February 13, 2011
By Lil Joe
By way of Introduction to American workers concerning the empirical existence of classes and for these worker's to understand the concept of middle class as it is understood in Europe, the 'bourgeoisie', as distinct from both the landed aristocracy and the proletariat - working classes and toiling masses: to understand this language as it is used by Marx's analysis of "Civil War in France" as conscious class warfare, class struggle.
This is needed because, as we shall see in this FYI, the transmitters of "American culture" have deliberately, via the illusion promoted as 'American exceptionalism', cut the US from the rest of the world and from one generation to the next deliberately has confused the concept of class, which in empirical actuality are empirical universals that are varifiable economic categories, to mushy phychologica attitudes and issues of so-called 'status', lifestyle, neighborhood in which a person lives, or pseudo-economic 'categories' such as 'Joe Sex Pack' vs the Wall Street 'Fat Cats'.
More often than not, the Democrats and their media representatives call the working class a 'middle class'. This is also arbitrary and misleading. In the 'middle' of what? Middle income? Well, in the United States, there are capitalist billionaires, and there are top athletes, entertainers and propagandists who get paid millions of dollars annually. The executives of capital get tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars and stock options as payment and bonuses, every year. By this, the upper most 'category' would be a median of hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions at the top, and zero income of homeless vagabonds at the bottom. Thus, these being the parameters of top and bottom and high and low, the American so-called 'middle income' individuals would not be at $250,000 a year, as the Democrats assert, but middle income workers to be placed 'mid-way' between billions at the top and zero at the bottom would have to be making a median income of at least $500,000,000 a year, if not more. This is obviously not the case, but would in fact be an absurd assertion.
Leon Trotsky defined a revolution as the transfer of political power from one class to another:
Leon Trotsky: The History of the Russian Revolution Volume One: The Overthrow of Tzarism Chapter 11 Dual Power
The political mechanism of revolution consists of the transfer of power from one class to another. The forcible overturn is usually accomplished in a brief time. But no historic class lifts itself from a subject position to a position of rulership suddenly in one night, even though a night of revolution. It must already on the eve of the revolution have assumed a very independent attitude towards the official ruling class; moreover, it must have focused upon itself the hopes of intermediate classes and layers, dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs, but not capable of playing an independent rôle. (See Leon Trotsky's The History of the Russian Revolution Volume I @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/ch11.htm )
In order to understand what Trotsky, and below what Marx are referring to regarding revolutions as class warfare it is required of me to provide an FYI presentation of objective universal basic definitions, of what is and what isn't the determination of what constitue classes. Not only what constitute class formations as assumed and discussed by Marx in the following post from his Speech on the Civil War in France, the analysis of the Paris Commune, but as universally accepted in the universal sciences in Europe of economics, sociology and political theory, round the world, the American illusions of the proletariat in the United States as 'middle class', notwithstanding.
Marx wrote of the Social Sciences as empirical science as determined by empirical method:
"Empirical observation must in each separate instance bring out empirically, and without any mystification and speculation, the connection of the social and political structure with production. The social structure and the State are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals, but of individuals, not as they may appear in their own or other people's imagination, but as they really are; i.e. as they operate, produce materially, and hence as they work under definite material limits, presuppositions and conditions independent of their will." (See Karl Marx and Frederick Engel's "The [Critique of] German Ideology" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm#b3)
What Marx is discussing in "Civil War in France" is class warfare as it is understood in Europe, not just by social scientists, including political science as well as economic science but also by the bourgeois and proletarian scientists.
However, objectivity within the empirical social sciences is not the case in America. There the bourgeois intelligentsia, and also the working classes are burdened by and inhering in cultural illusions and political grandeur delusions of 'American exceptionalism' : the internalised belief passed from parents to offspring and through religious and social institutions from generation to generation that there are no empirically restrictive technoeconomic class relations in the United States: there are no social classes corresponding to nor based in technoeconomic relations of production corresponding to specific historical modes of appropriation.
By 'relations of production' is meant the power-dependence relation between the social groups in possession of the means of production and distribution and those who lack productive forces and are economically compelled to work for those who do. This is the economic basis for classes.
These relations of production differ from mode of production to mode of production, based in the corresponding mode of appropriation of labour power by the possessing classes.
Karl Marx. Capital Volume One Chapter Ten: The Working-Day Section 2 The Greed for Surplus-Labour.
Manufacture and Boyard:
Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the labourer, free or not free, must add to the working-time necessary for his own maintenance an extra working-time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of production, whether this proprietor be the Athenian caloÏ‚ cagaqoÏ‚ [well-to-do man], Etruscan theocrat, civis Romanus [Roman citizen], Norman baron, American slave-owner, Wallachian Boyard, modern landlord or capitalist. (See Karl Marx: Capital Vol I @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch10.htm#S2)
The mode of appropriation appropriate to the slave owning modes of production that are based on agriculture and mining natural resource by the collective labour of slave gangs, for instance, the appropriating classes that are the possessing classes own together with their plantations and the State's natural resources, and the instruments of labour, also their labour forces directly, and thereby own the products of the labour of their slaves, property engendering property. (See Frederick Engels: "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/ch09.htm)
Whereas in the various and sundry forms of feudal modes of production the appropriating classes that were the possessing classes own the land, but not the people that work the land. Rather, the labour is appropriated by the landowners of the manors, fiefdoms, dukedoms from the productive classes: peasants, serfs, and so on. It is appropriated by the possessing classes by having a monopoly of ownership of the land in modes of production based on agricultural labour, thus compelling the propertyless classes in 'exchange' for having access to the land to supply the landed possessing classes with rent, taxes, tribute &/0r corvee labor.
Thus is constituted the feudal modes of production and its corresponding methods of appropriation of the products of the labour of the producing classes in contrast to the modes of production and appropriation characteristic of the economy based on slave labour modes of production. The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, is distinct from both feudalism and slavery.
The capitalist mode of appropriation is the buying and selling of labour power by the propertyless proletariat to the property owning bourgeoisie, the capitalist classes. Bourgeoisie originally meant middle classes, in England called burghers of the towns as they stood between the landed aristocracy and the peasants in the feudal period.
Bourgeois and Proletarians
From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.
The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.
The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.
Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.
Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.
We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange. (See Marx and Engels "The Communist Manifesto" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/ch09.htm)
Letter from Marx to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov in Paris
Protected by the corporative and regulatory system, capital had accumulated, maritime trade had expanded, colonies had been founded—and man would have lost the very fruits of all this had he wished to preserve the forms under whose protection those fruits had ripened. And, indeed, two thunderclaps occurred, the revolutions of 1640 and of 1688. In England, all the earlier economic forms, the social relations corresponding to them, and the political system which was the official expression of the old civil society, were destroyed. Thus, the economic forms in which man produces, consumes and exchanges are transitory and historical. With the acquisition of new productive faculties man changes his mode of production and with the mode of production he changes all the economic relations which were but the necessary relations of that particular mode of production. (See Marx Letter to Annenkov @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1846/letters/46_12_28.htm )
The Poverty of Philosophy
Chapter Two: The Metaphysics of Political Economy: The Method
Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist. (See Marx's "The Poverty of Philosophy @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1846/letters/46_12_28.htm )
Karl Marx. Capital Volume One Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist
The money capital formed by means of usury and commerce was prevented from turning into industrial capital, in the country by the feudal constitution, in the towns by the guild organisation. These fetters vanished with the dissolution of feudal society, with the expropriation and partial eviction of the country population. The new manufactures were established at sea-ports, or at inland points beyond the control of the old municipalities and their guilds. Hence in England an embittered struggle of the corporate towns against these new industrial nurseries. (See Marx Capital Vol I op. cit. @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm)
The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property, the labour power of the productive classes is the private possession of propertyless individuals, who are thereby, because they lack their own means of production, through economic compulsion forced to sell their labour power to the owners of the productive forces, now the means of social production. The buying and selling of labour power is at the same time the selling and buying of the labourers right to ownership of the products of their labour to the owners of the productive forces.
Anti-Dühring by Frederick Engels 1877 Part III: Socialism II. Theoretical
Hitherto, the owner of the instruments of labour had himself appropriated the product, because, as a rule, it was his own product and the assistance of others was the exception. Now the owner of the instruments of labour always appropriated to himself the product, although it was no longer his product but exclusively the product of the labour of others. Thus, the products now produced socially were not appropriated by those who had actually set in motion the means of production and actually produced the commodities, but by the capitalists. (See Frederick Engels' "Anti-Duhring" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch24.htm)
The American working class is not a 'middle class' bourgeoisie or burgher but a propertyless proletariat, the same as and part and parcel of the European, indeed of the global proletariat.
Articles by Engels in the Labour Standard 1881 Social Classes — Necessary and Superfluous
The question has often been asked, in what degree are the different classes of society useful or even necessary? And the answer was naturally a different one for every different epoch of history considered. There was undoubtedly a time when a territorial aristocracy was an unavoidable and necessary element of society. That, however, is very, very long ago. Then there was a time when a capitalist middle class, a bourgeoisie as the French call it, arose with equally unavoidable necessity, struggled against the territorial aristocracy, broke its political power, and in its turn became economically and politically predominant. But, since classes arose, there never was a time when society could do without a working class. The name, the social status of that class has changed; the serf took the place of the slave, to be in his turn relieved by the free working man -- free from servitude but also free from any earthly possessions save his own labour force. But it is plain: whatever changes took place in the upper, non-producing ranks of society, society could not live without a class of producers. This class, then, is necessary under all circumstances -- though the time must come, when it will no longer be a class, when it will comprise all society. (See Frederick Engels Articles to the Labour Standard @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881/08/06.htm )
Engels on the capitalist mode of appropriation - the buying and selling of labour power by the capitalist from the proletariat, the economy based on wage labour and capital accumulation by its exploitation: "Wage-labour, aforetime the exception and accessory, now became the rule and basis of all production; aforetime complementary, it now became the sole remaining function of the worker. The wage-worker for a time became a wage-worker for life." (See Engels' Anti-During ibid.)
In the deceptive trappings of bourgeois culture in the United States, where it is said by spouting of flowery rhetoric about this capitalist mode of production of commodities by appropriated labour power, capitalist commodity production by wageworkers, that it isn't a capitalist mode of culture but 'the land of the free, and the home of the brave'.
There is in the United States by the lickspittles and lackeys of the appropriating classes in possession of the productive forces, the means of communication as well as of production and distribution daily repeated by Big Brother politicians and propagandists references in the speeches of politicians and the rhetoric of print and media propagandists that America is 'a democracy', and by this is meant anti-proletarian commonism that it is the "bastion of 'freedom' against "communist dictatorship". There is of course no such thing as 'communist dictatorship', meaning a single individual: Orwell's novel, "Nineteen Eighty Four" was a work of fiction, indeed of science fiction.
To lift this curtain of deception it is necessary that the American working class understand and reject American exceptionalism, which is not an empirical actuality. It is illusory propaganda promoted in the culture by ideological and political agents of the appropriating classes that are in possession of the means of production, distribution and communication.
The American wage-worker is part and parcel of the propertyless proletariat. By property in the economic sense isn't meant whether or not a worker owns a house &/or automobile, where he eats and sleeps and thereby able to get up and get in his car to drive himself to the labour market to sell his labour power to the capitalist who purchase it, and who thereupon purchases from the worker the right to put the worker to work.
There is no 'freedom' in the United States, other than for the capitalist classes as ruling classes that as appropriating classes alone have the freedom to hire and fire workers - to appropriate or not appropriate the labour power offered for sale by proletarians.
If hired, on the job for hours a day, the workers are subjected to the form of economic dictatorship of the capitalists, for in the selling of their labour power to the capitalists the proletarians sell not only the rights to ownership of the products of their labour, but sell their very freedom as individuals, they sell their right to do as they choose for the hours in which they are subjected to the orders of the representatives of capital.
"Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is. " (Marx-Engels: The Communist Manifesto" op. cit.)
Economic freedom is an ideological illusion culturally posited in the character of American workers, because it has no empirical existence in the market economy that dominate his activities and compel him to sell his labour power, thus alienating from himself by the selling of his labour power the very creative power of his person.
Proletarians by selling their labour power to the capitalists place themselves at the disposal of capitalists to be used as a tool, a thing. He and she sell away their human dignity by placing themselves under the capitalist relations of production, dominate-subordinate relations of production on the job, in the context of which his or her very dignity and humanity is eliminated, becoming nothing but a thing - variable capital.
Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Karl Marx Estranged Labour
We proceed from an actual economic fact. The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and this at the same rate at which it produces commodities in general.
This fact expresses merely that the object which labor produces – labor's product – confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor which has been embodied in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor. Labor's realization is its objectification. Under these economic conditions this realization of labor appears as loss of realization for the workers; objectification as loss of the object and bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation. (See Karl Marx's "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm)
Thus, the alienation of labour, the selling of it by proletarians to capitalists, is by this mode of appropriation of labour power by capitalists the basis for the subsequent exploitation of wage labour by capital in the production of value/ transferred by work from the workers objectified in the commodity produced by it, thus of surplus value that is the unpaid surplus labour valorised becoming profits of capital.
Karl Marx. Capital Volume One Chapter Ten: The Working-Day
The capitalist has bought the labour-power at its day-rate. To him its use-value belongs during one working-day. He has thus acquired the right to make the labourer work for him during one day. But, what is a working-day? At all events, less than a natural day. By how much? The capitalist has his own views of this ultima Thule [the outermost limit], the necessary limit of the working-day. As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him. If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist. The capitalist then takes his stand on the law of the exchange of commodities. He, like all other buyers, seeks to get the greatest possible benefit out of the use-value of his commodity. (See Karl Marx: Capital Vol I @
Capitalists do not engage in the labour process and hence do not contribute an iota of value to the commodity. The class of capitalists don't transfer anything to the objectification of labour's exchange value that is externalised labourers life force existing in the produced commodity as its objective value, the determination of its price.
Marx's Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63 1) Transformation of Money into Capital The Valorisation Process The Valorisation Process Volume 30, MECW, p. 66-92
"What money has acquired by its exchange with the labour capacity, or what the money owner has acquired by the consumption of the labour capacity he has bought — this consumption being however by the nature of the labour capacity an industrial, productive consumption or a labour process is a use value. This use value belongs to him; he has bought it by giving an equivalent for it, namely he has bought the material of labour and the means of labour. But the labour itself likewise belonged to him, for owing to his purchase of the labour capacity — hence before any actual work was done — the use value of this commodity belongs to him, and this is labour itself. The product belongs to him just as much as if he had consumed his own labour capacity, i.e. himself worked on the raw material. The whole labour process only takes place after he has provided himself with all its elements on the basis of commodity exchange and in accordance with its laws, namely by purchasing these elements at their price, which is their value expressed, estimated, in money. (See Karl Marx's Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63 @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1861/economic/ch17.htm)
The illusion of so-called "personal freedom" and delusion of "individual liberty" belongs to those who possess the means of actualizing it, the same as freedom of the press belongs to those who own it. The starving vagabond or poor workers do not have the freedom to ride a bus or appropriate food without paying for it, nor even to live in an abandoned house. The entire State machine is arrayed against them, the Legislative, Executive and the Judicial, as is proven in the waves of home forclosures still going on today, where the banks repossess the homes and the cops throw families onto the streets.
The fact is is that the laws of motion of capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labour dominate the lives of all Americans, capitalists as well as workers, as is evident by periodic economic crashes against which the capitalists and the State are powerless.
Thus in political economy wages appear at the beginning as the proportional share of the product due to labour. Wages and profit on capital stand in the most friendly, mutually stimulating, apparently most human relationship to each other. Afterwards it turns out that they stand in the most hostile relationship, in inverse proportion to each other. Value is determined at the beginning in an apparently rational way, by the cost of production of an object and by its social usefulness. Later it turns out that value is determined quite fortuitously and that it does not need to bear any relation to either the cost of production or social usefulness. The size of wages is determined at the beginning by free agreement between the free worker and the free capitalist. Later it turns out that the worker is compelled to allow the capitalist to determine it, just as the capitalist is compelled to fix it as low as possible. Freedom of the contracting parties has been supplanted by compulsion. The same holds good of trade and-all other economic relationships. (See Marx and Engels respective articles in The Holy Family, the Critique of Critical Criticism, Marx on Proudhon @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/holy-family/ch04.htm#4.4)
Freedom and human rights are rhetorical illusions of American culture. As a staple of Americana, the same as everywhere else where the capitalist mode of appropriation prevails, in the empirical phenomenology of economic reality, once proletarian labour power has become a commodity that is sold to the capitalist employers of it, these workers subordinate their wills to the commands of the capitalists, obedience to the bosses is the condition of employment.
So-called freedom and liberty is restricted to the province of capital, insomuch as they are free to hire and fire workers and at liberty to own and control the press. The illusion of 'freedom of the press' and media, for instance, is exposed in that it is the freedom of those who own the means of its production to hire and fire journalists and reporters, thus determining what will and will not be published.
The 'freedom'/illusion, for example, of the individual worker to select which among these news papers and magazines they will purchase to become indoctrinated by that enforce the illusions of individual freedom and personal liberty, and the 'right' to turn the channel from CBS, NBC, MSNBC, FOX News &c, all of which are owned by capitalists.
Capitalists are 'free' to hire and fire propertyless proletarians, thus their power is the dependence of the workers on them for a job. The worker as employee enters a dominate-subordinate relationship and has to kiss the bosses asses, not the reverse.
Karl Marx. Capital Volume One Chapter Eleven: Rate and Mass of Surplus Value:
With in the process of production, as we have seen, capital acquired the command over labour, i.e., over functioning labour-power or the labourer himself. Personified capital, the capitalist takes care that the labourer does his work regularly and with the proper degree of intensity.
Capital further developed into a coercive relation, which compels the working class to do more work than the narrow round of its own life-wants prescribes. As a producer of the activity of others, as a pumper-out of surplus labour and exploiter of labour-power, it surpasses in energy, disregard of bounds, recklessness and efficiency, all earlier systems of production based on directly compulsory labour. (See Marx's Capital Vol. 1 op. cit.)
As the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe, without exception, so the laws of motion of capitalist commodity production by wage labour is the same all over the world - the United States of America included. The same mode of appropriation of proletarian labour and its exploition by capitalists as exist in Europe is also the empirical fact of capitalist's appropriation and exploitation of proletarian labour power in the United States.
Therefore, before going forward in the presentation of Marx's explication of the civil war in France as class struggle - every class struggle is a political struggle, and war is but politics by violence - it is required of me to first present the definion of classes. Anarchists as well as Marxists are required to shatter the bourgeois cultural myth of "American exceptionalism".
"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. (See Karl Marx and Frederick Engel's "The [Critique of] German Ideology" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm#b3)
Subsequently, Anthropologist Ruth Benedict was exactly right. What she had written in her works on culture, customs and society, the conclusion she reached concerning the universal characteristic present in and functioning of all cultures. That is that:
"We must understand the individual as living in his culture; and the culture as lived by individuals" - "No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking. Even his philosophical probings he cannot go behind these steriotypes; his very concepts of the true and the false will still have reference to his particular traditional customs.(See Ruth Benedict: Patterns of Culture @ http://books.google.com/books?id=Da78mq9fUWcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=ruth+benedict+patterns+of+culture&source=bl&ots=WjocxFWEhK&sig=SaGemko-qzvjR3DupO6-WHJS7M0&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false)
Cultures are the ideational component corresponding to and part and parcel of the specific modes of production's corresponding mode of appropriation's relations of production. It's function is the assimilating of individuals into the existing mode of production and submission to its corresponding method of appropriation of labour and its products, thus participating in it.
The dominate ideology characteristic of a class based culture is the weltanschauung that's internalized by individual members of society in class relations participating in it. The working classes and toiling masses are taught that the existing mode of production's relations of production's modes of appropriation, are either by the will of gods or ancestors, or as 'natural' -i.e. 'human nature'.
By processes of upbringing and education the ideational structure of the class culture justifies this culture and glorifies participants who excel in it, while demonizing critics of it.
"The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life-process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises. Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life." (See Karl Marx and Frederick Engel's "The [Critique of] German Ideology" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm#b3)
America's delusional 'ideoloical demagogy of so-called 'American exceptionalism' has its material basis in the economic interest's of the capitalistic ruling classes.
This myth of so-called 'American exceptiionalism' by which the capitalist mode of production and appropriation in the United States is ostensibly 'classless' in spite of obvious survitude in relations of production in which workers are dependent upon and subordinate to capitalists has these illusions of the culture in the delusions of 'the American dream'.
American workers are taught from birth that they are not proletarians, but a 'middle class'. This lie is sustained by the lie that classes are not determined by modes of income's or relations of production but by access to means of subsistence.
American proletarians are culturally assimilated into a world of myths and fantasy of bourgeois sociology and are bamboozeled into believing private property refers to houses, cars and personal property, whereas in reality, even in American economics wealth is distinguished from income.
Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Domhoff September 2005 (updated January 2011)
First, though, some definitions. Generally speaking, wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns, minus any debts. However, for purposes of studying the wealth distribution, economists define wealth in terms of marketable assets, such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, leaving aside consumer durables like cars and household items because they are not as readily converted into cash and are more valuable to their owners for use purposes than they are for resale (see Wolff, 2004, p. 4, for a full discussion of these issues). Once the value of all marketable assets is determined, then all debts, such as home mortgages and credit card debts, are subtracted, which yields a person's net worth. In addition, economists use the concept of financial wealth -- also referred to in this document as "non-home wealth" -- which is defined as net worth minus net equity in owner-occupied housing. As Wolff (2004, p. 5) explains, "Financial wealth is a more 'liquid' concept than marketable wealth, since one's home is difficult to convert into cash in the short term. It thus reflects the resources that may be immediately available for consumption or various forms of investments."
We also need to distinguish wealth from income. Income is what people earn from work, but also from dividends, interest, and any rents or royalties that are paid to them on properties they own. In theory, those who own a great deal of wealth may or may not have high incomes, depending on the returns they receive from their wealth, but in reality those at the very top of the wealth distribution usually have the most income. (But it's important to note that for the rich, most of that income does not come from "working": in 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries. See Norris, 2010, for more details.) [See Domhoff @ http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html ]
It is perhaps easier for American workers to understand the economic category of class property as what Marxist's define as the means of production and distribution as presented above by G. William Domhoff's definition of capitalist's 'wealth' in contrast to definition of proletarian and capitalist's respective modes of appropriation? Their respective forms of 'income' are derived from and based in relations of production in the capitalist mode of production.
By the definitions of 'wealth' and 'income' supplied by Wolff and Domhoff, according to which the capitalist's wealth are the means of production and distribution in which capitalist's 'income' is derived from 'profits' of capital derived from investment which enables them, as owners of the means of social production and distribution, to purchase labour power of proletarians, and to subsequently sell them the products of their [proletarian] labour, the products produced as commodities, the 'income' of worker's in the form of wages, required to purchase those commodities as means of subsistence. The mode of appropriation for landlords of value is rent, and for finance capital is interests on loans.
"No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc."( See Marx-Engels' "The Communist Manifesto" ibid.)
Capital Vol. III Part VII
Revenues and their Sources Chapter 51. Distribution Relations and Production Relations
"If one portion of the product were not transformed into capital, the other would not assume the forms of wages, profit and rent. On the other hand, if the capitalist mode of production presupposes this definite social form of the conditions of production, so does it reproduce it continually. It produces not merely the material products, but reproduces continually the production relations in which the former are produced, and thereby also the corresponding distribution relations." (See Marx's Capital Vol III @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch51.htm
The International Workingmen's Association 1864 General Rules, October 1864
"That the economical subjection of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of labor — that is, the source of life — lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence"(See Rules of the International Working-Men's Association @ http://www.marxists.org/history/international/iwma/documents/1864/rules.htm)
Marx and Engels - The Communist Manifesto:
"The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."(See Marx-Engels "The Communist Manifesto" op .cit. )
The understanding by workers of the capitalist mode of production and appropriation is essential to the charting of paths to the self-liberation of all the individuals who are enslaved categories by the capitalist mode of appropriation from capitalist conditions of production.
The International Workingmen's Association 1864 General Rules, October 1864
That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule;
That the economical subjection of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of labor — that is, the source of life — lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence;
That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means; That all efforts aiming at the great end hitherto failed from the want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labor in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working classes of different countries;
That the emancipation of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries.
The ideology of 'American exceptionalism' is the poison of the American working class consciousness, making them delusional fools of patriotism and imperialist interests, ostensibly as 'freedom', which is never defined either in the clap trap by bourgeois ideologists nor by political demagogues.
The cultural illusion inhering in bourgeois American culture, American exceptionalism and in it the culture of ignorance and anti-communism, in the supremacy of the so-called 'the American way', is posited that the United States is a 'classless' society, insomuch as it is presented as 'land of opportunity' and 'social mobility', ostensibly in contrast and contradistinction to European 'class societies'. This myth of American exceptionalism is summarised in the politicians slogan "Only in America".
The most dangerous illusion in American patriotism is the belief in the so-called "American dream", pragmatism predicated upon the false conscious belief that American workers are a 'middle class', because there are elements of which own houses and automobiles, and are 'free' because there are elections in this grand bourgeois democracy.
American workers are assimilated into a culture of illusions and manipulated by flowery rhetoric of pundits and politicians never stopping to consider that the members of the Senates, both federal and State, as well as the president and the governors of those states, and the federal and Supreme Court judges are millionaires, capitalists or their lickspittles and lackeys.
Thus, US workers are duped and bamboozeled by internalizing a cultural weltansuuang, the lie, that in the United States individuals who 'work hard, save and play by the rules' have 'upward mobility' - the so-called 'traditional values' inhering in the bourgeois ideological protestant 'work ethic' of workers becoming a 'success' by selling their labour power to the highest bidder, and thereby able to purchase a house and car.
This illusion of American exceptionalism, pragmatism and the protestant work ethic's anti-communism as patriotism's delusion of grandeur is in workers heads ostensibly places them in an illusory 'middle class'.
"Throughout their lives, average Americans are taught by their school, church and corporate mass media that theirs is a classless society, and that the notion of classes, class struggle, or class war is just left wing propaganda. (See "What Classless Society?", by Jack A. Smith / October 2nd, 2010 @ http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/10/what-classless-society/)
It, therefore, is required of me to present to American Readers, particularly as this is addressed to the working classes in the United States, to present to American workers the actual definition of 'middle class' as it is in the article by Marx on the Civil war in France as class war.
Marx and Engles refer to the 'middle classes' with reference to the historical origin and basis of the bourgeoisie, now the capitalist classes in opposition to the proletariat, the working classes.
By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour. By proletariat, the class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live. ( Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' "The Communist Manifesto" @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm#a1)
The American workers who take the time to read this Introduction to them of class struggle politics in France, need to understand that European workers already knew, from bitter experiences in class warfare, what it is to be the proletariat. It was the German, French and British proletariat, including specifically for instance Joseph Proudhon, Wilhelm Wietling, who were the teachers of Moses Hess, Engels and Marx.
These experiences of Marx and Engels in the proletarian class activities in France and England, provided the intellectual bridges whose communism was appropriated by Marx and Engels, the nexus of French politics and materialist sociology, British political economy and German humanism.
To Ludwig Feuerbach In Bruckberg
Paris, August 11 1844
In these writings you have provided — I don't know whether intentionally — a philosophical basis for socialism and the Communists have immediately understood them in this way. The unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences between men, the concept of the human species brought down from the heaven of abstraction to the real earth, what is this but the concept of society!
Two translations of your Wesen des Christenthums, one in English and one in French, are in preparation and almost ready for printing. The first will be published in Manchester (Engels has been supervising it) and the second in Paris (the Frenchman Dr. Guerrier and the German Communist Ewerbeck have translated it with the help of a French literary expert).
At present, the French will immediately pounce on the book, for both parties — priests, and Voltairians and materialists — are looking about for help from outside. It is a remarkable phenomenon that, in contrast to the eighteenth century, religiosity has now passed to the middle and upper classes while on the other hand irreligiosity — but an irreligiosity of men regarding themselves as men — has descended to the French proletariat. You would have to attend one of the meetings of the French workers to appreciate the pure freshness, the nobility which burst forth from these toil-worn men. The English proletarian is also advancing with giant strides but he lacks the cultural background of the French. But I must not forget to emphasise the theoretical merits of the German artisans in Switzerland, London and Paris. The German artisan is still however too much of an artisan. (See Marx Letter to Ludwig Feuerbach @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/letters/44_08_11.htm)
The Holy Family Chapter IV
When socialist writers ascribe this world-historic role to the proletariat, it is not at all, as Critical Criticism pretends to believe, because they regard the proletarians as gods. Rather the contrary. Since in the fully-formed proletariat the abstraction of all humanity, even of the semblance of humanity, is practically complete; since the conditions of life of the proletariat sum up all the conditions of life of society today in their most inhuman form; since man has lost himself in the proletariat, yet at the same time has not only gained theoretical consciousness of that loss, but through urgent, no longer removable, no longer disguisable, absolutely imperative need -- the practical expression of necessity -- is driven directly to revolt against this inhumanity, it follows that the proletariat can and must emancipate itself. ..There is no need to explain here that a large part of the English and French proletariat is already conscious of its historic task and is constantly working to develop that consciousness into complete clarity. (See Marx and Engels articles in Holy Family op.cit)
Works of Karl Marx, 1844 Critical Notes on the Article "The King of Prussia and Social Reform.
By a Prussian" by Karl Marx Vorwarts!, No.63, August 7 1844
As for the German workers' level of education or capacity for it, I would point to Weitling's brilliant writings which surpass Proudhon's from a theoretical point of view, however defective they may be in execution. What single work on the emancipation of the bourgeoisie, that is, political emancipation, can the bourgeoisie – for all their philosophers and scholars – put beside Weitling's Guarantees of Harmony and Freedom? It must be granted that the German proletariat is the theoretician of the European proletariat just as the English proletariat is its economist and the French its politician. (See Karl Marx's Works of Karl Marx, 1844 @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/08/07.htm)
The Holy Family Chapter VI 3 Critical Battle Against French Materialism
Just as Cartesian materialism passes into natural science proper, the other trend of French materialism leads directly to socialism and communism. (Marx op. cit)
The Holy Family Chapter VI 2) Absolute Criticism's Second Campaign a) Hinrichs No. 2. "Criticism" and "Feuerbach". Condemnation of Philosophy
But who, then, revealed the mystery of the "system"? Feuerbach. Who annihilated the dialectics of concepts, the war of the gods that was known to the philosophers alone? Feuerbach. Who substituted for the old lumber and for "infinite self-consciousness" if not, indeed, "the significance of man" — as though man had another significance than that of being man! — at any rate "Man"? Feuerbach, and only Feuerbach. And he did more. (Engels op. cit)
Karl Marx 1845 Theses On Feuerbach
The main defect of all hitherto-existing materialism — that of Feuerbach included — is that the Object actuality, sensuousness, are conceived only in the form of the object, or of contemplation, but not as human sensuous activity, practice [Praxis], not subjectively. Hence it happened that the active side, in opposition to materialism, was developed by idealism — but only abstractly, since, of course, idealism does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, differentiated from thought-objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. In The Essence of Christianity, he therefore regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and defined only in its dirty-Jewish form of appearance. Hence he does not grasp the significance of `revolutionary', of `practical-critical', activity. (Karl Marx @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/index.htm)
The Holy Family Chapter VI 3 Critical Battle Against French Materialism
Fourier proceeds directly from the teaching of the French materialists. The Babouvists were crude, uncivilised materialists, but developed communism, too, derives directly from French materialism. The latter returned to its mother-country, England, in the form Helvétius gave it. Bentham based his system of correctly understood interest on Helvétius' morality, and Owen proceeded from Bentham's system to found English communism. Exiled to England, the Frenchman Cabet came under the influence of communist ideas there and on his return to France became the most popular, if the most superficial, representative of communism. Like Owen, the more scientific French Communists, Dézamy, Gay and others, developed the teaching of materialism as the teaching of real humanism and the logical basis of communism. (See Marx-Engels The Holy Family. Marx op.cit.)
"All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice." (Marx's "Thesis on Feuerbach" op. cit.)
The Holy Family Chapter VI 3 Critical Battle Against French Materialism
"If man is unfree in the materialistic sense, i.e., is free not through the negative power to avoid this or that, but through the positive power to assert his true individuality, crime must not be punished in the individual, but the anti-social sources of crime must be destroyed, and each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being. If man is shaped by environment, his environment must be made human. If man is social by nature, he will develop his true nature only in society, and the power of his nature must be measured not by the power of the separate individual but by the power of society." (Marx "Holy Family". op.cit.)
"Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."
(Marx: "Thesis on Feuerbach" op. cit.)
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
The German Ideology Part I: Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook D. Proletarians and Communism Individuals, Class, and Community
"Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is, necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew. "(See Marx and Engels "The Critique of German Ideology op. cit. @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01d.htm#d4
The American working class having by upbringing and education into bourgeois class culture internalised mythical delusions of grandeur and thereby internalised illusional attitudes regarding itself as a 'middle class', because they refuse to understand the distinction of property in the productive forces contrasted to personal possession of means of subsistence - including house and automobile, having internalized the illusions of bourgeois culture regard themselves as 'free', and therefore basking in the delusion of grandeur of being 'better-off' than, and superior to, workers in every other country on Planet Earth. They -i.e. the average American workers - are polled as being anti-communists: "better dead than red".
American workers who regard themselves as anti-communist and counter-revolutionary opponents to proletarian revolution should, at the very least, know who and what it is they are opposing! I am therefore posting to American workers on the Internet to these forums the Address by Karl Marx to the International Working-Men's Association his Report/explications of the proletarian revolution in theory and practice of the proletarian revolution in the Paris Commune of 1871.Lil Joe
Karl Marx The Third Address
May, 1871 [The Paris Commune]
On the dawn of March 18, Paris arose to the thunder-burst of "Vive la Commune!" What is the Commune, that sphinx so tantalizing to the bourgeois mind?
"The proletarians of Paris," said the Central Committee in its manifesto of March 18, "amidst the failures and treasons of the ruling classes, have understood that the hour has struck for them to save the situation by taking into their own hands the direction of public affairs.... They have understood that it is their imperious duty, and their absolute right, to render themselves masters of their own destinies, by seizing upon the governmental power."
But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.
The centralized state power, with its ubiquitous organs of standing army, police, bureaucracy, clergy, and judicature – organs wrought after the plan of a systematic and hierarchic division of labor – originates from the days of absolute monarchy, serving nascent middle class society as a mighty weapon in its struggle against feudalism. Still, its development remained clogged by all manner of medieval rubbish, seignorial rights, local privileges, municipal and guild monopolies, and provincial constitutions. The gigantic broom of the French Revolution of the 18th century swept away all these relics of bygone times, thus clearing simultaneously the social soil of its last hinderances to the superstructure of the modern state edifice raised under the First Empire, itself the offspring of the coalition wars of old semi-feudal Europe against modern France.
During the subsequent regimes, the government, placed under parliamentary control – that is, under the direct control of the propertied classes – became not only a hotbed of huge national debts and crushing taxes; with its irresistible allurements of place, pelf, and patronage, it became not only the bone of contention between the rival factions and adventurers of the ruling classes; but its political character changed simultaneously with the economic changes of society. At the same pace at which the progress of modern industry developed, widened, intensified the class antagonism between capital and labor, the state power assumed more and more the character of the national power of capital over labor, of a public force organized for social enslavement, of an engine of class despotism.
After every revolution marking a progressive phase in the class struggle, the purely repressive character of the state power stands out in bolder and bolder relief. The Revolution of 1830, resulting in the transfer of government from the landlords to the capitalists, transferred it from the more remote to the more direct antagonists of the working men. The bourgeois republicans, who, in the name of the February Revolution, took the state power, used it for the June  massacres, in order to convince the working class that "social" republic means the republic entrusting their social subjection, and in order to convince the royalist bulk of the bourgeois and landlord class that they might safely leave the cares and emoluments of government to the bourgeois "republicans."
However, after their one heroic exploit of June, the bourgeois republicans had, from the front, to fall back to the rear of the "Party of Order" – a combination formed by all the rival fractions and factions of the appropriating classes. The proper form of their joint-stock government was the parliamentary republic, with Louis Bonaparte for its president. Theirs was a regime of avowed class terrorism and deliberate insult towards the "vile multitude."
If the parliamentary republic, as M. Thiers said, "divided them [the different fractions of the ruling class] least", it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power, were removed by their union; and in view of the threatening upheaval of the proletariat, they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the national war engine of capital against labor.
In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses, they were, however, bound not only to invest the executive with continually increased powers of repression, but at the same time to divest their own parliamentary stronghold – the National Assembly – one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of Louis Bonaparte, turned them out. The natural offspring of the "Party of Order" republic was the Second Empire.
The empire, with the coup d'etat for its birth certificate, universal suffrage for its sanction, and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the peasantry, the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor. It professed to save the working class by breaking down parliamentarism, and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of national glory.
In reality, it was the only form of government possible at a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation. It was acclaimed throughout the world as the savior of society. Under its sway, bourgeois society, freed from political cares, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies; the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved, were laid bare by the bayonet of Prussia, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme seat of that regime from Paris to Berlin. Imperialism is, at the same time, the most prostitute and the ultimate form of the state power which nascent middle class society had commenced to elaborate as a means of its own emancipation from feudalism, and which full-grown bourgeois society had finally transformed into a means for the enslavement of labor by capital.
The direct antithesis to the empire was the Commune. The cry of "social republic," with which the February Revolution was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supercede the monarchical form of class rule, but class rule itself. The Commune was the positive form of that republic.
Paris, the central seat of the old governmental power, and, at the same time, the social stronghold of the French working class, had risen in arms against the attempt of Thiers and the Rurals to restore and perpetuate that old governmental power bequeathed to them by the empire. Paris could resist only because, in consequence of the siege, it had got rid of the army, and replaced it by a National Guard, the bulk of which consisted of working men. This fact was now to be transformed into an institution. The first decree of the Commune, therefore, was the suppression of the standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people.
The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.
Instead of continuing to be the agent of the Central Government, the police was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the responsible, and at all times revocable, agent of the Commune. So were the officials of all other branches of the administration.
From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workman's wage. The vested interests and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves. Public functions ceased to be the private property of the tools of the Central Government. Not only municipal administration, but the whole initiative hitherto exercised by the state was laid into the hands of the Commune.
Having once got rid of the standing army and the police – the physical force elements of the old government – the Commune was anxious to break the spiritual force of repression, the "parson-power", by the disestablishment and disendowment of all churches as proprietary bodies. The priests were sent back to the recesses of private life, there to feed upon the alms of the faithful in imitation of their predecessors, the apostles.
The whole of the educational institutions were opened to the people gratuitously, and at the same time cleared of all interference of church and state. Thus, not only was education made accessible to all, but science itself freed from the fetters which class prejudice and governmental force had imposed upon it.
The judicial functionaries were to be divested of that sham independence which had but served to mask their abject subserviency to all succeeding governments to which, in turn, they had taken, and broken, the oaths of allegiance. Like the rest of public servants, magistrates and judges were to be elective, responsible, and revocable.
The Paris Commune was, of course, to serve as a model to all the great industrial centres of France. The communal regime once established in Paris and the secondary centres, the old centralized government would in the provinces, too, have to give way to the self-government of the producers.
In a rough sketch of national organization, which the Commune had no time to develop, it states clearly that the Commune was to be the political form of even the smallest country hamlet, and that in the rural districts the standing army was to be replaced by a national militia, with an extremely short term of service. The rural communities of every district were to administer their common affairs by an assembly of delegates in the central town, and these district assemblies were again to send deputies to the National Delegation in Paris, each delegate to be at any time revocable and bound by the mandat imperatif (formal instructions) of his constituents. The few but important functions which would still remain for a central government were not to be suppressed, as has been intentionally misstated, but were to be discharged by Communal and thereafter responsible agents.
The unity of the nation was not to be broken, but, on the contrary, to be organized by Communal Constitution, and to become a reality by the destruction of the state power which claimed to be the embodiment of that unity independent of, and superior to, the nation itself, from which it was but a parasitic excresence.
While the merely repressive organs of the old governmental power were to be amputated, its legitimate functions were to be wrested from an authority usurping pre-eminence over society itself, and restored to the responsible agents of society. Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workmen and managers in his business. And it is well-known that companies, like individuals, in matters of real business generally know how to put the right man in the right place, and, if they for once make a mistake, to redress it promptly. On the other hand, nothing could be more foreign to the spirit of the Commune than to supercede universal suffrage by hierarchical investiture.[A]
It is generally the fate of completely new historical creations to be mistaken for the counterparts of older, and even defunct, forms of social life, to which they may bear a certain likeness. Thus, this new Commune, which breaks with the modern state power, has been mistaken for a reproduction of the medieval Communes, which first preceded, and afterward became the substratum of, that very state power. The Communal Constitution has been mistaken for an attempt to break up into the federation of small states, as dreamt of by Montesquieu and the Girondins,[B] that unity of great nations which, if originally brought about by political force, has now become a powerful coefficient of social production. The antagonism of the Commune against the state power has been mistaken for an exaggerated form of the ancient struggle against over-centralization. Peculiar historical circumstances may have prevented the classical development, as in France, of the bourgeois form of government, and may have allowed, as in England, to complete the great central state organs by corrupt vestries, jobbing councillors, and ferocious poor-law guardians in the towns, and virtually hereditary magistrates in the counties.
The Communal Constitution would have restored to the social body all the forces hitherto absorbed by the state parasite feeding upon, and clogging the free movement of, society. By this one act, it would have initiated the regeneration of France.
The provincial French middle class saw in the Commune an attempt to restore the sway their order had held over the country under Louis Philippe, and which, under Louis Napoleon, was supplanted by the pretended rule of the country over the towns. In reality, the Communal Constitution brought the rural producers under the intellectual lead of the central towns of their districts, and there secured to them, in the working men, the natural trustees of their interests. The very existence of the Commune involved, as a matter of course, local municipal liberty, but no longer as a check upon the now superseded state power. It could only enter into the head of a Bismarck – who, when not engaged on his intrigues of blood and iron, always likes to resume his old trade, so befitting his mental calibre, of contributor to Kladderdatsch (the Berlin Punch)[C] – it could only enter into such a head to ascribe to the Paris Commune aspirations after the caricature of the old French municipal organization of 1791, the Prussian municipal constitution which degrades the town governments to mere secondary wheels in the police machinery of the Prussian state. The Commune made that catchword of bourgeois revolutions – cheap government – a reality by destroying the two greatest sources of expenditure: the standing army and state functionarism. Its very existence presupposed the non-existence of monarchy, which, in Europe at least, is the normal incumbrance and indispensable cloak of class rule. It supplied the republic with the basis of really democratic institutions. But neither cheap government nor the "true republic" was its ultimate aim; they were its mere concomitants.
The multiplicity of interpretations to which the Commune has been subjected, and the multiplicity of interests which construed it in their favor, show that it was a thoroughly expansive political form, while all the previous forms of government had been emphatically repressive. Its true secret was this:
It was essentially a working class government, the product of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economical emancipation of labor.
Except on this last condition, the Communal Constitution would have been an impossibility and a delusion. The political rule of the producer cannot co-exist with the perpetuation of his social slavery. The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundation upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule. With labor emancipated, every man becomes a working man, and productive labor ceases to be a class attribute.
It is a strange fact. In spite of all the tall talk and all the immense literature, for the last 60 years, about emancipation of labor, no sooner do the working men anywhere take the subject into their own hands with a will, than uprises at once all the apologetic phraseology of the mouthpieces of present society with its two poles of capital and wages-slavery (the landlord now is but the sleeping partner of the capitalist), as if the capitalist society was still in its purest state of virgin innocence, with its antagonisms still undeveloped, with its delusions still unexploded, with its prostitute realities not yet laid bare. The Commune, they exclaim, intends to abolish property, the basis of all civilization!
Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land, and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere instruments of free and associated labor. But this is communism, "impossible" communism! Why, those members of the ruling classes who are intelligent enough to perceive the impossibility of continuing the present system – and they are many – have become the obtrusive and full-mouthed apostles of co-operative production. If co-operative production is not to remain a sham and a snare; if it is to supersede the capitalist system; if united co-operative societies are to regulate national production upon common plan, thus taking it under their own control, and putting an end to the constant anarchy and periodical convulsions which are the fatality of capitalist production – what else, gentlemen, would it be but communism, "possible" communism?
The working class did not expect miracles from the Commune. They have no ready-made utopias to introduce par decret du peuple. They know that in order to work out their own emancipation, and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistably tending by its own economical agencies, they will have to pass through long struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming circumstances and men. They have no ideals to realize, but to set free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant. In the full consciousness of their historic mission, and with the heroic resolve to act up to it, the working class can afford to smile at the coarse invective of the gentlemen's gentlemen with pen and inkhorn, and at the didactic patronage of well-wishing bourgeois-doctrinaires, pouring forth their ignorant platitudes and sectarian crotchets in the oracular tone of scientific infallibility.
When the Paris Commune took the management of the revolution in its own hands; when plain working men for the first time dared to infringe upon the governmental privilege of their "natural superiors," and, under circumstances of unexampled difficulty, performed it at salaries the highest of which barely amounted to one-fifth of what, according to high scientific authority,(1) is the minimum required for a secretary to a certain metropolitan school-board – the old world writhed in convulsions of rage at the sight of the Red Flag, the symbol of the Republic of Labor, floating over the Hôtel de Ville.
And yet, this was the first revolution in which the working class was openly acknowledged as the only class capable of social initiative, even by the great bulk of the Paris middle class – shopkeepers, tradesmen, merchants – the wealthy capitalist alone excepted. The Commune had saved them by a sagacious settlement of that ever recurring cause of dispute among the middle class themselves – the debtor and creditor accounts.[D] The same portion of the middle class, after they had assisted in putting down the working men's insurrection of June 1848, had been at once unceremoniously sacrificed to their creditors[E] by the then Constituent Assembly. But this was not their only motive for now rallying around the working class. They felt there was but one alternative – the Commune, or the empire – under whatever name it might reappear. The empire had ruined them economically by the havoc it made of public wealth, by the wholesale financial swindling it fostered, by the props it lent to the artificially accelerated centralization of capital, and the concomitant expropriation of their own ranks. It had suppressed them politically, it had shocked them morally by its orgies, it had insulted their Voltairianism by handing over the education of their children to the freres Ignorantins,[F] it had revolted their national feeling as Frenchmen by precipitating them headlong into a war which left only one equivalent for the ruins it made – the disappearance of the empire. In fact, after the exodus from Paris of the high Bonapartist and capitalist boheme, the true middle class Party of Order came out in the shape of the "Union Republicaine,"[G] enrolling themselves under the colors of the Commune and defending it against the wilful misconstructions of Thiers. Whether the gratitude of this great body of the middle class will stand the present severe trial, time must show.
The Commune was perfectly right in telling the peasants that "its victory was their only hope." Of all the lies hatched at Versailles and re-echoed by the glorious European penny-a-liner, one of the most tremendous was that the Rurals represented the French peasantry. Think only of the love of the French peasant for the men to whom, after 1815, he had to pay the milliard indemnity.[H] In the eyes of the French peasant, the very existence of a great landed proprietor is in itself an encroachment on his conquests of 1789. The bourgeois, in 1848, had burdened his plot of land with the additional tax of 45 cents in the franc; but then he did so in the name of the revolution; while now he had fomented a civil war against revolution, to shift on to the peasant's shoulders the chief load of the 5 milliards of indemnity to be paid to the Prussian. The Commune, on the other hand, in one of its first proclamations, declared that the true originators of the war would be made to pay its cost.
The Commune would have delivered the peasant of the blood tax – would have given him a cheap government – transformed his present blood-suckers, the notary, advocate, executor, and other judicial vampires, into salaried communal agents, elected by, and responsible to, himself. It would have freed him of the tyranny of the garde champetre, the gendarme, and the prefect; would have put enlightenment by the schoolmaster in the place of stultification by the priest. And the French peasant is, above all, a man of reckoning. He would find it extremely reasonable that the pay of the priest, instead of being extorted by the tax-gatherer, should only depend upon the spontaneous action of the parishioners' religious instinct. Such were the great immediate boons which the rule of the Commune – and that rule alone – held out to the French peasantry. It is, therefore, quite superfluous here to expatiate upon the more complicated but vital problems which the Commune alone was able, and at the same time compelled, to solve in favor of the peasant – viz., the hypothecary debt, lying like an incubus upon his parcel of soil, the proletariat foncier (the rural proletariat), daily growing upon it, and his expropriation from it enforced, at a more and more rapid rate, by the very development of modern agriculture and the competition of capitalist farming.
The French peasant had elected Louis Bonaparte president of the Republic; but the Party of Order created the empire. What the French peasant really wants he commenced to show in 1849 and 1850, by opposing his maire to the government's prefect, his school-master to the government's priest, and himself to the government's gendarme. All the laws made by the Party of Order in January and February 1850 were avowed measures of repression against the peasant. The peasant was a Bonapartist, because the Great Revolution, with all its benefits to him, was, in his eyes, personified in Napoleon. This delusion, rapidly breaking down under the Second Empire (and in its very nature hostile to the Rurals), this prejudice of the past, how could it have withstood the appeal of the Commune to the living interests and urgent wants of the peasantry?
The Rurals – this was, in fact, their chief apprehension – knew that three months' free communication of Communal Paris with the provinces would bring about a general rising of the peasants, and hence their anxiety to establish a police blockade around Paris, so as to stop the spread of the rinderpest [cattle pest – contagious disease].
If the Commune was thus the true representative of all the healthy elements of French society, and therefore the truly national government, it was, at the same time, as a working men's government, as the bold champion of the emancipation of labor, emphatically international. Within sight of that Prussian army, that had annexed to Germany two French provinces, the Commune annexed to France the working people all over the world.
The Second Empire had been the jubilee of cosmopolitan blackleggism, the rakes of all countries rushing in at its call for a share in its orgies and in the plunder of the French people. Even at this moment, the right hand of Thiers is Ganessco, the foul Wallachian, and his left hand is Markovsky, the Russian spy. The Commune admitted all foreigners to the honor of dying for an immortal cause. Between the foreign war lost by their treason, and the civil war fomented by their conspiracy with the foreign invader, the bourgeoisie had found the time to display their patriotism by organizing police hunts upon the Germans in France. The Commune made a German working man [Leo Frankel] its Minister of Labor. Thiers, the bourgeoisie, the Second Empire, had continually deluded Poland by loud professions of sympathy, while in reality betraying her to, and doing the dirty work of, Russia. The Commune honored the heroic sons of Poland [J. Dabrowski and W. Wróblewski] by placing them at the head of the defenders of Paris. And, to broadly mark the new era of history it was conscious of initiating, under the eyes of the conquering Prussians on one side, and the Bonapartist army, led by Bonapartist generals, on the other, the Commune pulled down that colossal symbol of martial glory, the Vendôme Column.[I]
The great social measure of the Commune was its own working existence. Its special measures could but betoken the tendency of a government of the people by the people. Such were the abolition of the nightwork of journeymen bakers; the prohibition, under penalty, of the employers' practice to reduce wages by levying upon their workpeople fines under manifold pretexts – a process in which the employer combines in his own person the parts of legislator, judge, and executor, and filches the money to boot. Another measure of this class was the surrender to associations of workmen, under reserve of compensation, of all closed workshops and factories, no matter whether the respective capitalists had absconded or preferred to strike work.
The financial measures of the Commune, remarkable for their sagacity and moderation, could only be such as were compatible with the state of a besieged town. Considering the colossal robberies committed upon the city of Paris by the great financial companies and contractors, under the protection of Haussman,[J] the Commune would have had an incomparably better title to confiscate their property than Louis Napoleon had against the Orleans family. The Hohenzollern and the English oligarchs, who both have derived a good deal of their estates from church plunders, were, of course, greatly shocked at the Commune clearing but 8,000F out of secularization.
While the Versailles government, as soon as it had recovered some spirit and strength, used the most violent means against the Commune; while it put down the free expression of opinion all over France, even to the forbidding of meetings of delegates from the large towns; while it subjected Versailles and the rest of France to an espionage far surpassing that of the Second Empire; while it burned by its gendarme inquisitors all papers printed at Paris, and sifted all correspondence from and to Paris; while in the National Assembly the most timid attempts to put in a word for Paris were howled down in a manner unknown even to the Chambre introuvable of 1816; with the savage warfare of Versailles outside, and its attempts at corruption and conspiracy inside Paris – would the Commune not have shamefully betrayed its trust by affecting to keep all the decencies and appearances of liberalism as in a time of profound peace? Had the government of the Commune been akin to that of M. Thiers, there would have been no more occasion to suppress Party of Order papers at Paris that there was to suppress Communal papers at Versailles.
It was irritating indeed to the Rurals that at the very same time they declared the return to the church to be the only means of salvation for France, the infidel Commune unearthed the peculiar mysteries of the Picpus nunnery, and of the Church of St. Laurent.[K] It was a satire upon M. Thiers that, while he showered grand crosses upon the Bonapartist generals in acknowledgment of their mastery in losing battles, signing capitulations, and turning cigarettes at Wilhelmshöhe,[L] the Commune dismissed and arrested its generals whenever they were suspected of neglecting their duties. The expulsion from, and arrest by, the Commune of one of its members [Blanchet] who had slipped in under a false name, and had undergone at Lyons six days' imprisonment for simple bankruptcy, was it not a deliberate insult hurled at the forger, Jules Favre, then still the foreign minister of France, still selling France to Bismarck, and still dictating his orders to that paragon government of Belgium? But indeed the Commune did not pretend to infallibility, the invariable attribute of all governments of the old stamp. It published its doings and sayings, it initiated the public into all its shortcomings.
In every revolution there intrude, at the side of its true agents, men of different stamp; some of them survivors of and devotees to past revolutions, without insight into the present movement, but preserving popular influence by their known honesty and courage, or by the sheer force of tradition; others mere brawlers who, by dint of repeating year after year the same set of stereotyped declarations against the government of the day, have sneaked into the reputation of revolutionists of the first water. After March 18, some such men did also turn up, and in some cases contrived to play pre-eminent parts. As far as their power went, they hampered the real action of the working class, exactly as men of that sort have hampered the full development of every previous revolution. They are an unavoidable evil: with time they are shaken off; but time was not allowed to the Commune.
Wonderful, indeed, was the change the Commune had wrought in Paris! No longer any trace of the meretricious Paris of the Second Empire! No longer was Paris the rendezvous of British landlords, Irish absentees,[M] American ex-slaveholders and shoddy men, Russian ex-serfowners, and Wallachian boyards. No more corpses at the morgue, no nocturnal burglaries, scarcely any robberies; in fact, for the first time since the days of February 1848, the streets of Paris were safe, and that without any police of any kind.
"We," said a member of the Commune, "hear no longer of assassination, theft, and personal assault; it seems indeed as if the police had dragged along with it to Versailles all its Conservative friends."
The cocottes [`chickens' – prostitutes] had refound the scent of their protectors – the absconding men of family, religion, and, above all, of property. In their stead, the real women of Paris showed again at the surface – heroic, noble, and devoted, like the women of antiquity. Working, thinking, fighting, bleeding Paris – almost forgetful, in its incubation of a new society, of the Cannibals at its gates – radiant in the enthusiasm of its historic initiative!
Opposed to this new world at Paris, behold the old world at Versailles – that assembly of the ghouls of all defunct regimes, Legitimists and Orleanists, eager to feed upon the carcass of the nation – with a tail of antediluvian republicans, sanctioning, by their presence in the Assembly, the slaveholders' rebellion, relying for the maintenance of their parliamentary republic upon the vanity of the senile mountebank at its head, and caricaturing 1789 by holding their ghastly meetings in the Jeu de Paume.(2) There it was, this Assembly, the representative of everything dead in France, propped up to the semblance of life by nothing but the swords of the generals of Louis Bonaparte. Paris all truth, Versailles all lie; and that lie vented through the mouth of Thiers. (Karl Marx: "Civil War in France"@
Chapter 6: [The Fall of Paris]
LabourPartyPraxis discussion - subscribe