Adam Smith and Karl Marx on Capitalism

Adam Smith and Karl Marx on Capitalism

Adam Smith and Karl Marx are renown for writing on capitalism; a system of the economy in which the industry is under the control of the private companies that are supposed to generate profits. As they did this the two arrived at differing conclusions regarding the functioning of the economy and the society. Regarding this, the paper aims at exploring at exactly what the two agreed on regarding their analysis of capitalism and how their analysis leads them to different conclusions and looking at the one that had an accurate description of the working of capitalism.

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What the Two Agreed on

The two agreed in many instances in as observable when Marx uses some of the insights of Smith. For example, he quotes Smith widely concerning the debilitating effects of the labour division on the man who is working. Similarly, he acknowledges and agrees on some of the insights into how the capital has got power over the worker(Skousen, 2015). There is a deeper connection that is worth noting down. In many instances, Marx asked a similar question to Smith for example what is the value of goods and where does it come from(Prasch, 2013). Smith and Marx thought that the value of a good originated from more than just a subjective desire, they both stated that value is what a person will pay for the good. They also agreed on the contemporary economist be thought it was a very wrong question they all had in common. If the economics was all subjective, all people will act to try realizing their wishes that are subjective.

Also, according to Bassiryand Jones (1993), Smith and Marx agree upon the significance of capitalism as unleashing powers of production. Capitalism is born of the labour division, that means it is made possible by diving jobs into more simple tasks as a form of increasing efficiency. In increasing the efficiency, then people can produce more than they are easily needed. The extra amount and products produced can then go to the capital accumulation which allows for more increased efficiency and production. Both the thought that production was increased, it was amazing.

How they are Led to Different Conclusions

Their main point of different conclusion was mostly associated with the mere fact that Smith was a capitalist while Marx was a communist. even though the two-economist believed in the labour theory of value, Marx also believed in the exploitation rate being subjected to the workers. This, in turn, led to his view that the labourers are indeed paid an unfair wage for what they produce(Prasch, 2013). Another major divergence in conclusion of the two is with respect to the labour theory embedded in the Marxian consumer production view. For the infamous Marx, the labourer provides a commodity for the producers pays for, basically acting in the role of consumer, basically playing the consumer role whereas for Smith, the producer is only available or present to suit the consumer needs. For Marx, both production and consumption are in a continuous cycle whereas, for Smith, consumption is the end of all production. Finally, Marx claimed that underconsumption that was because of low wages gotten by the workers would lead to capitalism crisis (Prasch, 2013).

Which has More Accurate Description of Capitalism

In my view, Adam Smith has a more accurate description of capitalism and that is why been today he is referred to as the father of modern capitalism. It is also evident that his books have had much impact like his two books. Smith’s account of labour division and the free trade, exchange of self-interest, the limitation on intervention by the government pricing and the gnarl market structure, they all show transition to the modern by the economics(Drucker, 2012). Adam Smith brings out clearly on the rule of the free market and the laissez-faire structures that back it up yet they are two components of a larger theory of human interaction and history of social importance(Skousen, 2015).

In conclusion, it is coming out clearly that the two individuals played a key role in letting people understand the working of capitalism. They are one of the group of people whose work has continued influencing even the generations today. Their array work still used to provide critique on the various form if capitalism today. Their greater work is most evident and it all demands that proper attention should be given in following the right procedures in capitalist expansion. Therefore, as observable, Adam Smith has the accurate for of describing capitalism. His mode or way of thought should be applied since it has some accurate key elements unlike Marx’s which seems to be more of subjective.


Bassiry, G. R., & Jones, M. (1993). Adam Smith and the ethics of contemporary capitalism. Journal of Business Ethics12(8), 621-627.

Drucker, P. (2012). Post-capitalist society. Routledge.

Prasch, R. E. (2013). Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx: On some fundamental issues in 21st-century political economy.

Skousen, M. (2015). The Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes. Routledge.

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