by Bertell Ollman
A young reporter asked a leading capitalist how he made his fortune. "It was really quite simple", the capitalist answered. I bought an apple for 5 cents, spent the evening polishing it, and sold it the next day for 10 cents. With this I bought two apples, spent the evening polishing them,and sold them for 2O. And so it went until I amassed 80. It was at this point that my wife's father died and left us a million dollars". Is this true? Is it fair? What does it all mean? There are no more hotly contested questions in our society than why some are rich and others poor—and whether things have to be this way.
Karl Marx sought the answers to these questions by trying to understand how our capitalist society works (for whom it works better, for whom worse), how it arose out of feudalism and where it is likely to lead. Concentrating on the social and economic relations in which people earn their livings, Marx saw behind capitalism's law and order appearance a struggle of two main classes: the capitalists, who own the productive resources, and the workers or proletariat, who must work in order to survive. "Marxism" is essentially Marx's analysis of the complex and developing relations between these two classes.
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