Modern Times Marxist Analysis

1949 Words 8 Pages
“Modern Times” or How to Support Capitalism
This paper investigates the relationship between Marxist theories and Modern Times (1936) by Charles Chaplin, and argues that the main character challenges the Marxist notions of value and commodity and deliberately chooses not to fit into the industrialized world that is portrayed in the film.
Modern times is set during the Great Depression Era, which begins in 1929 with the crash of the New York Stock Market and lasts for about ten years until 1939. The Great Depression is “the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world, sparking fundamental changes in economic institutions, macroeconomic policy, and economic theory”
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Materialist philosophy is based on materialism, which “has proved to be the only philosophy that is consistent, true to all the teachings of natural science and hostile to superstition, cant and so forth“ (Lenin, “The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism”). Lenin claims that Marx developed the eighteenth-century materialism philosophy, with some concepts introduced by the Germans philosophers Hegel and Feuerbach. Marx criticizes the economic system in his principal work, Capital, in which he suggests that “the value of every commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary labor time spent on its production” (Marx, “Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I - Chapter One”). With the term commodity Marx refers to “in the first place, a thing that satisfies a human want; in the second place, it is a thing that can be exchanged for another thing” (Lenin, “Glossary of Terms”). Therefore, a commodity is an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another (Marx Communist Manifesto (Chapter 1)). In this context, man’s labor-power is a commodity sold to the owner of land, factories and instruments of labor; the bourgeois …show more content…
1), Marx divides the society in two main parts: 1) The bourgeoisie which is the class of modern capitalists who are the owners of all the elements necessary to the social production, and employers of wage labor; 2) The proletariat which represents all those laborers who work for a wage, and do not have means of production of their own, and, therefore, are forced to offer their labor power in order to live. “The value of laboring power is determined by the value of the necessaries required to produce, develop, maintain, and perpetuate the laboring power” (Marx, “Economic Manuscripts: Value, Price and Profit”). According to this idea, during the working time, a worker spends “one part of the day covering the cost of maintaining himself and his family, while the other part of the day he works without remuneration, creating for the capitalist surplus-value, the source of profit, the source of the wealth of the capitalist class” (Lenin, “The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism”), which is one of the most important feature of Marx’s economic theory. The negative side of surplus-value is that the worker himself is crushed by the capital created by his labor, and this capital has a counter-effect and cause damage to small proprietors that cannot compete with the new system and remain unemployed. “By destroying small-scale production, capital leads to an increase in

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