MARXISM-LENINISM: A STUDY COURSE
: THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY
1) WHAT IS ECONOMICS?
The science of the ways in which
people satisfy their material needs (for food, clothing, shelter,
2) WHAT IS POLITICS?
The science of the ways in which
people organise themselves in society.
(NOTE: It is broader
than 'the science of government'. Primitive peoples, without state
or government, yet have political organisation).
3. WHAT IS PRODUCTION?
The transformation of raw materials
into things which people can use, i.e. into products.
(NOTE: The product of
one productive process, such as iron, may form the raw material
of another productive process, such as engineering).
4. WHAT ARE MEANS OF PRODUCTION?
The tools which people use to
carry on production -- from the stone axe to an automated computerised
5. WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPAL
SOCIAL SYSTEMS KNOWN TO HISTORY?
1. Primitive communism, as in
African tribal society;
6. WHAT IS EXPLOITATION?
2. Slavery, as in the Roman
3. Feudalism, as in mediaeval
4. Capitalism, as in contemporary
5. Socialism, as formerly existed
in the Soviet Union in the time of Lenin and Stalin.
The act of
living, partly or wholly, on the work of others.
7. WHAT IS A SOCIAL CLASS?
social group which has distinct
property relations to
the means of production. The members of a class
1. own means of production and
live by exploiting a class that does not; 2.
own means of production and live by means of their own work; or
3. own no means of production and live by selling their capacity
to work to members of a class that does.
8. WHAT ARE THE BASIC SOCIAL CLASSES
IN BRITAIN TODAY?
A class in category 1 is an exploiting
while a class in category
3 is an exploited class.
1. the capitalist class or bourgeoisie,
which owns means of production and lives by exploiting the
social class which does not;
WHICH OF THE SOCIAL SYSTEMS KNOWN TO HISTORY ARE BASED ON EXPLOITATION?
2. the middle class or petty
bourgeoisie, which owns small means of production and lives primarily
by its own work; and
3. the working class or proletariat,
which owns no means of production and lives by selling its capacity
to work to the capitalist class.
1. slavery (in which the slave
class is exploited by the slave-owning class);
WHAT IS THE BASIC CAUSE OF HISTORICAL CHANGE FROM ONE SOCIAL SYSTEM
2. feudalism (in which
the serf class is exploited by the aristocracy; and
3. capitalism (in which the
working class is exploited by the capitalist class).
The development of tools and techniques.
This process occurs within a particular social
system until the point is reached where these new tools and techniques
can no longer be developed -- or even used -- to the full within
that particular social system. The frustrations resulting from this
give rise to a political movement, the function of which is to change
this social system to a new one. Eventually this change is
brought about, allowing the new tools and techniques to be developed
further within the new social system.
stage of human society was one in which tools
and techniques were so primitive, and production in consequence so
low, that it was possible for someone to produce only barely sufficient
to keep himself and his dependents alive. There was, therefore,
no surplus which anyone could take.
Consequently, exploitation was impossible, means of production were
communally owned, and the social system was one of
However, within primitive communism tools and techniques continued
to be developed, until the point was reached where it was possible
for someone to produce more than was necessary to keep himself and
his dependents alive. Until this point prisoners-of-war had generally been
eaten; now, however, cannibalism came to be regarded by society as
immoral, because it was no longer economically sensible: by
turning a prisoner-of-war into a slave it was possible to obtain
from him, not one good meal, but a lifetime of meals from his slave
as a result of the development of tools and techniques, primitive
communism gave way to slavery.
Society then became divided into two social classes: a class of exploiting
slave-owners and a class of exploited slaves.
But within slavery tools and techniques continued to be developed until
the point was reached where the purely forced labour of the slave
(who worked only to avoid punishment) ceased to be capable of using and
developing these new tools and techniques adequately. In consequence,
the slave-owners themselves gradually transformed the basis of their
exploitation into a new form in which the exploited peasants were
given an interest in the use and development of the new tools and
techniques -- the slaves were transformed into serfs. In
the serfs, although legally tied to their
lord's estate, were permitted to work part-time on their own strips of
land. They had, however, to work also on their lord's estate and
to hand over to him a proportion of the produce from their own strips.
But within feudalism tools and techniques were further developed,
a new class of merchants and artisans appeared in the towns. The
serfs, in alliance with the rising merchant
in gaining their freedom from serfdom, in commuting their labour
service into a new system of money rents.
With the commutation of labour service, the lords found themselves
unable to obtain labour for their own private estates. In order to
obtain this (as well as for other secondary reasons) they proceeded
the peasants' own land, that is, to
drive them from it so that they were compelled to seek employment
as wage-labourers in order to live.
numbers of these dispossessed
peasants migrated to the towns to seek
employment with the merchants and artisans. The working class was
born. Within the framework of feudal society, a new economic system
-- began to develop.
the merchant capitalists found their efforts to develop the capitalist
system (on which their economic advancement depended) frustrated
by the opposition of the ruling landed aristocracy. This frustration
gave rise to a political movement to change the social system. Eventually
the political power of the aristocracy was overthrown in a bourgeois
revolution, and the capitalist class became the ruling
the framework of capitalist
society, tools and techniques were
developed at an unprecedented rate. In the 20th century the point
was reached where the full use and development of these new tools
and techniques was being held back by the continued existence of
a social system which had outlived its usefulness to the mass of
the people. This became the basis of a crisis within the capitalist
system, and it brought into existence a movement to change (again)
the social system to a new one: the socialist movement.
During the 20th century the working class over a quarter of the world
succeeded in abolishing the capitalist system and in laying the foundations
of a socialist
system. However, for reasons which
will be analysed later in this course, a temporary reversion to capitalism
The establishment of a socialist
society in Britain, as part of a world revolutionary process, is
the historic task which faces the British working people.
11. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM
That which helps forward
the development of society.
12, WHAT IS MEANT BY THE
That which tends to hold back or turn back, the development of society.
13. WHAT IS THE STATE?
of force by
which one social class rules over the rest of the people.
communism, a classless society, there was no state machinery. The
state came into existence with the establishment of a class-divided
society, since the slave-owning minority found it
necessary to hold down the exploited slave majority by
society, the state was the machinery of rule of the slave-owning
class. In feudal society, the state was the machinery of rule of
the landed aristorcacy. In capitalist society, the state is the machinery
of rule of the capitalist class.
As we shall
see, the working class (although it is not and will not be an exploiting
class) also needs its own machinery of force, its own state, a socialist
state, in order to maintain socialist society and prevent its overthrow
by the capitalist class which has lost its wealth and power. Thus,
in a socialist society the state is the machinery of rule of the
14. WHAT IS A REVOLUTION?
The forcible replacement of the rule of one class by the rule of
a more progressive class.
15. WHICH OF THE SOCIAL SYSTEMS
KNOWN TO HISTORY WERE ESTABLISHED BY MEANS OF A REVOLUTION?
The capitalist system, established as a result
of the revolutionary overthrow of the political power of the feudal
aristocracy in a bourgeois revolution.
16. WHAT IS A COUNTER-REVOLUTION?
The socialist system, establshed as a result
of the revolutionary overthrow of the political power of the capitalist
class in a socialist or proletarian revolution.
The forcible overthrow of the rule of one class by that of a more
17. WHAT SOCIAL CLASS WAS PLACED
IN POWER BY:
1. THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION OF
THE 17TH CENTURY?
1) On Historical Materialism
The English capitalist class.
2.THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF THE
The French capitalist class.
3. THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF
The Russian capitalist class.
4. THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF
The Russian working class.
READING SUGGESTIONS FROM ALLIANCE:
This course section has provided
a basic vocabulary; and some essentials of the theory of history known
also has provided some historical examples of key revolutionary periods.
It has also given the outline of what forms classes.
i) Karl Marx & Frederick
Engels: "Communist Manifesto": especially for this part see -sections I
"Bourgeois & Proletarians" "pp482-496 and III "Socialist & Communsit
LIterature"; pages 506-517; Collected Works; Volume 6; Moscow 1976; OR:
ii) Engels: "The Part Played
by Labour in the Transition from ape to man; pp452-465; volume 25; Moscow
iii) Engels: "The Origin of the
Family Private Property and the State; Sections from I prehistory; to II
the family; pages 134-190;Volume 26: Moscow1990. OR
iii) Lenin "Karl Marx- A Brief
biographical Sketch With an exposition of Marxism"; section "The materialist
Conception of history"; p. 23-25 Selected Works Volume 1; Moscow 1977;
or in the Foreign Languages Publishing House, Volume 21, pp 55-57; Moscow.
iv) "A Short History of the Communist
Party Soviet Union (Bolshevik)": Moscow 1939; Chapter 4 section 2:"Dialectical
and Historical Materialism"; pp105-132. OR
This is essentially the same work
to be also found as: Stalin J.V. "Dialectical and historical Materialism"
at the web site:
v) Maurice Cornforth: "Historical
Materialism"; International Publishers New York 1977; or Lawrence &
Wishart London 1977;
vi) George Thomson ;"The First
Philosphers-Studies in Anceint Greek Society"; Lawrence & Wishart London
2) Some Histories Written
From the People’s Viewpoint:
i) Short History of the Communist
Party of Soviet Union (Bolsheviks); Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing
i) A.L.Morton: "A People’s History
of England"; London 1971; Lawrence & Wishart & Seven Seas Publishers
ii) David W.Petegorsky "Left
Wing Democracy in the English Civil War"; Left Book Club edition; London
1940; (or almost anything on this period of English history by Christopher
iii) Marx and Engels Anthology
of various writings: "Articles on Britain"; Moscow; 1971; Progress Publishers;
iv) Lenin Anthology of various
writings: "Articles on Britain"; Moscow; 1971; Progress Publishers.
North America –Canada and
i) Marx and Engels:, an anthology
of various writings "On The United States"; Progress publishers Moscow;
ii) Lenin: an anthology of various
writings: "On the United States"; Moscow; 1967;
Both of these (ie (i) and (ii)
Anthologies have also been heavily referenced at the following article
web sites by Alliance:
especially for Marx & Engels;
especially for Lenin See;
iii)Gustavus Myers: "A History
of Canadian Wealth Volume 1"; James Lorimer &Company; Toronto; 1975;
iv) Leo Huberman: "The Drama
of America"; New York 1960; Monthly Press;
v) Howard Zinn: "A People’s
History of the United States"; New York; 1980; Harper & Row;
i) Patrick Kessel: "Le Proletariat
Francais avant Marx"; Libriare Plon; Paris 1968;
ii) "The Defense of Gracchus
Babeuf"; Shocken books; New York 1967;
iii) Daniel Guerin "Class Struggle
in the First French Republic"; London 1977; Pluto Press.
i) Frederick Engels "The Peasant
War in Germany"; "Collecetd Works"; Volume 10; 397-478; Moscow; 1978. OR
ii) Evelyn Anderson "Hammer or
Anvil"; Left Book Club; London; 1945.
3) On Classes Today
See three organisations' views
on the question of whether today's class structure has changed especially
with advent of technology: http://ml-review.ca/aml/AllianceIssues/All24-CLASS97.htm