Species being is the essence of a species which includes their needs and desires. Most of the species are content with the fulfillment of their primal needs such as food, intercourse and sleep; because only these basic activities are essential for the survival of their species. In contrast; human beings are more complex so it is understandable that their needs and desires will be complex as well. The concept of species being was introduced by Karl Marx as he believed that the complexity of human beings made them superior to the other species (Paulsantilli, 1973). Their need for more placed them on top of the food chain and their search for answers made them the most intelligent among other species. The intricacy of human needs led to technological advancement and the rise of capitalism. This essay will explore the role of species being in capitalism and the way one affects the other.
The world saw the rise of the Industrial Revolution during the years 1760 till 1820 and 1840. This has been the world’s biggest technological advancement as it paved way for the technologies we own today. Before the industrial revolution, there was a clear line between the upper class and the lower class. However; this line was blurred with the emergence of a new class; the middle class. This class was important as it became the backbone of capitalism that emerged due to the industrial revolution. Many sociologists were against capitalism and many advocated it. It was during this time that many dissected the idea of capitalism and provided future sociologists with the factors that led to capitalism. Before capitalism, everything belonged to the state and while the royalty lavished in riches; the common people suffered as the things they toiled for did not belong to them. With capitalism, there was hope for them to make their situations better as in capitalism the trade and industry are owned privately. However; there was a downside to this because previously people used to be masters of their crafts but after capitalism, there was no need for it. Specialization in a certain field was appreciated more as it meant better job opportunities (Mcintosh, 1997).
Capitalism also meant that people were alienated from society as they were running after better opportunities and this competition separated them from their peers as these peers were also seen as opponents. Then there was the alienation from labor as the product they helped produce once again did not belong to them. Before their fruits of labor were taken by the state and now these were taken by the owners of the industry. Nothing changed in that aspect and just like before the rich lined their pockets with the money made by the common people who lived wage to wage. Lastly, the working class was alienated from their selves as they ran after the high-paying jobs and worked themselves to the bones; leaving no time for their well-being (Marx, 2015). Capitalism was a ray of hope for many but it failed to provide them that escape that they were looking for. However; the question remains; how does species being plays into the concept of capitalism?
The answer lies in the “division of labor” (Durkheim, 1984). Long before the man was the sophisticated and well-educated being he is today; he was a caveman. These cavemen divided up the tasks of hunting, foraging and looking for shelter among them to make their survival easier. Humans have been depending on each other for a long time; dividing up tasks to improve their chance of survival and needing to be in a community to have a strong sense of self. Even during the Stone Age, humans had complex needs and desires. Capitalism is a more sophisticated version of the cavemen’s division of labor as it employs technology along with manpower to bring about a more cultured way of living. It is in short; the result of human beings’ complex needs and desires. For example; there was no need for wallpapers but the desire of human beings to adorn the interior of the homes led to its invention. Species being encourages capitalism and relies on it for its survival and the same can be applied to capitalism.
Although capitalism has failed society many times; the reason it still stands is that it fulfills our needs and desires. It brings us products that we did not know we needed but when these products are presented to us; we can no longer live without them. “Know your customers’ needs and wants”, is a phrase that is used to identify gaps in the market and bring the people more innovations; keeping them in a never-ending loop of capitalism. The way capitalism works is that the owners hire the workers to work in their industry; they take away the major profits and pay a minimum amount to the workers. Then the people are bombarded with advertisements of the products that they clearly cannot afford, but that problem was solved by introducing credit cards. Now the people could buy the products that they cannot afford and incur debt in the process. To pay off the debt; they keep on working at their mundane jobs and keep on buying the products and so on. It is a never-ending loop of capitalism that relies on consumerism.
Species being led to modernity; in turn, modernity led to the industrial revolution and capitalism. Human desires had become so multifaceted that they needed to break free from the old values and needed a new way of thinking that would propel them forward. They paid no mind to the consequences of this modernity as long as their needs were met. Today this modernity which Anthony Giddens described as “Juggernaut” is slowly getting out of control and its consequences are immeasurable and destructive (Giddens, 2013). Today due to rapid technological advancements; the world is facing a crisis in the form of Global Warming. The world is becoming inhabitable with each passing day and for what? For the rich to become richer and keep on accumulating wealth that they do not need but their greed cannot be satisfied as it is their need to become the most powerful people in the world while the rest of the world is on fire.
Species being gave rise to modernity, capitalism and consumerism without regard for the environment and the future of our descendants. However; the younger generations are realizing the mess caused by the greed of the capitalist and they are trying to break free of these constraints. There are social actions to protect the environment like the zero waste movement, boycotting fast fashion and use of plastic; in hope of protecting the world from further damage. People are trying to be accountable and hold others accountable for the damage that is being caused to others and the environment. They are also breaking free of the nine to five jobs and learning to make their lives better by using their skills to earn a living that would help them sustain themselves easily. Species being has ruined our lives as it keeps on getting trapped in the senseless world of capitalism. It is true that species being brought us out of our primitive way of living but it also trapped us in a life that kept us from our true potential. Species being gave rise to capitalism and now it is also slowly trying to end it as humans today want to live a more sustainable life.
Durkheim, E. (1984). The Division of Labor in Society. https://books.google.com.pk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ocyDAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR3&dq=division+of+labor+in+society++&ots=DPjM5vQLoN&sig=c7FI4CWgmQPX87eWHWaDfrw__Is&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=division%20of%20labor%20in%20society&f=false
Giddens, A. (2013). The Consequences of Modernity. John Wiley & Sons.
Marx, K. (2015). Alienated Labour. In Working in America (4th ed.). Routledge.
Mcintosh, I. (1997). Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader. NYU Press.
Paulsantilli. (1973). Marx on Species-Being and Social Essence. Studies in Soviet Thought, 13(1/2), 76–88.