Class conflicts

 We have seen how Marx borrowed Dialectics from Hegel and turned this Hegelian version upside down by interpreting it in materialist way. This Dialectical Materialism when applied to history puts human journey this way. Humans are evolved from animals and since prehistoric times human society has been undergoing development. Driving force of this social development is composed of two natural processes. The first element of this driving force is their capacity to invent new technology. Humans have always been in need to find solutions to their daily lives problems, who struggle to survive – and later struggle to get more comforts – against Nature. And they need to apply their mind to invent new tools – that is, science and technology – in order to win in that struggle. This first element is the lever of evolution, not only the evolution of human race but also of his society. Initially, in the prehistoric primitive human society this element was the only one working as the driving force of social evolution (it was termed by Marx the primitive Communism. He postulated that in that primitive society the means of production – that consisted of their primitive stone tools only – were owned by the entire society, that is, there were not two antagonistic economic classes). However on account of the inadequacy of these primitive tools in meeting the growing needs of human society and of the new inventions of making better tools – like fire, bow etc. – this primitive stage of society did not last for long.

  Now, the new inventions made it possible for the society to produce and accumulate some extra commodities – things useful to humans like some surplus amount of flesh of hunted animals – and with this started the social process wherein some people of the society came forward to take the advantage of the situation. They became the social leaders and in turn the owners of the means of production, which consisted then in bow etc.

  This was the start of a divided society. “Hitherto the history of society has been the history of class struggle”, said Marx. It was the class society divided into two. And, as there were those who owned the precious means of production, there arose the need for them of an instrument – State – to protect their privileges as a class as against the class of remaining people who were deprived of them. A social class conflict ensued henceforth in the human society and state as an instrument to serve class interest came into being.

  Thereafter, the history of the society has been the history of economic class-conflicts. As this process of the division of the society into classes originated sometime in the past dark ages, the human memory testifies that it is natural that two individuals cannot be equal in economic matters; it is proverbially said, ‘there are always rich and poor and it is not possible to bring an economic equality among people.’ Thence, we find the class-ridden society following a course of development along a well defined route.

  First came into being the slave society, which was dived into the slave-owners and the slaves. It was developed by the aforesaid twin forces of technology and class-conflicts further and was transformed into a new feudal society. In this feudal society we find a class of people who owned the land for agricultural purposes and a class of those tenants who were landless and worked for the landlords. Then, with the invention of the steam engine, a new form of industrial society came into being; therein is a class of people who own machines and other required means of production of commodities as against the class of those people who do not own these means but work for them who own them.

  With this we reach in the modern times. We have the industrial society and that society is divided into two antagonistic economic classes: the class of those people who own these means of production and called capitalists’ class and the class of those people who are deprived of them but work for those who own them. In this society industrial production, which is what the capitalism is all about, needs the labor of those who do not own the means of production. This society also needs that such working people are made free in their choice of work but are compelled by their economic circumstances to become ready to work for those who own the industries.

  The ideal structure of such a society is a democracy that is shaped by political freedom but run by money. It is a democracy that is outwardly free but inwardly controlled by money. It is a democracy that offers the freedom to millions of people who have nothing their own by way of property but their bare physical bodies to work with. And, it is a democracy that offers the freedom to those millions to choose to work for them who own nation’s factories, machines; lands etc. and thus (benevolently!) offer them employment. These millions in the capitalist democracy have the freedom to be exploited economically by those under whom they work or to rebel against the socio-economic system. If they choose the former option, it is well and good; but if they choose the later one, the State comes with full force of its organs in aid of those who own the nations’ means of production as a class. According to Marxist ideology it is the sum and substance of modern – otherwise called capitalist – democracy.

   Is there grain of truth in this picture of society painted by Marx? If we leave apart his Dialectical jargon, modern – that is, capitalist – democracy is patently unjust society. All means of production belong to all the people of a given society. They belong to God and his creation. What do we mean by the means of production? What is property? How the wealth is created? Where lays the secret of economic exploitation of the worker by the owner of the industry? Where does the spiritualism stand on this injustice? What Lord Jesus and Lord Buddha said on the worldly possessions and wealth? Is there rebellion by Marx only against the economic exploitation of the poor? Let us see. How we can change this society divided into rich and poor, or more correctly, into the classes of those who own the means of production and who are deprived of them, is the question. Will those who own and enjoy the wealth give up willingly their wealth in favor of the millions who do not own them? Where does the Gandhian principle of ‘Trusteeship’ stand in this respect? We shall examine them later on. First let us see how the Marxist theory grapples with this problem.

Robbing of people of their labor:

  How in capitalism people are robbed of their labor? The secret of this mechanism also lie in the private ownership of the means of production of commodities by the group of dominant persons. This simple phenomenon takes place in this manner. Human beings living in a society need things and articles to meet their natural requirements. They need food, clothes, houses, cars ad inifitum. The members of the society are hard pressed to produce these things of daily use.

  How do they produce them? There are several factors determining the nature, quality and style of producing these things. The first factor is the development-stage of the science and technology available to that society; the higher is the stage of this development, the better is the quality of the things produced by the society. Some societies can produce airplanes and cars because they are technologically highly developed, while some other can only produce bullock carts only because they do not have the sufficiently developed technology. The second factor involved in the process of producing things useful to humans is the availability of raw materials. For the production of things many kinds of raw materials are required; for example, for producing an airplane one needs, among other materials, aluminum, or for producing a bullock cart one needs, among other materials, iron nails. But all these raw materials are offered free of cost to the society and they are simply required to avail them with the help of technology that is available to them. Nature is very generous in offering its gifts to the people without any discrimination between poor and rich or weak and strong. The third factor that is required for the production of useful things is the human-labor; the natural raw materials and the technology that is required to turn them into useful things are useless unless the human-labor is applied to them for transforming from raw materials to finished readymade useful things, which is possible with the help of this technology. This is Marxist view of the human-labor embedded in commodity, which is sold in the market by capitalist and price recovered kept in his pocket as his profit.

  But in commodity it is not the labor of a worker alone that is embedded there. There are other elements also, which have their roles to play, but are not relevant for consideration in the context of the mechanism of the robbing off the people’s labor. These are – motive for human being to spend his labor; a congenial and peaceful environment provided by the government – the organized society – of the day, which makes it possible for the people to come forward in pursuit of their motive to produce things, apply their labor to the production process, use the technology for turning the raw materials into useful things.

  We proceed further in following Marxist theory. What is relevant here is the factor of human-labor, which is applied through technology to the raw materials for transforming them into useful things. In the capitalism, through a historical process of carrying forward of the advantages of the previous regime and many other personal qualities of individuals, the nation’s means of production, which consist in raw materials, machines produced in the society and money gathered by the sale of produced commodities, are owned by a group of individuals, which share a common economic interest and may be rightly regarded as a class. Now, in this society there are people – a large number of unemployed youths – who are ready and willing to work on the nation’s raw materials to turn them into useful things for the needy society; they also have the technological knowledge that is required to turn these raw things into finished commodities. But what they do not have is the single most important factor needed for production, that is, the means of production. Millions of people who are willing to work have no choice but to sell their labor to those who own those means of production. As in this society (capitalist society) the means of production are owned by a very few individuals and those who are without these means and willing to work are in a very large number, the economic principle of demand and supply plays its role in determining the price that an owner of the means of production is ready to pay to the labor of an individual. He purchases this worker’s labor at the cheapest rate possible. The real secret of the exploitation of a workman by a capitalist lies in the fact that he (capitalist) while employing the workman does not purchase what that workman produces (in his privately owned factory etc) but his working-hours or working-capacity. Once the workman is purchased for work – that is, employed – the capitalist ensures that he works to his maximum capacity and paid the least wages.

  This tendency on the part of capitalist results in uncontrolled and unlimited production of commodities, which has no reasonable link with the number of such commodities needed or required by the society where that capitalist lives. This over-production of commodities also gives birth to artificially created inflation, scarcity of commodities, price-rise etc. Moreover, this over-production of commodities results in the over-exploitation of the natural resources. By this unreasonable process of over-production of commodities the nature is imbalanced ecologically; global warming and accelerated depletion of resources of energy on earth are directly related to the capitalist mode of production. In this production-mechanism the payment what a workman gets has no relation with what he produces, simply because the workman is not the owner of the factory or means of production. Capitalist sells the product thus produced by labor at the price, which is many-fold more than what he pays for it to the worker concerned and which price is determined by market mechanism. In fact, what the capitalist is selling in the form of product is the labor of the concerned workman and the price what the capitalist gets for this product rightfully belongs to the workman concerned. However, almost the entire amount of the received price is kept by the capitalist as his profits and the workman is robbed of his labor by him by this mechanism.

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