Defects of Capitalism According to Marx and Engels

1) Although the workers, including technical workers, produce the wealth, their share of it remains disproportionately low.  Moreover, they are under the power of a handful of capitalists and the highest paid managers who produce nothing.

2) The modern state is but a committee to manage the affairs of all of business. 

3) The only bond between man and man is naked self-interest and cash payment.

Earlier on, people were constrained by principles exogenous to economics, such as religious principles, principles of chivalry, loyalty to kings, etc.  Nowadays, the worker is for sale to the highest bidder and as we all know, when it comes to conflicts between profit and other values, business is business.  Let's face it folks.  We're all whores.

4) The only freedom preserved is free trade or, as it is termed when restricted to domestic affairs, free enterprise. 

Undoubtedly, low animal cunning will stand one in better stead in the pursuit of wealth than will finely honed human sensibilities.  Is this the sort of character that society should reward?

5) Instead of exploitation veiled by religious or political illusions, capitalism has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

Kings ruled by divine right, which was transferred to the rest of the nobility according to their hereditary rights.  The serf's duty to his feudal lord was based on traditions carefully nurtured by those who had the most to gain from them.  One might argue that the great virtue of capitalism was that it stripped away all that nonsense and replaced it by something we can understand.  The rich have the money and power and control the goods we need to live.  The situation is plain.  To eat one has to serve the rich in one way or the other.

6) Capitalism has dishonored every occupation.

7) Capitalism has reduced the family to a mere money relation.

8) Capitalism requires the constant revolution of the means of production with its attendant personal hardship and social disorder.

9) Capitalism requires constantly expanding markets, therefore it has spread itself like a cancer over the entire globe.

10) It has destroyed the national basis of industry, destroying self-sufficiency and necessitating heavy transport.

11) It has created desires and needs where previously none existed.

12) It forces Western civilization and the capitalist mode of production on every nation and society.

13) Capitalism has subjected rural life to rule by the cities.  To a great extent rural life has simply disappeared.  [In fact, capitalism has nearly replaced rural life with urbanization with all of its attendant evils.]

14) It has made the less-"developed" nations dependent on the more-"developed".

15) Capitalism has concentrated wealth into the hands of a few.

16) It necessitates political centralization. 

This is a deficiency that it shares with socialism.  In a very real sense, capitalism causes socialism, so, if one is against socialism, one should not embrace capitalism either.

17) It attempts to subjugate nature to man without regard to the consequences.

18) Capitalism has released forces it cannot control.

19) It creates the necessity of revolution.

20) It creates commercial crises of increasing severity, e.g, the epidemic of overproduction that leads to depressions.

21) It deals with economic crises by paving the way for even deeper crises in the future.

22) It treats human beings like commodities, cf., the labor market.

23) Work has lost its individual character and, hence, its charm.

24) The more repulsive the work, the lower the wages.

25) As the use of machinery and division of labor becomes more widespread, the burden of toil increases either by the lengthening of working hours or by the increase in work per unit time due to the increased speed of the machines.  Man is enslaved by the machine.

26) Masses of laborers crowded into factories are organized like soldiers, with sargents, lieutenants, etc.

27) Profit is in conflict with every decent human tendency, in particular the natural priorities of an honest enterprise.

According to my standards, as discussed in a previous chapter, the priorities of an honest enterprise should be (i) to do no harm, (ii) if the first priority is satisfied, to ensure the happiness and spiritual growth of its participants, (iii) if the first two priorities are satisfied, to produce a quality product (or service).  In a materialistic society, if the first three priorities are met, an enterprise might glean a reasonable profit.  If, at any point, one of the first three priorities is not met, the enterprise should terminate itself.

28) Differences in age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class.  All are instruments of labor, more or less expensive to use according to their age and sex.

29) The worker is set upon by other predatory businessmen as soon as he is paid.

30) The lower strata of the middle class are sinking into the working class partly because of inequities of scale.

31) The workers direct their frustrations against the wrong targets, against imported goods or the instruments of production themselves rather than against the capitalists.

I am not convinced that imported goods can be justified under any circumstances, particularly if the energy costs of moving goods are non-negligible, but my chief objection is to distance rather than the crossing of international borders; i.e., I might prefer to import an item from Canada to Michigan rather than from Texas to Michigan, if the item cannot be produced in the count where it is to be used.  

32) The workers fight the enemies of their enemies, in particular, the remnants of the aristocracy, small landlords, and small businessmen.  Also, members of the working class fight those who have slightly more than themselves because the rich are isolated.  The unemployed prey upon the employed.

33) Wages are unstable due to competition among capitalists and economic cycles.

34) Development of new machinery makes the livelihood of the worker ever more precarious. 

35) Instability leads to social disorder including riots, which are not usually aimed at the sources of the trouble.

36) Capitalists from different country fight trade wars and shooting wars.

37) The conditions of life of the disenfranchised class caused by capitalism make it susceptible to bribery by reactionaries.

38) The worker is deprived of every standard of human society, national character, family, culture.

This has been more the case in Europe than in America, which had no national culture to speak of until movies and jazz music arrived.  But, capitalism has debased culture wherever it has found any by commercializing the arts and corrupting the artists.  Popular culture in America, that is, culture for profit, e,g., popular music, has assaulted the sensibilities of the lower classes and, to a great extent, the upper classes too, which shows that the weapons of capitalism are often turned upon itself.

39) The poverty of the worker grows faster than the wealth of the capitalist, faster even than population.

41) Finally, capitalism is the cause of a class struggle that threatens to dwarf all previous human conflict.  Like the man said, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."