Economic Infrastructure and Social Economic Superstructure:
- Though Marx did not consistently argue for crude economic determinism, he left no doubt that he considered the economy to be the foundation of the whole social cultural system, particularly the state and the legal system.
- Marx believed that the social production which men carry on, they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, these relations of production constitute the economic structure of society– the real foundation on which legal and political superstructure rises and to which corresponds definite forms of social consciousness.
- The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life.
- It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.
- Thereon, at a certain stage of their development, the material forces of production in the society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, then comes the period of social revolution.
- With the change of the economic foundation, the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed.
- While, considering such transformation the distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict.
Forces of Production:
- Forces of production is a term used in political economy that refers to the physical means and techniques of production to which labours add value and transform the capital into products for sale.
- Forces of production include instruments of production and raw materials, as well as the productive faculties of producing agents manifested by strength, skill, and knowledge.( physical means of production+ human aspect employed in production)
Relations of Production:
- A vague term, but often used by Marx in the context of the sum total of social relationships that people must enter into in order to survive, to produce, and to reproduce their means of life.
- Example- master-slave relationship, patrician- proletarian etc.
Means of Production:
- Means of production( also called capital goods) are physical non-human and non-financial inputs used in the production of economic value.
- These include raw materials, facilities, machinery and tools used in the production of goods and services.
Social and Technical Relations of Production:
- These includes the property, power, and controlled relations governing societies productive assets( often codified in law), cooperative work relations and forms of Association, relations between people and the objects of their work, and the relations between social classes.
Mode of Production:
- Marx believed that human history could be characterized by the dominant modes of production.
- A mode of production is specific combination of productive forces which include human labor power and means of production( example tools, productive machinery, commercial and industrial buildings, other infrastructure, technical knowledge, materials, plants, animals and exploitable land)
Theory of Class and Class Conflict:
- A Social Class in Marx’s terms is an aggregate of persons who perform the same function in the organization of production.
- It is determined not by occupation or income, but by the position individual occupies and the function he performs in the process of production.
- For example, two carpenters of whom one is the shop owner and the other is his paid worker, belong to two different classes even though their occupation is the same.
- But what actually constitutes a class.
- Class in Marxian terms has been identified with the five variables as put by Bendix and Lipset:
- Conflict over the distribution of economic rewards between the classes.
- Easy communication between the individuals in the same class positions so that the ideas and actions programs are readily disseminated.
- Growth of class consciousness in the sense that the members of the class have a feeling of solidarity and understanding of their historic role.
- The profound dissatisfaction of the lower class over its inability to control the economic structure.
- Establishment of a political organization resulting from the economic structure, the historical situation and the maturation of the class-consciousness.
- For instance, the small peasants form a vast mass and live in similar conditions but they are isolated from one another and are not conscious of their common interests and predicament, hence they do not constitute a class.
- Marx theorized that from the beginning of human existence in the community, the society has been divided into classes because of its absolute dependence on the division of Labor which precipitated dominance among the ruling class and subordination among the subjugated class.
- In the modern context, he said, though the workers were formally free to sell their labor while being existentially constrained to do so makes their conditions historically specific and functionally distinct from that of earlier exploited classes.
- Marx developed his theory of class conflict in his analysis and critique of the capitalist society.
- The main ingredients of the class conflict theory may be summarized as follows:
Development of the Proletariat:
- According to Marx the development of the proletariat lies in the unity among workers.
- The first attempts of the workers to associate among themselves always take place in the form of combinations(unions).
- Large scale industries concentrates in one place, people unknown to one another.
- Competition divides their interests, but the maintenance of wages, this common interest which they have against their boss, unites them in a common thought of resistance– combination.
- Thus, combination always has a double aim, that of stopping the competition among themselves, in order to bring out a general competition among themselves, in order to bring out a general competition with the capitalists.
Importance of Property:
- To Marx, the most distinguishing characteristic of any society is its form of property, and the crucial determinant of an individual’s behavior in his relation to the property.
- Classes are determined on the basis of the individual’s relation to the means of production.
- It is not a man’s occupation, but his position relative to the instruments of production that determines his class.
- The development of the class consciousness and conflict over the distribution of economic rewards fortified the class barriers.
Identification of economic and political power and authority:
- Although classes are founded on the forces and relations of production, they become socially significant only in the political sphere.
- Since the capitalist society is based on the concentration of the means of production and distribution in the hands of a few, political power becomes the means by which the ruling class perpetuates its domination and exploitation of the masses.
- The capitalists, who holds the monopoly of effective private property, take control of the political machinery and their interests coverage in the political and ideological spheres.
- Thus, political power, according to Marx, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing other.
- The Bourgeois use the state and all its institutions viz. Police, Courts and military as an instrument of economic exploitation and consolidation of self-interests.
Polarization of classes:
- Inherent in capitalist society is a tendency towards radical polarization of classes.
- The whole society breaks up more and more into two great hostile camps– the capitalist who owns the means of production and distribution, and the working classes who own nothing but their own labor.
- This is not to deny the existence of other classes; indeed Marx repeatedly refers to the small capitalists, the petite bourgeoisie and the lumpen proletariat.
- But on the maturation of class consciousness and at the height of the conflict, these classes will be deprived of their property and drawn into the ranks of the proletariat.
- Marx believed that only two classes, capitalists and the proletariat represent a possibility for a political regime and that on the day of the decisive conflict, every man will be forced to join either of the two contending classes.
The theory of surplus value:
- Capitalists accumulate profits through the exploitation of Labor.
- The value of any commodity is determined by the amount of Labor it takes to produce it.
- The labor time necessary for the worker to produce a value equal to the one he receives as his wage is less than the actual duration of his work.
- For instance, a worker produces in five hours a value equal to the one contained in his wage, and that he works 10 hours.
- Thus, he works half of his time for himself and the other half for the entrepreneur.
- This is called “surplus value” of work
Inauguration of the communist society:
- Socialization of effective private property will eliminate class and, thereby, the causes of social conflict.
- The state will eventually wither away as it becomes obsolete in a classless society in which nobody owns anything but everyone owns everything and each individual contributes according to his ability and receives according to his need.