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What is Class Struggle? By Comrade Farooq Baloch


Locution like Class Struggle, Class Crisis or Class War are forsooth used to enunciate the clash and stress that is created to achieve/protect economic and social interests between individuals of two or more social classes. This is the basis of radical changes and can originate many types of conflicts in the society; for instance struggle for a better wages of workers working on low wages, direct wars or proxy wars for resources, mortality due to poverty, hunger, disease, or insecure work conditions are also the type of class struggle. Meanwhile, fear of loss of employment and lower investments by investors also fall into class struggle. Applying or changing laws like labour laws, tax laws, consumer laws, tariff laws etc., by legal or illegal political lobbying and by bribery by government officials are also political dimensions of class struggle. Similarly, sanctions on trade unions, student union and other union are also political conflicts of class struggle.


According to the famous Anarchist “Mikhail Bakunin”, the working class, the peasantry and the poor, might have the ability to eliminate the ruling elite government and lead a social revolution in the creation of socialist society. This is just one possibility, that is, class struggle is not always a decisive factor in the society but according to Karl Marx, the class struggle in a class society is a decisive and inevitable role in the development of history.

It is an indispensable and consequential thing to get classical conflicts in the society that is rooted on classes and divisions, social status and wealth based classes. Frederick Engels’s “The Peasant War in Germany” describes the best analysis of class struggle. A capitalist system is the best example of “class struggle”, where it is primarily related to bourgeoisie and proletariat. This struggle is based on work/labor hours, value of wage, profit distribution, production cost, work/labour procedure, control over parliamentary or bureaucracy and economic disparity.

It’s not like that only socialists or communists use this term of “class struggle” but the richest capitalists and ruling elite have gorged understanding of this struggle. US president Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European governments. Among the former, public opinion is in the place of law, & restrains morals as powerfully as laws ever did anywhere. Among the latter, under pretence of governing they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves & sheep. I do not exaggerate. This is a true picture of Europe. Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you & I, & Congress & Assemblies, judges & governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”

Just like that Warren Buffet said to CNN that “It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.” In a interview in The New York Times, Buffett stated that “[t]here’s class warfare all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

The class struggle is touching its historical extremes in our present tenure. The realization of pictures of very brightly visible images is very upset. The example of America is the same. Liberalism and human rights renowned country itself is a scary state. Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, and political activist has criticized class war in the United States:

“Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized… The enormous benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries….”

The main example of class struggle in the present era is a public revolt called “Arab Spring”. Many predictions are described as the cause of this public uprising in Arab countries such as absolute dictatorship, human rights violations, government corruption, economic isolation, unemployment, extreme poverty and demographic structure, but in the last analysis, class struggle is the biggest cause of this rebellion. No doubt this rebellion is fruitless even after six years because there was no revolutionary was there in Arab world.

In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx adduce that a class is devised when its members attain class consciousness and solidarity. This mainly happens when the members of a class become apprised of their exploitation and the conflict with another class. A class will then realize their shared concerns and a common congruence. According to Marx, a class will then stand and move against those that are exploiting the lower classes. Marxist analysis of society identifies two main social groups:

The proletariat or workers includes people who collect their livelihood by selling their labor power and being paid a wage or salary for their labor time. They have no choice left but to work for bourgeoisie, since they typically have no independent way to survive.

The bourgeoisie or capitalists includes people who get their income not from labor as much as from the surplus value they appropriate from the workers who create wealth. The income of the capitalists, therefore, is based on their exploitation of the workers (proletariat).

Not all class struggle is fierce or surely radical, as with strikes and lockouts. Class rivalry may instead be expressed as low worker morale, minor sabotage and pilferage, and individual workers’ abuse of petty authority and hoarding of information. It may also be expressed on a bigger scale by aid and succour for socialist or populist parties. On the employers’ side, the use of union busting legal firms and the lobbying for anti-union laws are forms of class struggle. Even after a revolution, the two classes would struggle, but ultimately the struggle would abate and the classes disintegrate. As class boundaries broke down, the state paraphernalia would wilt away. According to Marx, the main task of any state paraphernalia is to endorse the power of the ruling class; but without any classes there would be no need for a state. That would lead to the classless, stateless communist society.

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