What is the capitalist mode of production?

We explain to you what the capitalist mode of production is according to Marxism, its origin, advantages, disadvantages and other characteristics.

  1. What is the capitalist mode of production?

According to Marxist terminology , the capitalist mode of production is that of capitalist societies that emerged after the Bourgeois Revolutions that ended the medieval feudal model . According to Marx’s postulates, his own internal dynamic leads him to extinction and the final emergence of communism.

The capitalist mode of production is considered by non-Marxist scholars as an economic system, in which the value of goods and services is expressed in monetary terms, the same in which people are rewarded for their work.

On the other hand, for Marxist orthodoxy, capitalism is the economic model in which the bourgeoisie holds control of the means of production . But it is also a model of social, political and economic organization.

Recall that the bourgeoisie is the intermediate social class between the peasant servants and the landowning aristocracy . At the end of the medieval period, along with mercantilism , the dynamics of international merchandise exchange, but also revolutionary advances in technology , science and culture .

All these developments forever changed the way in which human needs were met, shifting the focus of rural labor to urban commerce. Thus, the capitalist mode of production is the system of an industrial era , in which capital has shifted in importance to land tenure.

  1. Characteristics of capitalism

According to the traditional Marxist interpretation, capitalism works on the basis of two pillars. On the one hand, the bourgeoisie control of the means of production (factories, for example). On the other hand, the alienation of workers from their productive work , that is, that the latter feel alien to the work they do.

In this way, the bourgeois can exploit them , paying them a salary in exchange for their work , but taking advantage of surplus value : the added value that the worker’s labor incorporates into the final product. Since this added value far exceeds the worker’s salary, the employment relationship benefits only from the bourgeoisie , which also makes the effort.

In simpler terms, capitalism consists in the exchange of time and the working capacity of workers, for a salary calculated per hour and for the complexity of the tasks to be performed. The salary will never exceed the profits of the factory owner, who invest in it the capital and sometimes the headquarters, but not the work.

From this arrangement the worker obtains money to consume goods and services, while the bourgeois obtains profits that he can reinvest in the business (or make it grow) and money for his own subsistence. The group of workers is called, as a class , proletariat.

Such a socioeconomic arrangement would not be possible without the existence of private property , given that the bourgeoisie owns the means of production , and therefore decides who works and who does not. However, the terms in which the work will be given are negotiated with its workers (unions, unions, etc.) and with the State (ideally).

  1. Origin of the capitalist mode of production

Capitalism as a system emerged after the fall of feudalism in the fifteenth century . The imperial expansion of the main European powers circulated large dimensions of merchandise from other regions of the world. Thus the bourgeoisie was born as a new social class that had defeated the landowning aristocracy of the Middle Ages.

This class of merchants of plebeian origin, but owned capital. Thus they became the owners of the first companies that forever changed the way goods and services are produced in the world.

They promoted scientific, spiritual and political changes that led to the so-called Bourgeois Revolutions, whose climatic point was the fall of monarchical absolutism (with Revolutions such as the French Revolution in 1789, or with gradual transitions) and the beginning of the capitalist democratic republics that We know today.

  1. Advantages of the capitalist mode of production

The advantages of capitalism as a system are notorious, as well as its disadvantages. The positive aspect of the system can be summarized in:

  • Effectiveness and flexibility . Throughout its few centuries of life, the capitalist system has managed to generate wealth and vertiginous advances in scientific, technical and economic aspects, and at the same time adapt to them, changing with the times and remaining undefeated until today.
  • Liberality . Capitalism requires significant quotas of economic and individual freedom , to make entrepreneurship , business risk and the emergence of new initiatives possible. In that sense, it has tended to be more or less liberal, that is, to more or less tolerate the interference of the State in the dynamics that, ideally, would have to regulate the “peace of the market” or the “invisible hand” of the market. The real existence of the latter is a matter of debate.
  • It allows the movement of classes . The possession of money, in principle, is not subject to any other type of human conditions, such as blood in the case of caste societies, and for practical purposes it matters little to the economic market what kind of values ​​a capitalist professes. This allows the lower classes to be able, in theory, to rise as they accumulate capital, and the upper classes to descend, as they lose their ability to do so.
  1. Disadvantages of the capitalist mode of production

On the other hand, the disadvantages of capitalism are also worth mentioning:

  • It allows monopolies and unfair competition . Precisely the liberal mood of capitalism tends to allow the concentration of capital and, therefore, of power in the hands of a few, who control the market and can compete unfairly with others, thus forming monopolies in which few are enriched.
  • The unequal distribution of wealth . Since the social class is not determined by blood or other factors, but by the amount of money the family has, future generations come to the world in frank inequality of opportunity, the result of the concentration of wealth in those who most capital they have, since money, when circulating, generates more money, enriching few to the detriment of many.
  • Consumerism . The society generated by capitalism is focused on consumption and capital raising, often forgetting what that really means and getting caught in a spiral of unnecessary consumption , buying to buy or to correct other spiritual aspects not considered in the equation .
  • The ecological damage . Industrial activity is the heart of the capitalist system, which for almost a century was devoted to the exploitation of natural resources without taking into account other fundamental aspects, such as the ecological impact that the dumping of industrial waste substances had. Thus, at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, climate change and ecological catastrophes appear in the near future horizon, demanding radical and immediate changes in the capitalist production model.
  1. Marxism and surplus value

The concept of surplus value is central to the doctrine of Marxism, which considers it essentially as a robbery that the ruling class makes on the effort of the worker , remaining with a portion of more significant value in monetary terms than that rewarded by salary.

Thanks to labor and union struggles , many of which generated not a few social, political and cultural conflicts throughout the twentieth century, the distribution of such surplus value could be renegotiated between workers and employers, as well as employment conditions.

Thus the hours of employment were rationed, exploitation was controlled and, in a nutshell, a more human capitalism was achieved for the working class . However, according to the doctrine of Karl Marx, such a struggle to free oneself from exploitation would not end until unleashing the historical forces that lead to socialism .

  1. Other modes of production

Just as there is the capitalist mode of production, we can talk about:

  • Asian production mode . Also called hydraulic despotism, since it consists of controlling the organization of society through a single resource needed by all: water , in the case of Egypt and Babylon in ancient times , or irrigation canals in the USSR and China . Thus, the loyal ones receive water to sow their fields, while the fields of the disloyal ones dry up.
  • Mode of socialist production . Proposed as an alternative to capitalism by Marx, it grants control of the means of production to the working or working class, to prevent them from being exploited by the bourgeoisie. Thus, the State assumes the abolition of private property and capital to put collective interests before individuals, as a step towards a society without classes but of such abundant production, that goods are distributed according to need and not according to merit. .
  • Slave production mode . Typical of classical societies of antiquity, such as the Greek or Roman, sustained their production of agricultural goods based on a slave class, subject to a particular legal and social status, sometimes inhuman, which reduced them to being owned by a master private or state. These slaves had no political participation, no property, nor received any reward for their work.

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