Number 24, January 1997
CLASS IN MODERN
SOCIETY - SOME CONTRIBUTIONS MOSCOW 1996 SEMINAR
The Cover (only in hard copy-Ed) shows the
wood cut of the ADie Freiwilligen@
made by Kathe Kollwitz. This was produced
in 1922, a time when in Germany, political sentiments were polarized. Kollwitz
was an artist, whose husband who was a physician to the poor. Here, in
her husband=s practice, she daily
saw the medical effects of poverty on children. Her words for children
were AThe Seed Corn@.
Husband and wife brought their individual talents to the service of the
poor. Her life experience in the Berlin slums of Germany, convinced her,
of the need for socialism, and for socialist art. She worked with the group
around John Heartfield working for the party. All her work is at the highest
levels, of socialist realism. Perhaps her most famous work that is known
by the communist movement, is her moving testament to Karl Liebnicht. Her
woodcut of his body and mourners, after the fascists killed him, mourns
the Proletarian Germany=s loss.
But in fact, many others of her paper works are well know to the movement.
Her less openly tendentious work, on the effects of grinding poverty, on
women and children in particular, remains some of the most vivid portrayals
of the capitalist system put to paper. More unknown to those outside of
former East Germany, is her astonishing sculpture. This perhaps, is her
most moving and original work. In Berlin today, the war memorial is still
able to remind us of the needless deaths that were perpetrated by fascism
The severe disruption of the communist movement in the
former USSR led to the destruction of the theoretical and practical center
of the world communist movement. This confusion was reflected in the extraordinary
proliferation of groups that called themselves communist and even Marxist-Leninists.
Recently this situation was discussed by North Star
Compass. In an editorial , the manner in which Lenin and Iskra forged
unity was held up as an example. As the editorial in North Star Compass
pointed out, Lenin had fostered a full and open debate before "Unity" could
"We declare that "Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite,
we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation, as Iskra
On Frontspiece by Kathe Kollwitz
1. CONTRIBUTION FROM MARXIST-LENINIST COMMUNIST
2. CONTRIBUTION FROM COMMUNIST LEAGUE (BRITAIN)
3. CONTRIBUTION FROM ALLIANCE (NORTH AMERICA)
(Lenin V.I: "What is to be Done? Burning Questions Of Our Movements";
(1902); Coll Wrks Vol 5; p.367).
Lenin adds, why the Russian workers movement was especially in need of
theoretical clarity :
"For Russian Social democracy the importance of theory is enhanced..
firstly by the fact that our party is only in the process of formation,
its features are only just becoming defined, and it has as yet far from
settled accounts with the other trends of revolutionary thought that threaten
to divert the movement from the correct path.. Secondly, the Social Democratic
movement is in its very essence an international movement.. we must.. make
use of the experiences of other countries."
(Lenin, "What is To Be Done?"; Ibid; Vol 5: p.369-370).
The Russian movement itself, knew very well that this
was the only way forward. It is not surprising then, that they have attempted
such an open discussion. At the First Stalin seminar in 1994, a meeting
was held in the former USSR to honour and record the achievements of Stalin.
This Seminar was fully re-printed in issues number 10 and 11 of Alliance.
(Since they are still the only compete printing of the Seminar
in English that we are aware of, it should be pointed out the issues can
still be obtained from Alliance).
But this was followed, by the Second
Seminar, held in Moscow in November 1996. This was on the subject
of AThe Class Approach In the
Contemporary communist Movement@.
This was arranged by the International Center of Development of Contemporary
Communist Doctrine, and was supported by the International Committee for
the Restoration of the Soviet Union. There were some 39 parties or groups
from the former USSR that attended; some 19 international groups either
took part or sent papers; and a further 13 parties internationally sent
later support to the resolution taken at the Conference.
We here present three of
the foreign submissions to the meeting. They came from Alliance
(North America); Communist league (UK); and MLCP(Turkey). We print a summary
of the Second Seminar (The Press release issued by the Central
Committee of the International Center of Development of Contemporary Communist
Doctrine); and the resolutions passed;
and we print the papers of the three foreign groups mentioned above. In
due course, all papers presented at Moscow will be printed, according to
the organizing committee. These herein form an interim report then. We
recognise that there are differences between the positions taken. As part
of the rapidly evolving debate between the Marxist-Leninist forces of the
world, we expect these positions to receive fraternal and scientific critique.
From such a debate , the correct way forward and analysis of the classes
of the world, that face the proletariat world wide, can be formulated.
MARXIST LENINIST COMMUNIST PARTY (TURKEY) (MLKP);
A PAPER PREPARED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
CLASS ANALYSIS IN THE MODERN COMMUNIST MOVEMENT"
Moscow, November 8-10 1996
Dear comrades and friends,
Before starting to present our views on behalf of
the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), we want to convey the warm
and comradely greetings; of our Party's Central Committee, and all its
members, both to the Russian and foreign comrades and friends. We, first
of all want to express our sincere thanks to The
International Committee For The Restoration Of The Soviet Union and
the International Center For The Formation Of Modern Communist Doctrine,
for the kind invitation they have extended to us for this important meeting.
In the name of the MLKP I wish this seminar, will succeed in making its
modest contribution to the unification of all truly communist forces in
Russia. We believe that is the call and command of the exploited, oppressed,
downtrodden and humiliated workers, toilers; and progressive intellectuals
of this great land. A call addressed to all communists to Russia, a call
and command which they neither disregard, nor decline. MLKP does not in
the least doubt that the torch of The Great October Socialist Revolution
will once more be lit. Lenin's and Stalin's Soviet Union will be restored
in all its glory, and will once more take its place in the forefront of
the great struggle against capitalism and imperialism.
The fate of communist movement in Russia has always
been closely associated with that of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan, and
this has always been a topic of special interest for the communist and
revolutionary movement in our country, for more than one reason. One of
the most important reasons for this, is the establishment of the Communist
Party of Turkey with the active support of Russian Communist Party, on
September l0th, 1920, In Baku (part of Soviet Azerbaijan) under the leadership
of Mustafa Suphi. The MLKP, which was
founded on September 10th, 1934; after a very long interval of revisionism
and opportunism is the heir to, and a continuation of, Mustafa Suphi's
CP of Turkey. It is understandable. that MLKP too, does and will display
a special interest in the heir and continuation of Lenin=s
and Stalin's Bolshevik party, that is, the present-day Russian communist
movement and feel itself very close to it.
Dear Comrades and Friends,
MLKP has been and is for the principled unification
of all truly communist forces in each country and internationally under
the banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Despite various contradictions
and divisions among their ranks, bourgeoisie, imperialism and reaction
are in general able to unite against the proletariat, peoples and revolution.
We, the representatives and advanced sections of proletariat and toiling
and oppressed peoples, should also be able to unite our own forces, both
to form truly Communist Parties of the working class and to establish broad
anti-imperialist and democratic fronts of all revolutionary and progressive
forces in all countries, Let's put one thing straight : Bourgeoisie and
imperialism, are perfectly aware of the fact that the existence of truly
Communist Parties of the working class present a fatal danger for them;
they know that only through the struggles of working classes led by such
parties, can their rotten and inhuman order be overthrown, and the workers
and toilers be liberated from exploitation and oppression. The experience
of revolutionary struggles of the masses in the era of imperialism, and
proletarian revolutions, have conclusively shown the vital and decisive
importance of the presence of such parties armed with Marxism Leninism.
Without truly Communist Parties of the working class, built on Leninist
norms and principles, it is impossible to advance consistently on the path
of revolution, to win a total victory in the struggle for democracy and
socialism, to prevent bourgeoisie and imperialism from depriving the exploited
and oppressed masses from the fruits of hard-won victories
and to begin the revolutionary transformation of bourgeois order and
construction of socialism. Therefore, from the standpoint of their class
interests, ie that of bourgeoisie imperialism, they first of all consider
it vital to do all in their power to obstruct the formation of such parties
and secondly, to disorientate, divide and destroy them if they have not
been able to prevent their formation.
Let me first make clear that, we are not aware of
the details of the divisions among Russian comrades and friends on various
theoretical and practical issues. Moreover, we do not consider ourselves
as the self-appointed instructors and mentors of Russian Communist, revolutionary
and working class movement. We fully trust the ability of Russian comrades
and advanced workers to solve their own problems through principled discussion
and active participation in the revolutionary
action of the masses. We also fully trust their ability to rebuild
the Leninist-Stalinist Communist Party of Russian working class and to
lead it in the struggle against Russian and foreign capitalists and their
agents in the revolutionary and working class movement. This, however does
not detract from the importance of an exchange of opinion and experience,
between various detachments of the international communist and working
class movement This position of ours, therefore will not
prevent us from conveying our opinions and judgments about the Russian
movement, to our Russian comrades and friends. We are obliged to perform
this task basing ourselves on our own understanding and experience. Relying
on the inadequate and relatively little knowledge we have on the analysis
of the situation, however, we can and will make the following comments.
We first of all want to express our belief in the
necessity of a complete rupture with all brands of revisionism and opportunism,
for the formation of a truly Communist Party. This is a universally valid
requirement. The experience of the international communist and working
class movement ~ amply shown that, Communist Parties have in general been
destroyed not from outside, through the action of the repressive apparatus
of the bourgeoisie; but from inside, through the action of open and especially
Transformation of Lenin=s
and Stalin=s CPSU by Khrushchev-Brezhnev
revisionist clique and of Enver Hoxha=s
Party of Labor of Albania by the Alia clique into bourgeois-revisionist
parties, are the most conspicuous examples of this tragic trend. That's
why, true communists in all countries should decidedly take this experience
into account in tackling the problem of building of a Leninist party of
the working class. But, for two main reasons this universally valid requirement
assumes an even more critical importance in present-day Russia. One of
them, is the decades long ideological hegemony of Khrushchevite-Brezhnevite
revisionism. The Russian communist and revolutionary movement has inevitably
inherited this revisionist-bureaucratic tradition, which has led to the
petrification of creative revolutionary thinking and of revolutionary initiative
to a great extent. It has also inherited the tradition of separation from
and alienation to the masses, which has penetrated deeply into the collective
memory and consciousness of revolutionary rank and file of the revisionist
CPSU. The communist forces of present-day Russia inevitably are building,
and do have to build, a truly Marxist-Leninist party of the working class,
out of the human material inherited from the past; a human material reared
in tho revisionist bureaucratic tradition and tainted by it.
Furthermore, they themselves are under the influence
of this tradition, So they have to admit or presuppose these special difficulties
openly and guard themselves against their manifestations and ramifications.
We should remember that Lenin once had pointed out the difficulties of
fighting against customs and habits and told how extremely hard they are
to eradicate, even under Soviet power. And secondly, we want to point out
the present economic, political and social conditions of Russia, which
are characterized by extremely sharp contradictions in all fields of life.
Some of the most important results of the acute crisis Russia is passing
through are, the radicalization of great masses of workers and toilers
and a growing yearning for the socialist past. This state of affairs, plus
the onslaught of Imperialist bourgeoisie are forcing at least some sections
of abolished revisionist CPSU and other discontented bourgeoisie and bureaucratic
strata to pose as communists and to portray their opposition to Russian
big bourgeoisie and especially foreign capitalism In communist colors.
It is very well known that, these strata and groups want to take political
power or at least a part of it into their own hands, by exploiting the
revolutionary fermentation among the masses and the Ideological weaknesses
and organizational inexperience of truly communist forces.
We believe that, the building of a truly Communist
Party of the working class should also take this fact into account. Therefore,
the process of party building should absolutely go hand in hand with the
systematic exclusion of petty bourgeois and careerist elements and former
apparatchiki from the ranks of the communist and working class movement.
To forestall a possible misunderstanding, we must
expressly state our opinion to the effect that this principled stand with
regard to ideological and theoretical consistency can not wholly
and in its= entirety
be transmitted to the domain of practical politics to the domain of politics
and economic struggle of the working class and other toilers on the ground.
There, Russian communists will have to employ flexible tactics, try to
utilize the contradictions among various factions of the bourgeoisie and
employ various forms of struggle and organization, taking care not to compromise
and damage their revolutionary principles and long-term goals as their
comrades in other countries will have to. It is a known fact that, the
acute crisis Russia is passing through, has led to a series of violent
confrontations between imperialism and Russian big bourgeoisie on the one
hand and the great masses of workers and toilers on the other, who have
at times found themselves fighting shoulder to shoulder with patriotic
and national bourgeois elements.
Therefore, it may be acceptable and at times even
necessary to forge tactical alliances with patriotic and national bourgeois
elements, as long as this facilitates the mobilization of still greater
masses of workers and toilers against the reactionary and imperialist regime.
BUT, firstly, they should not for a moment forget the weak and treacherous
nature of these elements; secondly, they should never let the basic and
unbridgeable distinctions between themselves and Russian patriots and nationalists
to be obscured or concealed, even in the slightest degree; and thirdly,
they should not forget that the sharpening, of contradictions between Western
imperialists and Russian imperialists on the other are constantly reducing
the possibility and desirability of such tactical alliances.
To all these considerations, we must add another
and a very important item from our own collective experience in Turkey.
The struggle against revisionism and reformism can not and should not ever
be confined to the realm of theory; it also is a matter of practical struggle
of the masses. As Marx had said, communists are not philosophers bent only
on interpreting the world, but, first of all fighters working actively
to change it in a revolutionary way. In this sense, our theory is in the
service of practical revolutionary struggle of the masses Therefore, if
we are not just socialist intellectuals but primarily fighters standing
at the forefront of the struggle, our parties should be the parties of
factories, of mines, of plantations, of streets, of toilers' districts
and of barricades. All tactics and political lines should be tested, for
class collaborationist, capitulation-ist and counter-revolutionary tactics;
and the political lines of all brands of revisionism and reformism should
be exposed right there, in the fire and storm of mass struggle. Our communist
tactics should aim at the isolation of revisionism and reformism. They
should he devised in a way, which will help the workers and toilers to
understand the correct-ness of our own Marxist-Leninist practice, and at
the same time also the erroneous nature of the revisionists=
and reformists= line, in the
light of their own experience and revolutionary
** ** ** ** ** **
Allow me also to dwell upon the problems we've faced
and are taking in the building of a truly Communist Party of the working
class in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. In his article : AUrgent
Tasks of Our Movement A, Lenin
AIn every country there has
been a period in which the labor movement existed separately from the socialist
movement, each going its road; and in every country this state of isolation
weakened both the socialist movement and the labor movement. Only the combination
of socialism with the labour movement in each country created a durable
basis for both the one and the other."
As we've said in other places, this period of isolation
of socialism and the socialist movement from the working class movement,
has lasted too long in our country. The newly established and in-experienced
CP of Turkey took the road of right opportunism, after its=
leading cadres were slain by Kemalist bourgeoisie in January 1921. Although
CP of Turkey continued its activities, its right opportunist and Menshevik
line was consolidated in time, despite the criticism and interventions
of the Comintern, In fact, it effectively terminated its existence in the
second half of the 1930's. Police operations against this "party" and the
emergence of Soviet modern revisionism in the 1950=s
dealt the final blows to this political corpse. So, when the mass struggles
of workers, student youth, poor peasants and Kurdish people once more began
to rise during the 1960's, the new generation of revolutionary militants
could not find any positive revolutionary heritage to rely upon. They had
to learn almost everything from scratch. This state of affairs coincided
with the destruction of Lenin's and Stalin's CPSU and of the international
communist movement by Khrushchev-ites.
(Selected Works, Volume 2, p. 11).
So, the new revolutionary generations of the 1960's
and the 1970=s, who instinctively
turned away from modern revisionism, fell almost inevitably under the influence
of various petty-bourgeois and anti-Marxist currents, such as Maoism and
Guevara-ism. Restoration of the revisionist CP of Turkey, with the assistance
of Soviet modern revisionism in the first half of 1970's, did not improve,
but on the contrary adversely influenced the situation. The policy of the
latter continued to be one of alliance with a section of trade-union bureaucracy
and the so-called left wing of the bourgeoisie. The instinctive reaction
of revolutionary militants, who did not have a systematic knowledge of
Marxism-Leninism, against the political line of the CP of Turkey, continued
to drive them away from the working class - and instead led them to embrace
petty-bourgeois strata, that is, peasantry, semi-proletariat and youth.
Only towards the end of 1970's, in the wake of the
open attack of the Party of Labor of Albania against Maoism, were the first
communist organizations able to emerge. These newly formed communist groups
had evolved from revolutionary-democratism into Marxism-Leninism by means
of an internal ideological struggle against Maoism and begun to orientate
themselves gradually towards the working class. Understandably, they had
very weak or almost no connections with the working class movement and
were inevitably tainted more or less with the leftovers of their petty-
bourgeois past ideologically, politically and organizationally. Moreover
they - together with all revolutionary and progressive forces- would become
the target of the vicious and all-sided attack of Turkish ruling classes,
who, under the tutelage of US imperialists, organized a military-fascist
coup d'etat in September 1980. Communist and revolutionary-democratic groups
were able to resume their forward march only in the second half of the
1980's, and since then they've been fighting under extremely difficult
conditions. Therefore, we are entitled to say that, the militant communist
movement in our country, in fact has had a very brief past. its basic weaknesses
and strength springs from these special traits of the history of the revolutionary
movement in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan.
Yes, we do also talk about the strength of the communist
and revolutionary democratic movement in our country. We are proud of the
fighting spirit of our Kurdish and Turkish workers and peoples, in the
face of brutal colonialist and militarist aggression and the policy of
systematic torture, murder, and massacres of the fascist regime. And we
are proud of the will, staunchness and fighting spirit of a significant
section of the revolutionary movement, which has enabled it to maintain
the struggle under conditions of systematic police and military repression.
We value these features built through the great sacrifices of the revolutionary
generations since the 1960's very much. And we are aware of the fact that,
they have been decisive in the resistance, that the revolutionary movement
in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan has displayed, even in the face of the
liquidationist wave that has overwhelmed many important and experienced
parties the world over, following the demise of the revisionist bloc and
the capitulation of socialist Albania.
As to the weaknesses, we can start with the extreme
fragmentation and the narrow group mentality that has been so characteristic
of revolutionary movement in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan in the 1970's.
The causes of this deformation can be traced to both the weakness of the
proletarian base of the movement and the absence of a strong Marxist- Leninist
organization, which could affectively fight against sectarian tendencies
and play the role of a unifying center. Even today, a section of the communist
movement in Turkey has not yet freed itself of the infantile disease of
leftism and sectarianism and has been continuing to reject the call for
a principled and militant unity issued by MLKP. Another section of the
communist movement, on the other hand, has taken a liquidationist direction,
and has all but abolished its illegal apparatus and is rapidly becoming
a petty-bourgeois reformist party.
Under these circumstances, the formation of
MLKL-K(Marxist-Leninist Communist Party-Foundation) at a Unity
Congress held on September 10, 1994, made possible through the
unification of three communist groups, and its later transformation into
the MLKP ( Marxist-Leninist Communist Party) in September 1995, which occurred
after it was joined by still another communist group, have been a very
important step forward. This process of unification we term 'unity revolution'-
and the non-sectarian style of work of our Party, have dealt heavy blows
at this infantile disease of the revolutionary movement and began to create
a culture of unity. The persisting basic deficiency of the movement, however
is the relative weakness of its ties to the vigorous working class movement
trade-union movement, dominated by yellow reformist and Muslim-oriented
"But in each country this combination of socialism with the labor
movement took place historically, was brought about in a special way, in
accordance with the conditions prevailing at the time in each country."
At this point, to be able to present an all-sided
picture of the hardships of the communist movement, we have to underline
the sharp discrepancy between the militancy of the working class, in the
realm of spontaneous and economic struggle - and its relative inability
in taking part in the revolutionary political struggle. We also have to
underline the fact that, at present, despite the existence of a very small
politicized minority, the main mass of the working class remains rather
indifferent to the massacres perpetrated against the heroic Kurdish people,
the glorious struggles of political prisoners and our brave Saturday Mothers
and militant youth. In addition to that, the tradition of militant solidarity
of action among various detachments of the class itself is not sufficiently
strong. This state of affairs is both an outcome of decades-long domination,
of the reactionary bloc of bourgeoisie trade-union bureaucracy-revisionism
over the working class movement; and of the petty bourgeois past, with
the relative youth and amateur style of work of the militant communist
movement. The working class of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan has waged
a series of massive and heroic struggles and demonstrated its ability to
lead all other exploited and oppressed classes and strata and to mobilize
them around itself. But, its level of class consciousness remains low.
We, of course should not, and can not forget that, the relationship between
scientific socialism and the working class movement can not be understood
without taking into account a whole set of specific conditions and traits
pertaining to each country. ln his aforementioned article, Lenin also had
As we mentioned above, in Turkey, socialism and socialist
movement on the one hand and the working class movement on the other, have
been isolated from each other for a very long period of time. This means
that, the influence of bourgeois ideology and its variants (including petty-bourgeois
democratism) have been challenged very little in the ranks of the working
class, where Marxism-Leninism has not penetrated to a significant extent
and the advanced elements of the class have not definitely embraced Marxism-Leninism.
In such countries, communist forces must be very steadfast, to underline
their vanguard and leading role, their revolutionary initiative and will
in transforming the class into a revolutionary force capable of performing
its historical task. Therefore they should be much more on their guard
against the danger of ouvrierisme
and economism. The fact that they
should be very much on their guard against the non-revolutionary and semi-reformist
tendencies that are so prevalent even among part of the advanced workers,
does not, of course mean that they should underestimate the opposite danger:
that of depreciation and even negation of the central role and historical
mission of the working class both in democratic and socialist revolution.
Unless the yoke of trade- union bureaucracy, revisionism
and bourgeoisie over the class is broken, and its advanced section is united
firmly under a militant communist leadership, then the historical deficit
and impasse of the revolutionary movement in our country will not be overcome,
and the durability and stability of the communist movement will not
be guaranteed, the great revolutionary energy of the class will not be
released, and the internationalist obligations of the working class vis-a-vis
the Kurdish people, who have been courageously fighting against Turkish
reaction especially since 1984, will not be met.
Basing itself upon a correct assessment and a concrete
and scientific analysis of the Turkish political scene in general, and
the problems and prospects of the communist and working class movement
in our country in particular, MLKP is determined to revolutionize the working
class and the working class movement. It is doing this already in the fire
and storm of mass struggle. Full of confidence in the revolutionary potential
of the working class it has the will to overcome all obstacles on this
road and liberate the workers and peoples of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan
from the clutches of imperialism and capitalism.
Dear comrades and friends,
Before ending my words, allow me also to very briefly
touch upon the question of the definition
of the working class; a question that seems to be
an important topic of discussion in the Russian communist and revolutionary
movement. It is a known fact that, some revisionist thinkers have tried
to broaden the definition of the working class and have included the great
and growing mass of technical intelligentsia in it. But they forget that,
under capitalism, as in all class societies based on the exploitation of
direct producers, the monopoly and control over knowledge - over what Marx
called 'intellectual means of production' - remains in the hands of the
ruling classes that is of the bourgeoisie.
As capitalism develops,
a) both the mass of the working class and of technical intelligentsia
becomes greater and the composition of these social categories becomes
more complex and diversified;
b) the ratio of wage laborers employed in production in general and
in industry (the so-called blue-collar workers) in particular decreases,
while the ratio of wage laborers employed in the service sector (the so
called white-collar workers) increases;
c) cultural and technical level of the working class rises and workers
tend more and more to perform jobs, which acquire the characteristics of
mental labor to a certain extent and,
d) a sizable portion of the growing mass of technical intelligentsia,
who quite often are part of the 'collective laborer', get closer to the
workers, both in terms of earnings (or their share in social product) and
in terms of their position vis-a-vis the means of production.
these do not mean that:
1) Lenin's definition of the concept of class (i.e.;:
"Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the
place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production,
by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means
of production, by their role in the social organization of labor, and consequently,
by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and
the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups of people one of which can
appropriate the labour of another owing to the different places they occupy
in a definite system of social economy. "
(AA Great Beginning". Collected
Works, Vol.29, p.421),
has been outmoded,
and that the definition of the working class should be broadened so
as to include the whole body of the great majority of technical intelligentsia
2) The barriers between the working class and technical intelligentsia
are being abolished, these two are being wedded into one and the same social
category and the antithesis between manual and mental labor is fading or
3) Under capitalism, the bearers of knowledge and technical skill have
a double function or aspect. On the one hand, technical intelligentsia,
or rather the upper and middle echelons of this stratum, act as assistants
of the bourgeoisie in the production process; their main economic and social
function is the rationalization of capitalist system of exploitation and
supervision and administrator; of workers in the name of the bourgeoisie.
In all capitalist countries, there is a whole stratum of managers, administrators,
planners, advertisers, experts supervisors, advisers, who are an organic
part of the bourgeoisie. The fact that, they, in general do not own the
means, of production, does not change their social and class character.
This portion of technical intelligentsia is totally
bourgeois with regard to its economic and social functions, standard of
living and world outlook. The lower echelons of technical intelligentsia,
however, are part of the 'collective laborer', and assist in the production
of surplus value and capital, and consequently are exploited by the bourgeoisie
and therefore share some of the characteristics
of the working class. This portion of technical intelligentsia,
therefore tends to act together with the working class and tends to become
one of its allies. This, however won't make it part of the working class.
Because, despite certain joint or common characteristics,
the working class and technical intelligentsia remain two separate social
categories, divided antithetically in line with the social division of
labor. And it can not be otherwise under capitalism, which is characterized
by the antagonistic contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the working
class, This means that, the social division of labor will continue to exist
and the relationship between manual and mental labor will also remain antagonistic
in character, as long as capitalism and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie
stands. The antithesis between manual and mental labor will start to fade
only under socialism, under the dictatorship of the proletariat and will
completely disappear only under communism.
A paper from the COMMUNIST
The Concept of Social Class
The concept of social class as :
A a division or order of
society according to status@,
The Oxford English Dictionary', Volume 3; Oxford; 1989; p. 279).
is a very ancient one, the English word 'class' being
derived from the Latin 'classis', meaning each of the:
@..ancient divisions of
the Roman people@. (Charles
T. Onions (Ed.): 'The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology'; Oxford;
1985; p. 180.)
Servius Tullius, king of Rome in the 6th century BC, organised a classification
Awhich divided citizens
into five classes according to wealth". (New Encyclopedia
Britannica', Volume 10; Chicago; 1994; p. 455.).
The Marxist Definition of Class
Marxist-Leninists accept the concept of social
class put forward above, but hold that a person's social class is determined
not by the amount of his wealth, but by the source
of his income as determined by his relation to labour and to the means
"Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the
place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production,
by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated by law) to the means
of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and,
consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which
they dispose and their mode of acquiring it".
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'A Great Beginning: Heroism of the
Workers in the Rear: 'Communist Subbotniks' in: 'Collected Works', Volume
29; Moscow; 1965; p. 421).
To Marxist-Leninists, therefore, the class to which
a person belongs is determined by objective reality,
not by someone's opinion. On the basis of the above definition, Marxist-Leninists
distinguish three basic classes in
19th century Britain:
These three basic classes are:
"There are three great social groups, whose members . . live on wages,
profit and ground rent respectively".
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy',
Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 886).
The Landlord Class
Marxist-Leninists define the landlord class as
that class which owns land and derives its income from ground rent on
"Land becomes... personified and... gets on its hind legs to demand
. . its share of the product created with its help . . . : rent"
1) the proletariat or working class,
2) the bourgeoisie or capitalist class and;
3) the landlord class, respectively.
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy'.
Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 824-25.
With the development of capitalist society, however,
the landlord class progressively loses its importance and a new class emerges
-- the petty bourgeoisie. Thus, in a developed capitalist society, there
are still three basic classes, but these are now:
"Every capitalist country ... is basically divided
into three main forces: the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the
1) the capitalist class or bourgeoisie;
2) the petty bourgeoisie; and
3) the working class or proletariat:
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Constitutional Illusions' ,in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 6; Moscow; 1964; p. 202).
The English word 'bourgeoisie'
is derived from the French word 'bourgeoisie' meaning : AThe
trading middle class" Charles T. Onions (Ed.): op.
cit.; p. 110), as distinct from the landlord class. Marxist-Leninists
define the bourgeoisie or capitalist class as :
AThe class of modern capitalists,
owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour".
(Friedreich Engels: Note to: Karl Marx & Friedreich
Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party' in: Karl Marx: 'Selected Works',
Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 204).
The capitalist class includes persons whose remuneration
may come nominally in the form of a salary, but which is in fact due to
their position in the capitalist classes (e.g., the directors of large
companies). It also includes persons who are not employers, but who serve
the capitalist class in high administrative positions:
"The latter group contains sections of the population who belong to
the big bourgeoisie: all the rentiers (living on the income from capital
and real estate ), then part of the intelligentsia, the high military and
civil officials, etc."
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'The Development of Capitalism in
Russia', in: 'CW', Vo 3; Moscow; 1960; p. 504).
It also includes the dependents of these persons.
The English word 'proletariat'
is derived from the Latin 'proles', meaning offspring , since according
to Roman law a proletarian served the state
Marxist-Leninists define the proletariat or working
Athat class of modern wage
labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced
to selling their labour power in order to live".
ANot with his property, but
only with his offspring@.
(Charles T. Onions (Ed.): ibid.; p. 714).
(Friedreich Engels: Note to the 1888 English Edition
of: Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party',
in: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 204.)
In modern society:
Athe proletariat alone is
a really revolutionary class".
(Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'
in: Karl Marx: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 216).
so that, in producing the proletariat, the bourgeoisie
"Its own gravediggers".
(Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'
in: Karl Marx:'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 218).
The 'Middle Class'
The term 'middle class' is used by Marxists -- including
Marx and Engels themselves -- in two different ways:
Firstly, in the historical
sense, in the sense of:
Secondly, when speaking
of modern capitalist society, with the meaning of petty bourgeoisie', discussed
in the next section.
The Petty Bourgeoisie
Between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, stands the petty
"In countries where modern civilization has become fully developed,
a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed"
"the French word 'bourgeoisie that possessing class which is
differentiated from the so called aristocracy".
(Friedreich Engels: Preface to 'The Condition of the Working Class
in England:From Personal Observation and Authentic Sources', in: Karl Marx
& Friedreich Engels: 'Collected Works', Volume 4; Moscow; 1975; p.
(Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'
in: Karl Marx: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 231).
The English term 'petty bourgeoisie' is an anglicisation
of the French term 'petite bourgeoisie', meaning 'little bourgeoisie'.
Marxist-Leninists define the petty bourgeoisie as a
class which owns or rents small means
of production which it operates largely without employing wage labour,
but often with the assistance of members of their families:
''A petty bourgeois is the owner of small property."
(Vladimir I. Lenin: Note to: 'To the Rural Poor', in: 'Selected Works',
Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 254).
As a worker, the petty bourgeois has interests in common
with the proletariat; as owner of means of production, however, he has
interests in common with the bourgeoisie. In other words, the petty bourgeoisie
has a divided allegiance towards the two decisive classes in capitalist
"Thus, the 'independent' petty bourgeois producer is cut up into two
persons. As owner of the means of production he is a capitalist; as a labourer
he is his own wage-labourer".
(Karl Marx: 'Theories of Surplus Value', Part 1; Moscow; undated; p.
and consequently petty bourgeois:
"Are for ever vacillating between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie".
(Josef V. Stalin: 'The Logic of Facts', in: 'Works', Volume 4; Moscow;
1953; p. 143).
This divided allegiance between the two decisive classes
in modern capitalist society applies also to a section of employed
persons -- those who are involved in superintendence
and the lower levels of management -- e.g., foremen, charge-hands,
departmental managers, etc. These employees have a supervisory function,
a function is to ensure that the workers produce a maximum of surplus value
for the employer. On the one hand, such persons are exploited workers,
with interests in common with the proletariat (from which they largely
spring); on the other hand, their position as agents of the management
in supervising the efficient exploitation of their fellow employees gives
them interests in common with the bourgeoisie:
"An industrial army of workmen, under the command of a capitalist,
requires, like a real army, officers (managers) and sergeants (foremen,
overlookers) who, while the work is being done, command in the name of
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: An Analysis of Capitalist Production', Volume
1; Moscow; 1959; p. 332).
"The labour of supervision and management . . . has a double nature.
On the one hand, all labour in which many individuals cooperate necessarily
requires a commanding will to coordinate and unify the process. . . . This
is a productive job. . . . On the other hand… this supervision work necessarily
arises in all modes of production based on the antithesis between the labourer,
as the direct producer, and the owner of the means of production. The greater
this antagonism, the greater the role played by supervision (Karl Marx:
'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy', Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p.
Because of this divided allegiance, which corresponds
to that of the petty bourgeoisie proper, Marxist-Leninists
place such employees (and their dependents) in the petty bourgeoisie.
For the same reason, Marxist-Leninists also place persons in the middle
and lower ranks of the coercive forces of the capitalist state
-- the army and police -- (and their dependents) in the petty bourgeoisie
The Polarisation of Capitalist Society
Because of the small size of their means of production,
petty-bourgeois are in constant danger of sinking into the proletariat:
"The lower strata of the middle class . sink gradually into the proletariat,
partly because their diminutive capital .. is swamped in the competition
with the large capitalists, partly their specialised skill is rendered
worthless by new methods of production".
(Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'
in: Karl Marx: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 213).
"The working class gains recruits from the higher strata of society
A mass of petty industrialists and small rentiers are hurled down
into its ranks".
and even the old, once highly respected petty bourgeois
professions become proletarianised:
"The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto
honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician,
the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-labourers".
(Karl Marx: 'Wage-Labour and Capital', in: 'Selected Works', Volume
1; London; 1943' p. 280).
(Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party',
in: Karl Marx: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 208).
Thus, as capitalist society develops, it becomes increasingly
polarised into two basic classes -- wealthy bourgeois and poor
"Society as a whole is more and more splitting up… into two great
classes facing each other - bourgeoisie and proletariat".
(Karl Marx & Friedreich Engels: 'Manifesto of the Communist Party',
in: Karl Marx: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 205-06).
"Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time
accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, moral
degradation, at the opposite pole".
The English word 'peasant' is derived from the Latin
'pagus', meaning a:
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy'. Volume 1; Moscow;
1959; p. 645).
(Charles T. Onions (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 660).
and is defined as:
"One who lives in the country and works on the land".
('The Oxford English Dictionary',
Volume 11; Oxford; 1989; p.402).
The above definition excludes the landlord class from
the peasantry since, even if a landlord 'lives in the country' he does
not 'work on. the land' , but derives his income from ground rent.
The peasantry do not form a class of society, but
consist of a number of different classes which
live in the country and work on the land:
"It is best to distinguish the rich, the middle and the poor peasants".
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'To the Rural Poor: An Explanation for the Peasants
of what the Social-Democrats want' (hereafter listed as 'Vladimir I. Lenin
(1903'), in 'Selected Works', Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 261).
The peasantry is composed of:
peasants, or rural capitalists, who employ labour, that is,
who exploit poorer peasants:
"One of the main features of the rich peasants is that they hire farmhands
and day labourers. Like the landlords, the rich peasants also live
by the labour of others. $ .
. They try to squeeze as much work as they can out of their farmhands,
and pay them as little as possible".
(Vladimir I. Lenin (1903: ibid.; p. 265).
Sometimes rich peasants are called 'kulaks',
a word derived from the Russian 'kulak', originally meaning a :
Secondly, the middle peasants
or the rural petty bourgeoisie, who own or rent land but who do
not employ labour. Speaking of the middle peasantry, Lenin says:
"Only in good years and under particularly favorable conditions is
the independent husbandry of this type of peasant sufficient to maintain
him and for that reason his position is a very unstable one. In the majority
of cases the middle peasant cannot make ends meet without resorting to
loans to be repaid by labour, etc., without seeking 'subsidiary' earnings
on the side".
('The Oxford English Dictionary', Volume 8; Oxford; 1989; p. 543).
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'The Development of Capitalism in Russia', in:
'Collected Works', Volume 1; p. 235).
Thirdly, the poor peasants
or rural proletariat. The poor peasant lives not by the land, not by
his farm, but by working for wages:
"He . . has ceased
to be an independent farmer and has become a hireling, a proletarian."
(Vladimir I. Lenin (1900): op. cit.; p. 265-67).
Sometimes Marxist-Leninists describe poor peasants as:
(Vladimir I. Lenin (1900): ibid.; p. 267).
to distinguish them from urban proletarians, regarded
as 'full' proletarians.
" a trend hostile to Marxism,... within Marxism itself".
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Marxism and Revisionism , in: 'Collected Works',
Volume 15; Moscow; 1963; p. 32).
In other words, a revisionist poses
as a Marxist but in fact puts forward a
programme which objectively serves the interests of a bourgeoisie:
"The revisionists spearheaded their struggle mainly against Marxism-Leninism
.. and replaced this theory with an opportunist, counter-revolutionary
theory in the service of the bourgeoisie and imperialism".
(Enver Hoxha: Report to the 5th Congress of the Party of Labour of
Albania, in: 'Selected Works', Volume 4; Tirana; 1982; p. 190).
Despite all the torrents of propaganda levelled against
it, Marxism-Leninism still retains enormous prestige among working people
all over the world. It is for this reason that many modern revisionists
call themselves 'Neo-Marxists' or 'Western Marxists' -- claiming that they
are not revising Marxism but merely bringing it up to date, bringing into
the age of the electronic computer which Marx and Engels never knew.
In general, 'neo-Marxists' pay their loudest tributes
to Marx's early writings, before he became a Marxist. 'Neo-Marxism' is
essentially a product not merely of universities, but of the worst kind
of university lecturer who equates obscurantism with intellectualism. One
sees admiring students staggering from his lectures muttering 'What a brilliant
man! I couldn't understand a word!'.
Even sociologists sympathetic to 'neo-Marxism' speak
"The extreme difficulty of language characteristic of much of Western
Marxism in the twentieth century".
(Perry Anderson: 'Considerations of Western Marxism'; London; 1970;
But, of course, this obscure language has a great advantage
for those who use it, making it easy to claim, when challenged, that the
challenger has misunderstood what one was saying. Much 'Neo-Marxism' is
an eclectic hotchpotch of Marxism with idealist philosophy -- giving it,
it is claimed, a 'spiritual aspect' lacking in the original. A typical
example is the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre
"I believe in the general schema provided by Marx",
(Jean-Paul Sartre: 'Between Existentialism and Marxism'; London; 1974;
but -- and it is a big 'but' -- it must be a 'Marxism'
"The old guard of mummified Stalinists".
(Jean-Paul Sartre: ibid.; p. 53).
And how, according to Sartre, is this 'liberation' to
be effected? By merging it with the existentialism of the Danish idealist
philosopher Soren Kierkegaard!
"Kierkegaard and Marx . . . institute themselves . . . as our future".
(Jean-Paul Sartre: ibid.; p. 169).
However, this paper is concerned only with revisionist
theories which are based on distortions of the Marxist-Leninist definition
In particular, it will be concerned with 'neo-Marxist'
definitions of the proletariat which narrow and restrict it as a class.
While to these 'neo-Marxists' the proletariat may still be, in words, 'the
grave-digger of capitalism', they portray it as a
gravedigger equipped with a teaspoon instead of a spade.
Some 'neo-Marxists' exclude the unemployed from the
proletariat on the grounds that someone who is not working cannot be regarded
as a member of the working class!
But Marx explicitly characterises the unemployed,
the "industrial reserve army" (Karl
Marx: 'Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production', Volume 1;
Moscow; 1959; p. 628).
"a relative surplus population among the working class",
as part of the working class, as:
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy', Volume 2; Moscow;
1974; p. 518).
and speaks of:
"The working class (now actively reinforced by its entire reserve
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy', Volume 2; Moscow;
1974; p. 414).
Clearly, therefore, the founders of Marxism did not
exclude the unemployed from the working class.
Other 'neo-Marxists' exclude all workers engaged in
non-productive labour from the working class,
Certainly, for the purpose of analysing the complexities
of capitalist society, Marx differentiated labour into productive and unproductive
labour. According to Marx,
that labour is Productive, which
creates a surplus value".
(Karl Marx: 'Theories of Surplus Value Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p. 45).
It is on this basis that the Greek revisionist Nicos
Poulantzas excludes non-productive workers from the working
"I have a rather limited and restricted definition of the working
class..The criterion of productive and unproductive labour is sufficient
to exclude unproductive workers from the working class."
(Nicos Poulantzas: 'Classes in Contemporary Capitalism'; London; 1975;
p. 119, 121).
Poulantzas therefore assigns non-productive workers
"new petty bourgeoisie",
(Nicos Poulantzas: ibid.; p. 117).
"The new petty bourgeoisie constitutes a separate class".
(Nicos Poulantzas: ibid.; p. 115).
"the distinction between productive and unproductive labour has nothing
to do . . with the particular speciality of the labour".
(Karl Marx: 'Theories of Surplus Value', Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p. 186)".
The same kind of labour may be productive or unproductive:
"The same labour can be productive and unproductive when I buy
it as a consumer." (Karl Marx: 'Theories of Surplus Value', Part 1; Moscow;
n.d.; p. 186
For example, a teacher in a private school is engaged
in productive labour (in the Marxist sense of the term), because his labour
produces surplus value for the proprietors of the school. But a teacher
in a state school, working under identical conditions, is engaged in unproductive
labour, because his labour does not create surplus value.
Furthermore, many kinds of unproductive labour, such
as the labour of clerical workers in a capitalist production firm:
‘while it does not create surplus value, enables him (the employer
-- Ed.) to appropriate surplus value which, in effect, amounts to the same
thing with respect to his capital. It is, therefore, a source of profit
(Karl Marx: 'Capital: A Critique of Political Economy', Volume 3; Moscow;
1971; p. 294).
Thus the question of whether an employee is engaged
in productive unproductive labour has no relevance
to the question of whether he belongs the proletariat.
In developed capitalist states, the bourgeoisie, by
plundering the colonial and weak nations, has been able to bribe the upper
stratum of the proletariat with crumbs from the superprofits". (Vladimir
I. Lenin: Draft Programme of the RCP (B), in: 'Collected Works', Volume
29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104). Superprofits are profits
"Obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out
of the workers of their 'own' country".
(Vladimir I. Lenin: Preface to the French and German Editions of 'Imperialism:
The Highest Stage of Capitalism', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 22; Moscow;
1964; p. 193).
Marxist-Leninists call employees in receipt of a share
in such superprofits as:
"the labour aristocracy";
(Vladimir I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 194).
Some 'neo-Marxists' exclude employees who share in superprofits
from the proletariat. Thus, according to the London-based 'Finsbury
Communist Association', in Britain
"the proletariat consists of the workers on subsistence wages or below".
(Finsbury Communist Association: 'Class and Party in Britain'; London;
1966; p. 4).
However,Lenin defines the labour aristocracy as a
part of the proletariat, as a
"privileged upper stratum of the proletariat",
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Imperialism and the Split in Socialism', in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 23; Moscow; 1965; p. 110).
"the upper stratum of the proletariat",
(Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Programme of the RCP (B), in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104).
"the top strata of the working class".
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'How the Bourgeoisie utilises Renegades", in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 30; Moscow; 1965; p. 34).
Furthermore, while Lenin characterises the 'labour aristocracy'
"an insignificant minority of the working class",
(Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Under a False Flag', in: 'Collected Works', Volume
21; Moscow; 1964; p. 152).
the 'Finsbury Communist
Association' presents it as:
"The overwhelming majority of Britain's workers"'.
(Finsbury Communist Association: 'Class and Party in Britain'; London;
1966; p. 5,.4).
Thus, according to the 'Finsbury Communist Association',
the British imperialists pay the overwhelming majority of Britain's workers'
above the value of their labour power. Since there is not even a Marxist-Leninist
party, much less a revolutionary situation, in Britain at present, this
can only be out of the sheer goodness of their hearts!
Clearly the 'neo-Marxist' picture of imperialism
bears no relation to reality. It merely lends spurious support to the false
thesis that, since the workers in developed capitalist countries are 'exploiters',
the future for socialism lies only in the less developed countries in the
THE MOST URGENT TASK FACING MARXIST-LENINISTS TODAY IS TO REBUILD
UNIFIED MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES IN EACH COUNTRY, UNITED IN A MARXIST-LENINIST
BUT SUCH PARTIES, AND SUCH AN INTERNATIONAL, CAN BE BUILT ONLY ON
THE BASIS OF AGREEMENT ON MARXIST-LENINIST PRINCIPLES.
PERHAPS AGREEMENT TO ACCEPT A FEW SIMPLE DEFINITIONS PUT FORWARD
LONG AGO BY THE FOUNDERS OF MARXISM-LENINISM, AND TO REJECT THEIR REVISIONIST
DISTORTIONS, MIGHT CONSTITUTE A SMALL STEP IN THAT DIRECTION.
BOURGEOIS HAS STRIPPED OF ITS HALO EVERY OCCUPATION HITHERTO HONORED AND
LOOKED UP TO WITH REVERENT AWE. IT HAS CONVERTED THE PHYSICIAN, THE LAWYER,
THE PRIEST, THE POET, THE MAN OF SCIENCE, INTO ITS PAID-WAGE LABORERS.@
ALLIANCE (MARXIST-LENINIST NORTH
'The Communist Manifesto@
(Marx K and Engels F: The Communist Manifesto@;
"1 Bourgeois and Proletarian@;
p. 82; Penguin Edition, London, 1985, p. 82).
INTRODUCTION : SOME MODERN DAY CONFUSIONS
Marx and Engels above, graphically illustrated capitalism=s
relentless drive to extend its sphere of action. This drive has resulted
in several changes since the days of Marx and Engels. Many of these changes
have taken place, in the industrialized nations of the world. But the nature
of these changes, are not explained by the capitalist ruling class and
its ideologists - the bourgeois sociologists. Instead the ruling class
exploit the changes to further disguise reality, in order to confuse Marxist
Leninist communists. These confusions include such allegations that :
theory of classes is irrelevant nowadays@;
AClasses are no longer relevant
to understanding modern day society;@
AThere is no significant proletarian
working class any longer; only >technical
and scientific managers=;@
AThe higher wages of workers
now changes their class from proletarians into middle classes@;
But in reality, the changes in modern day industrial
societies confirm the general analysis of Marx and Engels. From the writing
of AThe Communist Manifesto@,
Marx and Engels identified the key features of class society. These features
have not changed, and so, the Marxist-Leninist analysis is not refuted
by recent changes. We will briefly illustrate this, by examining some key
features of the Marxist analysis of classes. We start with definitions
of the classes in modern Western capitalism - including that of >productive=
and >non-productive labour=;
examine the role of >high wages=;
the continuing pauperization of the non-proletarians; the objective constant
need of accumulation of capital to expand the working class; and we end
by asking which classes have revolutionary potential; and in which alliances
the proletariat must enter.
DEFINITIONS BY MARX AND ENGELS: THE CAPITALIST
AND THE PROLETARIAT:
ABy bourgeoisie is meant
the class of modern Capitalist, owners of the means of social production
and employers of wage labour. By proletariat the class of modern wage-laborers
who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling
their labour power in order to live. A
(Note by Engels to English edition of 1888 of ACommunist
Manifesto@ p. 79, Ibid).
This is the only definition which has any real meaning
- of the word proletariat. The word
proletariat can be substituted for by the term >worker=,
or by >wage
As is obvious in the quote, the proletariat does not exist in isolation
from its class enemy - the Capitalist.
THE PROCESS OF SIMPLIFICATION OF MANY SOCIAL
RANKS INTO TWO MAIN CLASSES; AND THE FORMATION OF THE PROLETARIAT
Very early on in their revolutionary careers, Marx
and Engels, in AThe Communist
Manifesto@, pointed out that
the previous complex layers of society were being radically simplified.
The process, which was led by capitalism, was converting whole layers of
different >social ranks=
into two great ranks that >faced
each other - the bourgeois and the proletariat.=
AIn the earlier epochs of
history we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society
into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome
we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal
lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost
all of these classes, again subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois
society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done
away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions
of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch
the epoch of the bourgeoisie possesses however this distinctive feature:
It has simplified the class antagonism. Society as a whole is more and
more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two
great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeois and Proletariat.@
(Communist Manifesto: ibid; p. 80; Emphasis added).
THE EXISTENCE OF >STRATA=
WITHIN THE TWO OPPOSING CLASSES
It is true that there are strata or layers of both
these two classes. But this does not mitigate the existence of Two basic
classes, that confront each other. But strata within each of the class
may have divergent interests. Thus with respect to the working class or
proletarians, Engels talked of the >labour
leaders= opportunism and desire
leaders A preferred to deal with
their aristocratic friends and be Arespectable@,
which in England meant acting like a bourgeois.@
(Engels F, 1874:@The English
Elections@; In >Marx
and Engels Article on Britain=;
Moscow; 1971; p.369.
This layer was the one that Lenin was later to term
the labour aristocracy a part of the proletariat but one that was a:
APrivileged upper stratum
of the proletariat@.
(V.I.Lenin :@Draft Programme
of the RCP(B); V.I.Lenin :@Draft
Programme of the RCP(B); Collected Works; Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104.
Nonetheless the labour aristocracy is still a part of
the proletariat. The same considerations apply to the bourgeoisie, namely,
that there is not one homogenous class. To explain the complexities of
the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx described the factional
battles that took place within the class of the bourgeoisie:
AThe history of the Constituent
National Assembly since the June days is the history of the domination
and the disintegration of the republican faction of that bourgeoisie, of
that faction which is known by the names of tricolour republicans... It
was not a faction of the bourgeoisies held together by great common interests
and marked doff by specific conditions of production. It was a clique of
republican minded bourgeois writers lawyers, officers and officials that
owed its influence to... French nationalism.. It fought the financial aristocracy,
as did all the rest of the bourgeoisie opposition.. The industrial bourgeoisie
was grateful to it for its slavish defence of the French protectionist
(Marx K. >The Eighteenth
Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte=;
Collected Works Marx and Engels Volume 11; Moscow; 1979; p.113.)
Later Lenin was famously, to recognise that there had
been a merging of finance with industrial capital to form a new and higher
stage of capitalism known as finance imperialism. In his analysis of imperialism,
Lenin defines imperialism by "Five essential features ". Apart from the
export of capital, and division of the world between the monopolies, Lenin
pointed out a feature of inter-capitalist divisions:
"2. The merging of bank capital with industrial capital and the creation
on the basis of its "finance capital" of a "financial oligarchy ".
(Lenin V.I., AImperialism-The
Highest Stage of Capitalism@;
Chapter VII, p. 89.
Thus Lenin identified that:
"Imperialism.. is marked by.. the merging or coalescence of banking
with industry." (V.I.Lenin, "Imperialism the Highest Stage Of Capitalism
Nowadays the Banks are not the prime source of finance
for capitalist industry. In Britain for example, banks (mainly merchant
banks) own only:
"0.3% .. of company shares."
(Cited 'Combat', Communist League, London, Data from "Stock Exchange
Official Year Book: 1984-85" London; 1985. p. 969. See Alliance 3 for a
Furthermore, banks in Britain provide only 6% of the
external funding of industry in the form of loans and these have been traditionally
short term loans to provide:
"Working (as opposed to investment) capital."
(G.Ingham " Capitalism Divided ", Basingstoke, UK.1984. p.67-8.)
Industry is itself is now financing much of its own
investments. The huge multi-nationals have such currency reserves that
they have eroded the power of the banks to some extent:
"The old economy is highly leveraged and deeply in debt. The emerging
New Economy isn't..There has been enormous structural changes since the
era not long ago, when the US corporate sector regularly incurred large
financial deficits.. In the first quarter of 1992, Corporate America generated
a financial surplus of $109.6 billion ( US ) - the largest such surplus
in US history (Surplus is cash flow minus capital spending and working
capital requirements)..Today's huge surpluses stem from the fact that corporate
cash flows in the New Economy - in industries like pharmaceutical, software
and computers - exceed internal requirements to finance capital spending
inventory and the like.. the shift to surplus is driving interest rates
lower.. Gone are the days when the US sector was a net user of the personal
saver's savings.. The corporate sector is driving the US economy to a degree
unthinkable in the old economy. Conventional wisdom that the economy is
driven by consumer spending is no longer as true as it once was."
(Globe And Mail, Business News; Toronto; p.B26, Sep 22,1992).
These divisions between the wings of capital are recognised
overtly by business. Thus when the U.S. Democrats were resistant to a monetary
policy, they preferred their own representative, an industrialist Mr.G.William
Millar, to be at the Federal Reserve Board. He was:
"Seen by many within and outside the Federal Reserve System as being
too closely tied to President Carter and insufficiently attuned to the
needs of the financial sector, was replaced by Paul Volcker. As the Wall
Street Journal later reported it : ' Wall Street shoved Volcker down Carter's
(G.Epstein, AFederal Reserve
Behaviour and the limits of monetary policy in the current economic crisis.@
In "The Imperiled Economy. Book One." New York. 1987; p. 250).
In fact the relation between the profits of the financial
capitalist class, and the industrial capitalist class are inversely related.
But the essential >class solidarity=
of the capitalists unites them against the proletarians.
Another example is the existence of factions of capital
in the =smaller=
less powerful imperialist nations such as Canada. One faction sees its
interests as acting in a junior partnership with the USA, and therefore
it is content to join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
This faction contains parts of Québécois capitalists as well.
But another faction prefers to be quite independent. None of these differences
within the Canadian bi-national state obviate the basic unity of the ruling
class of the capitalists within Canada. In Canada, at the current time,
the National Question of Quebec, has been buried within the factional struggles
around the NAFTA axis with the USA. However, despite these factions, the
central unity of the capitalists is welded around implacable opposition
to the proletarians.
In conclusion: There are
>two great hostile camps, two
great classes=, and this is undiminished
by the presence of sectional or strata interests within the classes. This
constant simplification of the class complexities is of enormous implication
to the Communist movement. It means that our forces are constantly growing.
It explains the world wide phenomenon of an increasing proletariat formed
out of the previous layers of workers. The proletariat has come into being
as the conglomeration of several older >social
strata= of toilers.
THE URBAN MIDDLE CLASSES AND THE >PETTY
- OR, THE >PETIT BOURGEOISIE
From where has this class of proletarians come? It has
come from peasants from tradesmen and handicraft workers. This is an inevitable
sinking of the previously >independent=
or semi-independent= workers,
into that larger class of proletarians, who have no option but to sell
their labour power to live:
AThe lower strata of the
middle class - the small tradesmen, shopkeepers and retired tradesmen generally,
the handicraftsmen and peasants- all these sink gradually into the proletariat,
partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale
on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition
with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered
worthless by new methods of production. The proletariat is recruited from
all classes of the population.A
(Communist Manifesto: Ibid; p. 88).
As Marx and Engels in their manifesto pointed out, there
is a transformation from >small
peasant proprietors= to the >new
class of petty bourgeois=:
AThe feudal aristocracy
was not the only class that was ruined by the bourgeoisie.. the mediaeval
burgesses and the small peasant proprietors were the precursors of the
modern bourgeoisie. In those countries which are but little developed industrially
and commercially, these two classes still vegetate side by side with the
rising bourgeoisie. In countries where modern civilization has become fully
developed, a new class of petty bourgeois had been formed, fluctuating
between proletariat and bourgeois and ever renewing itself as a supplementary
part of bourgeois society. The individual members of this class however
are being constantly hurled down into the proletariat by the action of
competition and as modern industry develops they even see the moment approaching
when they will completely disappear as an independent section of modern
society to be replaced, in manufacture, agriculture and commerce, by overlookers
bailiffs and shopmen.@
(Communist Manifesto: Ibid; p. 88).
position of the petty bourgeois is reflected in their susceptibility to
notions of >class harmony=
and fruitless attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable class struggle:
AThe petty-bourgeois democrats,
these sham socialist who replaced the class struggle by dreams of class
harmony, even pictured the socialist transformation in a dreamy fashion-not
as the overthrow of the rule of the exploiting class, but as the peaceful
submission of the minority to the majority which has become aware of its
aims. This petty-bourgeois utopia which is inseparable from the idea of
the state being above classes, led in practice to the betrayal of the interests
of the working classes, as was shown for example, by the experience of
participation in bourgeois Cabinets in Britain France Italy and other countries
at the turn of the century=.
(V.I.Lenin A1917: @The
State and Revolution@; Selected
Works; Volume 2; Moscow 1977; p. 254-255.)
In conclusion: The
petty bourgeoisie is an irresolute, vacillating class that fluctuates between
the working classes and the bourgeoisie. It is prone therefore to subjective
illusions that betray its own objective position.
THE RURAL PETTY BOURGEOISIE IN MODERN CAPITALIST
In many countries of the most modern capitalist states
the peasantry which forms part of the petty bourgeoisie is either vanishing
or has vanished. Thus in Britain there is no longer a peasantry as such,
and this process was largely complete by the end of the 19th century. In
other countries, such as Canada and the USA, the peasantry has also been
largely diminished, although there are remnants of a small land holder
farmer who works the land and cannot hire a significant labour force. But
it is important to note that the large agri-capitalist farms are busily
forcing such smalholdings into bankruptcy. The process of monopolization
of land and farming resources that was described by Lenin in AData
On Development of Capitalism In Agriculture In the USA.@
AIn effect the fundamental
and principal trend of capitalism is the displacement of small-scale by
large scale production both in industry and in agriculture. But this displacement
should not be interpreted merely as immediate expropriation. Displacement
also implies the ruin of the small farmers and a worsening of conditions
on their farms, a process that may go on for years...The question of the
expropriation of the small farmers is immensely important to an understanding
of assessment of capitalism in agriculture... The general statistics in
all capitalist countries show that the urban population is growing at the
expense of the rural, that of the population is abandoning the countryside..
The tendency of capitalism to expropriate small scale agriculture is so
strong that the American ANorth@
shows an absolute decrease in the number of landowners in spite of the
distribution of tens of millions of acres of unoccupied free land. Only
two factors still serve to paralyse this tendency in the U.S.A.:
(1) The existence of the still unparcelled slave holding plantations
in the South, with its oppressed and downtrodden Negro population; and
(2) that fact that the West is still partly unsettled.@
(Lenin; AData On Development
of Capitalism In Agriculture In the USA.@
ALenin On the USA@;
Moscow 1967; pp.172; 187; 190-191).
AThe principal trend in capitalist
agriculture is the conversion of small-scale enterprise which remains small
in terms of acreage, into large scale enterprise, in terms of output, in
the development of livestock raising, the quantity of fertilizers, the
scale on which machinery is used and the like’.
This process has accelerated in North America since
Lenin described it as above. In some parts of Western Europe a peasantry
does still exists. But where it still exists, it is a peasantry that is
forced increasingly, into a position of either impoverishment and
expropriation - as described by Lenin for the USA, or into becoming
a >petty landed proprietor=:
AUnder capitalism the small
farmer-whether he wants to or not, whether he is aware of this or not-
becomes a commodity producer. And it is this change that is fundamental
, for it alone, even when he does not as yet exploit hired labour, makes
him a petty bourgeois and converts him into an antagonist of the proletariat.
He sells his product while the proletarian sells his labour-power. The
small farmers as a class, cannot but seek a rise in the prices of agricultural
products, and this is tantamount to their joining with the big landowners
in sharing the ground rent and siding with the landowners against the rest
of the society. As commodity production develops, the small farmer in accordance
with his class status inevitably becomes a petty landed proprietor."
(Lenin; Ibid >Data On Development=;
(Lenin; Ibid; p.198).
There is in all these Western type countries a rural
proletariat. One that is either employed by the big capitalist
agri-farms who increasingly are the >big
landowners=, or by the shrinking
>petty landed proprietors=.
As Lenin points out peasants are divided by the class struggle in the countryside:
AWe put the word >peasantry=
in quotation marks in order to emphasize the existence .. Of an absolutely
indubitable contradiction: in present -day society the peasantry of course
no longer constitutes an integral class... In as much as in our countryside
the serf-owning society is being eliminated by >present
day >bourgeois) society, insomuch
the peasantry ceases to be a class and becomes divided into the rural proletariat
and the rural bourgeoisie (big, middle, petty and very small)."
( Lenin VI: 1902 ; >Agrarian
Programme of Russian Social Democracy=;
Collected Works; Volume 6; Moscow; 1985; p.113-114).
Under conditions of Western type capitalism, increasingly
this stratification is being simplified into capitalist farmers and rural
poor peasants, who can be also termed the rural proletariat. Like the urban
proletariat, this person is forced to hire out his time:
AA peasant who has no horse
is one who has become quite poor. He is a proletarian. He gains a living
(If you can call it a living; it would be truer to say that he just contrives
to keep body and soul together) not from the land, not from his farm, but
by working for hire. He is brother to the town worker.@
(V.I.Lenin >To The Rural
Poor: An Explanation for the peasants of what the Social Democrats Want=,
1903; Volume 6; Moscow; 1985; p.384).
In conclusion: In
the most advanced capitalist imperialist countries,
the peasantry is a small, if not a vanished force. In each country of course,
this needs to be evaluated by the Marxist-Leninist vanguard in that country.
World wide there is a large peasantry. This peasantry of
course still faces the same forces of >simplification=
and intensification of the class struggle, that has been undergone by previous
peasantries. But world-wide, in colonial type
countries even now, the peasant based struggle remains vital
to the proletarian struggle for socialism. Alliance and the Communist League,
and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (Turkey) have proposed analyses
of the class struggles, and the necessary class alliances, in these types
of countries elsewhere. (See Alliance 5 (On India; October
); See Communist League (Revolutionary Process in Colonial -Type Countries;
July 1993); and see Joint statement of Alliance, Communist League, and
Marxist Leninist Communist Party (Turkey) >An
Open Letter to Comrade Ludo Martens=
March 1996). (See web sites: http://ml-review.ca/aml/China/Anti-Martens-a.html)
WHAT IS >PRODUCTIVE
LABOUR=; AND WHO PERFORMS IT?
To distinguish between proletarians and non-proletarian,
it is necessary to determine whether the worker is performing >productive
But what is this? It is simply the necessary consequence of the definition
given above of the Proletariat. For Marx defines
productive labour on the basis of whether the worker is producing
for the capitalist employer. This applies no less, and no more
- to the factory production worker, to the school master, to a singer.
So long as the worker is producing surplus value, then the worker is a
ACapitalist production is
not merely the production of commodities, it is essentially the production
of surplus-value. The laborer produces, not for himself, but for capital.
It no longer suffices, therefore, that he should simply produce. He must
produce surplus-value. That laborer
alone is productive, who produces surplus-value for the capitalist, and
thus works for the self-expansion of capital. If we may take an example
from outside the sphere of production of material objects, a schoolmaster
is a productive laborer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his
scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the
latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a
sausage factory, does not alter the relation. Hence the notion of a productive
laborer implies not merely a relation between work and useful effect, between
laborer and product of labour, but also a specific, social relation of
production, a relation that has sprung up historically and stamps the laborer
as the direct means of creating surplus-value. To be a productive laborer
is, therefore, not a piece of luck, but a misfortune. A
(K.Marx; 1867: Capital Volume I Ch. 16 As transcribed
for the Internet address: "Http://csf.colorado.edu/psn/marx/archive/1867-c1/back.gif".
Section entitled: The Production Of Absolute And Of Relative Surplus-value
Chapter XVI Absolute And Relative Surplus-value. Transcribed for the Internet
by Allan Thurrott. (Emphasis added).
The type of work that is performed, by either productive
or un-productive labour, may be exactly the same. What is relevant
is: AWhether the labour itself
produces Surplus Value; ie What is the relationship to the capitalist class?@
As Marx points out:
AThe same kind of labour
may be productive or unproductive.
For example Milton who wrote Paradise Lost for five pounds, was an unproductive
labourer. On the other hand the writer who turns out stuff for
his publisher in factory style is a productive
labourer.. A singer who sells her song for her own account is
an unproductive labourer. But the same
singer commissioned by an entrepreneur to sing in order to make money for
him is a productive labourer; for she
produces capital.@ (K.Marx;
of Surplus Value - Volume IV of Capital@
Part 1; Addenda=; Moscow; 1963;
Moreover Marx explicitly points out that even the non-productive
labourer plays such an ancillary role to the production of surplus value,
that such labour becomes a source of surplus value:
AWhile it does not create
surplus value, it enables (the capitalist) to appropriate surplus value
which in effect amounts to the same thing with respect to his capital.
It is therefore, a source of profit to him.@
( Marx K. ACapital- Volume
3"; Moscow; 1971; p.294).
Some revisionists like Nicos
Poulantzas, object that many workers
in State employment, are classified by Marxist-Leninists as
proletarian. But this can be clearly seen, to be a revisionist diversionary
objection, from Marx=s own writings
as cited above.
In conclusion therefore:
We will emphasize here, that the productive labourer, is any one who is
employed by the capitalists, to make a surplus value from. It is not relevant
what type of work is done by the labourer, whether it is manual or mental
This point is expanded upon below. Recent fashionable revisionists of Marxism,
like Nicos Poulantzas - suggest that
petty bourgeoisie= is
a class of intellectuals, or and technicians. This is false and underestimates
the objective strength of the proletariat, while magnifying the strength
of the subjective illusions of >mental=
based intellectuals and workers.
Bourgeois sociologists, and revisionist >Marxists=
like Nicos Poulantzas, make a false dichotomy between mental and manual
labour. They assert that those who are workers, are mainly if not wholly
manual workers. Allegations are made by bourgeois sociologists that when
machines transform the workers job into a >manager=
of machines and into a very skilled series of operations, that the worker
then is some-how no longer a >real
worker=. Instead it is alleged
that ANow the worker is a manager@.
ON MENTAL AND MANUAL LABOUR UNDER CAPITAL
But whether the work which is done as productive
labour (ie as creation of a surplus value) is mental or manual is irrelevant.
As Marx puts it: AIn order to
labour productively, it is no longer necessary for you to do manual work
yourself; enough, if you are an organ of the collective
labourer, and perform one of its subordinate functions@.
This is a consequence of the increasing complexity of production and the
nature of the wide collective type of production that is developed under
capitalism. Marx first explains that a potential for conflict between mental
and labour forms of specialisation, does exist as soon as production goes
beyond the stage of >appropriating
natural objects=. But Marx then
goes on to show that, this conflict is resolved, in the form of the type
of labour that he terms the >collective
Here the product of the labour >ceases
to be the direct product of the individual, and becomes a social product=.
Here it is no longer >necessary
to do manual work yourself.. If you are an organ of the collective labourer=:
AIn Chapter V... we stated,
"If we examine the whole labour-process, from the point of view of its
result, it is plain that both the instruments and the subject of labour
are means of production, and that the labour itself is productive
So far as the labour-process is purely individual, one and the same
labourer unites in himself all the functions, that later on become separated.
When an individual appropriates natural objects for his livelihood, no
one controls him but himself. Afterwards he is controlled by others. A
single man cannot operate upon Nature without calling his own muscles into
play under the control of his own brain. As in the natural body head and
hand wait upon each other, so the labour-process unites the labour of the
hand with that of the head. Later on they part company and even become
deadly foes. The product ceases to be the direct product of the individual,
and becomes a social product, produced in common by a collective
labourer, i.e., by a combination of workmen, each of whom takes
only a part, greater or less, in the manipulation of the subject of their
labour. As the co-operative character of the labour-process becomes more
and more marked, so, as a necessary consequence, does our notion of productive
labour, and of its agent the productive labourer, become extended. In order
to labour productively, it is no longer necessary for you to do manual
work yourself; enough, if you are an organ of the collective
labourer, and perform one of its subordinate functions..@
(K.Marx; 1867: Capital Volume I Chapter 16 As transcribed
for the Internet address: "Http://csf.colorado.edu/psn/marx/archive/1867-c1/back.gif".
Section entitled: >The Production
Of Absolute And Of Relative Surplus-value Chapter XVI Absolute And Relative
Surplus-value. Transcribed for the Internet by Allan Thurrott. (Emphasis
WHY CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION MUST INCREASE THE
SIZE OF THE PROLETARIAT; AND WHY HIGH WAGES
DO NOT NEGATE A WORKER=S CLASS
AS BEING A PROLETARIAN
Because capital is being constantly accumulated from
the surplus labour of the workers, and because this accumulation is put
into constant capital, so must the need for the proletariat expansion be
continuous at times of boom. To follow this we must understand Marx=s
designation of Constant ( ie Value of the means of Production ) and variable
capital (ie The sum of the wages), and the relationship between the two
as the organise composition of capital. (N.B. Emphases below added):
AConsider the influence
of the growth of capital on the lot of the labouring class. The most important
factor in this inquiry is the composition of capital
and the changes it undergoes in the course of the process of accumulation.
The composition of capital is to be understood in a two-fold sense. On
the side of value, it is determined by the proportion in which it is divided
into constant capital or value of the
means of production, and variable capital
or value of labour-power, the sum total of wages. On the side of material,
as it functions in the process of production, all capital is divided into
means of production and living labour-power. This latter composition is
determined by the relation between the mass of the means of production
employed, on the one hand, and the mass of labour necessary for their employment
on the other. I call the former the value-composition,
the latter the technical composition of capital.
Between the two there is a strict correlation. To express this, I call
the value-composition of capital, in so far as it is determined by its
technical composition and mirrors the changes of the latter, the organic
composition of capital. Wherever I refer to the composition
of capital, without further qualification, its organic composition is always
(K.Marx. 1867: Capital Volume 1; Chapter XXV : the General
Law of Capitalist Accumulation. Section 1.The Increased Demand for Labour-Power
that Accompanies Accumulation, the Composition of Capital Remaining the
Same. From the Internet-address: "http://csf.colorado.edu/psn/marx/Archive/1867-C1/back.gif";
A.Thurrott. Emphasis added.)
An increase in capital following profiteering or accumulation,
leads to an increase in demand for labour power, thus an increase in variable
capital. If the constant capital is unchanged, wages may rise. Especially
is the case at times of >opening
of new markets= etc:
AGrowth of capital involves
growth of its variable constituent or of the part invested in labour-power.
A part of the surplus-value turned into additional capital must always
be re-transformed into variable capital, or additional labour-fund. If
we suppose that, all other circumstances remaining the same, the composition
of capital also remains constant (ie, that a definite mass of means of
production constantly needs the same mass of labour-power to set it in
motion), then the demand for labour and the subsistence-fund of the labourers
clearly increase in the same proportion as the capital, and the more rapidly,
the more rapidly the capital increases. Since the capital produces yearly
a surplus-value, of which one part is yearly added to the original capital;
since this increment itself grows yearly along with the augmentation of
the capital already functioning; since lastly, under special stimulus to
enrichment, such as the opening of new markets, or of new spheres for the
outlay of capital in consequence of newly developed social wants, etc,
the scale of accumulation may be suddenly extended, merely by a change
in the division of the surplus-value or surplus-product into capital and
revenue, the requirements of accumulating capital may exceed the increase
of labour-power or of the number of labourers; the demand for labourers
may exceed the supply, and, therefore, wages may
rise. This must, indeed, ultimately be the case if the conditions
supposed above continue. For since in each year more labourers are employed
than in its predecessor, sooner or later a point must be reached, at which
the requirements of accumulation begin to surpass the customary supply
of labour, and, therefore, a rise of wages
takes place...The more or less favourable circumstances in which the wage-working
class supports and multiplies itself, in no way
alters the fundamental character of capitalist production.".
(K.Marx; 1867: Capital
Volume I: Internet address Ibid;. Section entitled: Chapter XXV : the General
Law of Capitalist Accumulation. Section 1The Increased Demand for Labour-Power.
Marx has above, anticipated the many later apologists
for capital, who gratefully saw a capitalist stabilisation in the 1950's
and 1960's. These apologists would claim that the >rising
wages= of the proletariat, coupled
with the >Welfare State=,
somehow had altered their class position as workers. Marx points out in
an anticipation of this, that the essence of capitalist
relations are un-changed, and that profit
or surplus value is still being made on their backs despite
Moreover, Maurice Dobbs
analysing economic data for several countries including Britain,
and the USA showed a great stability of wages as a proportion of national
income over decades :
AWhat is surprising is that
the available statistics of wages as a proportion of the national income
seem to show a quite remarkable stability.. Both over short periods of
time (Such as the duration of a single trade cycle) an over longer periods.@
(Dobbs M. AWages@;
Cambridge; 1960; p.19).
As Dobbs goes on to show, much work estimates that wages
as a proportion of the net home-produced national income were for Britain
39% in 1880, and were 39 % in 1913; rising to 42 % in 1925, and being no
more than 41 % for 1944; and coming to a maximum of 43.6% in 1953. Dobbs
cites similar figures, with a similar constancy over the same decades for
the USA. (Dobbs; Ibid; p. 19-21).
But accumulation has yet another effect on the proletarian.
There is an integral link, between capitalist accumulation and its need
and drive to produce yet more proletarians. Although this relationship
may be concealed and hidden, the expansion of accumulation, leads to an
ever larger size of the proletarian class :
AAs simple reproduction
constantly reproduces the capital-relation itself, i.e., the relation of
capitalists on the one hand, and wage-workers on the other, so reproduction
on a progressive scale, i.e., accumulation, reproduces the capital-relation
on a progressive scale, more capitalists or larger capitalists at this
pole, more wage-workers at that. The reproduction of a mass of labour-power,
which must incessantly re-incorporate itself with capital for that capital's
self-expansion; which cannot get free from capital, and whose enslavement
to capital is only concealed by the variety of individual capitalists to
whom it sells itself, this reproduction of labour-power forms, in fact,
an essential of the reproduction of capital itself.
Accumulation of capital is, therefore, increase of the proletariat.
(K.Marx. 1867: Capital Volume 1; Transcribed for the
Internet address; Ibid; Chapter XXV : the General Law of Capitalist Accumulation.
Section 1 The Increased Demand for Labour-Power. Emphasis added).
Therefore the drive to >take
over= jobs previously not >productive=
such as in medicine, or in writing etc; becomes even more intense. This
transforms these spheres of work into productive labour.
Under capitalism, the increasing intensity of work
leads to all spheres of toil and work, becoming sources of surplus value.
All these fields of toil are transformed into fields of >productive
PAUPERISATION AND THE >RESERVE
ARMY= OF CONSTANT UNEMPLOYMENT
Concomitant with the need of the capitalist class to
preserve its own profits and to limit the wages it pays, the capitalists
created a fear of unemployment. This pauperizes the mass of workers and
creates a reserve army of unemployed. This leads to the widespread capitalist
phenomenon of mass unemployment.
AThe course characteristic
of modern industry, viz., a decennial cycle (interrupted by smaller oscillations),
of periods of average activity, production at high pressure, crisis and
stagnation, depends on the constant formation, the greater or less absorption,
and the re-formation of the industrial reserve
army or surplus-population. In their turn, the varying phases
of the industrial cycle recruit the surplus-population, and become one
of the most energetic agents of its reproduction... The expansion by fits
and starts of the scale of production is the preliminary to its equally
sudden contraction; the latter again evokes the former, but the former
is impossible without disposable human material, without an increase, in
the number of labourers independently of the absolute growth of the population.
This increase is effected by the simple process that constantly "sets free"
a part of the labourers; by methods which lessen the number of labourers
employed in proportion to the increased production. The whole form of the
movement of modem industry depends, therefore, upon the constant transformation
of a part of the labouring population into unemployed or half-employed
hands... The whole process.. always .. take on the form of periodicity.
When this periodicity is once consolidated,.. That the production of a
relative surplus-population -- i.e, surplus with regard to the average
needs of the self-expansion of capital -- is a necessary condition of modern
( K.Marx, 1867: "Capital Volume 1" ; Internet Address
Ibid; Part VII The Accumulation Of Capital Chapter XXV The General Law
Of Capitalist Accumulation. Section 2. Relative Diminution Of The Variable
Part Of Capital Simultaneously With The Progress Of Accumulation And Of
The Concentration That Accompanies it.)
It should be apparent, that the unemployed are then,
also a section also of the proletariat. That they may be used as >scabs=
or strike breakers, does not change their objective position in class society.
It is sometime argued by representatives of the bourgeoisie that these
are workers whose poverty should justify their being pitted against the
regular workers. This is a blatant attempt at fostering class ruptures-
a blatant attempt to >Divide
Marx and Engels are unequivocal about the answer to
AOf all the classes that
stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is
the really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear
in the face of modern industry; the proletariat is its special and essential
product. The lower middle class, the small manufacturer the shop keeper,
the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save
from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They
are therefore not revolutionary. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they
try to roll back the wheels of history. If by chance they are revolutionary,
they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat,
they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert
their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.@
WHICH IS THE REVOLUTIONARY CLASS ?
WHY THE PETTY BOURGEOIS IS NOT REVOLUTIONARY
(Communist Manifesto, Ibid; p. 91).
AAll previous historical movements
were movements of minorities or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian
movement is the self-conscious independent movement of the immense majority
in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat , the lowest stratum
of our present society, cannot stir, cannot rise itself up.... Without
the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the
It is for this reason that all Marxist-Leninists recognise
the fundamental basis of their movement to be the workers. This does not
obviate the necessity to form class coalitions.
(Communist Manifesto, Ibid, p. 92).
THEREFORE, WHAT ARE THE CLASSES OF THE MODERN
or working class is composed then of working people who are employed directly
by capitalist or capitalist firms that is those, who sell their labour
power directly to capitalists or capitalist firms; In addition, the proletarians
involved in farming are known in some countries as landless
FROM THE ABOVE, WE MAY SAY THIS:
The working people is composed of
all people who live primarily by their own labour. In addition
to the working classes, it consists of :
1) The semi-proletariat, composed
of working people who obtain their livelihood partly by working as employees
of capitalist of capitalist firms and partly by working, with their labour
and that of members of their family, small means of production of which
they have tenure; semi-proletarians involved in farming are known in some
countries as poor peasants.
2) The petty-bourgeoisie, composed
of working people who work small means of production with their labour
and that of members of their family; petty bourgeois elements involved
in farming are known in some countries as middle
THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT: WHICH
CLASS HOLDS STATE POWER?
The dictatorship of the proletariat
is the state form necessary to build and maintain a socialist society:
AThe revolution will be
unable to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, to maintain its victory
and to push forward to the final victory of socialism unless, at a certain
stage in its development, it creates a special organ in the form of the
dictatorship of the proletariat as its principal mainstay."
(J.V.Stalin: >The Foundations
of Leninism@ in >Works=
Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 112).
In the dictatorship of the proletariat, political power
is held by the working class alone:
AThe class which took political
power into its hands did so knowing that it took power alone. That is a
part of the concept of Dictatorship of the proletariat.. The class of the
proletarians does not, and cannot share power with other classes.
Questions of Leninism=, in >Works=,
Vol. 8; Moscow; 1964; p. 27).
The establishment and maintenance of the dictatorship
of the proletariat requires an alliance between the proletariat and other
strata of the working people:
AThe power .. Of the class
of proletarians .. Can be firmly established and exercised to the full
only by means of a special form of alliance between the classes of proletarians
and the labouring masses of the petty bourgeois classes, primarily the
labouring masses of the petty bourgeois classes@.
(J.V.Stalin; Ibid; p. 27-28).
But the term >alliance=
does not mean a >sharing
of power=, For:
AThe classes of proletarians
.. Does not and cannot share power with other classes." (J.V.Stalin: Ibid;
It is an alliance in which the leading role is taken
by the political party of the proletariat, which does not share power with
ADoes this alliance with
the laboring masses of other non- proletarian, classes wholly contradict
the idea of the dictatorship of one class?
This special form of alliance consists in that the guiding forces of
this alliance is the proletariat. This special form of alliance consists
in that the leader of the state, the leader in the system of the dictatorship
of the proletariat is one party, the party of the proletariat, the Party
of the Communists, which does not and cannot share leadership with other
( J.V.Stalin; Ibid; p. 28.)
THE PETTY BOURGEOISIE AND ITS ROLE IN FASCISM
As we have noted Marx pointed out the inevitable disintegration
of the petty bourgeois, as it becomes ground between the two classes that
confront each other in modern society - the bourgeois and the proletariat.
But this half way house, leads the petty bourgeois to be especially susceptible
to the lure of fascism. The petty bourgeoisie is encouraged to think of
themselves as being >better=
than the workers, and are thus deluded into believing that they have different
aims and objectives. In objective truth, they are destined to become workers.
But subjectively they have been encouraged to foster illusions. This leads
them at critical times to be attracted to, and wooed by, fascism.
Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of a reactionary
ruling class, that is exercised through a fascist political party with
a mass base. The ideology of fascism is based on appeals to racist and
chauvinist prejudices, combined with demagogic >anti-capitalist=
propaganda. The class base of fascism is the monopoly capitalist class;
but it has, or tries to develop, a mass base in the petty bourgeois and
the lumpen proletariat, and extends this as far as is possible into the
working class and its organisations.
In a monopoly capitalist country the development
of the movement for socialist revolution is inevitable, as is a counter
offensive by monopoly capital aimed at the forcible suppression of the
movement for socialist revolution. Thus the attempt by monopoly capital
to impose some form of fascist dictatorship becomes inevitable at a certain
stage in the development of the movement for socialist revolution.
The attempt by monopoly capital to impose a fascist
dictatorship will be made at a time when the development of the movement
for socialist revolution, led by a Marxist-Leninist Party of the working
class , has reached the stage where it is making >parliamentary
democracy=, with the democratic
rights and liberties associated with this, an unsuitable form of state
power for monopoly capital, but before it has developed to the point where
it is capable of overthrowing the state power of monopoly capital in a
socialist revolution. The attempt by monopoly capital to impose a fascist
dictatorship will thus constitute a pre-emptive strike against the working
For this reason the movement for socialist revolution
is not capable on its own, of defeating the attempt of monopoly capital
to impose a fascist dictatorship. Therefore, even though the membership
of the anti-fascist united front should be directed primarily to the working
class, it cannot be limited to that. It cannot reject those declaring readiness
to participate in organized resistance against fascism, for example immigrant
and Jewish petty bourgeois and capitalist who are likely to be the victims
of fascist racial persecution along with workers.
The defeat of the attempt of monopoly capital to
impose a fascist dictatorship can be achieved only by the organisation
of a much broader united front than that formed by the movement for socialist
revolution at a particular stage of its development, than that is by the
organisation of the broadest possible anti-fascist united front embracing,
so far as is possible, all persons and organisations which, irrespective
of their current attitude to socialist revolution, or indeed any other
questions are prepared to participate actively against fascism in resistance.
Despite attempts to divert this resistance of fascism
(By Trotskyites and social democratic leaders, revisionists etc ) the main
enemy against which the struggle of the anti-fascist united front must
be directed is fascism itself. The role of the social democratic, revisionist,
and Trotskyite leaders in seeking to sabotage this struggle must be used
to expose them as objective agents of monopoly capital.
An accurate depiction of the
class forces in society is necessary for socialist revolution. Only a Marxist-Leninist
vanguard party in each country can perform this essential task, needed
for the construction of socialism.
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