Last week in history class, we did an activity demonstrating the ideas of Karl Marx and Adam Smith of how society should be set up. In the first round of the activity, most people were given three pieces of candy, but some were given eight. We were then forced to compete in games of rock, paper, scissors with other students for the candy. If and when a student lost all of their candy, they had to sit down and not participate any more. Eventually, only a few people were left, and they had a very large amount of candy. The next round of the activity was comprised of the teacher giving everyone an equal amount of candy, and the teacher was in full control of who got what money, essentially making everyone equal. In the last round of the activity, the teacher gave everyone three pieces of candy, and allowed people to refrain from competing if they wanted. The teacher then pulled out of the activity completely and let us rule ourselves. I did not like this activity because it made me feel preyed upon by my classmates. Once I got a large amount of candy, I didn't want to play anymore because of the risk that I might lose it, and the fact that I had a lot of candy made people want to compete against me even more.
Both Marx and Smith wanted to help the oppressed poor, but they had very different approaches. Marx's idea (Marxism) comprised of the evolution of three ideas; Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. In England during the Industrial Revolution, only a few people were put in the position to be rich, while everyone else was poor. the idea of people having to compete with others for money, and only a few were successful. This would ultimately result in the revolt of poorly paid employees, known as a workers' revolt. This idea is known as Capitalism. Within Socialism, the government owned every industry, and the ultimate goal of Socialism was to create economic equality, and create a classless society. In Communism, people were able to rule themselves and there was no government needed. The goal of a classless society was ultimately achieved in Communism. Adam Smith’s idea, called “The Invisible Hand”, stated that the government should not interfere with the buying and selling of products among citizens of the state. He suggested that if the government were to let money-seeking traders compete with one another, markets would be guided with positive feedback from selling as if by an invisible hand, which is where the name derives from. Free commerce would help the deeply afflicted poor in society because they would not need to buy what they are going to sell before putting it on the shelves; this means that they only benefit from commerce.
I think that Smith’s approach is better than Marx’s because it benefits the poor more so than any of Marx’s theories. Having the classless society demonstrated in Communism would not help in the evolution of that society. With everyone being the same, there is no room for improvement. However, within Smith’s theory, there is more flexibility for the evolution of society, and that is what will best help propel us into the future.
Here is a video about Adam Smith and his motivation for helping the poor: