NAFTA, Karl Marx and Conflict Theory
At present, our society is still locked up with a classic structure of class distinctions or in other viewpoint, discriminations - NAFTA, Karl Marx and Conflict Theory introduction. The boundary categorizing each group of people is best epitomized by the “pyramid structure” in which the base constitutes to the greater majority of individuals better known as the working classes or the proletarians while the upper part of the pyramid or the peak is best represented by the elite class in the society, the ones who exploit the proletarians for the pursuit of their own self-gratifying gains; better called as the non-working class or the bourgeoisies. The bourgeoisies are the ruling class of today who maximizes their capitals by providing the means for production and exploiting the working group of people for production (Kreis, 2000).
Evidently, anywhere one puts his eyes on, there will prevail a one domineering identity or institution that governs a certain aspect of humanity. And of course, if there is someone inhabiting the upper portion of the society and enjoying superiority, there would also in turn be inevitable subjugates to play inferior with the ones above them. As such, the issue of class struggle has long been disputed by several philosophers in history and theories were since hypothesized in order to predominantly discuss and attend to the social issue itself (BLunden,1847). One theory to name is the Conflict Theory which posits that in a given society, each individuals belonging within functions and participates in that society such that the benefits they could obtain is well maximized, consequently resulting into social change. This theory is mostly attributed to demonstrate and explain the conflicts between social classes and between the ideologies of capitalism and communism. Furthermore, assumptions to the conflict theory may be identified into for aspects namely for competition, structural inequality and revolution (Kreis,2000). Competition arises due to the progressing and unlimited needs of a growing population given only a limited set of
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resources. Such resources include money, leisure, food, shelter and the likes. Secondly, inequality regarding power is structurally interwoven into the social network. Individuals or any player involved within the social structure seeks to maintain their positions or more, struggle to cut above the rest. Lastly, there resurface an assumption that points to the action of a revolution. Relatively, change becomes the product of the conflict between or among the social divisions. Change, for this matter is considered often as drastic and revolutionary. And through the search for a change in the structure of the society and its prevalent norms discriminatory to most, a name in history sounds outstandingly; Karl Marx. social status and emerging political forms in the society. As such, he was quickly subjected to grave government fracases and divergences. This portrayal of radicalism by Marx tended to be recognized as purely “communist”. Karl Marx as a thinker of various perspectives concerning the society, particularly with the creation of his major economic literary Das Kapital, is furthermore recognized rather as a revolutionary communist than a crude social philosopher during the twentieth century. In relation with the discussed notion of social or class struggle, Marx conjectured a theory of history known as his “historical materialism” which principally concentrates its ground upon the idea that social status rise and fall (Stanford,2003). Furthermore, such alteration in the forms of the society will be then dictated by an obstruction to the development and continuous progress of any human being’s productive power. As for Marx, he advocates the notion that each and every human beings have such an instinct to assert their communal essence. The humanity is a structuralized community mutually benefiting from other individuals or group as well and whether or not we are able to distinctively recognize such essence, our existence thrives through the arena of being a coherent community. The mutual dependence of the
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individuals involved on the wide range of social and economic relations given in the network of the society is the main rationale that makes the possibility of human existence. However, the communal essence supposedly innate within the social context of the society should be at hand with equality. Equality, for religion is on the contrary “deviously acknowledged” thus creating a false impression of an equally divided community(Stanford,2003). Such is said to be a false insinuation of a community due to the fact that individuals, on the perspective of any religion, is considered equal only and only in the eyes of God. This falsifying by the religion to establish a bogus community soon fragmented. To compensate, reformation was done by the state. The state in turn offered the society another illusion to dwell on; a community of citizens. People are now classified as citizens; citizens due to a common privilege in the society and such privilege is manifested through the equality depicted by the legal constitution or the law(Burke,2000). Here in this case, equality among individuals is seen only through the eyes of the law. As with regards the competence between the class of proletarians and the class of the bourgeoisies, Robert Owen and others put forth the assumption that people can be changed only by altering or modifying the circumstances besetting them. Karl Marx, regarding this issue perceived the materialization of change within the society via the self-imposed convictions and eventual transformation of the proletarians to disentangle themselves from their current status in the social order and achieve a higher level of living(Kreis,2000). Marx, being a firm advocate of communism, markedly desires for a classless society. Via the creation of his opus, The Communist Manifesto , Marx instigated a venture for a revolutionary action that would suggest the ousting of the bourgeoisie’s
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social order by the revolt of the proletarians. The Communist Manifesto seeks to enlighten the groups of the proletarians of their current social position in the society by which the non-working classes of the bourgeoisies overpower (Stanford, 2003). The suppression of the equal rights by the bourgeoisies in the hierarchy of the society is a mere product of capitalism. The capitalist system is an economic system wherein the means of production are chiefly owned privately and operated for profit. Of these, Marx values the state by which the proletarians are being held inferior by the upper non-working social class. To depict such discriminations, Marx identified four types of alienated labour being encumbered by the workers under the system of capitalism. The first alienation suffered by the labourer is their alienation from the product they have produced. Philosophically, the producers of a certain product are the ones who shed the effort in creating it, and in this case, the labourers are considered as the producers. However, because there exists a non-mutual arrangement between a worker (proletarian) and the non-worker or the supplier of the means for production (bourgeoisie) , alienation from product occurs since as immediate as the product was produced, it is then taken away from the laborer. Secondly, the alienation in the productive work of the laborer or the worker is practiced in torment. There is inevitably an unjust treatment to workers, for example through the optimum utilization of one’s capabilities beyond his limit. Third isolation suffered by the worker is from species-being. Humans, according to Marx, is produced not in accordance with their corresponding human capacities but for the pursuit of the capitalist to profit from the production (Burke ,2000) This type of alienation labour matches up with what have previously mentioned as the obstruction to a human being’s productive development and progress. Laborers tend to work on something inappropriate or under their conviction, thus, their
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productivity as a laborer is impeded (Blunden,2000). Ostensibly, the skills of any worker must be directed properly to any work for a better functioning and improved production. Lastly, the workers are variably isolated from other human beings where mutual needs are replaced by the relation of exchange. Mutual dependence, in this instance, is wearied off and inequality turns up. Bourgeoisie economics, including the idea of wages, exchange, rent, profit and others settle into the community, which is an apparent and a clear provision of prejudice among the two concerned classes because the economics of the proletarians on the other hand are discriminated (Blunden,1847). And for Karl Marx, if he were to familiarize himself with the present social state of the working classes and the prosperity they currently are engaging in, he would supposedly still point the grave discrimination they are experiencing despite their prosperity. Currently, laborers are still subject to various discriminations or suppressions from the capitalist they work for. For example, the chief capitalist of any production still acquires the greater share of profit whilst the workers were left for hardly a meager compensation, granting the fact that efforts and time were enterprised for the carrying on of the production. Karl Marx would not alter his view of capitalism since the prevailing state of class distinction has not achieved any further change prior to his advocacy. Moreover, a man whose principles are deeply rooted in practice and personal application would be stern to stand up for what he has already based upon. Marx, being a philosopher which is strongly revolutionary in nature will not easily alter his viewpoint.
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Karl Marx’s say on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Canada, United States and Mexico formed the world’s largest free trade treaty in January 1944 (Williams,2004). The agreement seeks to call off the tariffs on the products traded among the three participating countries. Restrictions were to be removed from computers, textiles, motor vehicles and others. Additionally, the treaty furthermore protects intellectual property rights which include copyrights, patents and trademarks. Supplemental to the NAFTA is the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) which aims to create a rigid foundation for cooperation among Canada, the United States and Mexico(Berta,2005). It additionally fostered the growth for labor production. North American Free Trade Agreement along with the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation’s resolution for labor empowerment is a positive effect defined by the treaty for the three respective countries continuously benefiting from it(Williams,2004). In this light, Karl Marx, moreover would think of NAFTA as something really beneficial for the laborers because when they purchase a certain product, the amount that they will pay for it will not include any taxes, so it appears that they are not buying their own labor production. In contrast with a product levied with tariff, if a laborer who created the product bought it, then his labor for the production is seemingly being quantified as the tax. Obviously, the laborer is disadvantaged given such case. On the other side, the capitalist or the non-working class further tends to increase his profits granted the condition that tariffs were to be imposed because as a higher price is bid upon a product, then supply for it would increase as well especially if the product is a necessity(Berta,2005). Thus, if it is a commodity, more laborer is
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needed and entitled to produce it and so, allocation of benefits of each laborer is likewise decreasingly apportioned among them. Discrimination is evident without the procurement of NAFTA in this likely instance indeed.
Effects in the masses within the partner countries. The possible benefits that can be achieved via the aid of having similar agreement would be one-sided, that is, considerable only for the capitalist since the are the principal coordinators of the prevailing production and whatever increase in profit is attained, levying of taxes for example, then the amount that they incur from such is pocketed as part of accumulating wealth as well as with the nature of any business they are in. And since the NAFTA treaty is advantageous for several reasons, Karl Marx would think of it as proletarian-oriented. Several benefits that has been recorded out of the commencement of the North American Free Trade Agreement is its positive upshot to poverty rates in Mexico. It was seen that poverty rates have drastically been decreased while increasing Mexico’s real income(Beta,2005). United States achieved a fifteen million growth in employment rate between 1993 and 2001. To note also, the automobile industries of Mexico has reached a high percentage of industrial export. North American perspective of NAFTA’s effects is significantly remarked in the lingual labeling of products for a simultaneous retail distribution in Canada, the United States and Mexico (Cahoon ,2004). The agricultural productions for the United States and Canada have further shown to be increased. Figure 1 illustrates this.
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Growth in US Agricultural Exports to the rest of the world 55%
Figure 1. Growth of Agricultural Exports
Growth in U.S. Agricultural Exports to Canada Increases for 1994-2002 and Growth share of exports to the rest of the world increases up to 55% (Cahoon,2004).
Effects in culture. The differentiating cultures of Canada, the United States and Mexico may well be affected at the same time due to the substantiation of NAFTA. Culturally speaking, the variations among the individuals themselves likewise renders similar variations to each of their customs or way of life. The exports in automobiles for example by Mexico would mobilize the areas to which the vehicles were exported. Increased production in agriculture, on the other hand may affect the culture of the three countries by the further utilization of agricultural products instead of the synthetically manufactured products that may be classified detrimental to one’s health (Cahoon,2004). Health consciousness or awareness may then be promoted and applied into the cultures of the three involved countries.
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Consequently, since there is a direct contact and/ or transaction agreed upon by each and among the localities of Canada , the United States and Mexico, then the possibility for a direct sharing or distribution of cultures from one country to another. Provided that there is a strict implementation of governance to exports of goods and that illegal production in black markets is completely tracked and eventually blocked out, then sharing of cultures among the three countries will prove to be advantageous and an aspect of trade worthy of imitation. Cultural differences would be alleviated, and as for Karl Marx, his stand of agreement upon the matter of NAFTA would be strengthened because as mentioned beforehand, his intense advocacy to a non-discriminatory world is where his philosophies and principles are embedded.
Effects in the wealth of the ruling class and the marginalization of the poor. The creation of NAFTA is unmistakably seen to be egalitarian in the sense that there is an equal exchange of Canadian, Mexican and US products or goods . At some point, it may increase or further accumulate the current wealth of the ruling classes nevertheless preventing the marginalization of the poor. The ruling class, or those who are labeled earlier as the non-working social order of the bourgeoisies will inevitably accrue and build up their assets because trade via the legalization of NAFTA is still stable. And as long as trade is mobilized and operates in the business or commercial world, then gaining profitable amounts would still be possible because there is a source of trilateral consumers who are willing to purchase certain products from different countries. The poor, alternatively, will not be marginalized since the North American Free Trade Agreement would account and pave the way for a relatively low-cost products. Such circumstance would afford the unruling social order to avail products at a lower value but of similar quality as with an untaxed product.
Berta D., Benefits of NAFTA, modified 2005, Retrieved @% August 2007 from http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/Policy/NAFTA/nafta_backgrounder.htm
Blunden A., 1847, The Principles of Communism, Retrieved 25 August 2007 from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm
Cahoon M. , 2004 January, Canada and NAFTA: A 10-Year Measure of Success in Canadian-U.S. Agricultural Trade , Retrieved 25 August 2007 from http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/agexporter/2004/January/pgs%2011-13.pdf
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2003, Karl Marx, Retrieved 25 August 2007 from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/marx/
Williams D., 2004, Mexico’s NAFTA Experience, Retrieved 25 August 2007 from http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/agexporter/2004/January/pgs%2014-15.pdf
Burke, B, (2000) ‘Karl Marx and informal education’, the encyclopaedia of informal education, Retrieved 23 August 2007 from www.infed.org/thinkers/et-marx.htm.
Kreis S (copyright), 2000, The History Guide , Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History, Retrieved 25 August 2007 from http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/marx.html