Self, Culture and Society

Self,Culture and Society

Thecapitalist mode of production has been one of the most controversialtopics in both the contemporary and conventional human societies.Capitalism underlines a political and economic system where the tradeand industry of a country are not under the control of the state butof private owners whose main aim is making profit, sometimes to thedetriment of the public good. Of particular note is the fact thatthis system has been subject to immense debate. Its supporters havealways underlined the fact that the system would be morally justifiednot on the basis of its altruism but based on the fact that it is themost efficient way for achieving the common good. However, the systemhas also attracted immense criticism particularly fromsocialist-leaning scholars. This paper explores Fredrick Engels’works “Theoretical” to determine his views on capitalism andmaterialism. In this article, he has underlined the assertion thatthe capitalist production system is contradictory, giving rise to aseries of economic and social conflicts.

  1. Historical Materialism

Oneof the most conspicuous aspects of Fredrick Engels’ work is hisdefinition of historical materialism. This concept may be summarizedin the statement that the existence of men is not determined by theirconsciousness rather their social existence would determine theirconsciousness. This theory underlines the notion that economicelements may be used in explaining non-economic phenomena. Engelsnoted that people have to produce or procure the necessities thatallow them to survive and reproduce. Human beings are seen asproducers whose production is composed of two unique elementsincluding the social and the material. The social element ofproduction underlines a social process through which individualscooperate in the production of the things they require. More oftenthan not, this element involves social relations pertaining to theindividuals involved, which particularly concern the regulation ofthe production process, as well as the distribution of the products.The material element revolves around the production of life’sphysical necessities. When producing these necessities, individualsgenerate the social form within which they can carry out theproduction process. In this regard, tribesmen who reproduce wouldgive rise to their tribe, while slaves would produce slavery.

Fundamentalcontradiction of Capitalism

Thefundamental contradiction of slavery underlines the fact that thebasic nature of capitalism exploitation system profoundly contradictsthe human ideals that would inspire genuine producers. As Engels sawit, this was the contradiction between social production andcapitalist appropriation” (Engels 349). This is manifested as theantagonism pitting proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Initially,agricultural wage laborers had their own land, in which case workingfor wages was simply an exception. However, there was a paradigmshift after the means of production became social and primarily inthe hands of capitalists. This saw the wage labor shift or change asa side occupation to the rule and fundamental way of carrying outproduction. Part-time wage laborers had to embrace it full time astheir exclusive activity.Initially, capitalist production methodsgot into a society of individual producers and commodity producerswho had their social nexus mediated via product exchange.Unfortunately, the producers have lost command over their socialrelations.

  1. Contradictions arising from the Fundamental Contradiction

  1. Between the organization of production in the individual factory and the anarchy of production in society as a whole

Inthe medieval society, individuals used to produce for their own use.Commodity production came into being after they managed surplusproduction, with the surplus being offered for sale, thereby givingrise to production for exchange. The expansion of commodityproduction gave rise to the capitalist mode of production where thelaws of commodity production that were previously dormant startedoperating in a more potent and open manner. This transformed theproducers into autonomous and isolated commodity producers. As timewent by, the anarchy in social production increased, with thecapitalist mode of production increasing the anarchy being theopposite of the anarchy where the production was increasinglyorganized as social production in every person’s productiveestablishment (Engels 351). Eventually, there erupted strugglesbetween individual producers, which grew into national struggles andcommercial wars. Eventually, large scale industry and theestablishment of the world market enhanced the universal nature ofthe struggle, while also giving it unparalleled virulence (Engels352).

  1. The mode of production rebels against the mode of exchange the productive forces rebel against the mode of production, which they have outgrown

Thiselement of the fundamental contradiction occurs after the economiccollision reaches the culminating point. At this point, the socialproduction organization in the factor will have developed to such anextent that it is incompatible with the production anarchy in thesociety. Commodity circulation would be reduced to nothing, whilemoney, which is the means of circulation, would hinder itscirculation. In essence, every law pertaining to commoditycirculation and commodity production would be turned upside down. Theentire capitalist mode of production mechanism would break down as aresult of the production forces that it has created, in which case itwould not be capable of transforming the entire means of productionto capital. Eventually, the mass would be lying idle. The abundanceof the means of production would become the source of want anddistress since abundance is an obstacle to the conversion of themeans of production, as well as subsistence into capital.

  1. Conclusion: The Ultimate Outcome of Historical Development of Capitalism

Throughincreasing modification of the majority of the masses toproletarians, the capitalist production technique generates a forcethat completes the revolution where the proletariat would seize statepower and modifies the means of production to state property. In thiscase, the proletariat would be essentially eliminating its nature asproletariat, as well as the all class antagonisms and differences.Once the state becomes representative of the entire society, it wouldmake itself superfluous. The anarchy of production that was inexistence is eliminated alongside the excesses and collisions thatarose from them. There would be nothing more to repress and it wouldnot be necessary to have the special repressive force that is thestate. Ironically, the first action in which the state comes forwardto be a real representative of the entire society through taking overthe means of production would also be its last autonomous act as astate. Eventually, the state power interference in social relationwould become superfluous in the varied spheres before it dies away(Engels 363). In essence, the administration of things would replacethe government of persons alongside the direction of productionprocesses. Of particular note is the fact that the state would not beabolished rather it would wither away.


Engels,Fredrick. Theoretical in Engels, Fredrick. “Anti-Dühring”.New York: FOREIGN LANGUAGES PRESS PEKING 1998, Print