Analysis of the different phases of capitalism.

Essay by the24hrpartyzoneUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 2004

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Are We There Yet?

An Exploration Into the Stages of Capitalism

Society can be categorized by certain stages in history. Karl Marx?s theory of historical materialism mapped out the evolution of society through five distinct epochs: 1. Hunter-gatherer 2. Tribal 3. Feudal 4. Capitalism and 5. Communism. But are these epochs true to societal evolution? What of the transition between epochs? The questioning of Marx?s theory of historical materialism is central to contemporary theorists. And further debates emerge as to exactly which of the ?new? phases society may currently be in. The Frankfurt School was the first to revise the earlier Marxist theory by claiming that society had entered a second stage of capitalism known as ?advanced industrial capitalism?. Decades later, postmodernist thinkers claimed yet another level had been reached, calling this third phase of capitalism, ?postmodern, or late capitalism?. The question of which stage of capitalism is present today is the focus of this writing.

Through an examination of economic policies, governmental influence, and culture this writing wishes to clarify exactly which position our society has reached in it?s evolution.

Since this essay attempts to determine if society has actually reached postmodernism?s third phase of capitalism, then that is where it shall begin. An explanation of what constitutes a postmodern capitalist society (forms of economics, government, and culture) will then be followed by paralleled descriptions of what had to have existed before it, namely the Frankfurt School?s ?advanced industrial capitalism? and Karl Marx?s ?early competitive capitalism?. A culminating thought on what makes these stages similar, on what makes them different, and on the effects these systems have on the rest of the society will lead to a final conclusion concerning the condition of capitalism in our current state.

The inception of postmodern thought is difficult to determine considering many...