Capitalism Contains The Seeds Of It’s Own Destruction – Class Struggle
Marx’s theory of ‘Historical Materialism’ (including the wider ideology known as ‘Marxism’) is not and was never intended to be the preserve of academics in their ivory towers or the ‘latte socialist socialites’ we have all encountered who use Marxist terminology as if it were a type of exclusive code. Primarily ‘Historical Materialism’ is meant to be understood by ordinary workers, who, Marx ably demonstrates have always been the real makers of history, not the ‘great men of history’ or by some obscure divine unseen hand. Certainly there were great inventors, especially during the Industrial Revolution but it was ordinary workers who sweated to make these ‘instruments of production’ work and improve upon them throughout history. Marx referred to them as the ‘moving forces of society.’
These moving forces within Capitalist society created a minority, the exploiters, and the majority, the exploited, in plain words ‘bosses’ and ‘workers.’ Marx defined all history as that of the progress of the various modes of production that he identified as:
- Primitive Communism (where communal co-operation was the only means by which early peoples could survive)
- Chattel slavery (the creation of slave states, for instance, ancient Egypt)
- Feudalism (where absolutist Monarchs; the Church hierarchy were the ‘ruling class’ with the vast majority of people being ‘serfs’ or at best artisans or merchants who paid taxes to Kings and nobles)
- Capitalism (the owners of the means of production ie Capitalists became the ruling class and the majority, the workers aka the Proletariat being the exploited ‘wage slaves’)
- Socialism (the Proletariat ie the working class gain control, where society, inventions, and industry are used, not for profit and exploitation like Capitalism but for the good of the vast majority ie the working class
Marx demonstrates, and history vindicates, that within each exploitative society/mode of production, the seeds of it’s own destruction are contained, for instance, the growing capitalist class during the French and American revolutions overthrew Feudalism. Of course, the ordinary serf or worker supplied the muscle power (like all wars) but gained very, very little except a semblance of ‘democracy.’ Although far from seamless, Capitalism came to be the dominant mode of production world wide but contradictions within this system , in other words, the seeds of it’s own overthrow were created, ie, the Proletariat aka the working class grew in size becoming the majority but still the most exploited class.
So if Capitalism’s downfall is historically inevitable, why bother with the Class Struggle?
Chiefly because as mentioned above, ‘history’ and historical change do not make itself! Naturally enough, despite advances by the working class like the right to join trades unions, the right to holidays, welfare provisions, universal suffrage, etc (which were all achieved through bitter class conflict) the Capitalist class will fight to the death to retain it’s primacy and privilege. As THE current ruling class it is not going to roll over or just ‘throw the towel in’ motivated by any sense of morality. To quote another Marxist, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who lived in the century following Herr Marx,
“Revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”
In other words, only a politicised and revolutionary working class represented by militant trade unions and of course a revolutionary party can overthrow the hegemony of the Capitalist class. We must be clear that all reformist elements like social-democrats and liberals can never achieve this change via liberal-democratic parliaments or ‘vote’ Socialism into power. Global lessons such as what happened in Chile, Grenada, Italy, etc, etc reinforce this for revolutionary socialists. Thomas ‘Ta’ Power, an Irish Marxist theorist and INLA guerilla, stated plainly and clearly:
(In years to come Lenin built on the scientific socialism of Marx and Engels, building a revolutionary party but that requires much more space than a blog article. Hopefully, this very much condensed article above may go some small way to de-mystify aspects of Marxism for ordinary people like myself. Of course any mistakes, omissions or philosophical errors are solely the author’s fault who is far from being a Marxist ‘scholar!’)