Sociology Index


The contradictions of capitalism, its inability in turn to take society forward ensured that it would be superseded by socialism. The phrase 'contradictions of capitalism' is associated with Karl Marx (1818-1883) who claimed that capitalist society suffered from two unresolvable problems that would prevent both social harmony and a stable economic life. Contradictions of Capitalism is sometimes used to describe virtually any malfunction or indeed objectionable feature of the capitalist system.

In Marx's theory of historical materialism the notion of contradiction played a more fundamental role. First, Marx assumed that the competitive processes of a capitalist market society would lead to a concentration of capital ownership in fewer and fewer hands. Marx built this claim on the assumption, which he holds in common with laissez faire economics, that a competitive economy must lead inevitably to the elimination of some producers by others, there must be winners and losers and the winners would grow increasingly large.

Capitalism, Marx argued, contrary to the general assumption of laissez faire economics, had an inherent tendency towards concentration of capital in oligopolies and monopolies. The concentration of capital involved, first of all, the displacement of the handworker and the craftsworker and increasing domination of factory-based technology. An industrial proletariat of wage workers emerged, and grew larger, as independent producers were eliminated by factory-based competition. When capitalist corporations grow more concentrated and larger, the number of individuals owning the means of production become fewer. The class structure becomes polarized and the economic and social conditions of the two opposed main classes become more strongly contrasted.

This leads to political activation of the working class and prolonged conflict with the dominant bourgeois class through political and industrial organization. It is this social polarization that provides the unsolveable social or relational contradiction of capitalist society. The social organization of a capitalist society also presented an inherent structural contradiction in the economic dynamics of capitalism. The social effects of such instability in turn must intensify the political struggle of social classes hastening the event of socialist revolution.

Contradictions of Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics - by Lenny Jr. Flank. Flank illustrates some of the most blatant contradictions of capitalism. Contradictions of Capitalism gives a concise explanation of the crises of the capitalist system.

Contradictions of Capitalism, Andrew Glyn - Glyn A. (1990) Contradictions of Capitalism. In: Eatwell J., Milgate M., Newman P. (eds) Marxian Economics. The New Palgrave. Palgrave Macmillan, London. Writers in the Marxist tradition frequently make use of the term contradiction of capitalism.

The Cultural Contradictions Of Capitalism
Daniel Bell. The relationship between a civilization's socioeconomic structure and its culture is perhaps the most complicated of all problems for the sociologist. A nineteenth century tradition, one deeply impregnated with Marxist conceptions, held that changes in social structure determined man's imaginative reach. An earlier vision of man as homo pictor, the symbol-producing animal, rather than as homo faber, the tool-making animal saw him as a creature uniquely able to prefigure what be would later "objectify" or construct in reality. It thus ascribed to the realm of culture the initiative for change. Whatever the truth of these older arguments about the past, today culture has clearly become supreme; what is played out in the imagination of the artist foreshadows, however dimly, the social reality of tomorrow.

Theoretical notes On the two contradictions of capitalism, James O'Connor.

The second contradiction of capitalism, The Material/Communal Conditions of Life. Martin O'Connor.

Marx, Nietzsche, and the Contradictions of Capitalism. In: Nietzsche and Critical Social Theory. Ishay Landa.