These are very enlightening responses! I appreciate you taking the time to write them.
I think part of the reason this is so difficult for me to grok is because I do have a very systems-oriented way of thinking. To my mind, when someone says “system A isn’t working,” the next logical question has to be, “Then which system is preferable, system B, C, or D?” This is also arguably a small-c “conservative” bias that I have. When we talk about completely altering something as we know it, I need some assurance that the replacement will actually be better before I can get on board. This is especially true when we’re talking about changing systems of government, where the consequences are huge, and revolutions oftentimes result in new systems that are actually less efficient, more authoritarian, and even worse for human rights. This bias generally pulls me towards mistake rather than conflict theory.
Returning to my original question, it seems to me, from these readings of Marx, that he did find something inherently immoral about “the idea of the owner being able to accumulate capital.” It’s totally possible to have this kind of absolutist view and simultaneously work towards pragmatic change (allying with less radical movements, etc.), but it seems like Marx, and probably many contemporary Marxists, wouldn’t be satisfied with a system of reformed capitalism in which workers were simply liberated from wage labor. They would still find things to object to on moral grounds (private ownership, the accumulation of capital, etc.).
Then again, I could be wrong. Political philosophies are born out of circumstance. In a more egalitarian society where no one remains dependent on their boss, the appeal of more revolutionary politics might fade away. That seems to me like the goal we should be striving for.