Considering the truths of both videos my response reflects my concern for the future of America. In the Land of the Free, Home of the Poor Americans were questioned to pick a pie chart that reflected the distribution of wealth. Most Americans were choosing the pie chart that represented the wealth of Sweden. In my opinion their motives for choosing the pie chart that actually reflected the wealth of Sweden was , considering the location of the poll of that time , that the opinion of a specific social class of elite status. At the end when two men that would be though of as low middle class, actually pick the right chart. This makes sense since the elite individuals in our society are not always or don’t want to be aware of how unequal is our society. This would point to Marx concept of class consciousness, where the proletarians become aware of their position and united to fight against the bourgeois. In the Wealth Inequality in America, they show the same phenomenon as the first video but the pool of people question is bigger therefore it is more accurate. The remark about communist lets the viewer know that they are not making propaganda for communist, they believe in capitalism but they do believe that something needs to be done. My concern is people’s ignorance about our reality, people tend to not want to admit how unequal our wealth distribution is and the gap keeps getting bigger. There is a need for class consciousness, even if is not to establish communism as Marx would want but just to be more realistic about our economic situation. In conclusion I enjoyed the videos very much and made me understand better the occupy Walt-street campaign.
After watching “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”. It was shocking to see the reality of our income inequality. I would of liked to have seen more people realize the issue than a bunch of seemingly oblivious drones. Being that I work in the Financial industry it’s easy to see how the rich seem to get richer and those not at the level are stuck struggling just to scrape by.
I especially enjoyed watching “Wealth Inequality in America” since it broke it down in several graphs and images which make it simple to see how skewed income inequality actually is in the U.S. The chart of the U.S. income breakdown is a clear example of Marx’s idea that capitalism causes inequality. Also, since Sweden’s “chart” was among the favorite as an ideal breakdown of income, maybe we should be taking notes as to how they run their society. All in all, it is clear that the U.S. has a major income inequality problem that seems to only be worsening. Hopefully some change is able to occur to relieve the issue.
Karl Marx writes that money, in essence, defies the natural limits of human capabilities. One’s power is indefinite based on the amount of money they possess. There is nothing that, if offered the right price, one cannot attain. In today’s society, we see this played out in several different ways, large and small. One can achieve their constructed idea of beauty through paying for plastic surgery, implants, lifts, hair removal, etc. If someone wants talent, they can pay for the best couches. If someone wants love, they can buy that too. Marx writes that, “what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality…I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and therefore so is its possessor.” (p. 49, col. 2) I think this is why so many people equate money to happiness. Through money, people can become what they are innately not. Or at least that is the illusion that many people “buy” into. Living in a consumer society, it is hard to resist believing the lie myself. We are constantly bombarded with things that will supposedly make us happier, whether it is owning the latest technology or stylish clothing. Money is the most powerful object one can have and that binds society together, encompassing all relationships.
The fact that Americans believed that the wealth in America was closer to an idealistic distribution of wealth can be due to an education of false “freedom”. It is known that that theindustrial bourgeois in the industrial revolution surpassed other regimes of power, and with their surpassing they had a chance to use education for their benefits. They needed a way for the capitalistic machine to keep going and they knew that if they made education for the middle classa collective emphasis of false freedom and mobility, then the middle class could become somewhat blinded to any false value in terms of exchange value and unfortunate commodity. TheAmericans in both videos believed that wealth distribution in America was somewhat fair. The political sway of the industrial bourgeois today has allowed Government intervention, which is in close connection to education, to be of benefit for CEOs and investors. American has allowed this education of false freedom to be ingrained in the minds of Americans leading them to believe in the American dream. The wealth distribution was too said to have changed after some twenty to thirty years in the “Wealth Inequality in America” YouTube video because for some time the American people could have lived this dream. Since government intervention has recently been more lenient to the wants and definitions of exchange value of the one percent, the wealth distribution has seemingly changed overnight to something far from believed or idealistic, or even worse than some unequal African or Asian countries. There was a high lack of class consciousness probably fault to the American dream being opportune for so long in the past and the gilded survival of the middle class. This was expressed when those of the lower classes knew the right Wealth distraction in American and the wealthier Americans believed in the falsewealth distribution in America, in ” Land of the Free, Home of the poor.” The worst issues in terms of wealth distribution had not actualized because of such foolish thinking; hence class consciousness has not actualized. The seemingly well to do black women who went two towns away for food supply was thought of as unfit in the PBS special. The political sway of land of the free is far too ingrained in the head of the Americans; hence I was not surprised by their false thinking. Marx differed from Hegel in that is was material existence that allowed historical conscious change, yet when Americans are still living if whatever wealth is salvaged along with a false American dream, this type of conscious of class and poverty cannot be actualized. Unfortunately those who are hurt and are living in it such as the black women and the two low income workers can effectively be conscious in terms of wealth distribution. “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.” (From The German Ideology, Karl Marx and Friedrich Hegel) The Americans in these videos are only conscious products of their educational properties, and it is until they fall in the poorer pie slice of wealth distribution will they historically be conscious of their poorer existence. What did not surprise me but annoyed me was how Americans lost the critical thinking to rationalize their existence in terms of wealth distribution. Was it that collective and dominant teachings concerning “freedom” were all too brainwashing? The condition of alienation has not touched lucky Americans and those that are too ingrained with this “free” form of thinking, hence a woman in the PBS special said that she rather live in the most unequal pie chart, probably thinking that the chart expressed “free” trade. This free trade expresses some consciousness as if the Americans in these videos have some false sense of human consciousness, it could be unfortunate, but maybe as soon as they are treated like animals in the industrial expansion, maybe they will regain the real consciousness ofwhere they stand in terms of wealth. These Americans seem to be bombarded with too much “free” propaganda. The fact that so much are unemployed should by Marx’s words, prove that there will be some historical change coming soon, yet most rather believe in foolish dreams. With the power invested in the one percent, it is not too hard to use advertisements to appeal to the middle class, in a time when our economy is falling; you might see more advertisements expressing what money can do as if money has some magician powers to remove any feeling of unequal wealth distribution. It is unfortunate to think that government is redefining the definitionof what exchange value might be in our already failing economy. Maybe many Americans think that if certain commodities with “decent” values are still available, well maybe there is no unequal wealth distribution at all.
In Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx addresses how, upon the “realization of their objectification,” workers in a capitalist society present a loss of self and feel alienated/estranged from their labor; that is, after performing the same repetitive routine every day, they would soon begin to feel as if they are nothing more than cheap commodities who have practically structured their lives around their work. According to Marx, “the alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently, as something alien to him, and that it becomes a power of its own confronting him” (43). Workers on an assembly line, for instance, may have no prior knowledge of the particular product they are working on (i.e. an electronic knife that plays radio) and would confront it “as something alien” (43), but the product will soon take control/become a part of their lives as they are persistently ordered to manufacture/sell them to the demanding public with minimal breaks. This would cause the workers to feel that they are not engaging in an activity that expresses their capacity to shape their lives and their relationships with others but would instead feel that their roles are being reduced to that of a cog in a machine.
Once the labor product and the mundane process of this labor has turned into “an alien object exercising power over [the workers]” (45), Marx believes that there are two more aspects in hand that will make them feel completely alienated/separated from their line of work. Workers may begin to feel isolated towards each other as the prospect of estranged labor turns their “species being . . . into a being alien to him, into a means to his individual existence” (46); fellow coworkers who were once good friends may start to look upon one another as rival competitors to see who can get their line of work done more quickly and efficiently. The final aspect that Marx presents is that workers will feel completely isolated towards other people in “the estrangement of man from man,” which is “an immediate consequence of the fact that [they are] estranged from the product of [their] labor, [their] life-activity, [and their] species being” (46). For instance, fast food restaurant employees would feel estranged from their environment, customers, boss, and possibly their social life because they are mainly considered as “numbers” who aren’t actually acknowledged for their work and who seem to accept that they are “selling their souls” every day to work for minimum wage and not for the creative potential of labor itself. It could be said that Marx’s four aspects of alienation/estrangement in labor may have been some of the key factors that led to his 1848 publication of The Communist Manifesto, in which the proletariat is urged to rise up against the impending bourgeoisie.
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Tagged alienation, bourgeoisie, capitalism, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, estrangement, Karl marx, Labour economics, Marx, Marxism, Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, proletariat
This movie has shows a clear distinction between class and status (Weber) in the character of Berhani. He is blind to the fact that he belongs to a lower class or clearly does not belong to the upper class. He came from his country and lost both his class and his status. Though, he tried to keep that status and class of a General in America, it really meant nothing. He held on to it so much so he couldn’t see what he was here. In terms of status, he faked his ‘lifestyle’ in order to marry off his daughter to a well off man. They lived lavishly, way out there means . Everyone from the outside viewed them as an upper class rich family. This was just an allusion but nonetheless the status they owned. Weber definition of status meant someone’s lifestyle- meaning if you are ‘poor’ but you lived an extravagant lifestyle, your status can be viewed as high; or sometimes you can have a high status with no relation to income. An issue was that Berhani was ignorant to his class because of his past life. He definitely did not have class consciousness(Marx). Technically when he purchased Kathy’s home, he became part of the Bourgeoisie and left the Proletariat, but in modern views he would barely be considered middle class.
Marx writes about things in such a way that make you feel inadequate, but not because of any other reason then the truth. I’m going to use my job as an example for some of his theories- I work full time at a Marriott hotel in Times Square as a front desk agent. Everything about my job is corporate, and my supervisors are very “to the book” when it comes to everything. The owner stays at the hotel from time to time, and the way he has all my managers stressed out making sure that the room is in perfect condition (they have 4 people inspect back to back), and making sure they accomedate him in every possible way is a perfect example of the bourgeoisie and proletariat theory. The owner of the hotel is the bourgeoisie, and everybody below him from assistant general manager all the way down the ladder to the housekeeping staff- we are the proletariat. In the review power point, the professor put, “other classes- landowners, petty bourgeoisie and peasantry- are eventually swallowed up by one or the other,” and that is the point I’m trying to make. No matter what you own, and no matter how high up you think you are there will always be somebody who sharpens your sense of class consciousness and makes you feel like the rich or poor. Ever since my first semester of sociology when I learned this I knew this would stick with me, because it’s something that is constantly in your face- from who your boss is to who you are the boss of.