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Mill and Marx, Views of Society

Smith recommended freeing the economy from the control of the state. At the time, the mercantilist system prevailed by which the state regulated prices and the conditions of manufacture for goods. Smith argued that the free forces of the marketplace should shape economic decisions, and Smith was the primary advocate of the French view of laissez faire, or letting the economy run on its own. Thomas Malthus suggested that wages and employment were also subject to the laws of supply and demand, and he expressed this idea in his An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus suggested that if employers paid their workers higher salaries, the workers who were better off would marry earlier and have more children. This would mean more workers in the marketplace, which would drive wages down. Malthus thus blamed the workers for their own poverty. A third important economist of the time was David Ricardo, who in his Principles of Political Economy stated that capitalists had to depress wages in order to remain competitive. Underlying the views of all these economists was the idea that the economy is driven by laws and that state intervention would circumvent those laws and cause the situation to deteriorate.

Marx's theory postulated an entrenched stratification of society based almost entirely on economic differences between social classes. Marx described a class system under which economic position determined class ranking and influenced mobility, and for Marx there was no true social mobility but a rigid stratification into the bourgeois and proletarian classes. For Marx, social classes were part of a system of economic exploitation, with the bourgeoisie, or capitalist class, controlling the means of production and exploiting the work of the proletariat, or working class. Marx believed that this exploitation of the working class would lead inevitably to class conflict and to the destruction of the system of capitalism ...

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Mill and Marx, Views of Society. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:48, September 21, 2017, from
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