Karl Marx Vs Adam Smith Analysis

2003 Words 9 Pages
Although Adam Smith and Karl Marx have radically different economic theories, both their ideologies have the same goal in mind: greater freedom. Their divergent views therefore arise from their different ideas of what freedom is. Smith ties freedom to financial gain whereas Marx ties freedom to financial ownership. These differing views on freedom can be seen in their different attitudes towards machinery. While Smith sees machinery as furthering the efficiency of society which he connects to the freedom of workers, Marx sees it as furthering the estrangement and exploitation of workers.
Smith believes that workers are most free when they have the opportunity to further their self interest. The self interest he describes is primarily that
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He believes workers are only free when they have ownership over themselves. For this to happen they must have ownership over their labor. In the case of capitalism he remarks that a worker’s labor “does not belong to his essential being, in that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. [...] His labour is therefore not voluntary but coerced; it is forced labour. [...] in the same way the worker’s activity is not his spontaneous activity. It belongs to another; it is the loss of his self.” (Marx 74) Smith would likely argue to this that the loss of physical and mental energy as well as the loss of self is simply the price of the labour, that the worker earns it back with his wage. Assuming perfect liberty, labor cannot be “forced labor” because the worker always has the opportunity to leave, find work elsewhere, or not work as all. The worker chooses to give up his labor, and give up his self in order to exchange it for other commodities according to his self …show more content…
Rather than increasing the freedom of workers, he believes that machines merely present opportunity for further exploitation of labor, first by distancing workers from the means of production, and second by increasing the amount of surplus value that can be extracted from labor. He explains that “the division of labour in the workshop implies concentration of the means of production in the hands of one capitalist.” (Marx 395) that this division of labor “implies the undisputed authority of the capitalist over men, that are but parts of a mechanism that belongs to him.” (Marx 395) Whenever there is division of labor, it is impossible for a worker to work independently, he becomes reliant on the capitalist. It is now impossible for him to own his labor, and therefore impossible for him to have ownership over himself. Machinery intensifies the dependence of workers on capitalists. Only a capitalist can afford the necessary machinery, and therefore the workers are completely dependent on that

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