Present-day Class Distinctions (a real example)
Xxxzx at SPAMmarxists.org
Thu Sep 30 20:26:51 MDT 1999
In the day of our father Marx, how many capitalists owned their
factories? Let's say most of them did. How about today?
For instance, a CEO of Construction Company X. What does he own? How
about the shareholders, how about the Officers?
Is it more complicated today? But, of course, I see. "It is still
basically the same thing."
Let's have a look at how this ambigious statement squirms its way
into the facts and distorts the real, living, breathing class
distinctions of the present-day.
Construction Company X has 10,000 employees:
("x" for generic and because I do not want to name it)
10 Board of Directors
5 CEO and officers
50 area managers
200 local managers
2000 "worker bees" (i.e. staff of hr, sales, operations, etc.)
3000 skilled labourers
2000 unskilled labourers
1000 lumpens (i.e. temps, running dogs, etc)
>There are three classes only in capitalist society
By this label of petty-bourgeois, I take it that you mean
independent producers; meaning then that in any company, there are
only two classes, "the capitalists" and "the workers".
How do you make the distinction? The seperation I have made in the
above example for you is between those who are likely to own shares
in the company; i.e. own a part of the productive forces, and those
who are likely to own nothing. With the case of the "worker bees" and
the superintendents these are not definite border lines; as some
among both groups would and would not own shares.
By your definition, the seperation I've made is correct: "the
capitalists own means of production (directly or indirectly)". The
labourers, you say, only own their own labour power.
I have no disagreements with this, of course, the seperation above is
just fine in an abstract sense. But to use this as the rule, as the
standard of judgement for reality, and you BLINDLY roll over ALL the
distinctions, all the varying forms of exploitation and oppression,
all the DIFFERENT RELATIONS to the means of production; relations
that on the one hand, are determined by the access (i.e. quantity) of
ownership of the means of production, and on the other by the
function and role you serve in the productive forces (for example,
how many people are working for you, what section of manufacturing
you control, etc, etc)
In the case of Company X, 60% of all employees are made up of people
who have no one below them; but this too is incorrect for anyone who
has been on the factory floor in any recent decade: the labourers
always order around and exploit the temp labourers (lumpens). Which
means that 10% of the entire work force of Company X have no one
working under them.
Opposite to them, also among the proletariat, are the skilled
labourers, who may or may not have unskilled labourers but certainly
have running dogs under them. Moreover, however, they are in command
of the most sophisticated machinary, they know how to operate it and
run it; their productive value is three to six times that of the
How is it that among such basic differences, tremendous differences
for you who are on the factory floor, for you who are living it; how
is it that these differences still put them into the same class? If
so, what good at all is such a broad class distinction that muffles
every cry of diversity and expansion, that stamps out every new form
of oppression and exploitation, but instead PRETENDS that all these
workers share one in the same lot, that they all *should* be in
solidarity, they just haven't been properly taught, etc.
Explain this to me, not with your old phrases and dogmas, but the
concrete facts of the historical advancement or decline of such an
appartus, the shrinking or expanding of such a structure. Show me the
increasingly defined and devserified roles each individual particular
fills, or the general blunting and rolling over of such differences
"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
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