WE have already seen the important function of the classes in the evolution of human society. Even the social structure in a class society depends chiefly on what classes exist in this society what is their mutual relation, etc. And we have seen that every great alteration in the social life is connected with a class struggle in one way or another. It is not unimportant to note that transition from one form of society to another is realized through a furious class struggle. This is why Marx and Engels opened the Communist Manifesto with the words: "The history of society existing up to the present is the history of class struggles. " We have already defined the general nature of a class. We now prepared to go into further detail.
A social class - we have seen - is the aggregate of persons playing the same part in production, standing in the same relation toward other persons in the production process, these relations being also expressed in things (instruments of labor). It follows that in the process of distribution the common element of each class is its uniform source of income, for the conditions in the distribution of products are determined by the conditions in production. Textile workers and metal workers are not two separate classes; but a single class, since they bear the same relation to certain other persons (engineers, capitalists). Similarly, the proprietors of a mine, a brick-field, a corset-factory, are all of one class; for regardless of the physical differences between the things they manufacture, they occupy a common ("commanding") position with regard to the persons engaged in the process of production, which position is also expressed in things ("capital").
The production relations are therefore at the basis of the class alignment in society. Other divisions have been made, which must now be disposed of. A frequent conception is the division into the classes of "poor" and "rich". A man having twice as much money in his pocket as another is considered as belonging to a different class, the basis of the division being in this case the amount possessed of the standard of living. An English sociologist (D'Ett) has gone so far as to draw a table of classes: the first and lowest class (paupers) have a budget of eighteen shillings per week; the second class, twenty-five shillings; the third, forty-five shillings, etc.1)
This conception is not only very simple, but also naive and erroneous. From this point of view, a well paid metal worker in capitalist society would not be counted with the proletariat, while a poor person or artisan would fall into the working class. The lumpenproletariat would have to be considered as the most revolutionary class, as the power capable of realizing the transition to a higher form of society. On the other hand, two bankers, one of whom has twice as much money as the other, would have to be assigned to two separate classes. Yet, everyday experience shows us that the various classes of workers are far more likely to fight side by side than are the workers and artisans, or workers and peasants, etc. The peasant is not much inclined to feel any solidarity with the worker. At the other end of the scale, two bankers feel themselves to be members of the same family, though one be ten times as rich as the other. Marx already pointed out that the size of one's purse constitutes a merely quantitative difference, which may, to be sure, throw two individuals of the same class into violent opposition to each other. In other wards, the difference in "wealth" may not be considered as sufficient basis for the definition of a class, even though it have an influence within the frame of one class.
Another widely accepted theory is that which makes the process of distribution the basis of the class division o£ society, i.e., the distribution of social income. Thus, in capitalist society, the division of income into three principal groups, profits, ground rent, wages, gives rise to a distinction between three classes: capitalists, landlords, proletarians (wage workers). The share falling to each of these classes may only grow - for a given quantity of social income - at the cost of the share falling to another class. The members of one class are therefore united not only by common and uniform interests, but also by the opposition of their interests to those of other classes.
Unless we debase this theory to a mere consideration of who is getting more and who less, we at once encounter the following question: why are the persons who are united in a class reproduced as a class? How comes it that - let us say - in capitalist society certain types of income exist? What is the cause for the stability of these "types of income"? The mere putting of these questions shows the true statement of affairs. This stability depends on the relation to the means of production, which, in turn, express the relation between men in the process of production. The function of men in production, and the ownership in the interests of production, i.e., the "distribution of persons" and the "distribution of means of production" are fixed quantities within the limits of the:existing mode of production. If we are dealing with capitalism, we have therefore a category of men who command the production process, who simultaneously control all sorts of means of production, and there is also a category of men working at the command of the former, subordinating their labor power to them, and producing commodity values. This circumstance is responsible for the fact that a certain natural law process prevails in the distribution of the products of labor (i.e., in the distribution of income). We have therefore come to the point of considering the most important phases in production - the "distribution of persons" and the "distribution of things" - as the basis of class relations.
Nor could it be otherwise, as we may learn if we approach question in the most abstract terms. Every class is obviously a certain "real aggregate", i.e., it sums up all the persons related in uninterrupted mutual reactions, all the "living persons" whose roots are in production, and whose thoughts may reach into the skies. Each class is a special, definite human system within the great system known as human society. Our approach to the class must be similar, therefore, to our approach to society; in other words, the analysis of classes must begin with production. We must of course not be surprised to find classes differing from each other along various lines: in production as well as in distribution, in politics, in psychology, in ideology. For all these things are interdependent; you cannot crown a proletarian tree with bourgeois twigs; this would be worse than placing a saddle on a cow. But this connection is determined, in the last analysis, by the position of the classes in the process of production. Therefore, we must define the classes according to a production criterion.
What is the difference between a social class and a social caste? A class, as we have seen, is a category of persons united by a common role in the production process, a totality in which each member has about the same relative position with regard to the other functions in the production process. A social caste, on the other hand, is a group of persons united by their common position in the juristic or legal order of society. Landlords are a class; the nobility are a caste; the great landlords are defined by a common production type, not so the nobility. The noble has certain legal rights and privileges, due to his "noble station". Yet, economically speaking, this noble may be impoverished; he may barely vegetate; he may be a slum-dweller; but his station remains that of a noble; such is the Baron in Gorki's Lower Depths. Similarly, under the Tsarist government, workers' passports often contained the words: "Peasant from such and such a province, such and such a district, such and such a parish", although this worker had never been a peasant, had been born in a city and worked for wages since childhood. Such is the difference between class and caste. A person whose class character is that of a worker may (from the standpoint of Tsarist laws) be classified as a peasant. But have we any right to dwell on laws without descending deeper, since we know that politics (including law) is "the concentrated expression of economy"?
Of course, we must go deeper; we have ourselves pointed out that it is methodologically very important to approach the social alignments chiefly from the production angle. We find the question of caste excellently presented by Professor Solntsev, who has written the authoritative work on classes: "Socially unequal groups in the various stations appear as such and do not arise on the basis of the relations of the social labor process, of economic relations, but chiefly on the basis of legal and state relations. The caste is a legal-political category, which may express itself in various forms . . . . As distinguished from caste, the class alignment arose on the basis of economic conditions" (p.22). Solntsev denies that caste is synonymous with class, or that it is merely a legal-political raiment for class, while he admits that in ancient times, for instance, "the division into estates necessarily reflected certain class differences" (p.25), that "the class struggle assumes the peculiar form of a struggle between stations (estates)" (p.26). This somewhat vague statement obliges us to seek a somewhat clearer formulation. In the French Revolution the tiers état was a mixture of various classes, then but slightly differentiated from each other: it included the bourgeoisie, the workers and the "intermediate classes" (artisans, petty traders, etc.). All were members of the tiers état for the reason of their legal insignificance as compared with the privileged feudal landlords. This tiers état was the juristic expression for the class bloc opposing the dominant landlords. It follows that class and caste may not be taken as synonymous, while the shell of the caste may include on the whole a class kernel (a single estate corresponding to a number of class which remain classes, in spite of the vagueness in Solntsev's mind). On the other hand, class and caste may fail to correspond in another way, as already shown: one might belong to a "lower class" but "higher caste" (an impoverished nobleman may become a janitor or stoker), or the reverse: one may belong to a lower caste and higher class (a peasant may become a wealthy merchant) Evidently the "class content under the economic envelope" is here non-existent.
A correct theoretical statement of the case may not be obtained by a consideration of individual instances, but only from the point of view of typical mutual reactions within the frame of a specific economic order. The following fundamental circumstance is worthy of attention: the "estates" are abolished by the bourgeois revolutions, by the evolution of bourgeois conditions. Capitalism was incompatible with the existence of "estates", for the following reason: in pre-capitalist forms of society, all relations are far more conservative; the tempo of life is slower; alterations are less significant than under capitalism. The dominant class is the landed aristocracy, almost a hereditary class. This striking immobility in conditions made possible a consolidation of class privileges - as well as class duties - by means of a series of legal standards; this immobility enabled classes to be enveloped in the garment of the'. "estate". On the whole, therefore, the "estates" followed the same line as the classes or groups of classes, in their opposition to a certain class. But this harmony was brusquely disturbed by the entrance of the far more mobile conditions of commodities capitalism; the insignificant man became important; the nouveaux.. riches arose, a very frequent phenomenon (some of the great landlords assumed capitalist forms, others becoming impoverished,: while still others maintained themselves on the previous level, etc.)., Thus the mobility of capitalist relations completely undermines the existence of the "estates". The transition period of the disintegration of feudal relations is also expressed in the growing disharmony between the economic content of the classes and the legal envelope of the "estates". There now ensued the conflict that led inevitably to the collapse of the entire system of "estates". Its "caste" form was incompatible with the growth of capitalist production relations, as the class envelope of the production process is now becoming incompatible with the further growth of the productive forces. Thus, Marx wrote in his Poverty of Philosophy: "The condition for the liberation of the working class is the abolition of all classes, as the significance of the liberation of the tiers état . . . was the abolition of all the estates". Engels, elucidating this passage, adds the following: "Estates here mean the estates of the feudal state in the historical sense, estates with definite, limited privileges. The revolution of the bourgeoisie abolished the estates and their privileges. The bourgeois society now recognizes only classes. To term the proletariat the fourth estate was therefore to contradict history.'
Therefore: in the period of the stable precapitalist systems, the estates were the legal expression of the classes; the increasing incompatibility of these quantities (the disturbance of equilibrium between the class content and the legal form of the estates) was called forth by the growth of capitalist relations and the disintegration of not only the higher but also the lower of the old feudal classes. Under the feudal system, the peasantry as a class coincided in general with the peasantry as an estate; but the country bourgeoisie and the city proletariat began to differentiate from the peasantry, retaining, however, the garment of their former "estate" (caste), which, being ill adapted to the new conditions, have had to be discarded.
We must now examine the third category mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Manifestly, vocation is connected with the process of production. At first glance, the difference between a vocation and class is based on the fact that the line between vocations is not drawn as a line in the relations between men, but as a line in their relations with things, depending on what things, with what things one works, what things are produced. The difference between metal turner and joiner and mason is not based on a different relation to capitalists, but simply on the fact that one works metals, the other wood, the third stone.
Yet the essence o£ the matter is not in the thing, for vocation is simultaneously a social relation; in the process of production, which unites many workers of different types, owing to the standards of the production process, a definite relation naturally prevails. However different these relations may be, they are all subsidiary to the differences that prevail in the principal phase: the differences between the work of those who command and those obey, the differences expressed in the property relations.
The classification by vocation, as a relation between person as a relation based on the relation toward technical tools, methods, objects of labor, coincides neither with the division of labor into commanding and obeying elements, nor with the corresponding distribution of instruments of production, i.e., with the proper relations in these instruments of production.
Professor Solntsev is therefore wrong in declaring that vocation "is a natural technical category (Solntsev's italics, N. B.), that it is peculiar to human communities even in the prehistoric period, as w< as in the following stages that it is not an historical category coy nected with the social order" (ibid., p.21), in short, that it is a eternal category. Vocations become vocations for the reason that certain kind of labor is usually performed throughout the individual's life: let the shoemaker stick to his last! But this does not signify that things have always been thus and must always remain thus. The increasingly automatic nature of technology will liberate men from this necessity and will show to what extent this category also been historical rather than permanent.
We are now prepared to take up a description of the important classes.
1. The basic classes of a given social form (classes in the proper sense of the word) are two in number: on the one hand, the class which commands, monopolizing the instruments of production; on' the other hand, the executing class, with no means of production, which works for the former. The specific form of this relation of economic exploitation and servitude determines the form of the, given class society. For example: if the relation between the commanding and executing class is reproduced by the purchase of labor power in the market, we have capitalism. If it is reproduced. by the purchase of persons, by plunder, or otherwise, but not by the purchase of labor power alone, and if the commanding class gains control of not only the labor power but also of body and soul of the exploited persons, we have a slaveholding system, etc
In connection with capitalism, three classes are usually counted, as confirmed by Marx in the well-known passage at the end of volume iii of Capital, where the manuscript suddenly breaks off at the beginning of an analysis of the classes in capitalist society. "The owners of mere labor power, the owners of capital, and the landlords, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit and ground-rent, in other words, wage laborers, capitalists and landlords, form the three great classes of modern society resting on the capitalist mode of production." (Capital, Chicago, 1909, vol. iii, p.1,031) But the circumstance that the land-owning group constitutes a great "class" does not imply that it is one of the essential classes. Thus, we find the following passage in Marx, which Professor Solntsev erroneously quotes in his own support: "Objectified and living labor are the two factors on the contrast between which capitalist production is based. Capitalist and wage laborer are the sole functionaries and factors in production, their relation and opposition being a result of the very essence of the capitalist mode of production . . . . Production, as observed by James Mill, might therefore continue uninterrupted, if the landlord should disappear and be replaced by the state. . . This reduction in the number of classes directly concerned in production, to capitalists and wage laborers, eliminating the landlord, who only subsequently enters into the relation, as a consequence not of property relations produced within the limits of the capitalist mode of production, but of property relations handed down to capitalism - a reduction inherent in the nature of the capitalist mode of production, distinguishing it from feudal and ancient production - makes it an adequate theoretical expression of the capitalist mode of production and manifests its differentia specifica." (Marx: Theorien über den Mehrwert, Stuttgart, 1915, vol. ii, part i, pp.292 et seq.). Marx again makes the same statement in his treatment of nationalization of the soil.
The basic classes may be subdivided into their various elements. In capitalist society, the commanding bourgeoisie was partly industrial, partly commercial, partly banking, ere. The working class includes skilled and unskilled workers.
2. Intermediate classes: these include such social-economic groups as constitute a necessity for the society in which they live, without being a remnant of the old order. They occupy a middle position between the commanding and exploiting classes. Such are, for instance, the technical mental workers in capitalist society.
3. Transition classes: these include such groups as have emerged from the preceding form of society, and as are now disintegrating in their present form, giving rise to various classes with opposite roles in production. Such are, for example, the artisans and peasants in capitalist society, who constitute a heritage from the feudal system, and from whom both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat are recruited.
Thus, the peasantry is constantly falling to pieces under capitalism; economically speaking, it is differentiated; the rich peasant grows out of the medium peasantry, becoming a trader and, one step further up, a true bourgeois. On the other hand, the proletariat is also growing out of the peasantry, by some such process as this: the peasant has no horse; he becomes a farm laborer or seasonal worker; he becomes a true proletarian.
4. Mixed class types: these include such groups as belong to of class in one respect and to another class in another respect, for example, the railroad worker who runs a farm of his own, for which he hires a laborer; he is a worker from the standpoint of the railroad company, but an "employer" from the standpoint of the hired man.
5. Finally there are the so call declassé groups, i.e.; of persons outside the outlines of social labor: the lumpenproletariat, beggars, vagrants, etc.
In an analysis of the "abstract type" of society, i.e., any form in its purest state, we are dealing almost exclusively with its basic classes; but when we take up the concrete reality, we of course find ourselves faced with the motley picture with all social-economic types and relations.
The general cause of the existence of classes is defined by Engels in his Anti-Dühring as follows "" that all previous historical contradictions between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes are explained by the same comparatively undeveloped productivity of human labor. As long, as the truly working population is so completely occupied by its necessary labor as to leave it no time' for conducting the common affairs of society - division of labor, business of the state, legal matters, art, science, etc.- so long did we necessarily have a special class which, freed from actual labor, looked after these matters; in which connection, it never failed to place more and more work upon the shoulders of the working masses, for its own advantage" ( Friedrich Engels: Herrn Eugen Dührings Unwälzung der Wissenschaft, Stuttgart, 1901, pp.190, 191). In another passage (p.190), practically the same remark is repeated, with the added statement that society is divided into two classes. A recapitulation of the whole matter is this: "The law of the division of labor is therefore the basic factor in the division into classes."
Professor Solntsev criticizes G. Schmoller, who finds the cause of the formation of the classes to be chiefly the division of labor, and attacks Schmoller's reference to Engels with the following words: "Engels actually shows the close connection between the process of class formation and the process of the division of labor; but " Engels regards the division of labor as only the necessary natural-technical condition for the formation of social classes, not as their cause; the causal basis of the formation of classes was found by Engels, not in the division of labor, but in the relation between production and distribution, i.e., in processes of purely economic nature" (ibid., p.303, my italics, N. B.). As we have observed above, when considering the question of vocation, we may not oppose the division of labor to the production relations, for the division of labor is likewise one of the varieties of the production relations. Schmoller's error (in his books, Die Tatsachen der Arbeitsteilung, Jahrbücher, 1889; Das Wesen der Arbeitsteilung und Klassenbildung, Jahrbücher, 1890) is in overlooking the difference between the stratification of vocations and the stratification of classes, thus reconciling class oppositions in the spirit of the organic school. The theory of L. Gumplowicz and F. Oppenheimer, which traces the origin of classes from extra-economic force, overlooks the difference between the abstract theory of society and the concrete facts of history. In actual history, the role of the extra-economic use of force (conquest) was very great, and had an influence on the process of class formation. But in a purely theoretical investigation, this condition may not be considered. Assuming that we are analyzing society only, "abstract society", in its evolution, we should find classes developing here also, by reason of the so called "internal" causes of development mentioned by Engels. Therefore, the role of conquests, etc., is merely a (very important) complicating factor.
We have seen that classes are specific groups of persons, "real aggregates", distinguished by their role in production, which role 1s expressed in the property relations. But these two phases in the production process also are accompanied by a third phase-the process of the distribution of products in one way or another. Production is paralleled by distribution.
The forms of distribution correspond to the forms of production. The position of the classes in production determines their position in distribution. The antagonism between administrators and the administrated, between the class monopolizing the instruments of production and the class possessing no means of production, is expressed in an antagonism in income, in a contradiction between the shares held by each class in the product turned out. This different "being" of the classes also determines their "consciousness". The contradictions of the "being", of the conditions of existence, are directly reflected in the growth of class interests. The most primitive and general expression of class interest is the effort of the classes to increase their share in the distribution of the total mass of products.
In the system of class society, the process of production is at the same time a process of the economic exploitation of those who work physically.
They produce more than they receive, not only because a portion of the product turned out (of values, in capitalist society) goes for extending production ("accumulation", in capitalist society), but also because the working class is supporting the owners of the instruments of production, is working for them. The most general interest of the dominant minority may therefore be formulated as the effort to maintain and extend the opportunities for economic exploitation; while the interest of the exploited majority is to liberate itself from this exploitation. The first of these two efforts has an eye only to society as it exists at present; the second is challenge to the existence of this society.
But the economic structure of society - as we have seen - is fortified in its state organization and supported by countless superstructural forms. It is therefore not surprising to find the economic class interest clothed also in the garment of political, religious, scientific interests, etc. The class interests thus develop into an entire system, embracing the most varied domains of social life. These coordinated interests, maintained in place by the general interest of the class, condition the construction of the so called "social ideal", which is always the quintessence of the class interests.
A few additional points require our attention in a discussion of class interests
First: permanent, general interests must be distinguished from temporary, momentary interests. The "momentary" interests may even constitute an objective contradiction to the permanent interests. The English workers, for instance, were acting in accordance with their temporary interests when they accepted a class harmony with the English bourgeoisie, supporting them in the imperialist war; they acted in the interest of their wages, which were increased at the expense of the colonial workers. But because they thus destroyed the solidarity of all the workers, and made a compact with their employers, they were opposing the general and permanent interests of their class.
Second: the professional interests of a group must not be confused with the general interests of the class. Thus, the dominant bourgeoisie may, in capitalist society, win over the aristocracy of labor (skilled labor), whose special interests then do not coincide with those of the entire working class; they are group interests, not class interests. Another example: during any war, the commercial bourgeoisie violates the commercial laws with all its might, although the bourgeois state itself established these laws, and is waging war in the interest of the bourgeoisie as a class. In other words, the group interests of the commercial section of the bourgeoisie is in this case at variance with the interests of the bourgeoisie as a class.
Third: alterations in principle and tendency in the momentary interests of the class, proceeding simultaneously with the alterations in principle of its social situation, must not be left out of account. The example of the proletariat will serve to illustrate this point. In capitalist society, its most permanent and general interest is the destruction of the capitalist system. Its partial demands always have this general tendency: the conquest of strategic positions, the undermining of bourgeois society, the improving of the proletariat's material position, enhance its social strength, preparing its forces for the attack on the entire capitalist order. Now, let us assume that the proletariat has discharged its historical. task. It has destroyed the old state machinery, built up a new machinery, produced a new social equilibrium; temporarily, the proletariat assumes the place of the commanding class. Obviously, the direction of its interests has radically changed: all its partial interests, taken from the point of view of the general interests, are now subordinate to the idea of fortifying and developing the new conditions, organizing them, offering resistance to every attempt at destruction. This dialectic transformation is an outgrowth of the dialectic evolution of the proletariat itself, onice it has become a state power.
The common element behind both these opposed directions of interest is the construction of a new form of society, whose bearer is the proletariat, a construction which presupposes the destruction of the old envelope, which had become an obstacle to the evolution of the productive forces.
A new class, to be capable not only of destroying the old system of social relations, but of building up a new one, must necessarily turn its interests in the direction of production, i.e., it must not approach social questions from the standpoint of division and mere distribution, but from that of a destruction of old forms for the purpose of a construction of forms with more perfect production, with more powerful productive forces.
The difference in the material conditions of existence that lie at the basis of the class stratification of society impresses its mark on the entire consciousness of the classes, i.e., on the class psychology and ideology. We already know that the psychology of a class is not always identical with the material interests of that class (for instance, the psychology of despair, escape from the world, longing for death); but it always results from the life conditions of this class, being constantly determined by the latter. Let. us consider a few examples of the manner in which the class psychology and the class ideology are actually conditioned by the economic condition of the class.
Our first example will be taken from the Russian Revolution. It is a matter of common knowledge that Russian Marxists and Social-Revolutionaries disagreed as to which class would lead society to socialism. The Marxists maintained it would be the working class, the proletariat; the Social Revolutionaries, on the other hand, claimed that the peasantry would take the lead in this field. The facts of life have supported the Marxists; the peasantry supported the proletarians in their struggle against the landlords and capitalists, because the proletariat guards the peasants' ownership of the soil and makes possible the development of peasant economy; yet the peasants are but little susceptible to communism and adhere to the old forms of tilling the soil, and of agriculture in general. It will be interesting to determine the reasons for this phenomenon, the heroic struggle of the proletariat and its incomparably, greater receptivity for communist reconstruction and communist ideology. It is not sufficient to reply that the peasants are not quite so poor, for then we might ask why the lumpenproletariat (beggars, declassed persons) did not furnish the chief detachments of fighters.
It is important to learn what are the traits that must be preset in a class in order to enable it to accomplish a transformation of society, to shunt society from the capitalist track to the socialist track.
1. Such a class must be one that has been economically exploited and politically oppressed under capitalist society; otherwise, the class will have no reason for resisting the capitalist order; it will not rebel under any circumstances.
2. It follows - to put the matter crudely - that it must be a poor class; for otherwise it will have no opportunity to feel its poverty as compared with the wealth of other classes.
3. It must be a producing class; for, if it is not, i.e., if it has no immediate share in the production of values, it may at best destroy, being unable to produce, create, organize.
4. It must be a class that is not bound by private property, for a class whose material existence is based on private property will naturally be inclined to increase its property, not to abolish private property, as is demanded by communism.
5. This class must be one which has been welded together by the conditions of its existence and its common labor, its members working side by side. Otherwise, it will be incapable of desiring - not to mention constructing - a society that is the embodiment of the social labor of comrades. Furthermore, such a class could not wage an organized struggle or create a new state power.
In the following table, the presence or absence of these characteristics in the various classes and groups is indicated by a + or - sign.
|1. Economic exploitation||+||-||+|
|2. Political oppression||+||+||+|
|5. Freedom from private property||-||+||+|
|6. Condition of union in production, and common labor||-||-||+|
In other words, the peasantry-for instance-lack several elements necessary to make them a communist class: they are bound down by property, and it will take many years to train them to a new view, which can only be done by having the state power in the hands of the proletariat; also, the peasantry are not held together in production, in social labor and common action; on the contrary, the peasant's entire joy is in his own bit of land; he is accustomed to individual management, not to cooperation with others. The lumpenproletariat, however, is barred chiefly by the circumstance that it performs no productive work; it can tear down, but has no habit of building up. Its ideology is often represented by the anarchists, concerning whom a wag once said that their whole program consists of two paragraphs. Para. 1. There shall be no order at all; Para. 2. No one shall be obliged to comply with the preceding paragraph.
We have thus seen how the conditions of material existence determine the psychology and ideology of classes in groups; the proletariat shows: hatred against capital and its state power, revolutionary spirit, the habit of organized action, a psychology of comradeship, a productive and constructive conception of things, a rejection of the traditional, a negative attitude on the "sacredness of private property", that pillar of bourgeois society, etc.; in the peasantry: love of private property, preventing them from favoring innovation; individualism, exclusiveness, suspicion of everything lying outside the village; in the luvnpenproletariat: shiftlessness , lack of discipline hatred of the old, but impotence to construct or organize anything new, an individualistic declassed "personality", whose actions are based only on foolish caprices. In each of the above classes, we find the ideology that corresponds to its psychology: in the proletariat, revolutionary communism; in the peasantry, a property ideology; in the lumpen proletariat, a vacillating and hysterical anarchism. Obviously, once such psychological and theological nucleus is present, it will set the fundamental note for the entire psychology and ideology of the class or group concerned.
In the old discussions between Marxists and Social-Revolutionaries, the latter usually formulated the question from the point of view of philanthropy, "ethics", "compassion" for the "weaker brother", and similar rubbish of a ruling class intellectual nature. For most of these "ideologists", the question of class was an ethical question of the intellectual, with his qualms of conscience, who, in his desire to overthrow absolutism, which was an obstacle in his path, sought support in the peasant (so long as the latter did not set fire to the estates of the intellectual's aunties and uncles), whose confidence he wished to gain, thus compensating for his own guilt by his noble-minded assistance. The Marxists, however, were not concerned with lacrimose sentiments or philanthropy, but with a precise study of class peculiarities, with finding out what class would lead in the impending struggle for socialism.
A good study (although conservative and apologetic, supporting the Black Hundred) of the psychology of the peasant is to be found in the book of the evangelical pastor A. L'Houet (Zur Psychologie des Bauerntums, 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1920). This learned Christian dominie esteems Germany's peasantry "above all as its supply of bodily, mental, moral, and religious health, as the Reich's war-hoard" (p.4; L'Houet means cannon-fodder). The pastor, who finds among the earmarks of the firmly rooted peasantry: its "homogeneous mass", its exclusiveness to the outside world, its fidelity to tradition, etc., gives an excellent description of the class psychology of the peasantry but he is inspired with feelings of rapture with those of its qualities that we regard as the "idiotism of country life" (Marx). For instance, L'Houet praises the inertia of the peasantry, its aversion to innovation. "As contrasted with this outspoken preference for everything that is new, the peasant unmistakably belongs to a world that reveres the old, that retains the ancient themes of life, continues to spin the old thread, to roll the old stones. With the disadvantage that he `remains behind the times', `does not keep abreast of the times but with the great advantage that all the achievements of his life, by reason of this one-sidedness, are characterized by reliability, solidity tried and true methods" (p.16). This inertia is found everywhere in the preservation of the original settlement, of the old home, of the old farm-names, baptismal names, costumes, the old dialect, the old folk poetry, the old mechanism of the soul, the old faces! In all, we find the same old conservative sense." (p.16). Herr L'Houet is delighted with the fact that peasant dwellings in 1871 were practically the same as in the Stone Age. He rejoices in the hereditary simplicity and poverty of the psyche, in the fact "that the number of life problems faced at any moment, in a religious, moral, artistic sense or whatever other sense - is not very large, that each generation hands down the same supply of these things to the next" (p.29). He is pleased to find that these limitations, this "idiotism" - not the fault but the misfortune of the peasantry - is not destroyed by steam and electricity, for this "principle of the past" is the basis of a simple grandiose existence in the ancient sense" (!!). "Solidity", thrift and avarice, lust for possession, etc., are of course also highly esteemed by our dominie (as on p.6, for instance). These examples fully express the character of the class psychology and class ideology of landlords and their priests, who cherish and nurse precisely those qualities of the peasantry that prevent it from "advancing with the times".
The class psychology of the country nobility (i.e., the feudal landholders) is characterized by the same outspoken conservative and reactionary spirit, which no other class possesses to the same degree. This is not hard to understand; the feudal landholders, as we know, are the representatives of feudal society, which has now passed away in almost all countries. Fidelity to tradition, to the "established forms of worship of the aristocratic family (its excellences, its fame, its worth"), symbolically expressed in the "ancestral tree"; "merit and service" the estate, the honor appropriate to "noble station", contempt for those of lower station, the attempt to limit sexual and all other intercourse to those of like station only; these are the characteristic traits of this once ruling class (cf. G. Simmel: Soziologie, p.737 et seq.).
The psychology and ideology in the classes of bourgeois society, i.e., the urban classes, are far more mobile. The bourgeoisie, particularly when it was a rising class, not directly threatened by the proletarian by no means presented the conservatism of the nobility. Its characteristic traits were: individualism, a result of the competitive struggle, and rationalism, a result of economic calculation, these conditions being the basis of the life of this class. The liberal psychology (various "liberties"), and ideology were based on the "initiative of the entrepreneur". Very interesting observations are made by Werner Sombart and Max Weber, particularly on the economic psychology of the bourgeoisie and the various stages in its development. Thus Sombart traces the rise of the entrepreneur psychology, which arose necessarily from the fusing of three psychological types: that of the conqueror, of the organizer, of the trader; from the conqueror, it takes the ability to make plans, to carry them out; the conqueror has "toughness and persistence . . . elasticity, mental energy, high tension, an indomitable will"; the organizer must be able to "control men and things in such manner as to obtain the desired profit without any reduction"; the trader, the merchant, is capable of trading and profiting by trade (Sombart: Der Bourgeois, München and Leipzig, 1913, p.70 et seq.). The bourgeoisie was characterized at the period of its highest development by a combination of these three traits. We have already discussed the psychology of the proletariat, as our whole book is concerned with the proletariat.
It is obvious that the psychology and ideology of the classes will change, depending on the alterations in the "`social being" of the corresponding classes, as has been repeatedly stated in the preceding chapters. One thing should still be mentioned: the psychology" of the intermediate classes also constitutes an intermediate stage, while that of the mixed groups is a mixed psychology, etc. This also explains the fact that the bourgeoisie and the peasantry, for example, are constantly "vacillating" between proletariat and bourgeoisie, for "two souls - alas! - dwell in their breast", etc. As Marx puts the matter in his Der Achtzehnte Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte (Hamburg 1885, p.33): "Over the various forms of property, over the social conditions of existence, there rises an entire superstructure of various peculiarly constituted feelings, illusions, modes of thought, and views of life. The entire class creates these out of its material foundations, as well as out of the corresponding social relations."
Class psychology and class ideology, the consciousness of the class not only as to its momentary interests, but also as to permanent and universal interests, are a result of the position of the class in production, which by no means signifies that this position of the class will at once produce in it a consciousness of its general and basic interests. On the contrary, it may be said that this is rarely the case. For, in the first place, the process of production itself, in actual life, goes through a number of stages of evolution, and the contradictions in the economic structure do not become apparent until a later period of evolution; in the second place, a class does not descend full-grown from heaven, but grows in a crude elemental manner from a number of other social groups (transition classes, intermediate and other classes, strata, social combinations); in the third place, a certain time usually passes before a class becomes conscious of itself through experience in battle, of its special and peculiar interests, aspirations, social "ideals" and desires, which emphatically distinguish it from all the other classes in the given society; in the fourth place, we must not forget the systematic psychological and ideological manipulation conducted by the ruling class with the aid of its state machinery for the purpose of destroying the incipient class consciousness of the oppressed classes, and to imbue them with the ideology of the ruling class, or at least to influence them somewhat with this ideology. The result is that a class discharging a definite function in the process of production may already exist as an aggregate of persons before it exists as a self-conscious class; we have a class, but no class consciousness. It exists as a factor in production, as a specific aggregate of production relations; it does not yet exist as a social, independent force that knows what it wants, that feels a mission, that is conscious of its peculiar position, of the hostility of its interests to those of the other classes. As designations for these different stages in the process of class evolution, Marx makes use of two expressions: he calls class "an sich" (in itself), a class not yet conscious of itself as such; he calls class "für sich" (for itself), a class already conscious of its social role.
This has been splendidly explained by Marx in The Poverty of Philosophy, in the case of working class evolution:
"It is under the form of these combinations that the first attempts at association among themselves have always been made by the workers. The great industry masses together in a single place a crowd of people unknown to each other. Competition divides their interests. But the maintenance of their wages, this common interest which they have against their employer, unites them in the same idea of resistance - combination. (Combination here means workers' combination, N.B.) Thus combination has always a double end, that of eliminating competition among themselves while enabling them to make a general competition against the capitalist. If the first object of resistance has been merely to maintain wages, in proportion as the capitalists in their turn have combined with the idea of repression, the combinations, at first isolated, have formed in groups, and, in face of constantly united capital, the maintenance of the association became more important and necessary for them than the maintenance of wages. This is so true that the English economists are all astonished at seeing the workers sacrifice a good part of their wages on behalf of the associations which, in the eyes of these economists, were only established in support of wages. In this struggle - a veritable civil war - are united and established all the elements necessary for a future battle. Once arrived at that point, association takes on a political character.
"The economic conditions have in the first place transformed the mass of the people of the country into wage workers. The domination of capital has created for this mass of people a common situation with common interests. Thus this mass is already a class, as opposed to capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have only noted some phases, this mass unites, it is constituted as a class for itself. The interests which it defends are the interests of its class." (The Poverty of Philosophy, Chicago, 1920, pp.188, 189, my italics, N. B.)
From what has been said above, it is clear that under certain circumstances a relative class solidarity becomes possible; two principal forms may be distinguished.
In the first place, we have the form of solidarity in which the permanent interest of one class coincides with the temporary interest of another class, while this temporary interest may contradict the general class interest.
In the second place, we may have a form of solidarity in which this contradiction is lacking, and in which we may yet have a coincidence between the permanent interests of one class and the temporary interests of another class, or between temporary interests of both classes.
The first form may be illustrated by an example from the imperialist war of 1914-1918, namely, the attitude of the working classes at the beginning of this war. It is well known that in most of the great advanced capitalist countries, the workers, contrary to their internationalist class interests, rushed to the defense of their "fatherlands". Their "fatherlands" were of course only the state organizations of the bourgeoisie, i.e., class organizations of capital. We therefore find the working class defending the organizations of its employers, which had come into conflict with each other for the division of markets, sources of raw materials, spheres of investments for their funds; this was certainly a sacrifice of the workers' own class interests, due to a condition of relative solidarity between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the nations of financial capitalism. We may understand this condition by imagining the entire system of world economy to be a countless number of intersecting threads - the production relations - meeting at several points in big, thick knots: the great capitalist countries, where live the "national" groups of the bourgeoisie, organized as a state authority. They remind us of the huge enterprises, the gigantic trusts, operative in world economy. The more powerful such a state becomes, the more mercilessly will it exploit its economic periphery: the colonies, spheres of influence, semi-colonies, etc. As capitalist society develops, the condition of the working class should become poorer. But the predatory states of the bourgeoisie, which hoodwink the workers in The "spheres of influence", were feeding "their own" workers and making them take an interest in the exploitation of the colonies. This condition brought about a relative material interest between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the proletariat; these production relations gave rise to a corresponding psychology and ideology, resulting in a recognition of the duty to defend one's country. The course of reasoning was simple: if "our" industry (which happens not to be "ours", but that of our employers) develops, wages will increase; but industry expands by obtaining markets, and spheres for the investment of capital; consequently the working class has an interest in the colonial policy of the bourgeoisie, must defend the "nation's industry", must fight for the nation's "place in the sun". All the other things followed naturally: laudation of one's mighty fatherland, the great nation, etc., and the endless high-sounding rhetoric about humanity, civilization, democracy, unselfishness, etc., so prevalent in the first stage of the World War. This was the ideology of "labor imperialism", leading the working class to sacrifice permanent and general interests for the crumbs thrown to it by the bourgeoisie as the latter squeezed the last drop out of the colonial laborers, semi-laborers, etc., etc. Ultimately, the course of the war and of the post-war period showed the working class that it had lost the game, that the permanent interests of the class are more important than its temporary interests. There ensued the process of a swift "revolutionizing" of minds.
The late Professor Tugan-Baranovsky, a "pseudo-Marxist", for a time a White Minister, in the early stage of the Russian revolution (for pure "ethics"; he always reproved Marx for his lack of ethics, his permitting himself to be carried away by class hatred, which is, of course, quite vicious) - this Tugan-Baranovsky takes up the cudgels against Marx in the following terms: Marx does not see the solidarity of interests, denies its presence in capitalist society; yet "all social classes are equally interested in the preservation of the political independence of the state, insofar as the latter has an ideal worth in their eyes. In the economic field, the state not only serves to establish class rule, but also to advance economic progress, enhancing the total national wealth, which is in accord with the interests of all classes of society. In addition, we have the cultural mission of the state, which is interested in the advance of education, and in raising the mental level of the population, if only for the reason that political and economic power cannot be separated from the advance of culture." (Theoretische Grundlagen des Marxismus, p.114.)
Herr Cunow (ibid., vol. ii, pp.78, 79) quotes and supports this passage from Tugan, asserting, however, that Tugan here confuses social interests with the interests of the state. In reality, Cunow is confusing the revolutionary standpoint of Marx with the traitor standpoint of the Scheidemanns. The Tugan-Cunow reasoning is truly childish. We are told that the state is not only concerned with oppression, but also concerned with it; therefore, all classes have an interest in the state. By this method anything might be proved. Since,. the trusts are not only concerned with exploitation, "but also" (!) arer concerned with production, they are of general utility. Since the detective bureaus in America not only twist the arms of revolutionary proletarians, "but also" catch thieves, all classes have an interest to them, etc. It is with stuff of this kind that Herr Cunow fills the two volumes of his study on Marxian sociology!
Cunow, however, excels all the distorters of Marxism with cynical impudence:
"According to the Marxian theory of society," we read (vol. ii, p.77 et seq., of Cunow's work), "any such general will as so excellently served the purposes of the older social philosophy, does not exist; for society is not a unified thing with perfectly uniform interests (?! society!), but it is divided into classes (not so bad; but what is Cunow going to do with the state? Whose will is expressed by the state? N.B.). To be sure, there are also general social interests, for, since a living and working together in society is impossible without a certain order, all the members of society - with the exception of those who question the existence of society at all - are interested in maintaining this order; but, since they have different ideals of order, depending on their different positions within the social order, they have not the same interest in the various rules of this order, which they regard from various points of view, depending on the class angle of their vision." To put the matter in plain words; men may think that it is the bourgeoisie that is interested in preserving the capitalist order, while the proletariat is interested in overthrowing this order; but nothing could be further from the truth. The wise Cunow sets us right on this subject: since life is impossible without order, all have an interest in maintaining capitalism. But since the workers have a different "ideal of order", let them "criticize the various rules of the order" - so much Cunow will permit. But don't dare go beyond that, for then you will be one of the persons who "question the existence of society at all". This is Marxism as revised and supplemented by Cunow !
We may also take as an example that period in the evolution of the working class when it lived in a so called "patriarchal" relation with the entrepreneurs in each specific industry; in view of the general weakness of social institutions, the workers had an interest in the success of the enterprise. The workers and their "benefactors", their employers, afford an excellent illustration of a relative solidarity of interests at the expense of the general class interests.
A certain analogy is afforded by the community of interests between slaves and slaveholders in antiquity, so long as there were still "slaves of the slaves" (the Roman vicarii). The slaves who held slaves were themselves slave-owners, their interests thus coincided, to this extent, with the slaveholders of the "first degree". In the present-day agricultural cooperatives in Western Europe we often find the peasantry working hand in hand with the great landlords and the capitalist estate owners. The peasants unite with the others in order to dispose of their agricultural products; being sellers, they are opposed to the urban population; they desire high prices as much as does the wealthy estate-owner.
We are now already leaving the outlines of the first form of solidarity, since in this case a true agricultural bourgeoisie, recruited from the peasantry, differs in no respect from the hereditary agricultural bourgeoisie.
The best examples of the second form of relative class solidarity, namely, where this relative solidarity is not in contradiction with the permanent interests of the classes involved, are found in cases of class attacks against the common enemy, which are quite possible at a certain stage of evolution. For example, in the first phase of the French Revolution, the feudal system was opposed by different classes, both in economy as well as in politics: the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, the proletariat, all these groups being interested in overthrowing feudalism. Of course, this general bloc later disintegrated, and the petty bourgeoisie, in spite of its struggles against the great bourgeoisie, which had become counter-revolutionary, simultaneously fought the incipient proletarian movement ruthlessly. Here we have a temporary class solidarity at variance with the general and permanent interests of the classes.
Various gradations of interest give rise to various forms of struggle. As already shown, not every interest of a section of a main class is for that reason the class interest. If the interest of the workers of a single factory contradicts the interests of the remaining sections of the working class, we have not a class interest, but a group interest. But even when we are dealing with the interest of a group of workers which does not collide with the interests of other groups, the groups may yet fail to be united, class interest being absent in the consciousness of the classes; strictly speaking, there is yet no class struggle: the beginnings of a class interest, the germs of a class struggle, are present. A class interest arises when. it places one class in opposition to another. The class struggle arises when it throws one class into active conflict with the other. Class struggle, therefore, in the true sense, develops only at a specific stage in the evolution of class society. In other phases of social evolution it reveals itself as a germ-form (individual sections of the class are fighting; the struggle has not yet advanced to embrace the class as a principle, uniting the entire class), or as a concealed, "latent" form (open conflict does not ensue; "stolid resistance" is offered; the ruling class is forced to pay attention to this resistance). "Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, baron and serf, guild member and apprentice, in short, oppressors` and oppressed all were opposed in like manner to each other, waged ¢! an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open battle, a battle that always terminated in a revolutionary transformation of the whole society or with a common destruction of the struggling classes" (The Communist Manifesto). It will be useful to consider a few more examples.
Let us suppose, in a slaveholding society, that an insurrection is taking place in a latifundium belonging to a great landowner; there is plundering, damage to things and persons, etc. We may Fl not call this a class struggle in the proper sense of the word: it is the elemental fury of a small section of the slave class. The class as a whole is calm; a small band wages a bitter struggle, but remains isolated, includes but few in its numbers. The class as such does not come into action; one class is here not opposing another. Quite different is the case when the rebellious slaves, led by Spartacus, fought a real civil war for their liberation; here the slave masses were carried away: this is class struggle.
Or, let us consider the example of a movement for higher wages among the wage workers of a factory. If all the other workers in the country remain calm, we have only the promise of a class struggle, for the class as yet is not kindled. Let us consider, however, the case of a "strike wave". This is class struggle: one class stands opposed to the other. We are no longer dealing with the interests of the group impelling another group, but with the interests of a class impelling another class.
The example of the peasant serf is also interesting. Among, these serfs, there was a vague, sullen discontent; this feeling may break out, but since the class as a whole continues to be held down, it does not do so; the slaves, in terror, do not fight, but "mutter".' This is the "concealed" form of the struggle, mentioned by Marx. Class struggle therefore means a struggle in which one class has entered into action against the other class. From this arises the extremely important principle that "every class struggle is a political struggle" (Marx). Indeed, when the oppressed class rises as a class power to oppose the oppressing class, this signifies that the oppressed class is undermining the bases of the existing order. And since the organization of power of the existing order is the state organization of the commanding class, it is obvious that each action of the oppressed class is directly aimed against the state mechanism, even though the participants in the struggle of the oppressed class may not at first be fully conscious of their hostility to the state power. Each such action is therefore necessarily political in character.
An interesting error of the I.W.W., in the United States, and of revolutionary syndicalists in general, may be detected by applying this principle. The I.W.W. reject the political struggle entirely, for they naively understand it to be synonymous with the parliamentary struggle. But if the I.W.W. should organize a general strike, or only a strike of railroad workers, miners and metal workers, it is obvious that this strike would have an immense political value, because it would have succeeded in organizing the most important armies of the proletariat, in terrifying the bourgeoisie as a class, in threatening to cut a breach in the machinery of the organized bourgeoisie; and therefore, because this strike would be directed, in reality, against the state power of the bourgeoisie.
This transformation of the individual episodes of conflict into the class struggle, in the case of the proletariat is excellently shown by Marx in the Communist Manifesto. "Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the expanding unison of the workers. This unison is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, of the same character, into one national struggle between classes, but every class struggle is a political struggle:" (Communist Manifesto,.Chicago, 1912, pp.24, 25.) Marx defines this transformation of the various conflicts into a class, i.e., political conflict, as follows: "Nota bene ad political movement: The political movement of the working class has of course, the final object of conquering the political power for that class, which requires, of course, a previous organization of the working class to a certain point, which organization is conditioned by its own economic struggle. On the other hand, any movement in which the working class is opposed as a class to its rulers, seeking to compel them by pressure from without, is a political movement" Briefe an Sorge, p.240, also quoted by Cunow, ibid., vol. ii, p.59) the italicized passages are in English in Marx's letter; both Marx and Engels, owing to their long stay in England, interlarded their letters with English words. Translator). Herr Cunow, in quoting this passage, interprets it as follows: "at a certain stage in evolution, various social classes develop out of the economic process as a whole, with their special economic interests, in accordance with their role in this process, and attempt to put through these interests in the political life" (ibid., vol. ii, p.59). This commentary is not quite correct, for Cunow suppresses the most important point, the point to which Marx gives chief emphasis: the opposition of one class to the other in principle, when each struggle is a portion of the process of the general struggle for power and for domination in society.
In an exceptionally impudent article: Die Marx'sclae Geschichtsauffassung (PreussicheJlahrbücher, 1920, Vol. 182, no. 2, p.157 et seq.), Professor Hans Delbrück "criticizes" the theory of the class struggle, simultaneously displaying a truly titanic ignorance in matters of Marxism. On p.165 he maintains that Marx failed to distinguish classes from castes; on p.156 he states that there was no "destruction" of the two classes in ancient Rome, while he admits the decline of the Roman Empire to be an undeniable fact. First there were civil wars, after which neither the victors nor the vanquished slaves were capable of leading society onward. On p.167 he says that feudalism never existed in England! On p.169 he "refutes" Marx with the fact that the peasants sometimes join hands with the Junkers (cf. our own remarks in large type), etc. But the gem of his "objections" is the following example. Delbrück quotes an ancient text discovered by the well-known Egyptologist, Ehrmann, in which we' read of the ancient Egyptian revolution, in which the slaves managed to seize power. This text is interesting in that it might have been written by Merezhkovsky or any other White Guard gentleman in his rage against the Bolsheviks; It depicts the most frightful atrocities. Herr Delbrück calls our attention to this horrible example of the class struggle? But this worthy and truly German professor falls quite unwittingly into his own trap when he adds the words that this condition lasted for "three hundred years" (p.171). Any fool would know that there can be no possibility of maintaining life for three hundred years in a state of absolute anarchy and without production. Things, therefore, cannot have been quite so bad, and Delbrück's argument, an appeal to the emotions of the terrified bourgeois, is simply ridiculous.
Amusing objections to the Marxian theory are also raised by Mr. J. Delevsky (The Social Antagonisms and the Class Struggle in History, Petersburg, 1910, in Russian); his chief objection is the following. After quoting this passage from Engels: It was Marx,; himself who had first discovered the complete law of motion of history the law according to which all historical struggles, whether proceeding on the political, religious, philosophical, or any other ideological ground, are in fact only the more or less distinct expression of the struggles between social classes" (Marx: Der Achtzehnte Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte, Hamburg, 1885, Engels' preface to the 2nd ed.), Mr. Delevsky states that he agrees with Sombart's opinion that the principle of the class struggle must be replaced by the principle of the struggle between nations. The objection of Plekhanov, who said that nothing need be added here, since the class struggle is a conception connected with the internal processes of society and not with the relations between societies, is considered insufficient by Mr. Delevsky. "Either - or", writes Mr. Delevsky, "either history is based on two principles or on one. If on two principles - that of the class struggle and that of the struggle between nations - what is the law which is formulated in the second principle? . . But if " we have only the principle of the class struggle, what sense is there in distinguishing the struggle within society from the struggle between societies? " Or, perhaps the societies, nations, states, are likewise classes?" (p.92), This statement is truly delightful. Let us look into the matter; two fundamental situations are possible: either we dealing with a society ( for instance, the world-wide economy of the present day) divided into the state organizations of the "national" sections of the bourgeoisie, or with the rather loose, different societies (for instance, if war is waged between different peoples, one of which - let us say - has suddenly intruded from very remote regions, as has happened repeatedly in the course of history: the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards is an example). In this first case, the struggle between the bourgeoisies is a special form of capitalist competition. No one but Delevsky could even imagine that the theory of the class struggle would exclude, for instance, capitalist competition, which is a form of the antagonisms within the class, which have never succeeded in altering the bases of the given structure of production. While the Marxian theory recognizes the possibility of a relative clarity between classes, it also recognizes the possibility of a relative antagonism within the classes. It is hard to see how this refutes the theory of the class struggle. Second case. This is a methodological question. The theory of the evolution of society is the theory of an evolution of an abstract society, and it is quite true that this theory does not need to concern itself with the relations between societies; it analyzes the nature of society in general, ascertaining the laws of evolution of this "society in general". But if we leave these questions in favor of more concrete questions, i.e., among others, the question of the relations between the various societies, we shall again obtain special laws, which in their turn are also not in contradiction with the Marxian theory; not for the reason that the different societies are different classes (this assumption of Mr. Delevsky is simply wrong), but because "expansion" itself has economic causes, since - let us say - conquest inevitably is transformed into a regrouping of class forces; because in such cases the higher mode of production "below" always carries off the victory, etc. Nothing in this invalidates in any way the theory of the class struggle.
We have therefore seen that the oppressed classes do not always wage a class struggle in the proper sense of the word, which by no means signifies - as we have also seen - that such comparatively peaceful epochs are filled with nothing but peace and harmony. It merely signifies that the class struggle is proceeding in a concealed or incipient farm. It will later become a class struggle in the true sense of the word. Let us not forget that dialectics conceives everything as in course of motion, evolution. Even if the class struggle be absent, it is evolving, it "grows". Such is the case with the oppressed classes. As for the ruling classes, they are waging the class struggle unceasingly. For the existence of the state organization proves that the ruling class has constituted itself as a class for itself, as a state power. This implies a complete consciousness of the fundamental interests of this class, which wages war with the classes whose interests oppose it (war against the immediate danger as well as against possible dangers), for which purpose it makes use of all the instruments of the state machinery.
We have already considered the problem of the state as a superstructure determined by the economic basis (see first part of "The Superstructure and its Outlines," chapter vi, d, of this work). We must now approach this question from another angle, namely, that of the class struggle. We must again emphatically point out that the state organization is exclusively a class organization; it is the class which "has constituted its state power", it is the "concentrated" and organized social authority of the class (Marx). The oppressed class, the bearer of the new mode of production, in the course of the struggle, as we have seen - becomes transformed from a class in itself into a class for itself; in this struggle, it creates its fighting organizations, which to an increasing degree build up organizations that carry with them the entire mass of the given class. When revolution, civil war, etc., is at hand, these organizations break through the enemy's front and constitute the first cells of the new state mechanism in open or concealed form. For example, in the French Revolution: "The `people's' or Jacobin groups - the former Societies of Friends of the Constitution, were at first bourgeois and now became democratic, Montagnards, Sansculottes, advocates of equality and unity . . . . They were founded for the purpose of popular enlightenment, for propaganda rather than for action; but circumstances forced them into political action, to participate directly in the administration (when the petty bourgeoisie came to the helm. N.B.). By the Decree of 14th Frimaire, the Jacobins in all of France became the electors and the purifiers of the officialdom."2) "Taking everything into consideration . . . it was precisely the Jacobin clubs that now maintained unity and saved the country."3) In the English Revolution, the revolutionary "Army Council" provided the men for the State Council. During the Russlan revolution the fighting organizations of the workers and soldiers - the soviets - and the extreme revolutionary party - the communists - became the fundamental organizations of the new state.
Two types of arguments are used in objecting to the class conception of the state authority.
The first type is of the following kind: the peculiarity of the 6tate is its centralized administration; therefore, the anarchists tell us, any centralized administration is a state authority. Therefore, even the most advanced communist society, if it has a systematic economy, will also be a state. This reasoning is based entirely on the naive bourgeois error: bourgeois science, instead of perceiving special relations, perceives relations between things, or technical relations. But it is obvious that the "essence" of the state is not in the thing but in the social relation; not in the centralized administration as such, but in the class envelope of the centralized administration. As capital is not a thing (as is, for instance, a machine), but a social relation between workers and employers, a relation expressed by means of a thing, so centralization per se by no means necessarily signifies a state organization; it does not become a state organization until it expresses a class relation.
The second objection to the class theory of the state has already been considered, in part. This objection is still more ridiculous, being based on the conception that the state discharges a number of generally useful functions (for example, the modern capitalist state builds electrical power stations, hospitals, railroads, etc.). This argument unites most pathetically in one group: the Social-Democrat Cunow, the Right Social-Revolutionary J. Delevsky, the conservative Delbrück, and even the Babylonian king Hammurabi! But this honorable company is much mistaken. For the existence of generally useful functions on the part of the state does not alter the pure class character of the state authority. The ruling class is obliged to resort to all kinds of "generally useful" enterprises in order to maintain its ability to exploit the masses, extend its field of exploitation, and secure the "normal" working of this exploitation. Capitalism can of course not develop properly without an extensive railroad system, without trade schools (if there are no skilled laborers, no scientific institutes, there will be no improvement in capitalist technique, etc., etc.). In all these measures, the state power of the capitalists is guided by its class interests. We have already given the trusts as an example; the trust also guides production, without which society. cannot exist, but it guides production in the direction of its class advantage. Or, to take the example of some ancient despotic state of great landlords, such as that of the Egyptian Pharaohs, whose huge constructions for regulating the course of rivers were of general utility. The Pharaonic state did not, however, maintain these constructions for the purpose of averting hardship for the starving, or subserving the general weal, but merely because they were a necessary condition for the process of production, which was simultaneously a process of exploitation. Class advantage was the basic impulse in activity; such measures may not be taken, therefore, as a proof of the incorrectness of the class point of view.
Another group of generally useful measures is called forth by the oppression of the "lower classes", for example, the labor protection legislation in capitalist countries. Many hair-splitting scholars (like the Russian pseudo-sociologist, Takhtarev) therefore do not consider the state as a pure class organization, for it is based ultimately on a compromise. A moment's thought will correct this view. Does the capitalist, for instance, cease to be "pure capitalist", because his fear of strikes makes him see advantage to himself of making concessions? Likewise, the state may make concessions to other classes, as the employer, in the above example, makes concessions to the workers. But does not signify that the state ceases to be a pure class state, an organization of a class bloc, i.e., becoming a truly and generally useful organization.
Naturally, Herr Cunow does not understand this either. It is a pleasant sight to behold the impudent Professor Hans Delbrück, whom we have already mentioned, poking fun at these crack-brained distorters of Marxism: "The difference between us social-politically thinking persons, and you, is only a difference of degree. You have only to take a few steps more on the path you have begun, gentlemen, and your Marxian nebula will soon be dissipated" (Hans Delbrück; op. cit., p.172).
A class is a group of persons connected by reason of their common situation in production, and therefore also by their common situation in distribution, in other words, by common interests l (class interests). But it would be absurd to suppose that every class is a thoroughly unified whole, all parts being of equal importance, with Tom, Dick, and Harry all on the same level. In the modern working class, for instance, there is no doubt much inequality in brain-power and ability. Even the "being" of the various parts of the working class is unequal. This is due to the fact that, first, complete uniformity of the economic units is absent, and second, the working class does not step down full-grown from heaven, but is being constantly recruited, from the peasantry, the artisan class, the urban petty bourgeoisie, i.e., from other groups of capitalist society.
A worker in a huge, splendidly equipped plant is a different person from the worker in a small shop, the cause of the difference in this case being the difference in the establishments, as well as between the entire resulting modes of work. Proletarian "age" must also be considered as an element, for a peasant who has just taken a job in a factory is different from a worker who has been in a factory since childhood.
The difference in "being" is also reflected in consciousness. The proletariat is unequal in its consciousness as it is unequal in its position. It is more or less a unit as compared with the other classes, but not with regard to its own various parts.
The working class, therefore, as to their class consciousness, i.e., their permanent, general, not their personal, not their guild or group interests, but as to the interests of the class as a whole, is divided into a number of groups and sub-groups, as a single chain consists of a number of links of varying strength.
This inequality of the class is the reason for the existence of the party. If the working class were perfectly and absolutely uniform, it could at any moment come out in its full strength; its struggles might be led by persons chosen in rotation; a permanent organization of leadership would be superfluous and unnecessary. As a matter of actual fact, the struggle of the working class is inevitable; this struggle must be guided; this guidance is the more necessary, since the opponent is powerful and cunning, and fighting him is a serious matter. We naturally expect to find the entire class led by that section of it that is most advanced, best schooled, most united: the party.
The party is not the class; in fact, it may be but a small part of the class, as the head is but a small part of the body. But it would be absurd to attempt to find an opposition between the party and the class. The party is simply the thing that best expresses the interests of the class. We may distinguish between class and party, as we distinguish between the head and the entire body, but cannot discuss them as opposites, just as we cannot cut off a man's head, unless we wish to shorten his life.
On what does the result of the struggle depend under these conditions? It depends on a proper relation between the various parts of the working class, particularly on a proper mutual relation between those in the party and those outside of it. On the one hand guidance and leadership are necessary; on the other, instruction and conviction. No leadership is possible which does not instruct and convince. On the one hand, the party must be held together and organized separately as a part of the class, on the other hand, it must secure closer and closer contact with the non-party masses and draw a greater and greater section of these` masses into its organization. The mental growth of the class will therefore find its expression in the growth of the party of this class, and, conversely, the decline of the class will be reflected in the decline of the party, or the decline of its influence on the non-party elements.
We have already seen that the lack of uniformity within the; class makes necessary the existence of the party of this class. But the capitalist conditions of "being" and the low cultural level not only of the working class, but of the other classes also, produce a situation in which even the vanguard of the proletariat, i.e., its party, also lacks internal uniformity. The party is more or less uniform as compared with the other sections of the working class, but not within itself. The same observations may here be made as in the case of the class. Let us assume - as we did before - that the party is entirely uniform in class-consciousness, experience, executive ability, etc., which is the complete reverse of the truth. Leaders would be unnecessary; the functions of the "leaders" might be performed in rotation by all the members, without detriment to the cause.
But in reality no such perfect uniformity exists even in the vanguard, and this makes necessary the formation of more or less stable groups of individual "leaders". Good leaders are leaders because they best express the proper tendencies of the party. And as it is absurd to represent party and class as opposed to each other, so it is absurd to represent the party as opposed to its leaders. To be sure, we have done this, when we opposed the working class to the Social-Democratic leaders, or the masses of organized workers to their leaders. But we did this - and still do it - in order to destroy the Social-Democracy, to destroy the influence of the bourgeoisie, operating through these social-traitor leaders. But it would be absurd to attempt to transfer these methods for the destruction of a hostile organization to ourselves, and represent this process as an expression of our peculiar form of revolution. The same situation may also be found in other classes; when, in modern England, the bourgeoisie ruled through party of Lloyd George, Lloyd George's party was ruling through the persons of its leaders.
The above will show the absurdity, among other things, of all the criticisms raised against the dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party in Russia, a dictatorship which is represented by the enemies of the revolution as opposed to the dictatorship of the working class. It is clear from the above that the class must necessarily rule through its head, i.e., the party; it can rule in no other way. And if its head, i.e., the party, is destroyed, the class itself and the class in itself, is also destroyed, being transformed from a conscious and independent social force into a simple factor of production and nothing more.
Herr Heinrich Cunow regards the matter differently. "A party .does not ask him who wishes to join it: Do you belong to a certain class? Not even the Social-Democratic party. He who accepts the party's principles, demands, and its platform, in all essentials, may become a member. This platform not only includes certain economic planks (interest demands), but also, like the platforms of other parties, certain political and philosophical views lying outside the economic sphere of interests (concluding italics are mine, N.B.). To be sure, the basis of most parties is a certain class grouping; but in its structure each party is simultaneously an ideological formation, the representative of a specific political thought-complex, and many persons join a party not because they have the same special class demands as the party, but because they are attracted by " this thought-complex." (Die Marx'sche Geschichts-, Gesellschafts- und Staatstheorie, Berlin, 1921, vol. ii, p.68. ) These observations by the now head-theoretician of the Social-Democracy are extremely instructive. Herr Cunow gaily opposes the political and philosophical conceptions in the party platform to the economic demands of this platform. But how could you, Citizen Cunow! What has become of your Marxism? The platform is the highest expression of the consciousness in all the "thought-complexes". The "political and philosophical conceptions" are not made of whole cloth but grow up from the life conditions of these classes. They are not only not opposed to these life conditions, but, on the contrary, are their expression, and insofar as we are discussing the demands of the platform, it is obvious that the philosophical and political portion of this platform serves as the envelope for its economic portion.
We may observe this fact even in Herr Cunow's party, the German Social-Democracy. Absorbing more and more non-workers, receding further and further from the working class, by supporting chiefly the aristocracy of skilled labor in that class, the German Social-Democracy has also changed the mental-political thought-complex of its "platform", which has become much more moderate in its demands; in its ideology, it therefore favors the well - groomed-pardon the word - castrated "Marxism" of Herr Cunow, chooses Herr Bernstein an old betrayer of Marxism) as interpreter of its program, and makes Herr Vorländer (an idealist Kantian) its official philosopher.
If we consider society as a certain system developing objectively, we find that transitions from one class system (from one "social formation of classes") to another is accomplished through a bitter class struggle. In this objective process of social changes the classes constitute the basic apparatus of transmission for reshaping the entire body of the living conditions of society. The structure of society changes through men and not outside of men; the production relations are as much a product of human struggle and of human activity as are flax or linen (Marx). But if we seek among; the countless individual wills running in all directions, but ultimately yielding a certain social resultant, to find the basic tendency, we shall obtain certain uniform "bundles of wills": "the class wills". These are most sharply differentiated in revolution, i.e., in an upheaval of society during a transition from one class form to another.
But hidden behind the law of cause and effect in the evolution of the class will and the various permutations and combinations in the clash of the opposed class wills - differing from each other - is the profounder causality of the objective evolution, a causality that determines the phenomena of the will at every stage in evolution.
Furthermore, the phenomena of the will are limited by external conditions, i.e., each alteration in these conditions, proceeding under the reverse influence of the human will, is limited by the preceding stage in these conditions. Thus, the class struggle and the class will constitute an active transmission apparatus in the transition from one social structure to another.
The new class, in this process, serves as the organizer and bearer of the new social and economic order. A class which is not the bearer of a new mode of production cannot "transform" society. On the contrary, the class power which embodies the growing and ever advancing conditions of production, is also the fundamental living lever of social transformation. Thus, the bourgeoisie, when it was the bearer of new conditions of production and a new economic structure, shunted society from its old feudal track to that of bourgeois evolution; similarly, the proletariat, the bearer and organizer of the socialistic class formulation will shift society - no longer capable of living on the basis - from the bourgeois track to that of socialism.
Here we encounter a question that has been but little discussed in Marxian literature. We have seen that the class rules through the party, the party through its leaders; each class and each party therefore having its staff of officers. This staff is technically necessary, for we have seen that it is the result of the lack of uniformity within the class and the inequality of the party members, Each class therefore has its organizers. Viewing the evolution of society from this point of view, we may reasonably ask the following question. Is - in general - the communist classless society, of which Marxists speak, a possibility?
It is. We know that the classes themselves have risen organically as Engels described, from the division of labor, from the organizational functions that had become technically necessary for the further evolution of society. Obviously, in the society of the future, such organizational work will also be necessary. One might object that the society of the future will not involve private property, or the formation of such private property, and it is precisely this private property that constitutes this basis of the class.
But this argument need not remain unanswered. Professor Robert Michels, in his very interesting book, Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie (Leipzig 1910, p.370) says: "Doubts again arise on this point, however, whose consistent application would lead to an outright denial of the possibility of a classless state (the author should not have said `state' but `society' - N.B.) Their administration of boundless capital (i.e., means of production - N.B.) assigns at least as much power to the administrators as would possession of their own private property. " Viewed from this point of view, the entire evolution of society seems to be nothing more than a substitution of one group of leaders for another. Accordingly, Vilfredo Pareto speaks of a "theory of the circulation of élites" (théorie de la circulation des élites). If this view is a correct one, Michels must also be correct in his conclusion, i.e., socialists may be victorious, but not socialism. An example will show Michels' error. When the bourgeoisie is in power, it is by reason of the power - as we know - not of all the members of the class, but of its leaders. Yet it is evident that this condition does not result in a class stratification within the bourgeoisie. The landlords in Russia ruled their high officials, constituting an entire staff, an entire stratum, but this stratum did not set itself up as a class against the other landlords. The reason was that these other landlords did not have a lower standard of living than that of the former; furthermore, their cultural level was about the same, on the whole, and the rulers were constantly recruited from this class.
Engels was therefore right when he said that the classes up to a certain moment are an outgrowth of the insufficient evolution of the productive forces; administration is necessary, but there is not sufficient bread for all, so to speak. Parallel with the growth, of the socially necessary organizational functions, we therefore have also a growth of private property. But communist society' is a society with highly developed, increased productive forces. Consequently, it can have no economic basis for the creation of its peculiar ruling class. For - even assuming the power of the administrators to be stable, as does Michels - this power will be then power of specialists over machines, not over men. How could they, in fact, realize this power with regard to men? Michels neglects the fundamental decisive fact that each administratively dominant position has hitherto been an envelope for economic exploitation. This economic exploitation may not be subdivided. But there will not even exist a stable, close corporation, dominating the machines, for the fundamental basis for the formation of monopoly groups will disappear; what constitutes an eternal category in Michels presentation, namely, the "incompetence of the masses" will disappear, for this incompetence is by no means a necessary attribute of every system; it likewise is a product of the economic and technical conditions, expressing themselves in the general cultural being and in the educational conditions. We may state that in the society of the future there will be a colossal overproduction of organizers, which will nullify the stability of the ruling groups.
But the question of the transition period from capitalism to socialism, i.e., the period of the proletarian dictatorship, is far more difficult. The working class achieves victory, although it is not and cannot be a unified mass. It attains victory while the productive forces are going down and the great masses are materially insecure. There will inevitably result a tendency to "degeneration", i.e., the excretion of a leading stratum in the form of a class-germ. This tendency will be retarded by two opposing tendencies; first, by the growth of the productive forces; second, by the abolition of the educational monopoly. The increasing production of technologists and of organizers in general, out of the working class itself, will undermine this possible new class alignment. The outcome of the struggle will depend on which tendencies turn out to be the stronger.
The working class, having in its possession so fine an instrument as the Marxian theory, must be mindful of this fact: by its hands an order of society will be put through and ultimately established, differing in principle from all the preceding formations; namely, from the primitive communist horde by the fact that it will be a society of highly cultivated persons, conscious of themselves and others; and from the class forms of society by the fact that for he first time the conditions for a human existence will be realized, not only for individual groups, but for the entire aggregate of humanity, a mass which will have ceased to be a mass, and will become a single, harmoniously constructed human society.
An exhaustive study of the classes will be found in Professor Solntsev's book, The Social Classes (in Russian); Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto; Karl Marx: The Poverty of Philosophy; Karl Marx: Capital;Karl Marx: historical writings; Friedrich Engels: The Conditions of the Working Class in England;Friedrich Engels: Feuerbach (English translation, Chicago, 1906); Friedrich Engels: Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State; Karl Kautsky: Die Agrarfrage; Karl Kautsky: Widersprüche der Klasseninteressen während der grossen französischen Revolution; N. Roshkov: Karl Marx and the Class Struggle, in the Collection, To the Memory of Marx (in Russian); A. Bogdanov: Empiriomonism (in Russian), vol. iii; Victor Chernov (Social-Revolutionist): The Peasant and the Worker as Economic Categories (in Russian); J. Delevsky ,.(Social-Revolutionist): Social Antagonisms and the Class Struggle (in Russian); H. Cunow: Die Marxsche Geschichts-, Gesellschafts- und Staatstheorie.
1)Social Classes: The Principal Factors in the Evolution of the Class Problem and the Principal Theories, Tomsk, 1919 (in Russian), pp.268 et seq.
2)Aulard: Histoire politique de la révolution française, Paris, 1901, pp.386, 387.