Essay Sample on Marx's Theory of Capitalist Exploitation

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1781 Words
Date:  2022-08-18


Karl Marx's writings continue to attract interest and attention of labor unionists, trade unions, social scientists and many others. Karl Marx book 'Capital' provides a distinctive discerning enlightenment on capitalism and the expression between distinct facets of the economic system. The understanding of capitalist society according to Marx is a society characterized by exploitation. Exploitation being a moral aspect, Marx does not stand on a moral perspective but rather from a scientific and analytic point (Tony et al. 2009). Traditionally people practiced farming and barter trade as their means of survival. The industrial revolution changed this perspective, forcing people to look for jobs in industries and factories to earn and improve their living standards (Elster, 2006). In relation to this, the paper critically evaluates the principle of Marx's Theory of Capitalist Exploitation. It a question that raises the concern of whether laborers have other choices rather than selling their labor in order to be relevant and survive in the contemporary capitalist economy.

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Exploitation theory indicates that institutions and organizations of private property owned by few privileged people to take advantage of benefiting from laborers without contributing by way of labor, ability or effort (Bidet & Milios, 2008). These privileged people are referred to capitalists. Marx argument is primarily focused on capitalists. Marx differs with the principle of capitalism indicating that it is unmerited and prejudicial and can only be substituted by socialism which includes methods of production and social organization through revolution (Miller, 2007). Marx theory is predominantly grounded in his method of dialectical materialism. In the modern world, the way property is controlled and owned corresponding with social relations based on the processes of production indicates that capitalism has become a dominant mode of production. This has attracted exploitation and inequity in the current capitalist economy (Smith, 1994). The exchange value of labor power that is replicated in salaries and wages is less the value produced for the capitalist.

In the capitalist economic, exploitation is the obligatory appropriation of the unpaid labor workers. According to Burkett (2003, pp359), Marx believes that the unpaid workers are the source of profits for organizations and the driving force behind capitalist production which means that all working class individuals are exploited. Exploitation itself according to Marx formulate the basis of the capitalist system. All profits in terms of billions for organizations, each cash collected by capitalists, every dividend shareholders receive is as a result of the hard work of exploited and uncompensated labor (Remain, 1997). Since exploitation is the foundation of capitalism, the minority will never be allowed to rule. In capitalism, exploitation is not unique and has become a feature of all class society whereby the exploited class produces wealth while the capitalist confiscates it. This brings about Marx's theory of values which relates to the modern capital's economy explaining the difference between exploitation and labor (Smith, 1994).

In developing the theory of value, Marx accepted Ricardo David's quantity theory of value which was borrowed from Adam Smith where he approached value from the cost production or supply side. Theories of value previously had objectively been explained in relation to price but not the exploitation of labor (Cogliano et al. 2018, pp182). The major characteristic of capitalism is the exchange between labor and capitalists resulting in the bargaining of wages which is a contradiction between labor power and labor value. Labor is the solitary factor of production and has a commodity produces more than what goes into itself. This means that labor power is the value producing aspect and labor is the source of surplus which means production is created by labor power (Cogliano et al. 2018, pp182). People have been led into believing that they are being paid off the work they put in organizations. That is the reason why when people work during the weekends or overtime during weekdays, they are expected to be paid more. Capitalist are interested in buying capacity but not a determinate protuberance of work done. Hayashi and West (2005, pp192) explain this by efficiency wage theory which explains the reason why other workers get paid more than the minimum market rate because capitalist want to hold on to their scarce skills. By doing this, the laborers become more committed and loyal to the organization.

Marx "uses the term labor power or capacity for labor, to denote the aggregate of those bodily and mental capabilities existing in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces a use-value of any kind use value of any kind (Elster, 2006, pp137)." This means that labor power is the capacity to create value and work which laborers sell to capitalists to receive increments of wage. The value of labor power is determined as labor time needed for production. Labor power has the potential of creating more value it is given in exchange and one needed to sustain the laborer (Remain, 1997). What a laborer is paid does not reflect their value in the organization productivity and profitability. Under capitalism, necessities are met for those who can afford them through commodities that are sold in the market as produced goods and services. Laborers do not have the potential and ability to produce and sell commodities are so they are forced to work for the capitalist to obtain many that will facilitate their life (Remain, 1997). Capitalist argue that they have to consume the commodity they have purchased which is the consumption of labor power and have control over the labor process and ownership of products laborers create. This distinction between labor and labor power under capitalism brings about exploitation (Miller, 2007).

Capitalist pay laborers wages for labor power but not for the value of the amount of completed labor. This illustrated inequality is evident in the contemporary society where workers have created wealth for the past three decades that does not reflect in their wages (Miller, 2007). The pockets of superrich capitalists continue swelling without compensating workers for increasing production. The laboring class is exploited by the capitalist by appropriating the surplus values which is the output value that is in excess of their wages. Surplus value is distributed as rent, interest, and profits and when the profit is reinvested in production it increases economic growth. Vroey (1982, pp 38-42) indicates that Marx scientific analysis of capitalism illustrates that exploitation is unavoidable and it can only be transcended and moved with the introduction of socialism.

Purchase of labor can never occur under free conditions because of economic inequality. The means of production is controlled by capitalists and workers control their labor which shows that they are coerced consenting laborers to be exploited. Privatizing the means of production augments capitalists by the performance of laborers (Smith, 1994). Capitalists place a high value on monetary policy instead of taking more consideration on laborers unique characteristics. Privatization of the means of production is realized as a constraint on freedom. Lapon (2011) submits that production in a capitalist system is for the sake of profit derived from surplus value. Being the unpaid labor for workers, it means that they are not paid the full value of their production.

World trade and globalization have allowed increasing capitalism. An example to capitalism is the gig economy which has been termed as the new modern work structure where the temporary position is prevalent, and also where there is an increasing norm in freelance work and organization offering short-term contracts to individuals. Through this, it has advocated for subjugates the workforce and emasculates workers' moralities. Technology has allowed the capitalist to further exploit labors by reducing the required amount of human labor by reducing the wage costs and making easier to produce and making goods cheaper (Cogliano et al. 2018, pp182).

The state of exploitation under capitalism is not inevitable because the laboring class is responsible for production. Take an example of workers going on strike, the organization production will go down. Dunn (2011) argues that capitalism is responsible for organizing the production process by bringing together capital goods like labor and raw materials that facilitate the production process. This clearly indicated that capital and labor are essential for production. Exploitation still exists in capitalism and remains to be a political and social problem that should be mitigated by public policy. When production in society is placed under rational planning and control of workers then the wealth will be distributed not on the basis of profit but social desire and need. It will not be a long-term decision but economic and social problems could be solved.

Today, the world produces enough food yet there are millions starve to death, there is overproduction yet many people leave in abject poverty, there is unemployment yet many works up to 60 hours per week, and also empty houses yet there are many homeless people. Under a democratic, rational and socialist production plan, people would be provided with a living wage, education, housing, full employment, decent pension and free healthcare. To archive socialism, key levels of the economy will be required including major multination's, infrastructure and banks where they will be run not in the interest of capitalist by on the vast majority of society.


The interpretation of Marx's theory on capitalism is that labor and its products are socially divided. The class of capitalist has exercised monopoly as a means of production. The unpaid labor of workers is the source of profits for organizations and the driving force behind capitalist production which means that all working class individuals are exploited. The modern class society is where the exploited class produces wealth while the capitalist confiscates it. Workers have to struggle to decrease the solemnity of the exploitation they look under capitalism. The existence of capitalism indicated shows a continuation of exploitation. Workers need to create and use wealth to meet their needs under socialism to have control over it. When workers will have control over the means of production for their own profits it is when exploitation will be eradicated.


Bidet, J., & Milios, J. (January 01, 2008). Exploring Marx's 'Capital': Philosophical, Economic and Political Dimensions. Radical Philosophy, 148, 46.

Burkett, P. (June 01, 2003). The Value of Marx: Political Economy for Contemporary Capitalism. Review of Radical Political Economics, 35, 3, 359-362.

Cogliano, J. F., Flaschel, P., Franke, R., Frohlich, N., & Veneziani, R. (2018). Value, competition and exploitation: Marx's legacy revisited. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 182

Dunn, B. (January 01, 2011). Value Theory in an Incomplete Capitalist System: Reprioritizing the Centrality of Social Labor in Marxist Political Economy. Review of Radical Political Economics, 43, 4, 488-505.

Elster, J. (2006). Karl Marx: A reader. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hayashi, H., & West, R. (2005). Marx's labor theory of value: A defense. New York: iUniverse.

Lapon, G. (2011). What do we mean by exploitation? Retrieved from

Miller, R. W. (January 01, 2007). Capitalism and Marxism. 62-74.

Remain, J. (January 01, 1997). Exploitation, force, and the moral assessment of ca...

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