Present-day Class Distinctions (a process)
Xxxzx at SPAMmarxists.org
Fri Oct 1 21:08:03 MDT 1999
>But you will never get to class by starting out with an example. Class,
>as Ellen Wood says, is a process, not a basket that you gather
Yes, I agree, it is a historical process. I asked you to explain the
simplification of classes, that you profess has happened, from the
nineteenth century to the present day. I did not describe the
nineteenth century work place. I take it for granted, but brought
them up to put them in mind, that you know better than I do how class
distinctions in these systems existed. What I know generally is that
in the mid-nineteenth century workers were largely filling one in the
same role, that any form of ownership alluded them, that in the
workplace they were one in the same exploited and stamped out.
Early this century industrial advancement did little more than
accentuate and increase the existing simplistic class differences.
Still slowly fading was the class of petty proprietiers and buisness
people, selling wares of all kinds. In the advanced capitailstic
nations today, industry has almost entirely stamped these people out,
as Marx correctly saw, where today their only real sustinence is
based on their being a museum piece, a sentiment of the past.
At the closing turn of this century, a cog was thrown into the
advancement of the productive forces that demanded the wholesale
usurping of the old existing structure and the replacement of it with
a new one: computers had been developed.
The typical petty-bourgeois response to computers is understanding
computers as servants to capital, and not (as they are in their
historicaly correct sense) as tools of capital.
Computers have enabled a precision on a scale unheard of. The world
population has increased by incredible leaps and bounds; the
productive forces have increased to incredibly extreme degress
because computers have given the bourgeois the ability to harness
such increases. No organisation of human beings could ever manage the
present-day productive forces without computers, they are a billion
times too enourmous for the task, and always growing further out of
the possibily of any such backward reach. Hence the development of
incredibly large buearucratic appartuses to mange the bourgeois
machine, hence our witness to the enourmous exapansion of the
Some time ago, Lenin wrote about the photograph; a very simplisitic
and archaic information storage device. He explained how it was being
used in modern industry, how the capitalist took photographs of the
workers movement to the machine to see the redundent movements he was
making. Through this, they could correct the worker to ensure that
the worker did only what was necessary to achieve maximum effeciency.
As the produtive forces have become more advanced, more exacting,
capable, and defined; so too do labour relationships with it. We can
see these distinctions as clear as day. Where before the productive
forces were organised in accordance to every labourer doing
essentially the same thing, they have developed to where labourers on
the same factory floor have a distinct relationships to the
productive forces, and do not necessarily at all share one in the
This began, in its most primitive form, with the great fordian
assembly line in the 1920s. With the advent of computers, it has
infiltrated into every area of the productive forces without
exception in the most advanced capitalistic nations, and in turn has
usurped their productive organisation, to the extent that we can say
of two labourers on the floor that one may be x number of levels the
others superior, one may have y more responsibilities, one may own z
amount of the company more, etc, etc, etc.
It is no different than the past in a basic and simplistic abstract
analysis. These new distinctions no longer mean we are not in
capitalism; we are very much still in it! But it has taken new form
with the advancement of the productive forces, it is organised
completely differently; only the most blind of people could attempt
to refute this fact.
Why is it so rare now among workers in these nations that thing
called "class consciousness", why was this consciousness abundent at
the turn of the century, why was it shown to be weaker in the
Depression of the 30s, and why was it confused and crooked in the
revolutions of the 60s?
The advanced capitalistic nations have many more classes than simply
two; capitalism has a much different form today. Only fear of the
invalidity of Marxism prevents people from seeing this, but it is
precisely the practice of Marxism that lays bare these truths.
The blunting of class society is inevitable and apparent to anyone
who can see these differences, that the distinctions will soon blunt
as the productive forces continue to advance.
Marx had only misplaced capitalism on the historic scale of class
society, something we have now had the experience to clearly see.
"In those days, after the defeat of the Paris Commune, history made
slow organisational and educational work the task of the day."
Vladimir Lenin, Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution
More information about the Marxism