Wealth and Society
The issue of wealth within the economy presents a considerable issue regarding the gap between the rich and the poor in the society. Much of the issue surrounding the economy employs Marx’s theory of Conflict, in which he asserts that the gap between the rich, also depicted as the Bourgeoisie, and the poor, known as the Proletariat, is a manufactured concept that bases itself on greed and corruption. Based on the Marx’s assertion of the Conflict Theory, the Bourgeoisie possesses the means of production and power and as such, exploit and oppress the Proletariat, who provide significant labor in return for diminutive wages. Thus, from this assumption, an idea of the resulting gap between the rich and the poor stems to revelation. Respectively, Marx’s theory correlates with the notion of power and the oppression in the instance involving the wealthy possessing significant control over property and capital. As such, it is important to note the nature of wealth and effects on the individual and the society.
Irrespective of Marx’s theory on the gap created between the poor and the rich resulting from the possession of wealth by the bourgeoisie, the concept developed by Mark does not illustrate the delineation of the terms ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘proletariat’ regarding the themes of power and oppression. Nevertheless, Marx clearly points out the effects of the nature of wealth in revoking social order. Indeed, economic institutions manipulate the social order, with respect to the manner in which wealth segregates particular races and genders (Marx 361; Stanton 202). As such, wealth affects relationships among people within the society. The temperament of wealth leads to the creation of social classes in the society that define the manner in which interpersonal relationships occur. With respect to the bourgeoisie and proletariat concepts, it is evident that the society, in its division based on wealth, experiences conflict that arises from the imbalance of wealth among individuals within the same society. Furthermore, wealth affects the relationships between individuals within the society in terms of the position occupied within the social classes.
Consequently, wealth, in its effect on the society, encourages materialism. In economic sense, materialism implies the disproportionate drive to obtain and consume material commodities. Due to the nature of wealth in creating a gap between the wealthy and the underprivileged, materialism bases itself on a value schema that deems social status as a product of affluence. Additionally, the notion that obtaining mass wealth increases happiness and utility propels the aspect of materialism. Materialism is an abstract facet of the Capitalist society. According to Smith (348), acquisition of material wealth improves the happiness of the society and as such, happiness, which refers to material and economic satisfaction, arises when individuals strive for their particular interests, which necessitate them to labor tirelessly, and thus achieve maximum wealth for the whole society. Thus, materialism possesses an impact on society. The aspect associates with greed and the discard of morals in order to amass material wealth (Carnegie 387). Furthermore, materialism affects a society’s spiritual life. It influences immoral lifestyles among people since it encourages them to seek material things irrespective of the values.
Alternately, on the notion of the effect of wealth on social relationships and encouragement of materialism, Smith seems to agree and disagree with such impacts based on his inclination towards capitalism. In light of the effects of wealth on social relationships, Smith asserts that, “The great commerce of every civilized society, is that carried on between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country” (Smith 347). With respect to this statement, it is evident that the acquisition of wealth dispels all concerns of social class within the society. Furthermore, by outlining the steps intrinsic to creation and accumulation of wealth through carrying out commerce, distrusting trade instruments and trusting land, Smith alleges that all individuals will benefit if the practice of such steps occurs. Thus, in light of this statement, it is clear that Smith ignores the aspect of the social class and wealth inequality.
Additionally, with respect to economic materialism, Smith agrees with this aspect of materialism in the sense that he agrees that individuals should work for their particular interests and profit. Accordingly, if individuals strive to meet their needs particularly, without any altruism, then the society will improve. In addition, the overall progression of the society is possible when the industry of each individual profits every person in the country through the production of greater wealth. As such, if a country produces more wealth, then the lives of individuals within the societal framework improves considerably. Thus, based on Smith’s assertions, as long as individuals strive to labor for their personal interest, then no problem exists since the end means involves the amassment of greater wealth for the whole society.
On another note, Reich delves on the issue of wealth among the rich and the poor. With reference to his work, Why the Rich are getting Richer and the Poor, Poorer, Reich creates a boat metaphor in order to assess the deviating nature of both classes within the American economy. The boat metaphor illustrates the effect of the tide on the rising and falling of the boats. According to Reich (419), Americans, at one point, dwelled within a similar economic boat. However, as the economic tide increased, most individuals climaxed with it. However, such situations cease to determine the economic status among persons contemporarily. Based on Reich’s nuances, Americans exist within dissimilar economic boats based on the role within the economy. As such, these distinct economic boats illustrate the three different types of laborers within the respective economy. The first laborer is the routine worker who specializes in routine production. The second worker is the in-person server who specializes in service provision whereas the thirds worker comprises the symbolic analysts who solve and break ideas.
In relation to the nature of wealth, the aspect of the boat metaphor relates based on its inclination towards expressing the gap between the wealthy and the poor as well as the advent of capitalism. Majority of Americans comprise routine production and in-person server groups and as such, risk unemployment and redundancy due to enhancement in production facilities through replacement of workers by machines. However, the increasing global web facilitates the need for symbolic analysts who comprise entertainers, consultants and engineers, since they possess capability to work in any economy and as such, gain greater wealth together with their executives regardless of most Americans incurring low wealth. As such, this indicates the disadvantage of a global economy for America since the purchasing power of native workers proves to be irrelevant to the survival of the national economy.
The nature of wealth possesses tremendous effects on individuals and society. Irrespective of the benefits that wealth influences on society, it seems that the detriments outweigh the benefits particularly due to the enormous gap between the rich and the poor. The advent of capitalism and the embracement of materialism and global commerce augment negative effects on the American society that encourage deterioration of morals and values in the society for the sake of material gain as well as economic survival. Thus, as much as every individual possesses intrinsic needs, it is important to balance wealth in order to enhance society.
Carnegie, Andrew. “The Gospel of Wealth”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 387-404. Print.
Marx, Karl. “The Communist Manifesto”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 359-386. Print.
Reich, Robert. “Why the Rich are Getting Richer and the Poor, Poorer”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 419-438. Print.
Smith, Adam. “Of the Natural Progress of Opulence”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 347-358. Print.
Stanton, C. Elizabeth. “Declaration of Sentiments”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 201-210. Print.