Challenges to Ir

Challenges to Ir

  • Submitted By: true42
  • Date Submitted: 01/02/2009 9:27 AM
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Words: 1321
  • Page: 6
  • Views: 497

“Capitalism so colours our lives that most people see the behaviour that occurs within it as a product of some universal human nature” (Marx, 1848). Although this statement originated over one hundred and fifty years ago, you can still observe its relevance in today’s society. With reference to the titled question, this essay aims to explore the many ways in which traditional Marxist writings have influenced many contemporary perspectives. I will initially look to elaborate on structuralism, one school of thought which is directly linked to Marxism and also critical theory which draws upon the work of Antonio Gramsci.

To begin with, structuralism is heavily inspired by Marxist thought. Furthermore, structuralists believe that international economic systems are arranged in ways that work to benefit certain social ‘elite’ classes. It has a ‘bottom up’ perspective on the world and therefore regards world order as being fundamentally unjust, with capitalism playing a detrimental role. Another viewpoint expressed, is that instead of the existence of a real national interest which primarily reflects the interests of the dominant classes. Hence suggesting that the main ‘actors’ are states, multinational corporations and the upper social classes. Despite differences, fundamental to a structuralist argument is the idea that the rich are rich ‘at the expense of the poor’ and therefore it hopes to see a fair distribution of the world’s economic wealth.

In order to understand and be able to forge links between structuralism and Marxism, it is important to look at the work of Karl Marx. He argued that capitalism was built upon the principles of private property and the pursuit of profit. He spoke of a ‘means of production’ whereby individuals namely the proletariat (the working classes) produce goods and services for an organisation, which are subsequently sold for a certain value. The income generated by the goods sold is then profited by the bourgeoisie, the ruling...

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