Capitalist guilt as conceived by Karl Marx is the notion that all profit is evil since it exploits workers, so Capitalists who reap profit from workers' labor are guilty of theft (see Labor theory of value). Marx used this notion as a key point in his argument that Capitalism was not merely flawed, but rotten at the core, and therefore needed not reform but complete overthrow. He reasoned hat society's economic relations would be much more fair under a "dictatorship of the proletariat", although experiments on a grand scale as in the USSR showed that the gap between rich and poor actually increases in Communist countries.
- Hal McKenzie wrote: "In Marx's day, the early Industrial Revolution was creating tremendous social dislocation and a great deal of suffering. Writers like Charles Dickens and Upton Sinclair wrote eloquently of the shocking conditions in which workers lived and worked. For Marx, it wasn't enough to simply push for reform. He concluded that only the total eradication of the system and its replacement by communism would do
- Therefore, in his opus 'Das Kapital,' Marx set out to prove that capitalism was not evil only because of greedy policies, but irredeemably evil due to the nature of the system. If that were so, no reforms could ever work and its annihilation could be justified.
- And the greatest contrast between privileged elites and the toiling masses is to be found in communist countries.
- Capitalism manufactures wealth by a give-and-take between commodities' use value to consumers and their profitability to manufacturers. Where this give and take occurs without hindrance, the magic of the marketplace creates the marvels of production and affluence that we take for granted in the capitalist West.
- The injustices that occur in capitalism result from inequitable distribution of profit, not in creation of profit itself. Over the years, capitalism has been made more equitable by legislation, unions and taxation.
- Capitalism, rather than being an evil system, is a marvelous tool which when used wisely by humane leaders, can meet all man's material needs. The only revolution needed in capitalism is a moral and ethical one that can direct it towards that purpose.