Many scholarly observations have been made by various scholars regarding macroeconomic exploitation and capitalism with regards to labor. Among such scholars is Karl Marx who, in spite of many criticisms, has been able to have an enormous impact on the world of economic with his theoretical assertions on various issues. However, in this paper, major concentration is going be to on Marx’s theory on exploitation in regards to labor and its impact on economy, capitalism and labor.
In essence, doing a critical analysis on Marx’s theory on exploitation is not only important in giving us in-depth information into Marx’s ideologies but it is also vital in helping us reduce the devastating effects of market exploitation.
According to Marx exploitation theory, the diversifications and intricacies of the need to amass economic power has led to a situation whereby some individuals or personalities take advantage of the labor/effort of other people and benefit from it thus continually gaining more economic power while the exploited individuals continue to languish in abject powerlessness and poverty (Marx 70-74).
Critical Evaluation of Marx’s theory on exploitation
Karl Marx’s theory acknowledges the fundamental role played by the labor—especially by the technicians and the supervisors, as well as that of ordinary workers (Best). Marx points out that emphasis should be made on the different superiority of individuals in terms of their physical and mental capabilities when it comes to labor issues. Moreover, he says that the rights of the workers, in regards to labor, tend to be unequal especially in communist societies. Therefore, such discriminations in labor should be duly considered.
Marx, being a renowned economic analyst, extensively argues against economic injustice. He campaigns for an atmosphere that promotes an equal amount of labor for whatever product given. Unlike many socialists who do believe exploitation occurs in economic environments, Marx’s subjective value theory implies that “a transaction will only occur when both parties prefer the benefits of the exchange over the costs” (Best).
A capitalist exploiting his/her power is normally reflected directly by the misfortune of the workers. To Marx, in any civilized society, there should be a variety of options to deal with any nature of problem unlike socialists who feels one is entirely at the mercy of the power of the state (Marx 75-77). To support this, Marx states most studies indicate that a free economy offers freedom for creativity and innovation thus creating better chances for economic progress and productivity when compared to centralized economies.
Psychologically, it has also been proven that exploitation has emotional effects on individuals. The so-called boss takes the overall charge and gives orders which eventually favor him/her to great deal. On the other hand, workers tend to be neglected with very little attention being paid to their needs.
This is more-or-less similar to the vocalizations of Adam Smith’s argument that, in rigid centralized societies; citizens are exploited severally when foreigners extract and export natural resources at the expense of local labor just because they have more capital. Effectually, the locals become demoralized and thus making the country lag behind in terms of economic prosperity.
According to Marx, exploitation is also based on the ownership of private property. Any investment made on a private property simply means responsibility by the investors. The owner knows the risk of investments and will try possible ways to protect these investments while trying to maximize the business outputs. However, Marx notes that private ownership of property in communal arenas tends to be wasteful and exploitative since several people with various ideologies want to capitalize on the same business venture (Conway).
Critical analysis also indicates that exploitation is evident amongst gender—with most women being exploited by the men folk. Physically, men are believed to be stronger than women. Consequently division of labor is mostly done such that women engage in relatively light chores (which mostly do not pay much) while men engage in tough jobs (which mostly pay more); something which some scholars view as discrimination. Nonetheless, modernization and technology have, to great extent, helped in reducing this nature of labor discrimination.
Speculations from various quarters are that women are the mostly exploited sexually as the community regards them as sexual beings. Most women are held home by their husbands who fear their wives may be exposed to sexual violation by their male counter parts at work place.
Employers are to a larger extent blamed on various occasions for exploiting their female employees in the form of pornography, strip dancing and prostitution with threats of being sacked if they do not do so. Such issues are among the key reasons why both Marx and Smith opposed work discrimination.
Generally it is considered in the views of the majority that the higher the liberty of a market, the more chances it as in exploiting people while amassing great strength in terms of capitals. The most outstanding factor here is that, in as much as workers may genuinely increase their efforts towards economic prosperity of any field of production; their interests, needs and expectations should be greatly be considered and looked upon as an incentive of motivating them to enjoy their duties and responsibilities.
Another aspect observed and further criticized is the issue of workers being overworked for longer hours as stipulated in work codes yet the extended hours are poorly or not remunerated at all. This, he says, is a crime against humanity not far from slavery. As a recommendation, he opines clear guidelines rules and regulations should not only be put in place but also strictly observed to ensure that safety of each individual employee is safeguarded.
A strong indication of unfairness in the distribution of income resources was strongly opposed by Marx who pin-pointed this economic areas as being vastly exploitative. Notably, prior to Marx assertions, most economists rarely paid attention to such injustices and disputed them as baseless with no specific impact to the economy. However, great concern has, since then, been witnessed on such issues.
Another strong ideology on exploitation and economy, by Marx, explains that any ideal economy can actually produce excess goods and services compared to what is needed to for real social cost of production. According to Marx, real costs should include both labor and capital costs hence the question arises as per which appropriate way is to be adopted in to socially distribute the produced surplus amongst the relevant individuals in the society.
Proper rules and regulation should be clearly stipulated in order to safeguard the rights of every individual worker in regards to equal wage for the labor, good working conditions and over exploitation by their employers. Moreover, these labor laws should be put in black and white and fully implemented by the government to ensure maximum protection of its citizens against any form of discrimination (Conway).
Another elemental ideology in Marx’s theory of exploitation was that a good economy of any capacity can provide enough goods and services that may directly or indirectly be required to run the whole actual social cost of production.
An important suggestion made by Marx was in regard to the equitable or rather considerate way in which these resourceful outcomes of the produce can benefit the genuine and real stakeholders who positively endure the participation towards the achievement of set expectations and goals. However, some political and economic analysts also raise major protests in this argument saying that it is evaluated as the root cause of disintegration, political anxieties and civil wars.
To a larger extent, this has brought adverse consequences to the civil societies as a result of many individuals being displaced, total destruction to properties human, livestock, disrupted labor patterns and flow, among many others . Resultantly, the economy will be duly affected and may take a while to resuscitate and grow again eventually.
Direct relationship between the worker and production brings a major concern in the discussion. Here, it is said that labor produces wonderful things but, to workers, it can only be enjoyable if their efforts are equally rewarded for the labor input. The worker is to enjoy the work and not becoming a physical subject that he/she is just a worker and nothing more.
Moreover, man is separately considered as an actual living species therefore a free being man regards one another in terms of the nature of work or activity one does in the current society making work an essential part of human being that must be fully exploited (Marx 78-80).
Alternatively, work is believed to be the source of livelihood that any responsible citizen must pursue formally or informally to make a positive contribution to his/her country’s economy. In this essence, any serious nation should at least try as much as possible to create adequate provisions to its citizens to secure a chance in either private or public sectors.
Finally, it would be important to note that, in as much as an individual may be hired for his labor, considerations should be put in place to equivalently determine the amount of work in relation to the wages to be paid. Justice of this nature to workers surprisingly increases their performance and as an incentive it boosts the levels of productions and morale of the entire workforce. Gender discrimination especially to the womenfolk should be discouraged if special and amazing talents are to be natured across all the gender.
From the discussions above, it is evident that proper establishment s of labor laws should be put in place to extensively cater for any form of injustice or exploitation to workers and that an equal payment should equivalently be rewarded to an equal amount of labor. Condemnation is strongly made against the overall personal relationship between the capitalists and those of their workers.
Finally, gender is generally viewed in the sense that it should not be used as strength by the male to exploit their female counterparts as each individual has basic rights as stipulated in the labor by laws. Instead, the differences in physical or mental capabilities of people based on gender should be channeled in a way that all genders work together towards the ultimate goal of ensuring progress.
Best, Ben. Thoughts on Exploitation Theory. 2010. Web. 7 Apr. 2012.
Conway, David. A Farewell to Marx: An Outline and Appraisal of His Theories. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1987.98-124. Print.
Marx, Karl. Capital: An Abridged Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.