Poverty and Marxism

375 Words2 Pages
Theories of Poverty: Poverty and Capitalism Marxists argue that the existence of poverty is beneficial to the ruling class. Poverty increases the motivation of the working class to work. Those in work also receive unequal rewards for work. The existence of low wages reduces the wage demands of the workforce as a whole. J.C. Kincaid claims that "from the point of view of capitalism the low-wage sector helps to underpin and stabilize the whole structure of wages and the conditions of employment of the working class." Differentials in wages help to fragment the working-class; if wages were similar, greater unity and a single class-consciousness might be encouraged, with a possible threat to the capitalist class as a result. Kincaid states "It is not to be expected that any Government whose main concern is with the efficiency of a capitalist economy is going to take effective steps to abolish the low wage sector." Westergaard and Resler attack the idea that the welfare state has led to a more equitable redistribution of wealth. Payments to the poor are generally levied from the working classes. They claim that a policy of "containment" is effectively pursued - the labour movement has been contained within the system. Kincaid believes "that some are rich because some are poor". Marxists claim that the capitalist system creates poverty. Herbert J. Gans has identified a number of functions that make poverty "useful" to capitalists. (1) Temporary, dead-end, dirty, dangerous and menial jobs are undertaken by the poor. (2) Poverty creates jobs and careers for middle-class people. Gans writes, "poverty creates jobs for a number of occupations and professionals that serve the poor, or shield the rest of the population from them." These include the policy, probation officers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and civil servants. There is a "poverty industry". These
Open Document