The Attitude of the Bourgeoisie Towards the Proletariat
A summary of Section 1, Bourgeois and Proletarians (Part 2) in Karl Marx and After examining the nature and history of the bourgeoisie, the Manifesto now. Bourgeoisie in Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto In The Communist as such when the mode of production no longer suits the relations of society there is a. For Marx, classes are defined and structured by the relations concerning . In addition to the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Marx discussed a.
This class is split internally as well, being geographically, industrially, and politically dispersed, so that it is difficult for it to act as a class. Marx expected that this class would disappear as capitalism developed, with members moving into the bourgeoisie or into the working class, depending on whether or not they were successful. Many in this class have done this, but at the same time, this class seems to keep recreating itself in different forms.
Marx considers the petite bourgeoisie to be politically conservative or reactionary, preferring to return to an older order. This class has been considered by some Marxists to have been the base of fascism in the s and s. At other times, when it is acting in opposition to the interests of large capital, it may have a more radical or reformist bent to it anti-monopoly. Note on the Middle Class. The issue of the middle class or classes appears to be a major issue within Marxian theory, one often addressed by later Marxists.
Many Marxists attempt to show that the middle class is declining, and polarization of society into two classes is a strong tendency within capitalism. Marx's view was that the successful members of the middle class would become members of the bourgeoisie, while the unsuccessful would be forced into the proletariat. In the last few years, many have argued that in North America, and perhaps on a world scale, there is an increasing gap between rich and poor and there is a declining middle.
While there have been tendencies in this direction, especially among the farmers and peasantry, there has been no clear long run trend toward decline of the middle class.
At the same time as there has been polarization of classes, there have been new middle groupings created. Some of these are small business people, shopkeepers, and small producers while others are professional and managerial personnel, and some intellectual personnel. Well paid working class members and independent trades people might consider themselves to be members of the middle class.
Some segments of this grouping have expanded in number in recent years. While it is not clear that these groups hold together and constitute a class in any Marxian sense of being combined in opposition to other classes, they do form a middle grouping.
Since Marx's prediction has not come true, sociologists and other writers have devoted much attention to explaining this middle grouping — what is its basis, what are the causes of its stability or growth, how it fits into the class structure, and what are the effects of its existence on proletariat and bourgeoisie.
Marx also mentions the "dangerous class" or the social scum. Among the members of this group are "ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds. This is the lumpenproletariat.
He does not consider this group to be of any importance in terms of potential for creating socialism, if anything they may be considered to have a conservative influence. Other writers and analysts have considered them to have some revolutionary potential. One of the main reasons for mentioning them is to emphasize how capitalism uses, misuses and discards people, not treating them as humans. Today's representative of this class of lumpenproletariat are the homeless and the underclass. Marx considered the peasantry to be disorganized, dispersed, and incapable of carrying out change.
Marx also expected that this class would tend to disappear, with most becoming displaced from the land and joining the proletariat. The more successful might become landowners or capitalist farmers.
With respect to family farmers as a group, much the same could be said. However, Marx was not really very familiar with these as a group, and had little to say about these.
The various analyses of the role of farmers in the Prairies constitute a more adequate view of what may be expected from this group. They could be considered to form a class when they act together as a group. In the early days of Prairie settlement, farms were of similar size, farmers had generally similar interests, and the farm population acted together to create the cooperative movement and the Wheat Board.
The Communist Manifesto - Bourgeoisie and Proletariat
More recently, Prairie farmers are often considered to be split into different groups or strata, dependent on type of farming, size of farm, and whether or not they employ labour. Farmers have not been able to act together as a class in political and economic actions in recent years.
Lobbying by some farm groups have been successful, but these do not usually represent farmers as a whole. Features of Marx's Analysis a. For Marx, classes cannot be defined by beginning observation and analysis from individuals, and building a definition of a social class as an aggregate of individuals with particular characteristics. The latter is a stratification approach that begins by examining the characteristics of individuals, and from this amassing a view of social class structure as a whole.
This stratification approach often combines income, education, and social prestige or status into an index of socioeconomic status, creating a gradation from upper class to lower class. The stratification approach is essentially a classification, and for Marx classes have meaning only as they are real groups in the social structure. Groups mean interaction among members, common consciousness, and similar types of behaviour that are connected in some way with group behaviour.
Categories such as upper class, middle class and lower class, where those in each category may be similar only in the view of the researcher are not fully Marxian in nature.
Classes are groups, and Marx discusses the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, not individual capitalists and individual workers. As individuals, these people may be considered members of a class, but class only acquires real meaning when it the class as a whole and the social relationships defining them that are considered. For example, "The bourgeoisie Here the bourgeoisie is historically created and is an actor in politics, economics and history.
In terms of individuals as members of classes, they are members of a class as they act as members of that class. For example, Marx notes that burghers or members of the bourgeoisie in early capitalist Europe: Giddens and Held, To the extent that individuals are considered in the social system, they are defined by their class. For Marxists, class structures exist as objective facts, and a researcher could examine class and membership of a class, but would have to understand the nature of the whole social and economic structure in order to do so.
To the extent that these members act in society, they act as representatives of their class, although Marx would leave some room for individual freedom of action. Classes are formed by the forces that define the mode of production, and classes are an aspect of the relations of production. That is, classes do not result from distribution of products income differences, lender and borrowersocial evaluation status honouror political or military power, but emerge right from relationship to the process of production.
Classes are an essential aspect of production, the division of labour and the labour process. Classes are constituted by the relationship of groupings of individuals to the ownership of private property in the means of production. This yields a model of class relations which is basically dichotomous [since some own and others do not, some work and others live off the fruits of those who labour]: In describing various societies, Marx lists a number of classes and antagonistic social relationship such as "freeman and slave, While Marx also mentions various ranks and orders of society, such as vassals and knights, the forms of struggle between classes are primarily viewed as occurring around control and use of property, the means of production, and production as a whole, and the manner in which these are used.
The basic struggle concerns who performs the labour, and who obtains the benefits from this labour. An elite is not necessarily a class for Marx. Examples of elites are military elites, priests or religious leaders, and political elites — these may may very powerful and oppressive, and may exercise formal rule at a certain time or place.
An elite could form a class, but a political or military elite is not necessarily a class — an elite may be based on recruitment rather than ownership and may not have much ultimate say in determining the direction of society. Or the elite may be based on religious, military, political or other structures. This would especially be the case in pre-capitalist or non-capitalist societies.
For Marx, and especially in capitalism, domination came from control of the economy or material factors, although it was not confined to this.
Thus, the dominant class was the class which was able to own, or at least control, the means of production or property which formed the basis for wealth. This class also had the capability of appropriating much of the social surplus created by workers or producers.
MARXISM AND CLASS CONFLICT
An elite may have such power, but might only be able to administer or manage, with real control of the means of production in the hands of owners. Class as Social Relationship — Conflict and Struggle. At several points, Marx notes how the class defines itself, or is a class only as it acts in opposition to other classes. Referring to the emergence of the burghers or bourgeoisie as a class in early capitalist Europe, Marx notes how The separate individuals form a class only insofar as they have to carry on a common battle against another class; otherwise they are on hostile terms with each other as competitors.
Society grants the holders of social positions power to exercise coercive control over others. And property ownership, the legitimate right to coercively exclude others from one's property, is such power. This control is a matter of authority, which Dahrendorf defines, according to Weber, as the probability that a command with specific content will be obeyed by certain people.
Authority is associated with a role or position and differs from power, which Dahrendorf claims is individual. Authority is a matter of formal legitimacy backed by sanctions.
It is a relation existing between people in imperatively coordinated groups, thus originating in social structure. Authority, however, is dichotomous; there is always an authoritative hierarchy on one side and those who are excluded on the other. Within any imperative group are those who are superordinate and those who are subordinate.Bourgeoisie vs Proletariat
There is an arrangement of social roles comprising expectations of domination or subjugation. Those who assume opposing roles have structurally generated contradictory interests, to preserve or to change the status quo. Incumbents of authoritative roles benefit from the status-quo, which grants them their power. Those toward whom this authoritative power is exercised, and who suffer from it, however, are naturally opposed to this state of affairs. Superordinates and subordinates thus form separate quasi-groups of shared latent interests.
On the surface, members of these groups and their behavior may vary considerably, but they form a pool from which conflict groups can recruit members. With leadership, ideology, and the political freedom and social conditions of organization being present, latent interests become manifested through political organizations and conflict.
How does Dahrendorf define social classes? They are latent or manifest conflict groups arising from the authority structure of imperative coordinated organizations. Class conflict then arises from and is related to this structure. The structural source of group conflict lies in authoritative domination and subjugation; the object of such conflict is the status quo; and the consequence is to change not necessarily through revolution social structure.
It should be stressed that Dahrendorf's theory is not limited to "capitalist" societies. Since authoritative roles are the differentia between classes, classes and class conflict also exist in communist or socialist societies.
Classes exist insofar as there are those who dominate by virtue of legitimate positions such as the Soviet factory manager, party chief, commune head, or army general and those who are habitually in subordinate positions the citizen, worker, peasant. The Conflict Helixwhich describes my view of class conflict as part of the social conflict process, reveals many similarities between the conflict helix and the dynamic perspectives of Marx and Dahrendorf.
This section makes these similarities and some of the differences explicit. The conflict helix begins analytically with a conception of the social space as a field of meanings, values, norms, statuses, and class, where status has the joint meaning of formal positions as in authoritative roles and the informal statuses of wealth, power, and prestige.
Marx and Dahrendorf also have beginning analytic conceptions of society. For Marx, it is people distributed on the bases of differentiated property ownership and sources of income; for Dahrendorf, it is differential power, norms, and roles. This subjective culture is purposely ignored by Dahrendorf in his desire to emphasize the conflict dynamics of society. The existence of some shared meanings and values is a prerequisite of class conflict, however, and a breakdown of crystallized meanings, values, and norms can itself generate the conditions for class conflict.
A culture in which slave labor is generally believed right, proper, and sanctioned by the gods, as in classical Greece, will have little associated class conflict. For Marx, meanings, values, and norms were themselves a product of property relations. Property relations define social space; the conditions of ownership of capital, land, or one's labor constitute dichotomous components distributing individuals in their social relations.
The concepts of culture, of subjective meanings, values, and norms were not part of Marx's intellectual world. Their closest counterpart, ideas, were a manifestation of class division.
In the helix, the social space is transformed into a structure of conflict insofar as differential locations in the space define opposing attitudes. For me, an attitude is a psychological disposition to want certain goals. Attitudes form a switchboard between needs and active interests; the connections are wired through acculturation, socialization, and personal learning, and experience. It is the reflection of our culture and society, of our social space.
These opposing attitudes are more than simply conflicting wishes or wants; instead we have a clash of opposing perspectives. The structure of conflict defines latent conflict groups, in the sense that people who have opposing attitudes are reservoirs for opposing interests groups. Now, I define class according to the relationship of people to authoritative hierarchies in groups.
There are two classes, those with authoritative roles and those without, and these classes define opposing attitudes i. Other structures of conflict are not associated with classes, but this is the main one manifested in societal or collective conflict and political struggle.
My view is close to Dahrendorf's. Classes are latent interest groups associated with the authoritative roles of imperatively coordinated organizations. However, Dahrendorf does not distinguish types of groups or dissociate authority and coercion, nor does he deal with the psychological implications of latent interests, feeling it sufficient to treat interests as a sociological category.
With this I disagree; for an understanding of the meaning and process of conflict requires a preliminary consideration of perception, expectations, dispositions, needs, and power.
To provide such a foundation was the intent of my Vol. The Dynamic Psychological Fieldand my treatment of field and power in Vol.
Aside from the different definitions of class, Dahrendorf and Marx have similar views of latent interests and the class situation. Marx saw classes in relation to property, and this relation defined different life situations and opposing latent interests. No manifest conflict behavior might occur. Indeed, members of opposing classes might interact as though no opposing interests existed. Thus similar class situations are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for manifest struggle, as is also true in the conflict helix.
For Dahrendorf and Marx, as in the conflict helix, awareness of opposition and the activation of interests transforms latent interests into a new situation, one of class consciousness. In the helix, interest is transformed into a conflict situation that is generated by propaganda, contact, communication, leadership, and so on. For Marx and Dahrendorf the transformation is similarly produced.
The important point is that in all three views, class consciousness is not automatic but is engendered by some event e. For Marx and Dahrendorf, however, the conflict situation my term implies manifest conflict.
Consciousness is equated with struggle. In the helix, consciousness is but a phase toward struggle. No manifest conflict may occur; for the other side may be too strong, the sanctions too severe, or the inertia of habitual interaction patterns too great.
In the helix a balance of powers between opposing class interests may be wholly on the psychological level. Moreover, Marx and Dahrendorf ignore the inception phase of class conflict--the need for a trigger, for will, for preparations, even if psychological. Thus both stress group organization as intrinsic to class conflict; but organization, which is part of the inception phase, is not clearly delimited from a situation of conflict and actual conflict.
In some societies preparations may last for years, while workers stock arms, organize cells, and spread the word. On the surface all is stable; underneath a transformation from class consciousness to overt conflict is underway.
Class struggle or conflict, the active opposition of classes, is of course the meat of class theories. The utilization and importance of political power in the struggle is also recognized.
Moreover, the three theories equally recognize the importance of the superimposition of class interests in contributing to the intensity of the struggle. Marx puts this in terms of the generalization of separate factory-specific class conflicts, and the increasing homogenization of classes; Dahrendorf refers to the superimposition of role incumbents, such that the same people are generally in the same authoritative relationship across organizations.
I treat superimposition in the same manner. Conflict leads to balance and a structure of expectations; and this is where Marx, Dahrendorf, and the conflict helix diverge. For Marx, class conflict in conjunction with correlated processes such as increasing worker poverty leads to the intensification of the dominance of one class, and eventually the disruption of the class society.
Revolution brings the proletariat to power, classes are eliminated, and the state that was necessary to protect the bourgeoisie, gradually disappears.
For Dahrendorf, class conflict is a lever of change. The direction of change is indeterminate, except to say that the alteration in social structure is a re-forming of authoritative roles. There is a note of continuous flux here, of balances and new balances. In the helix, the outcome of the struggle is explicit. It is a structure of expectations regulating social interaction, based on a balance among class interests, capabilities, and wills.
But the notion of this structure as the equilibrium of values and norms, as a consensual stability, is missing in Dahrendorf. Moreover, this phase as a momentary stasis, one that can grow out of concordance with the underlying balance and itself be disrupted in new overt class conflict, is a perspective unique to the helix.
At the philosophical level, the three theories share an emphasis on change, power, and conflict. Conflict is not aberrant, but a natural part of human interaction; and conflict--struggle--can both transform and create societies.
Both Marx and Dahrendorf, however, particularize their theories to class conflict, whereas in the helix, class conflict is but the most severe form of social conflict, and class opposition is only one form of opposition among attitudes and interests. All social conflicts are regarded as involving the same conflict process--the conflict helix. Some feel that status-oriented analyses provide a meaningful theory of class conflict that supersedes the Marxist view.
Marx on Social Class
For Marx, status, such as wealth or prestige, was usually but not necessarily the outcome of property ownership. Capitalists tended to be wealthy, powerful, and prestigious, and workers were quite the opposite.
Statuses contributed to defining the class situation but were not an essential characteristic of it. Status, moreover, is continuous. There are no clear defining breaks, except perhaps the arbitrary high-low status differentiation.
Class is dichotomous, however. It is defined relative to property for Marx, and to authority in Dahrendorf"s theory and my view; class and status are correlated, but this correlation does not define class. Class conflicts are generated by social relations based on class. Correlated status differences may contribute to this class conflict, or crosscutting status differences may bleed off class tension. Status is an intermediary variable. Status differences generate a structure of conflict, to be sure.
As I argued in Chapter 18 of Vol. The Conflict Helixpeople are oriented in social space by status distances that define opposing attitudes. But the structure of conflict that results from status imbalance and incongruence is largely individual.
Clear lines of demarcation are not formed, and conflict groups do not recruit members from balanced versus imbalanced statuses.
Rather, the conflict or interest groups that traverse society are formed out of classes, out of the antagonistic attitudes supporting and opposing the status quo. The confusion here is that those of high status generally support the status quo; those of low status oppose it.