, AS A CLASSICAL SOCIOLOGIST IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY REFLECT THE HISTORICAL CONCEPT OF MODERNITY? We live in a world where technological achievements, unimaginable in previous societies, are within our grasp. We are in the age of space travel, the Internet, genetic engineering. Yet never before have human's been so threatened by the forces they have created themselves; this is also the age of global warming, nuclear disasters and armed war. Despite our power to control the natural world, our society is determined by insecurity, as economic recession and military conflict devastate lives. To Karl Marx, these contradictions were apparent when the system was still young. This essay will look at some of the ideas put forward by Marx and assess their suitability and effectiveness in reflecting the concept of modernity. Marxism was, for many years, the main focal point for debates about modernity and its impact on the world. For Karl Marx, modernity is bound up above all with the imperatives of Capitalist development. Capitalism is driven by the need to constantly generate profit, upon which investment in a competitive market economy is dependent. According to Marx, Capitalism is a contradictory social order, containing tensions that will sooner or later lead to its downfall. ...read more.

Middle

The labour of humans, however, was distinguished from that of animals because human beings developed consciousness. To support these ideas, Ernst Fischer also described what is unique about human labour. He explained that because we act on nature consciously, we build our successes and develop new ways of producing the things we need. This means that we create a history, whereas animals do not. Working on nature alters not only the natural world, but the labourer himself. Marx frequently reinforced this idea and explained that by acting on the external world and changing it, the labourer at the same time changes his own nature. Therefore labour is a dynamic process through which the labourer shapes and moulds the world he lives in and stimulates and motivates himself to create and innovate. The first recognition of the fact that the world can be changed by conscious activity contains all future, as yet unknown, but inevitable change. The emergence of class divisions in which one class has control over the means of producing what society needed, led to a further division between individuals and the society to which they belonged. In feudal society, humans had not yet developed the means to control the natural world. All social relationships conditioned by development of the productive powers of the labour force and limited relations of men between the process of creating and reproducing their material life. ...read more.

Conclusion

He pointed out that Marx had diagnosed long ago the expanding nature of industrial capitalism. The analysis of modernity, which Marx, along with Frederich Engels, developed, holds that modern production unleashes extraordinary transformative powers, which capitalist society is poorly equipped to control. In their Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels analyse modernity and see the bourgeoisie as a profoundly revolutionary class, setting in motion an extraordinary train of events, creating more formidable and sophisticated forces of production that any previous century had managed. People's lives are, therefore, controlled by a revolutionary bourgeoisie class- a class with a vested interest in change, crisis and chaos. In the manifesto Marx and Engels foretell a massively influential set of social developments which have characterised Western societies from around the nineteenth century onwards. However, it is suggested that this era of 'organised capitalism' that they outline, has, in certain societies, come to an end and there is a set of significant transformations that have recently been disorganising contemporary capitalist societies. (Social Theory, 1994) Marx has built a relational model of economic production relations and attempts to demonstrate the implications of this model, not just for the economy but for the political, social and cultural aspects of a society. His theory is holistic and his work sees individuals as second to the social structures that surround them. Marx is committed to the view that history and society are the products of invariant laws that individuals must come to understand. ...read more.

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