CLASS & CLASS STRUGGLE- KARL MARX NOTES

WHAT IS CLASS?

Class is the fundamental unit of organisation and society is always divided into opposing classes.

' Man is born in a society in which property relations have already been determined. just as a man cannot chose who his father will be, he has no choice over his class as well' - MARX

Marx sees two broad classes in every society-

  1. the haves/ Earning profits
  2. the have nots/ Earning wages

WHAT IS CLASS STRUGGLE?

It is said to exist because different groups of people have different interests.

BOURGEOISIE controls the capital and means of production.

PROLETARIAT provide the labour, they can trade only their ability to work.

These 2 positions result in 2 classes capitalist & workers.
This is known as class in itself and is defined on the basis of an objective criteria.
According to Marx this class is not the end, gradually members of this class develop a consciousness of
belonging to the same class.
With this class for itself emerges.

Marx also terms this class as social class.
These concepts introduce an element of dynamism in Marx’s class theory.
In every society Marx talks of 2 broad classes, haves & have nots.
Marx acknowledges the intermediate classes.
In his book “Revolution & Counter Revolution in Germany”, Marx talks of 8 classes.
His references to Petty bourgeoise and Lumpen Proletariat.
All intermediate classes will eventually get absorbed into 2 poles – haves & have nots through the
process of class polarization , i.e., Burgoisation & Proletaraisation.

With time the Proletariat will keep on becoming poorer through the process of pauperization.

In order to strengthen his analysis Marx also differentiates b/w false consciousness & the consciousness.
False consciousness is one which does not transcend being rooted in economically & mode of
production.
In simple terms it refers to commonality of the problems, wages, working conditions etc. true
consciousness is one which involved a solidarity energized by an appropriate system of ideas & to fulfil
the wider goal of emancipation of all.
Thus, the consciousness of the workers is dynamic & changes the time.

According to Marx, “history of hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle”.
In this statement Marx considers the class struggle as basic motor of history.
The broad classes are in a state of struggle reading to a process of social change.
For eg. Slaves are in conflict with the makers, serfs are in with feudal lords and so on.

For easy explanation of these notes watch this complete video lecture on youTube:

REASONS FOR CLASS STRUGGLE

Class struggle is a result of contradictions present in the society.
These contradictions are in the form of property relations, interests, ideology & institution.
For eg. a major contradiction in capitalist society to the division of benefits when is not commonsense to
amount of work done.
Workers do the hard work but only get subsistence wages whereas the capitalist takes away the whole
profit apart from this there is a contradiction in relations of production.
New relations of production develop within the old one but having conflicting interests.
Apart from this Marx also attributes class struggle to increasing alienation i.e. absence of the conditions
when help develop full potential of the individual, the structure which individual the creativity of the
individual.

MECHANISM OF CLASS STRUGGLE

According to Marx, “history repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce”.
This statement denotes the mechanism of class struggle in the engines of class struggle.
The class struggle increases due to ever increasing contradictions.
It reaches at its peak and when nature conditions are present it leads to revolution symbolizing the
emergence of a new mode of production.
The mechanism of class struggle is not same in every society.
Marx called slave & serf revolutions as the false revolutions as they were fueled by false consciousness.
The workers revolution will be a true revolution as it is because of true consciousness.
In the earlier case the have nots although are exploited, they organized & developed awareness but still
are aided by an emerging class.
This emerging class represents new relation of production and are part of haves only.

Their consciousness is restricted which represents true revolution.
In capitalism, worker do not have any alternative, there is no emerging class.
Which eventually leads to a true consciousness and, thus, true revolution.
Revolution will not occur on its own but only when mature conditions exist.
These conditions include emergence of

  • a critical mass of workers,
  • network of communication among the workers,
  • emergence/awareness of a proper ideology given by leadership
  • identification of common enemy.

These mature conditions are proceeded by the economic crisis which does the Marx harm to the have
nots.
Inflation, unhealthy competition, emergence of monopolies, a welfare state working for haves etc.
Finally, the class struggle will drastically come down in socialism before finally disappearing in
communism.
In socialism the erstwhile capitalism will resist and may have antagonist relations with workers.
But gradually they’ll realize the benefits of new system and the struggle will end.

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