Capitalism and the Free Market: The Basis for Wealth and Politics.
As Adam Smith commented, wealth is the result of surplus labor. Thus, the nexus of our economic, political and thus social life is rooted in struggle. In short, according to Marx, the owning class (bourgeoisie) attempts to appropriate more profits from its capital investments, while the working class (proletariat) attempts to gain more wage concessions from the owners.
According to Karl Marx, the working class can be taught that their power stems mainly from their unity as a class. If the workers could stay united in their cause (getting better wages and/or working conditions), then the owners would have to acquiesce to their demands.
The owners, however, have a plan of their own. They want to keep as much of the wealth as possible. Thus, if the owners can avoid a strike (workers united) by weakening any attempts at unionizing BEFORE a union is organized (through court injunctions, right-to-work legislation) the union would never become powerful if it was never even formed in the first place.
* CLASS STRUGGLE.
“The history of all existing society is the history of class struggle”
– Karl Marx (commenting on monetary exploitation).
These struggles have been between the “haves” (bourgeoisie) and the “have-nots” (proletariat). This is the idea behind dialectical materialism. A thesis (a force) clashes with its antithesis (an opposite force) resulting in a synthesis (the result of the clash). The synthesis becomes a new thesis and the process repeats itself ad infini. In other words, class struggle is probably inevitable.
ORIGINAL: APRIL 24, 2002
The main arena the class struggle occurs in the modern world is through elections (politics), through union activity (which attempts to decrease the skewed distribution of the surplus value) and occurs throughout the US. There are many unions across the US. With that said, how is union activity affecting the current political activity in the current political climate?
Because the nexus of our social relationships are rooted in money transactions, many of them are measured as such in the cultural myths and are reflected in social status. (How much did your present cost? How big is your engagement ring?) We measure care and “love” with monetary benchmarks. Money is a big part of life and motivation.
Ba, humbug… Don’t be a Scrooge!
THE GRINCH IS THE NEW SCROOGE…
“The ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class.”
– Karl Marx
The rulers of the world have also invented and developed ways to have working class people think that “the system” is fair. It’s easier for the rulers to have workers peacefully take their place in the system than to do it forcibly. Force begets resistance.
False consciousness basically keeps workers from realizing their place in the class system. They are clueless about the social and political dynamics involved with this type of social life; hence the term “false.” It is often the working class types that resist any attempt at scaling back capitalism. Who is able to tell them that most of them will never “make it”? Controlling the minds of the workers (and owners) is also vital for perceived legitimacy. Again I reference the “fair” perception. (this issue will be revisited in a bit)
* FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS. (Marx)
A prime factor in the reason why workers don’t realize their plight is because they suffer from “false consciousness.” In sum, false consciousness includes ideas that keep the workers from realizing their true class standing (or the fact that they are producing wealth for someone else) or from realizing their emancipation from a life of wage slavery. Once workers figure out what is really going on, they attain CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS.
* CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS. (Marx)
Class consciousness is when someone realizes their place in the class system, and then come to realize the ramifications of the social interactions resulting from such an economic relationship. Attaining class consciousness usually entails three stages.
 false consciousness Ignorance is bliss.
 class consciousness What?!?!? (pissed off) Not always rational.
 political consciousness OK, I’m calm, let’s get something done.
Marx made a mistake when he assumed that all one had to do was “educate” workers about their true plight and that they would stage a violent overthrow of their masters, the owning class. He was mistaken in the sense that one may indeed attain class consciousness, but desire to remain passive toward the socioeconomic system.
 false consciousness Ignorance is bliss!
 class consciousness What?!?!? (pissed-off) Not always rational.
 resistance consciousness Vote, enact change thru legitimate means.
 revolutionary consciousness Willingness to resort to armed insurrection.
Not all people who attain class consciousness are willing to “change the system.”