European History: Marxism and Darwinism

Chad McKeegan Mr. Horner AP European History 10 April 2013 Marxism Essay Life for Europeans during the 1800s only contained two possibilities of economic wellbeing because, as Marx would note, the wealth was not evenly distributed between the social classes. The majority of the wealth was obtained by the upper class or people with power, such as business tycoons as a result of the capitalistic economy that existed.
Based on the paintings presented, Marxism theorists would exemplify that the economic differences between the two families is a result of class conflict, but Social Darwinists would argue that differences are primarily caused by their biological disadvantages to the environment. At a glance people tend to associate Marxism as basic communism, but it was Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles’ ideologies of the proletariat evolving society into one of economic and social equality that eventually developed into what people commonly refer to as Communism.
Marx and Engles believed that a proletariat revolution was necessary in order to lay the base line for a communist society, which is further explained in the Communist Manifesto. In contrast Social Darwinists philosophize about a “survival of the fittest” society, in which individuals whom have environmental advantages will obtain economic and social advantages, and those at a disadvantage will fall off the ladder.

Both Marxism and Social Darwinism are based around completely different ideals, but both philosophies do not expurgate the ideologies needed to sustain a stable society. Upon analyzing the contrasted paintings it is evident that there are major economic differences between the two families. When examining the painting of the wealthy European family the degree of wealth is clearly visible in both the environment and the people.
The wealthy family seems to be surrounded by various items of wealth, such as paintings, ritzy furniture, fancy curtains, and the prestigious clothing they wear all contribute to the expression of content visible on their faces. In contrast the deprived family is clustered together with their several children because it was necessary for the children to work in order to receive manageable income.
This painting in particular expurgates a vicarious feeling of sorrow and misery, which is clearly visible in every family member’s face. Marxist theorists would argue that the wealthy family can afford luxurious items and live peacefully every day, while the poor family struggles because there was an incredibly uneven distribution of wealth. Based on the labor theory, the worker is cheated of the value his labor creates, which the low wages of workers meant the threat of over – production, accumulated goods, and depression.
The poor family cannot earn enough money to comfortably live day to day because the corporate business owners and those of nobility do not pay the workers enough, and siphon all of the accumulated wealth. Social Darwinists would analyze the two paintings and immediately notice that the poor family is of different race. Social Darwinists would then conclude that the poor family lacked the intelligence and societal skills because their biological differences put them at an environmental disadvantage.
This environmental disadvantage would be considered the primary reason the less fortunate family cannot prosper. The Social Darwinian ideals eventually gave rise to the phrase “survival of the fittest,” which accurately explains the original Darwinian concept of certain species ability to survive and mate as a result of their biologically determined environmental advantages. Social Darwinism, which was a valid concept during the 1800s, no longer has a place in modern society; considering that most civilizations are based on equal opportunity for success.
Upon analyzing the two paintings Marxism theorists would argue that the social and economic differences between the two families is largely the result of an unequal distribution of wealth, and Social Darwinists would believe that biologically determined environmental advantages is the cause of the vast gap between the wealthy and the poor. The issue associated with both philosophies is that each concept largely benefits only one group of individuals, which exemplifies the impossibility of a utopian society.

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