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Karl Marx and Theory of Class Struggle

According to Marx and Engels the social system makes us aliens or strangers to ourselves. They thought people are stopped from being truly human by the exploited effect of a corrupt social system. The present system is called capitalism or the bourgeois order. Like previous systems, it distorts our true being, but our full humanity will flourish in the communist future. “According to Marx, having identified the rising class in the struggle of his own time with the proletariat devoted the rest of his life to planning a victory for those at whose head he had placed himself.

This victory the process of history would in any case secure, but human courage, determination and ingenuity could bring it hearer and make the transition less painful, accompanied by less friction and less waste of human substance. His position henceforth is that of a commander, actually engaged in a campaign, who therefore does not continually call upon himself and others to show reason for engaging in a war at all, or for being on one side of it rather than the other: the state of war and one’s own position in it are given, they are facts not to be questioned but accepted and examined. ” [2]

“I am performing an act of historical justice, and am rendering to each man his due,” he loftily declared. ” [1] “In the theory of the working class as subject, Marx and Engels continued to discuss the relationship between working class struggle and crisis as if they were two separate phenomena. For the most part accumulation and crisis were characteristics of capitalist development that set the framework and influenced the intensity and scope of working class struggle. During periods of crisis, with falling wages and rising unemployment, they thought that class struggle would intensify as workers fought to resist the worsening of their lot.

In most of their comments causality ran strictly one-way: from the pattern of capitalist development to the pattern of working class struggle. There were exceptions, of course. In the Poverty of Philosophy, for example, Marx argued that wage struggles could be one source of capitalist development of production. In his 1850 “Review” he pondered on the possible effects of the Revolutions of 1848 in spreading the crisis. But in general the mechanisms of crisis, of overproduction, appeared to be quite “internal,” to capital, and independent of working class action.

These early works provide plenty of ammunition for those orthodox Marxist theories of capital’s natural “laws of motion,” originating within capital, often as a result of competition. ” [3] Not all class struggle is violent or necessarily radical (as with strikes and lockouts). Class antagonism may instead be expressed as low worker morale, minor sabotage and pilferage, and individual workers’ hoarding of petty authority and information. It may also be expressed on a larger scale by support for socialist or populist parties.

On the employers’ side, the use of union-busting legal firms and the lobbying for anti-union laws are forms of class struggle. Marx thought that this conflict was central to the social structure of capitalism and could not be abolished without replacing the system itself. Further, he argued that the objective conditions under capitalism would likely develop in a way that encouraged a proletariat organized collectively for its own goals to develop: the accumulation of surplus value as more means of production by the capitalists would allow them to become more and more powerful, encouraging overt class conflict.

If increasing political and economic organization by workers does not counteract this, it would inevitably cause an extreme polarization of the classes, encouraging the revolution that would destroy capitalism itself. The revolution would lead to a socialist society in which the proletariat controlled the state, that is, “the dictatorship of the proletariat”. The original meaning of this term was a workers’ democracy, not a dictatorship in the modern sense of the word.

For Marx, democracy under capitalism is a bourgeois dictatorship. Even after a revolution, the two classes would struggle, but eventually the struggle would recede and the classes dissolve. As class boundaries broke down, the state apparatus would wither away. According to Marx, the main task of any state apparatus is to uphold the power of the ruling class; but without any classes there would be no need for a state. That would lead to the classless, stateless communist society.

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