Andrew Carnegie’s The Gospel of Wealth describes a capitalist society in which each man works for himself in the race for independent wealth. In this caste society, progress is defined as the continual accumulation of material wealth. An individual’s organizational skills lead to his success; his success acquires wealth, which in turn provides higher social status than his working class counterparts. Carnegie defines progress as material gain. He claims that over the years, wealth has been accumulated slowly through generations. Does this accumulation of wealth truly define progress? Does this definition of a capitalistic society include all members of the society?
Carnegie has failed to include the working class counterparts to these so-called “successful” men. Carnegie’s definition of capitalism is one sided and does not recognize the value of the disfavored members of its society. In reality, the only people who benefit from Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth are the ones who were rich to begin with. In a capitalist society, as Marx and Engels explain in their Manifesto of the Communist Party, the wealthy continue to exploit the working class to benefit no one other than themselves. By forcing the working class to work at lower wages, the wealthy will benefit because their costs are minimized. However, while the wealthy continue to enjoy higher paychecks, the workers continue to watch their own paychecks diminish. Therefore, the gap between the rich and poor is only growing wider. Thus, we have class conflict.
Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels rationalize a society in which each man works for the well being of the group instead of personal gain. The existence of the group is improved because of a group effort to achieve a higher quality of living. This idea of Communism also includes the abolition of class conflict: the wealthy Bourgeoisie versus the working class Proletariat. The communists believe that the proletariat will eventually overthrow the bourgeoisie and achieve a classless society where “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” In contrast to the capitalist society, the state regulates each citizen’s wealth. Instead of capitalistic birthright, the communists have no right to inheritance or property. Communism takes on a new meaning of “all men created equal.”
Communism is not what I consider the ideal economy; however, Marx and Engels give a stronger essay than Carnegie does. They address each aspect of the communist values, while also persuading the reader that the proletariats have every opportunity to abolish castes. With such thoroughness, the argument takes on strength that Carnegie simply lacks in his essay.