Capitalist Mode of Production – Concept, advantages and disadvantages

We explain what the capitalist mode of production is according to Marxism, its origin, advantages, disadvantages and other characteristics.

mode of production with capitalist Marxism exploitation
According to Marxism, capitalism is based on the exploitation of one class by another.

What is the capitalist mode of production?

According to Marxist terminology, the capitalist mode of production is that of the capitalist societies that emerged after the Bourgeois Revolutions that ended the feudal model of the Middle Ages. According to Marx’s postulates, his own internal dynamics lead him to the extinction and final emergence of communism.

The capitalist mode of production is considered by non-Marxist scholars as an economic system, in which the value of goods and services is expressed in monetary terms, the same in which people are rewarded for their work.

On the other hand, for Marxist orthodoxy, capitalism It is the economic model in which the bourgeoisie has control of the means of production. But it is also a model of social, political and economic organization.

Remember that the bourgeoisie is the intermediate social class between the peasant serfs and the aristocracy landowner. It emerged at the end of the medieval period, along with mercantilism, the dynamics of international exchange of goods, but also revolutionary advances in technology, science and culture.

All of these developments forever changed the way human needs were met, shifting the focus from rural work to urban commerce. A) Yes, the capitalist mode of production is the system of an industrial age, in which capital has displaced land tenure in importance.

Characteristics of capitalism

According to the traditional Marxist interpretation, capitalism works on two pillars. On the one hand, the control of the bourgeoisie of the means of production (factories, for example). Secondly, the alienation of workers from their productive workIn other words, the latter feel the work they do is alien to them.

In that way, the bourgeois can exploit them, paying them a salary in exchange for their work, but taking advantage of the surplus value: the added value that the worker’s work incorporates into the final product. Given that this added value far exceeds the worker’s salary, the employment relationship benefits only the bourgeoisie, which also makes the effort.

In simpler terms, capitalism consists of the exchange of time and the work capacity of workers, for a salary calculated per hour and for the complexity of the tasks to be performed. The salary will never exceed the profits of the factory owner, who invest in it the capital and sometimes the leadership, but not the work.

From this arrangement the worker obtains money to consume goods and services, while the bourgeois obtains profits that he can reinvest in the business (or make it grow) and money for his own subsistence. The group of workers is called, as a class, the proletariat.

Such a socioeconomic arrangement it would not be possible without the existence of private property, since the bourgeoisie owns the means of production, and therefore decides who works and who does not. However, the terms in which the work will take place are negotiated with its workers (unions, unions, etc.) and with the State (ideally).

Origin of the capitalist mode of production

Capitalism as a system emerged after the fall of feudalism in the 15th century. The imperial expansion of the main European powers circulated large quantities of merchandise from other regions of the world. A) Yes the bourgeoisie was born as a new social class that he had defeated the landed aristocracy of the Middle Ages.

This class of merchants of commoner origin, but they owned capital. Thus they became the owners of the first companies that forever changed the way goods and services are produced in the world.

They promoted scientific, spiritual and political changes that led to the so-called Bourgeois Revolutions, whose climactic point was the fall of monarchical absolutism (with Revolutions such as the French Revolution in 1789, or with gradual transitions) and the beginning of the capitalist democratic republics that we know today.

Advantages of the capitalist mode of production

The advantages of capitalism as a system are notorious, as are its disadvantages. The positive aspect of the system can be summarized as:

  • Effectiveness and flexibility. Throughout its few centuries of life, the capitalist system has managed to generate wealth and dizzying advances in scientific, technical and economic aspects, and at the same time adapt to them, changing with the times and remaining undefeated until today.
  • Liberality. Capitalism requires significant amounts of economic and individual freedom to make entrepreneurship, business risk and the emergence of new initiatives possible. In this sense, it has tended to be more or less liberal, that is, to tolerate more or less the interference of the State in the dynamics that, ideally, would have to regulate the “peace of the market” or the “invisible hand” of the market. The actual existence of the latter is a matter of debate.
  • It allows the movement of classes. The possession of money, in principle, is not subject to any other type of human conditions, as was the blood in the case of caste societies, and for practical purposes it matters little to the economic market what type of values ​​a capitalist professes. This allows the lower classes to be able, in theory, to rise as they accumulate capital, and the upper classes to descend as they lose their ability to do so.

Disadvantages of the capitalist mode of production

On the other hand, the disadvantages of capitalism are also worth mentioning:

  • It allows monopolies and unfair competition. Precisely the liberal nature of capitalism tends to allow the concentration of capital and, therefore, power in the hands of a few, who control the market and can compete unfairly with others, thus forming monopolies in which few get rich.
  • The unequal distribution of wealth. Since social class is not determined by blood or by other factors, but by the amount of money the family has, future generations come to the world with frank inequality of opportunities, the result of the concentration of wealth in those who have the most capital. they have, since money, when circulating, generates more money, enriching the few to the detriment of the many.
  • Consumerism. The society generated by capitalism is focused on consumption and capital raising, often forgetting what that really means and being trapped in a spiral of unnecessary consumption, buying to buy or to correct other spiritual aspects not considered in the equation .
  • Ecological damage. Industrial activity is the heart of the capitalist system, which for almost a century devoted itself to the exploitation of natural resources without taking into account other fundamental aspects, such as the ecological impact that the dumping of industrial waste substances had. Thus, at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, climate change and ecological catastrophes loom on the near future horizon, demanding immediate and radical changes in the capitalist production model.

Marxism and surplus value

The concept of surplus value is central to the doctrine of Marxism, which considers it essentially as a robbery that the ruling class carries out on the effort of the worker, keeping a more significant portion of value in monetary terms than that rewarded through salary.

Thanks to worker and union struggles, many of which generated many social, political and cultural conflicts throughout the twentieth century, the distribution of said capital gain could be renegotiated between workers and employers, as well as employment conditions.

Thus, working hours were rationed, exploitation was controlled and, in short, a more humane capitalism for the working class was achieved. However, according to the doctrine of Karl Marx, this struggle to free itself from exploitation would not end until the historical forces that lead to socialism were unleashed.

Other modes of production

Just as there is the capitalist mode of production, we can talk about:

  • Asian mode of production. Also called hydraulic despotism, since it consists of controlling the organization of society through a single resource needed by all: water, in the case of Egypt and Babylon in ancient times, or irrigation canals in the USSR and China. . Thus, the loyal receive water to sow their fields, while the fields of the disloyal dry up.
  • Socialist mode of production. Proposed as an alternative to capitalism by Marx, it grants control of the means of production to the working or working class, to prevent them from being exploited by the bourgeoisie. Thus, the State assumes the abolition of private property and capital to put collective interests before individual ones, as a step towards a classless society but with such abundant production that goods are distributed according to need and not according to merit. .
  • Slave production mode. Typical of the classical societies of antiquity, such as the Greek or Roman, it supported its production of agricultural goods based on a slave class, subject to a particular legal and social status, sometimes inhuman, which reduced them to being the property of a master. private or state. These slaves had no political participation, no property, nor did they receive any reward for their labors.