Compare And Contrast Karl Max And Karl Marx

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While Karl Max and W. E. Du Bois primarily address two distinct forms of alienation—economic and racial, respectively—their arguments share core underpinnings, which ultimately connect these two types of exclusion. Marx believes that the system of capitalism alienates workers from each other and their own labor; Du Bois believes that the prevalent racial inequalities isolate black Americans. While ostensibly, these seem entirely different, in actuality, they share common themes. In this essay, I will demonstrate that Marx believes that people have the right to autonomously construct their own identities, which capitalism then corrodes. I will also argue that Du Bois shares this core value and consequently believes racial equality is necessary…show more content…
His critiques highlight his concern that capitalism makes economic exclusion inevitable. He believes that under a capitalist system, workers lose their identities as individual agents and instead become slaves to their own labor and to their employer. One may initially claim that working actually contributes to a sense of self, rather than detracts from it. While this makes sense intuitively, Marx contends that “labor is external to the worker, i.e. it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself” (30). In other words, while work may not be inherently isolating at first, under capitalism, work shifts from where individuals first develop skills to where employees are then performing labor for the sake of another. Additionally, when an agent no longer identifies with his labor, it may compromise his identity. For example, if I am a skilled plumber and I consider this to be central to who I am, then under a capitalist system where my plumbing is only valued insofar as it brings instrumental benefits, I am stripped of the intrinsic value of plumbing. In this regard, “the life which he has conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and alien” (29). Essentially, labor for a system of capital perpetuates alienation, as each worker just becomes another cog in the…show more content…
Similarly to capitalism eroding workers’ identities, Du Bois’ maintains that racial inequalities perpetuate a comparable form of alienation. Du Bois contends that the rampant inequalities between how whites and blacks are treated force black people into a position of ignorance, in which they maintain “curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and the test the power of […] the white man” (4). The restriction imposed on black people subsequently restrict their ability to create their own identities. Additionally, not only are black people denied opportunities, but other privileged classes (i.e. white people) hold gaping misconceptions about how black people live and identify—as a result, Du Bois explains that black people are forced behind a veil, in which their identities are misunderstood. This ultimately leads whites to view blacks as “freed slaves” (18). Similar to Marx’s worries about capitalism, for Du Bois’, the disadvantaged classes are poorly understood and unfairly judged. Consequently, he questions whether there’s any need for black people to receive an education, absent a society grounded in equality; if society maintains such injustice, then blacks will continue to be denied political freedom and career opportunities (6). Thus, not only are black people symbolically restricted by cultural constraints, but they are also

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