What is class struggle?

We explain to you what the class struggle is and what relationship it has with Marxist doctrine. Historical background. Class consciousness.

  1. What is class struggle?

The class struggle is a fundamental theoretical principle in the philosophical doctrine of Marxism and historical materialism.

It proposes the existence of conflicts in society as a result of a dispute or antagonism between the sectors that compose it ( social classes ), to the extent that each class tries to reorganize it politically and economically in its favor. From this constant struggle, inherent in all forms of human political organization, the political and social progress that makes up History would be detached .

According to the Marxist proposal , capitalist industrial society is the most recent of a succession of economic and social systems in which there has always been a tension between poor and rich , masters and slaves, feudal lords and servants, or in contemporary terms, bourgeoisie and proletariat.

These tensions have dynamited the systems inside, pointing more and more towards new more egalitarian structures , in a process that would culminate in classless society, of social and economic equality. Only then could the conflict be resolved.

The concept of the class struggle is popular among the leftist militancy and bases the conception of the revolutionary world, which aspires to detonate the insurgency of the oppressed classes in order to move from capitalism to communism, which would be its egalitarian and evolved form.

  1. Historical background of the class struggle

Class struggle - Nicolás Maquiavelo
The antecedents of the class struggle appear in the writings of Nicolás Maquiavelo.

Although it was formulated in (and attributed to) the work of Carlos Marx and Frederick Engels in the 19th century, from whose influence and popularity the doctrines of socialism , communism and historical materialism were derived , the antecedents of the class struggle can be traced much earlier, in the writings of Nicolás Maquiavelo (16th century) .

The Italian philosopher divided the tensions in all politically organized society between “the people” ruled and “the great” rulers. Subsequently, with the advent of the Modern Era and the triumph of bourgeois values ​​(such as private property and liberalism ), these tensions became between owners and workers. Jean Jacques Rousseau, François Quesnay, Edmund Burke and the father of capitalism, Adam Smith studied this process in their respective works.

The anarchists, it should be added, were those who assumed the concept more similarly to what Machiavelli put it, giving rise to a wide range of political and philosophical positions in time to the way in which the overthrow of the bourgeois state should occur: anarchocapitalism, the antistatism, anarconidualism, etc.

  1. Karl Marx

Carlos Marx (Karl Marx in German) was the one who best formulated this concept and popularized it in the contemporary world . Taking the line of thought that went from Machiavelli to Burke, he proposed that the tensions of the class struggle pushed the wheel of history, generating progress and social change. His words were: ” The (written) history of all existing societies so far is the history of class struggle .”

Thus, Marx formulates the ” Class struggle theory as the engine of history “. In his vision , this struggle was to appropriate the means of production , kidnapped by private property and the bourgeoisie in order to exploit the working class and maintain a privileged life status, at the expense of the impoverished majority effort.

The resolution envisaged by Marx was the gradual transformation of capitalism until he himself sowed the foundations of the Revolution, which would overthrow the bourgeois order and establish the “Dictatorship of the proletariat”, necessary for the advent of a classless society: communism.

  1. Class consciousness

The Marxist doctrine calls “class consciousness” to the ability of individuals and the masses to be aware of what social class they belong to , in order to act in accordance with the needs of their social status and not play the game of the ruling classes. Alienation is the opposite of class consciousness: the impossibility of perceiving the capitalist exploitation to which workers are subjected.

This terminology is widely used in the speeches of the revolutionary left and socialist ideologies, often as a mandate (class consciousness) or a pejorative term (alienation).

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