The title of this essay is quite a striking one, and one could also
argue that it is toxic. The reason for this ,firstly, is that it is stating
that capitalism is exploitative, and
then it is asking us, the discussers, to answer whether that exploitation
should continue or not, effectively
putting us on the spot for answering to some potentially heated criticism of
our answer post-discussion. For example, if one was to say, in conclusion, that
capitalism must always be exploitative,
they would certainly come under fire for basically supporting the exploitation
and hardship of workers and people.
However, if one was to say that capitalism must not necessarily always be exploitative, then they would
still be conceding that exploitation must still occur at some point. Given the
nature of capitalism, and how it is seen today, it is very difficult to see a
situation where it doesn’t have to be exploitative. The definition alone may
not directly guarantee that exploitation is a necessary component, however if
you break down the theory of capitalism, and how societies function, it becomes
apparent very quickly how easily capitalism can take advantage of exploitation.
Thus, before I begin my discussion, I would like to state that, in my
opinion, capitalism is not possible without the exploitation of workers and
working class people, along with the exhaustion and abuse of natural resources.
I feel it fitting to begin with what we mean by capitalism and exploitation, so
we know what exactly we are associating exploitation in capitalism with.
aside for a moment, it is important to define what we mean by capitalism, or
basically what it means. In its pure form, capitalism is the attempt of all
parties to maximize profits in economic exchanges.
significant ‘positive’ feature of capitalism, ideally, is the fact that economic
freedom helps political freedom.
example, if the ruling body (the government, for example) owns the means of production,
this invariably leads to a powerful state, extending into other areas of life.
firms in a capitalist system (again, ideally) face incentives to be efficient
and produce goods which are in demand. Incentives like these create pressure to
cut costs and avoid waste.
this is not the case in the capitalism world, it is only the ideal theory
behind that form of society. Unfortunately, this is where the word exploitation
comes into play, as firms have been ruthless with their means of production and
provision of services.
‘exploitation’ often conjures up images of workers laboring in sweatshops for
12 hours or more per day, for pennies an hour, driven by a merciless overseer
(Lapon 2011). This is compared to the idea of “a fair day’s wage for a fair
day’s work”, where the supposed ‘normal’ situation for a worker living under
capitalism involves receiving a decent wage to drive a middle class standard of
living, achieve a certain standard of pension security, and of course, an
adequate standard of healthcare.
However, Karl Marx had a much wider
and more thought out definition of exploitation, “the forced appropriation of
unpaid labor of workers”(Lapon 2011), where this definition suggested that all
people who fell under the working class label were being exploited.
Marx suggested that the key source of
profit, and the true way to drive production is the unpaid labor of workers,
forming the foundation of the capitalist system. In essence, according to Marx,
exploitation is a complete necessity for capitalism to succeed, because people
must be uncompensated for their labor in order for big corporations and
companies to make outrageously large profits.