3 Eylül 2022 Cumartesi

The Dialectic of Class Struggle

Ezgi Tanya   

The Marxian dialectic is such that humanity will go through stages of thesis which represents the current order. The thesis is then met with an antithesis or the mechanisms by which change is brought about, this charge resulting in a synthesis or progress. This synthesis becomes the new thesis, and the cycle continues. The dialectic represents social change for Marx. This social change being brought about by class struggle. This class struggle is the cause of oppression. The oppressed are always the antithesis of the dialectic; thus, the end of their rulers and the end of their oppression.  The current stage of the mode of production of the dialectic sits at a thesis of a capitalist social system with the bourgeoisie as the ruling class thus the oppressors. Its antithesis then being the proletariat working class who are the oppressed. Thus, Karl Marx thinks the next synthesis will result in communism. If one adheres to the reasoning of the dialectic, it means that at one point the bourgeoisie were themselves the antithesis. The bourgeoisie overthrow their rulers just as the proletariat by their equivalent dialectical relationship is to now overthrow the bourgeoisie. Thus, for Marx, history has been the history of class struggle.

When the bourgeoisie themselves were the antithesis their thesis mode of production was the feudal system and within this system the nobility were the oppressors. According to Marx the factor that allowed the bourgeoisie to overthrow the nobility and foster a mode of production to better suit their needs. This mode was capitalism. Capitalism easily took over, once individuals gained the increasing ability to trade with the east Indian, Chinese and American markets as well as allowing them access to new raw materials for creating new commodities. These new markets created new need for commodities and new levels of manufacturing were needed to keep up with it. The increase of demand turned out to be too much for the feudal guild system which functioned on hereditary static placement of workers. Labor could no longer be divided by guild but instead divide within each workshop. The feudal guild system had monopolized each type of manufacturing, and this proved not flexible enough to survive the new market demand for commodity. The rise of Machine industry paved the way for the true bourgeoisie to arise. The bourgeoisie is defined by Marx as those who own the means of production. Machines that now served as the basis for industry and the basis of the workplace. Machinery are the means of production; it is the difference between manufacturing and industry. Modern industry functions by having the machines as the means one requires to produce things. These means of production are held as the private property by a select few called the bourgeoisie. All others must sell their labor to the owners of the means of production in order to satisfy the want for commodity under the capitalist system.  Moreover, machines allowed for things such as trains to be built and track was laid down to further connect the world market furthering demand. Each economic advancement of the Bourgeoisie was followed by a political or social advancement. The rise of the bourgeoisie leads to social change as the Bourgeoisie has suppresses the other classes of the feudal era. Moreover, it has done this consistently by breaking man’s ties to those who say to be their natural superiors, detached people from religion by putting focus on the material instead of the non-physical spiritual, it has even done away with our notions of sex and gender, reducing people instead to their labor power.  The only thing left when the bourgeoisie are done is self-interest tied to cash payment. It has made people foremost wage laborer’s and secondly their profession. Finally, the bourgeoisie system has turned family ties into economic relations. “The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part. The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors” and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”.” (Marx/Engels 15) thus, the synthesis that arises from the thesis of the feudal system and the antithesis of the bourgeoisie Is the capitalist society.

Thus, as the dialectic demands another antithesis the working class better known in Marxian philosophy as the proletariat. Because of the dialectic it is that the proletariat will be the end of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie created the proletariat out of their need to exploit labor. The ways in which the proletariat are oppressed and exploited is first through their alienation from their labor. In capitalist industrial production work is very specialized as to optimize time and maximize commodity. This specialization means that the worker does not get to produce a whole product from start to finish and thus, cannot associate their labor with the commodity they helped create. The second form of oppression comes from the bourgeoisie stealing profit from its proletariat by stealing some of their labor power. This can be done because Marx views the capacity to do work, labor power, differently from the physical act of working, labor. It is important to note that labor power is a commodity, it is measured and bought in time rather than weight. Just as one would buy 5lb of lemon one can buy five hours of an individual’s labor power. This is further represented by the fact that the bourgeoisie pays the worker in advance of the selling of the commodity.  This further adds to the workers alienation from his product. The worker only works to be able to survive and enjoy his real life outside of his work.  “is this 12 hours' weaving, spinning, boring, turning, building, shovelling, stone-breaking, regarded by him as a manifestation of life, as life? Quite the contrary. Life for him begins where this activity ceases,”. (Capital 337). The bourgeoisie further oppresses the proletariat, this can be seen in that two people can work ten hours on an assembly line and one of the people is more efficient than the other and they get payed the same, both are denied the equivalence of their labor. The only extent to which the bourgeoisie does care for its proletariat in in sustaining them enough to keep working. The only aim of the capitalist mode of production is to make more capital for the bourgeoisie and keep it monopolized, what Marx calls the M-C-M’ “We have its result without the intermediate stage, in the form M-M', “en style lapidaire” so to say, money that is worth more money, value that is greater than itself. M-C-M' is therefore in reality the general formula of capital as it appeathrs prima facie within the sphere of circulation.” (108 Capital).

The dialectic is not the only reasoning to support the eventual overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat but also that of the nature of the capitalist system itself. Capitalism periodically goes into crisis due to overproduction “these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity – the epidemic of over-production.” (Marx/Engels 17). The bourgeoisie minimize and monopolize the profit so there is a of massive influx of commodity but no one to buy them. Because the bourgeoisie exploit the wages of their workers to such an extent, they produce large amounts of commodity for low wages. But in the end the workers themselves do not have the money required to buy up this massive influx off commodities. Capitalism's own contradiction leads to its collapse. One cannot monopolize all the means and capital if the bourgeoisie want people to buy things to keep the system going. Finally, since for the first time in the dialectic the antithesis or the oppressed are the majority. Thus, this majority has the power to demand through uprisings, leading to the dialectic synthesis resulting in communism. It is as Marx ends the Communist Manifesto Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Thus, in conclusion, the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat does fit that of the dialectic. The bourgeoisie are the capitalist oppressors; they steal the proletariat labor value, cause the alienation of labor to maximize profits and reduce the relationships of the entire society into economic relationships in their striving to prefect the M-C-M’ making money that makes money. In turn the proletariat see the bourgeoisie those who hold the means of production. To use the means to create necessary commodities, the proletariat sells their labor power and allows themselves to be oppressed because the worker must first be willing to sell his labor power in competition for the capitalist system to function. Thus, is the downfall of capitalism when the proletariat refuse to work for the bourgeoisie. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Marx/Engels Selected Works, Vol. One, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969, pp. 98-137;
Marx, Karl. Capital. Place of publication not identified: Theclassics Us, 2013.

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