WHAT is the relationship between Marxism and modern sociological teaching? If we think of the sociology originated by Comte, and first named by him, as a special section in the system of constituted sciences, we shall and find no link between it and Marxism. Marx and Engels paid no attention to either the name or content of this ostensibly new branch of knowledge. When Marx felt himself compelled to take notice of Comte's Cours de Philosophic Positive, thirty years after its appearance, 'because the English and French make such a fuss about the fellow', he still spoke of' 'positivism' and 'comtism' as of something to which he was 'thoroughly opposed as a politician' and of which he had 'a very poor opinion as a man of science'' Marx's attitude is theoretically and historically well-founded.
The science of socialism, as formulated be Marx, owed nothing to this 'sociology' of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which originated with Comte and was propagated by Mill and Spencer. It would be more correct to say that 'sociology' is a reaction against modern socialism. From this stand- point only is it possible to understand the essential unity of the diverse theoretical and practical tendencies which during the last hundred years have found their expression in this science. As with Comte in his relation to St, Sîmon, his 'great master' so have the latter bourgeois 'sociologists' opposed another way of answering the questions first raised by the rising proletarian movement to the theory and thus also to the practice of socialism. To these issues, which modern historical development has put on the agenda of present-day society, Marxism stands in a much more original and direct relationship than the whole of the so- called 'sociology' of Comte,Spencer and their followers. Fundament- ally, then, there exists no theoretical relationship between those two doctrines of society, Bourgeois sociologists refer to the revolutionary socialist science of the proletariat, as 'an unscientifc mixture of theory and politics'. Socialists, on the other hand, dismiss bourgeois sociology as mere 'ideology'.
The position of Marx, however, is quite deferent toward the first 'Enquirers into the Social Nature of Man', who in the preceding centuries, in the radical struggles of the rising bourgeois class against the obsolete feudal order, had first set up the new idea of Civil Society as a revolutionary slogan, and had even unearthed, in the new science of Political Economy, the material foundations of this new 'civilised' form of society.
According to Marx's own statement, made in 1859, in the preface to his Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy,he had begun the development of his materialistic theory of society sixteen years earlier with a critical revision of Hegel's Philosophy of Law. This was a task he had set himself because of certain grave doubts which had recently assailed him in regard to his Hegelian idealistic creed. Previously, as an editor of the Rheinische Zdtung (1842-43), he had for the first time found himself called upon to discuss 'so-called material interests'. He had already begun to study 'economic questions' and had become vaguely acquainted with the ideas of (French Socialism and Communism'. His criticism of Hegel led him to the conclusion that 'legal relations as well as forms of state cannot be understood out of themselves nor out of the so-called general development of the human mind, but on the contrary, are rooted in the material conditions of lifer the aggregate of which Hegel, following the precedent of the English and French of the eighteenth century, grouped together under the name of 'civil society' - and that the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy.'
We see here the decisive significance which the notion of civil society' had gained for the young Marx who was at that time just completing his transition from Hegelian idealism to his later materialistic theory. While still formally basing his materialistic criticism of Hegel's idealistic glorification of the state on the realistic conclusions (unexpected in an idealist philosopher) regarding the nature of civil society which he had found embodied in Hegel's Philosophy of Law Marx now definitely abandoned Hegel and all his idealistic philosophy. Instead he associated himself with those earlier investigators into the nature of society who had arisen in the period of revolutionary development of the English and French bourgeoisie, when the name 'sociology' had not yet been invented, but 'society' had already been discovered as 'a special and independent realm of knowledge.
Hegel, indeed, had not derived that deep realistic knowledge of 'civil society', which stands in such sharp relief to the rest of his book, from an independent study of the then extremely backward state of German society. He took both the name and content of his 'civil society' ready-made from the French and English social philosohers, politicians and economists. Behind Hegel, as Marx said, stand the 'English and French of the eighteenth century' with their new discoveries of the structure and movement of society, who in their turn reflect the real historical development which culminated in the Industrial Revolution in England after the middle of the eighteenth century and in the great French Revolution of 1789 to 1815. Marx, then, if developing his new socialist and proletarian science, took his cue from that early study of society, which, although it was first communicated to him by Hegel, had really been born in the revolutionary epoch of the bourgeoisie. In the first place he took over the results of 'classical political economy' (from Petty and Boisguillebert trough Quesnay and Smith up to Ricardo) consciously developing them as that which the great bourgeois investigators had already more or less unconsciously taken them to be, ie the basic structure or, as it were, 'the skeleton' of civil society. Even this basic importance of political economy, to which Marx alludes in calling it the anatomy of civil society', had before him been recognised by his immediate predecessors, the German idealist philosophers, Kant, Fichte and Hegel. In the philosophical system of Hegel, 'civil society' is based on the 'system of needs' explored by the new science of political economy, and the philosopher had, in an earlier work, even expressly descried the 'system of needs' as the 'first form of government', as opposed to such higher developed forms as the state and the law.
The very pungency with which Marx in his later writings repeatedly emphasized that post-classical bourgeois economy (the so- called 'vulgar economy') had not advanced beyond Ricardo in any important points,; and scornfully dismissed the new socio-scientifc synthesis of Comte's Positivism for the infinitely greater achievement of Hegel,only shows once more the lasting influence of that early phase of economic and social thought on the theory of Marx. This is tee even though his analysis of the new development of society and the new needs and aims of the proletariat, now emerging as an independent class, far transcended the results of those older theories. The proletarian class guided by the Marxist theory is therefore not only, as Friedrich Engels put it, 'the inheritor of German classical philosophy', it also is the inheritor of classical political economy and social research. As such it has transformed the traditional classical theory in accordance with the changes in historical conditions.
Marx no longer regards burgeons society from the standpoint of its first phase of development and its opposition to the feudal structure of medieval society. He is not only interested in the static laws of its existence. He treats bourgeois society as historical in all its traits and therefore merely a transitory organization of society. He explores the whole process of its historical genesis and development, and the inherent tendencies which, in their further development, lead to its revolutionary overthrow. He ands these tendencies twofold : objective in the economic basis of burgeons society, subjective in the new division of social classes arising out of this same economic basis and not out of politics, law, ethics, etc. Thus civil society, which until then had constituted a homogeneous whole, opposed only to feudalism, is now torn into two opposed 'parties'. The assumed 'civil society' is in reality 'bourgeois society', ie a society based on the cleavage of classes, in which the bourgeois class controls other classes economically and therefore politically and culturally. So at last la close la plus laborieuse et la plus miserable enters the widened horizon of social science. Marxist theory recognise the class war of the oppressed and exploited wage labourers of present-day society to be a war for the supersession of the present structure of society by a more highly developed form of society. As a materialistic science of the contemporary development of bourgeois society, Marxist theory is at the same time a practical instalment for the struggle of the proletariat to bring about the realization of proletarian society.
The later artificial detachment of sociology as a special branch of learning, whose scientific origin dates from Comte, and, at the best, 'allows the great original thinkers who have done the real productive work in this field to stand as its 'forerunners', represents nothing more than an escape from the practical and, therefore, also theoretical tasks of the present historical epoch. Marx's new socialist and proletarian fierce, which further developed the revolutionary theory of the classical founders of the doctrine of society in a way corresponding to the changed historical situation, is the genuine social science of our time.
Marx comprehends all things social in terms of a definite historical epoch. He criticises all the categories of the bourgeois theorists of society in which this specific character has been effaced. Already in his first economic work we find him reproaching Ricardo for having applied the specifically bourgeois concept of rent to 'landed property of all epochs and of all countries. This is the error of all economists who represnt bourgeois production relations as eternal.'
The scope of the principle of 'historical speculation is clearly demonstrated in this example. Landed property has been widely different in character and has played very different roles in the various historical epochs of society. Already the deferent ways in which primitive communal property in land had been broken up, directly influenced the varied forms of the later development of society based upon private property. Up to the middle ages landed property (agriculture) constituted, according to Marx, the central category, dominating all the other categories of production, just as capital does in present-day Bourgeois society. The different ways in which, in different countries, after the victory of the capitalist mod: of production, feudal property in land was subjected to capital; the deferent ways in which rent was transformed into a part of capitalist surplus value, and agriculture into an industry - all retain their importance for the capitalist systems which arose therefrom, for the deferent forms of the labour movement which subsequently developed within them, and for the deferent forms in which the transition to the socialist mode of production will ultimately be effected in each of the different systems. For this reason Marx investigated with particular care, to the end of his life, the history of landed property and rent as shown on the one hand in the United States, and on the other hand in Russia. In the same way, at the end of the 19th century, Lenin, in his Development of Capitalism in Russia analysed particularly the specific historical forms of this transition process. Yet all this comprehensive study of the various historical forms serves, with both Marx and Lenin, only as a base for the working out of the specific character of capitalist rent in fully developed bourgeois society.
In the fundamental analysis of the modern capitalist mode of production, which forms the subject matter of the first book of Capital, Marx does not deal with the category of, rent at all. What is discussed there, in addition to the general function of the soil as an element of the labour process itself, is only the different ways by which the transition to the modern capitalist mode of production reacted upon the conditions of the agricultural proletariat, first, in developed capitalist countries, second, in such countries as Ireland that had fallen behind in the process of industrialisation, and finally in the colonial countries.
Marx discusses 'rent' in the proper place, in a section of the third book of Capital, in which the special forms of capitalist distribution are analysed as they arise from the special historical fobs of capitalist production.'! Even here, there is no room for an independent exposition of earlier historical forms. Only a few scattered remarks throw a dash of light on the contrast between the modem burgeons form of landed property and past historical forms; and only an additional closing chapter - and indeed, of that only a part - is devoted to the historical Genesis of Capitalist Rent. Indeed, as Marx says in the opening phrase of this whole section, ,the analysis of landed property in its various historical forms lies beyond the scope of this work.
.The concept of 'rent', then, as discussed in the Marxist theory, is in no way a general term referring to landed property of all epochs. The form of landed property which is considered in Capital is a specifically historical one; it is that form into which feudal land ownership and small peasants' agriculture have been transformed through the influence of capital and of the capitalist mode of production'. In this sense, and in this sense only, an analysis of modem capitalist rents or of that portion of the surplus value produced by industrial capital which falls into the hands of the capitalistic landowner, is a necessary part of the complete analysis of the process of capitalist production which is embodied in the three books of Capital.
The application of the principle of historical specification as further demonstrated by the way Marx deals with the different historical forms of capital itself. Just as in the present epoch industrial capital appears as the standard forma so did merchants' capital and its twin brother, interest-bearing capital, and the various sub-forms of these (more exactly described by Marx as 'capital for trading in goods', 'capital for trading in money', 'capital for lending money') occupy an independent and, in certain respects, a predominating position in the epochs preceding capitalist society, and, indeed, in the first phases of capitalist society itself . Even in present-day fully developed capitalist economy the merchant and the banker, though not involved in actual production like the industrial capitalist, still perform a definite function in the circulation of capital. They also participate in the distribution of the total 'surplus value', a considerable part of the yearly amount at the disposal of the capitalist class falls to their share as commercial 'profit' and 'interest' - just as we have seen another part of it going in the form of 'rent' to landed owners of property who have as little to do with actual production.
Moneylenders' capital has even recaptured an important position - though not, as many Marxists have believed, a definite supremacy - in it, new form as an integral part of the modern So-called 'finance capital', ie a system of highly concentrated capital created by the fusion of private and slate-controlled bank capital with trust and state-controlled industrial capital.
The Marxist analysis of modern capitalist production starts from the asumption that the previously independent forms of trading- capital and money-capital have been transformed into mere accessories of the new prevailing form. It is true that capitalist production even today bears the stamp of its historical origin - the intrusion of the merchant into the sphere of feudal production. All capitalist production remains essentially a production for sale. Every article resulting from capitalist production is to be sold as a commodity, whether it is sold to another industrial capitalist who needs it for carrying on his own process of production or, ultimately, to the immediate consumer. Again the very way in which 'capital' first arose and gained control of production in the shape of money, as supplied by wealthy individuals, merchants, usurers, etc, constantly repeats itself under the present condition of fully developed capitalist production. Every new aggregate of capital, even today, Centres upon the stage, ie comes into the market - the commodity market, the labour market or the money market - still in the form of money that by a definite process has to be transformed into capital'.
Nevertheless the 'secret', not only of 'how capital produces' but also of 'how capital is produced' - and incidentally the key to the abolition of all capitalist exploitation and wage-slavery - can in no way be theoretically discovered by an analysis of the functions performed by those 'accessory' forms of capital in the process of circulation, or of the revenues which accrue to the capitalists concerned, in consideration of the 'services' they perform in this sphere. done will therefore under- stand,' says Marx, 'why in our analysis of the basic form of capital, of the form in which it determines the economic organization of modern society, its popular, and as it were, antediluvian forms, degrading capital'' and 'usurers capital'' are for the present (viz in the analysis of the actual process of capitalist production in the first book of Capital) entirely ignored.'
Even when, in the second and third books of Capital, Marx comes back to these 'antediluvian forms' in his analysis of capitalist circulation and distribution, he takes as his main theme, not their historical development, but only the specific form into which they have been transformed by the action of modern industrial capital. Just as with rent, the historical analyses which run through the whole of Marx's work, and both the concluding chapters added to the sections concerned, under the headings Historical data concerning merchants' capital and Pre-capitalistic conditions merely serve to illuminate that great historical process through which, in the course of centuries and millennia, trade and money transactions lost more and more of their originally dominating position until they assumed their present place as mere detached and one-sidedly developed modes of existence of the various functions which industrial capital sometimes adopts and sometimes discards within the sphere of its circulation.
There is one aspect alone, under which rent as well as trading- capital and money-capital might have been treated as a proper subject in Marx's analysis of the modern capitalist mode of production and of the economic form of society based thereon. According to an original and lore comprehensive plan, Marx would have followed up the discussion of the more strictly economic questions of production, circulation and distribution, social classes etc, as contained in the three books of Capital, by an investigation of what may be called Taxonomic questions of an higher order' such as the relation between town and county and the international relations of production.
Only with these later researches would Marx's analysis have reached the point where the antagonism of landed property to capital, as well as that of trade and money-capital to industrial capital survives in present-day society; the former as a relation between agricultural and town industry and as an international relation between primarily agrarian and industrial countries - the latter as a relation between trading cities and factory towns, and on an international scale between commercial and industrial states.
The principle of historical specification as illustrated by the pre- ceding examples (landed property and the various forms of capital) is strictly adhered to by Marx in all his economic and socio-historical researches. He deals with all categories in that specific form and in that specific connection in which they appear in modern bourgeois society.
The contrast which exists in this respect between Marx & his forerunners, comes out most strikingly in a comparison. While the work of the last representative of classical bourgeois economy, David Ricardo, is devoted to the Principles of Political Economy, Marx strictly limited his economic research to 'modern bourgeois production' and finally gave the work which contains the whole of his analysis and critique of all traditional political economy the plain and definite: name Capital. Ricardo begins the exposition of his system with the general concept of 'value'; Marx commences his critical investigation of the theory and the facts underlying modern bourgeois economy with the analysis if an external object, a palpable thing - 'commodity'. Again, Ricardo from the traditional economic concept of value from the last earthly impurities that were still attached to it by his predecessors; while Marx,on the contrary, regards even the concept of 'commodity' in its isolation, as ii applies also to conditions other than those of present day bourgeois production, as too abstract a category, and defines it specifically as an element of 'bourgeois wealth' or as the wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails'. Only in this specific definition does 'commodity' form the subject matter of his investigation.
Only as properties of such a commodity do the general concepts of value in use' and 'value in exchange', and the other terms of the classical economic system derived from these fundamental concepts, interest him. He does not treat them as eternal categories. Nor does he for that matter transform himself into an historian. While fully aware of the fact that many economic categories of modern bourgeois society occurred, in other specific relations to the whole of the mode of production, also in earlier epochs, he does not go into the history of (money', of 'exchange of commodities', of ,wage-labour', or that of fell-operation', 'division of labour', etc, He discusses the deferent stages of the historical development of all these economic concepts only in so far as it is necessary for his main theme : the analysis of the specific character assumed by them in modern bourgeois society. All the economic terms of Marx, then, as opposed to those of the classical bourgeois economists, refer to a special historical epoch of production. This applies even to that, most general tend, value, which, according to Marx, must still be distinguished from 'value in exchange' - the latter being only the external form in which the intrinsic 'value' of a given commodity manifests itself in the ratio of exchange of such commodities. This most abstract term, which Marx adopted from the later classical economists, has been highly suspect to some well-meaning but superficial interpreters of Marx who found that the concept of an intrinsic 'value',distinct from exchange-value, reeks of scholasticism, metaphysical realism, Hegelian idealism and what not, and for this reason does no credit to a 'materialistic' science. As a matter of 'fact, Marx discussed just these fundamental concepts of his economic theory in a somewhat obscure language, thereby avowedly 'coquetting' with the modes of expression peculiar to that mighty thinker, the idealist philosopher Hegel'.However, there is no point in accepting the term exchange-value, as taken by Marx from his fore- runners, the founders of classical political economy, and rejecting that of intrinsic 'value' which was used by Marx only as a means to work out more clearly the true content of the 'value' concept of the classical writers and to expose critically what he called the 'fetishism' under- lying the whole of their economic theory.
Marx was fully conscious of the fact that all concepts of 'value' are strictly relative terms. They either denote an immediate relation between objects and man (which becomes a reality by actual use or consumption), or a relation of a different order (realised by the exchange of such objects), viz the quantitative relation in which use- values of one sort are exchanged for those of another sort whenever they are exchanged. The relations of the latter order had been regarded by the later classical economists as the only 'value' to be dealt with in a strictly economic science, and had been styled by them value in exchange or value proper, as distinguished from mere utility or 'use- value'. Marx easily agreed with the classical writers when they established the deference in kind prevailing between value as a quantitative relation arising through the exchange of commodities, ie by a social process; and use-value as a merely qualitative relation between external objects and man. But he did not agree with them in the ultimate location of the social relations manifesting themselves in the 'value' relations of the commodities as established by their exchange. A closer investigation of the economic concept of 'value' shows that this concept expresses a relation arising not between the commodities as exchanged on the market, but rather a relation previously established between human beings co-operating in the production of such commodities, a social relation of production arising between man and man. Indeed, the main result of Marx's criticism of the traditional theory of political economy consists in the discovery and description of these fundamental social relations of men - relations which for a despite historical epoch, appear to the subjects concerned in the disguised and, as it were, perverted form of relations of things, viz as 'value-relations' of the commodities cooperatively produced by them and mutually exchanged on the market.
'Value', then, in all its denominations, just as either economic things or relations such as 'commodity', 'money','labour-power', 'capital', means to Marx a socio-historical fact or something which though not physical is still given in an empirically veritable manner As in general, with every socio-historical science, we must always keep in mind when considering the progress of economic theory, that the subject matter, here modern bourgeois society, is given in the mind of the observer just as it is in reality, and that its categories express, therefore, forms of being, modes of existence, and often only single aspects of this definite society or subject matter.' We shall later in another connection study the far-reaching theoretical and practical implications of this apparently minor difference between the scientific method of Marx and that of the classical bourgeois economists. We here confine ourselves to one most important result. The concept of commodity, in the special form and context in which it appears under the conditions of the present system of 'capitalistic commodity production', includes from the very beginning a commodity of a peculiar nature, incorporating the mesh and blood in the hands and heads of the wage-labourers - the commodity labour-power. 'These labourers who have to sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the markets' Further, the sellers of this peculiar commodity, under the very conditions of its sale, are never in the position of free agents,for they'live only so long as they find work, and find work only so long as their labour increases capital.'
Only by earning in mind this special sense in which for Marx commodity production' or 'general' commodity production becomes entirely equivalent to present-day capitalist ' commodity production can we understand the importance of that general analysis of 'commodity' which in Marx's book precedes all further analyses and critique of the capitalist mode of production. Marx is aware of the 'definite historical conditions' which are necessary in order that a product may become a 'commodity' and that, an its further development, 'money' should appear as the general commodity, for the purpose of exchange. 'The appearance of products as commodities presupposed such a development of the social division of labour, but the separation of use- value from exchange-value, a separation which first begins with barter, must already have been completed.' Again, 'the peculiar factions of money which it performs, either as the mere equivalent of commodities, or as means of circulation, or means of payment,' as hoard or as universal money, point to very different stages in the process of social production'. Yet we know by experience that a relatively primitive development of society suffices for the production of all these forms. It is otherwise with capital. 'The historical conditions of its existence are by no means given with the mere circulation of money and commodities. It can spring into life only when the owner of the means of production and. subsistence meets in the market with the free labourer selling his labour power. And this one historical condition comprises a world's history. Capital therefore, announces from its first appearance a new epoch in the process of social production.'
At this stage only are we able to grasp the full importance of industrial capital as the only form of existence of capital which adequately represents the nature of modern capitalist production. 'Industrial capital,' according to an express assertion of Marx which we may safely take to be his final and most complete statement on this matter, 'gives to production its capitalistic character. Its existence includes that of class antagonism between capitalists and labourers. To the extent that it assumes control over social production, the technique and social organization of the labour process are revolutionized and with them the economic and historical type of society. The other kinds of capital, which appear before industrial capital amid past or declining conditions of social production, are not only subordinated to it and slider changes in the mechanism of their functions corresponding with it, but move on it as a basis; they live and die, stand and fall, as this, their basis lives and dies, stands and falls.'
The principle of historical specification, besides its theoretical importance as an improved method of sociological analysis and research, becomes of first-rate practical importance as a polemical weapon in the disputes between the apologists defending and the critics assailing the existing conditions of society. The manner in which this weapon is wielded by the Marxists appears in the statements of Marx and Engels in replying to the bourgeois objections to communism. One basic form of argument recurs in all these replies. In answer to the accusation that the Communists want to abolish property, individuality, liberty, culture, law, family, 'fatherland', etc, the Communists say that the point at issue here is not the general foundations of all social life but only the specific historical forms assumed by them in present-day burgeons society. All economic, class and other relations which constitute the specific historical character of bourgeois society are discussed, always with the result that the would-be defenders of the natural and necessary foundations of all social order are driven to become the biased protagonists of the peculiar conditions of existing bourgeois society and the peculiar needs of the bourgeois class.
The first objection raised by the bourgeoisie to communism is that the Communists want to abolish property. To this the Communist Manifesto replies : 'The abolition of existing property relations is not all a distinctive feature of Communism. All property relationships in the past have been continually subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions. 'The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favour of bourgeois property. 'The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. 'But modem bourgeois private property is the anal and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonism, on the exploitation of the many by the few. fin this sense, the theory of the Communists may be slammed up in the single phrase: abolition of private property.'
It is then further argued that the property to be abolished is not the 'hard-won, personally acquired property' which, according to the ideological concept of the theoretical spokesmen of the bourgeoisie) is 'the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence'. Such property really means 'the property of the petty artisan and the small peasant', a form of property that existed before the bourgeois form. The Communists have no need to abolish that. (The development of industry has abolished it and is abolishing it daily.' 'Property in its present form moves within the antagonism of capital and wage-labur.' It has a specific and deferent significance for each of the two great classes confronting each other in modern bourgeois society - the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.To be a capitalist is to have not only a personal, but a social status in production' In the same way wage- labour, the labour of the proletariat, does not create individual property for the laborer : it creates capital, ie the social power that exploits wage-labour. The abolition of property, therefore, does not mean the transformation of personal property into social property, it is only the social character of the property that undergoes a change; it loses its class character.'
The second objection of the bourgeoisie is that the communists want to destroy individuality and freedom. Communism replies that what is at stake here is only the 'bourgeois individuality, independence and freedom'.
By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production : free trade, free selling and free buying. But if haggling disappears, free haggling disappears also. This talk about free haggling, and all other braggadocio of our bourgeoisie about freedom in general, has a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted haggling, with the fettered traders of the Middle Ages; but has no meaning when opposed to the Communist abolition of haggling, of the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeoisie itself.' The bourgeois calls it an 'abolition of property' when private property is abolished. But this property, in the hands of this clash exists only by being cut of from the vast majority of society. From the moment when labour can no more be transformed into capital, money, rent; in short into a social power capable of being monopolized, the bourgeois complains that 'individuality is being destroyed'. He confesses, therefore, that by 'individuality' he means none other than that of the bourgeois, ie the capitalist owner of property. 'This individuality must, indeed, be destroyed.'
In the same way the bourgeoisie confuses the general concept of works and activity, with the specify bourgeois form of wage-labour, the forced labour of the propertyless worker for the behest of the non- labouring owners of capital. If the bourgeoisie is afraid that faith the abolition of private property all activity will cease and universal laziness overtake us', the Manifesto rejoins : 'According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have been wrecked through sheer idleness : for those of its members who work acquire nothing and those who acquire anything do not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology : There can no longer be any wage-labour when there is no longer any capital.'
Next, the bourgeoisie laments the threatened loss of culture through the advent of Communism. To this complaint also Marx has a specific reply : 'Just as to the bourgeois the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture. 'That culture the loss of which he laments is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine-' .
As in the case of individuality, freedom and culture, the so-called menace of Communism to the state and the law is not aimed at those general functions. of unifying the elements of society into a living and developing whole which have, in the past, perforce been fulfilled by state compulsion and coercive law, though in an increasingly defective manner. It is specifically directed against the present-day state which is folly an executive committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeois class as a whole' - and against that modern bourgeois legal order which is folly the will of the bourgeoisie made into a law for all - a will whose content is determined by the material conditions of existence of the bourgeois class'.
Abolition of the family! 'Even the most radical' ,says the Communist Manifesto, flares up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.' Once more the Marxist replies specifically : 'On what foundations is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form it exists only for the bourgeoisie. But it ands its complement in the forcible absence of the family among the proletarians and in public prostitution-; The Communists admit that they 'want to abolish the exploitation of children by their parents'. They retort to the ever-current stupidity that 'communists want to introduce a community of wives', that, on the contrary it is the 'present system of bourgeois marriage which is in reality a system of wives in common'. For the rest, it is self-evident that 'the addition of the present system of production must involve the abolition of the community of women arising out of that system, that is, of prostitution both official and unofficial.
To the further charge made by the nationalists that Communism is going to 'abolish the Fatherland' the Manifesto replies that in present-day bourgeois society 'the workers have no Fatherland'. tone cannot take from them what they do not have.' On the contrary, as Engels pointed out, the ancient communal property in land has been, for all free men, the real Fatherland, ie an inherited free communal property.
The attitude of the proletariat of each country with regard to the so-called national interests depends upon the specific stage reached by the workers' movement in its development on a national and inter- national scale: 'In so far as the exploitation of one individual by another is abolished, the exploitation of one nation by another is also abolished. With the disappearance of the antagonism between classes within the nation, the hostility of one nation to another will disappear.' Again, in reply to 'the indictments levelled against Communism from a religious, philosophical, and generally, from an ideological standpoint', the Manifesto summarily points to the specific historical character of all human ideas : 'What else does the history of ideas prove than that intellectual production changes its character as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of an age have ever been only the ideas of the ruling class.
'When the ancient world was in decline, the ancient religions were conquered by Christianity. When Christian ideas succeeded in the eighteenth century to the ideas of Enlightenment, feudal society fought its death battle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie. The ideas of religious liberty and freedom of conscience merely expressed the sway of free competition within the domain of knowledge.' To that fraction of the bourgeoisie which concedes that religious, moral, philosophical, political, legal ideas, etc, have been modified in the course of historical development, but at the same time reproaches Communism for abolishing the eternal truths common to all social conditions, such as freedom, justice, etc, for doing away with religion and morality altogether, instead of remounting them - Marx replies that even in this most general forms traditional ideas still retain a specific historical element. They do not depend any longer on the despite form which class antagonisms have assumed in a given epoch of social development. They do depend, however, on the historical fact continuing through all these epochs - the existence of class antagonisms: 'Whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all past ages, viz the exploitation of one part of society by the other. No wonder, then, that the social consciousness of all past ages, despite the multiplicity and ' variety it displays, moves within certain common forms, or general ideas, which cannot completely vanish except with the total disappearance of class antagonism.
'The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations, no wonder, then, that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.' Traditional theory of society, spread over several hundred years and split into many schools and currents, does not present itself to the present-day observer as a homogeneous entity. This is true even if we disregard the fundamental divergence which has appeared within bourgeois thought since the beginning of the nineteenth century, when a new and predominantly historical current opposed itself - at first with a monopolistic claim, later only as a supplementary second form - to the hitherto prevailing theoretical approach.
The classical phase of bourgeois social theory, continuing into (the first decades of the nineteenth century, is characterized by an unsophisticated generalization of the new bourgeois principles. Later, in the hands of the 'vulgar' economists of the nineteenth century, this unsophisticated attitude became a more or less conscious tendency to represent the Economic system of burgeons society in contrast to its politics - or at least bourgeois production as distinguished from distribution - as a general and unchangeable form of all social life. Finally, the founders of modern 'economics', and the corresponding schools of 'general' or 'formal' sociology, have even emphasized the 'unspecific' treatment of their subject matter as the very criterion of their new and assumedly 'disinterested' scientism. A more detailed analysis will be necessary to point out in each of these currents a modern bourgeois social theory the special manner in which the a priori of despite premises evolving out of the historical and class-conditioned position of all bourgeois science, penetrates into the methods and results of the investigator and into the concepts and propositions set up by the theorist.
A further complication is added by the fact that, in dealing with contemporary bourgeois social theory, we can often no longer exactly determine how far it already represents a reaction to the attack of the proletarian class. The origin of not a few among the most important of its later developments is to be directly traced to the Marxist theory. We mention particularly, from the last two generations of German sociologists, jurists, historians, and philosophers, Tonnies and Stemmier, Max Weber and Tročltsch, Scheler and Mannheim; and among the economists, as not the most important but perhaps the most typical representative of this whole group - Werner Sombart. The manifold broken and distorted forms assumed by the controversy with Marxism, under the special conditions of German academic science, appear most strikingly in the last named German savant. Werner Sombart originally was - on at least believed himself to be - a thorough-going Marxist, but later, with the changing political and social conditions leading up to the present regime of a so-called 'National Socialism' in Germany, changed heart and finally became an outright anti-Marxist.Notwithstanding these distortions, the irresistible influence exercised by Marx's theory on all present-day bourgeois social science is clearly evident even in the later career of Sombart. As late as 1927, in the introduction to the third volume of his main economic work he destined to the fact that 'all that is good in this work is due to Marx'. One year later, at the Zurich Sociological Conference, he volunteered a 'personal confession' that he had been a convinced Marxist' up to 1894. On the same occasion he claimed to have been the first to enunciate the principle of the so-called 'non-evaluative character of a genuine sociological science', and traced back the origin of this well-known doctrine of contemporary social research to the 'contradiction' which had at that early time arisen within himself, ie between his internal Marxist 'conviction', and his worldly position as a 'Royal Prussian University Professor'.
For all these reasons, in confronting the general principles of the Marxist theory with bourgeois science we shall not so much refer to the more recent displays of contemporary social thought in which their persisting difference is already modified to a certain extent by mutual interaction. We shall rather try to bring out the underlying fundamental contrast in that pure form in which it originally appeared in the classical and post-classical bourgeois writers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries on the one hand, and in the writings of Marx and Engels on the other.
Classical bourgeois economists concert themselves with existing bourgeois society. They ingenuously regard society's basic relationships as having the immutable character of a genuine natural law, and are for just this reason unable to become aware of or to investigate scientifically any other than this actually given form of society. Even when bourgeois social theorists appear to speak of other social forms, their real subject matter is still the prevailing form of bourgeois society whose main characteristics they and duplicated in all other forms. When they speak of 'society' in general, we can still recognise, with only slight variations, in this figure of so-called general society the well-known features of present-day bourgeois society. This is most evident in the writings of the great founders of bourgeois social science in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and their followers, the German idealistic philosophers from Kant to Hegel, who naively used not only the term 'society', but even the term 'civil society', as a timeless concept. Even then bourgeois investigators speak of a historical 'development' of society, they do not step beyond the magic circle of burgeois society. They consider all the earlier forms as 'preliminary stages' leading up to the present more or less fully developed form of society. They constantly apply the concepts drawn from actual social conditions to the preceding historical forms. Right into the nineteenth century they describe those phases of primitive history which can not possibly be represented by the categories of modem bourgeois society, ie property, state, family, etc, as not belonging to history proper, but as merely 'prehistoric'. Even Johann Gottfried Herder, who stood in a much closer relation to real history than most of his contemporaries, wrote in his Diary : 'How many ages may have passed by before we learned to know or think? The Phoenician? The Ethiopian? Or none of these? Are we then, with our Moses, in the right place?'
Just as in their study of past conditions, so in their analysis of present tendencies, bourgeois social theorists remain tied to the bourgeois categories, They' simply cannot conceive of any future changes other than those resulting from an 'evolutionary' development, and which reveal no breach with the fundamental principles of the present- day bourgeois order of society. They regard all social revolutions as pathological interference's with 'normal' social development. They expect, after the revolutionary 'cycle' has run its full course, pre- revolutionary social conditions to be re-established as unchanged in their fundamentals, as according to a similar theory (held by the politicians) political conditions of the ancien regime are finally re-established by the 'Restoration'. They hold all tendencies of revolutionary socialism and communism which aim at any thing beyond this, as mere 'disturbance of healthy social progress' and, theoretically, as 'unscientific' fantasies.
Marx's social science is fundamentally opposed to all these traditional concepts of classical bourgeois theory. This contrast is, however, not so simple that it can be reduced to the biblical formula 'Let your speech be yea, yea - nay, nay'. It would be altogether wrong, for instance, to imagine that since the bourgeois theory is the doctrine of a 'bourgeois society', Marx's socialist theory must necessarily be the doctrine of a Specialist society'. As a matter of fact, scientist socialism is not at all concerned with the painting of a future state of society. Marx leaves that to the sectarians of the old and new Utopias. He, according to his materialistic principle, deals with the real form of society which exists today, ie bourgeois society. Thus Marx, as against the bourgeois 'theorists' who continually tend to generalize in one way or another the facts they 'discover', more nearly approaches the method of the classical bourgeois historians, from which however, in another direction, he kept himself all the more aloof through his insistence upon a strictly theoretical form of scientific knowledge.
Nor is the bourgeois concept of developmental stages wholly repudiated by Marx. He plainly distinguishes the historical forms of 'Asiatic', 'Antique' and 'Feudal' society, and groups them, together with modem 'Bourgeois' society, into a series of 'progressive epochs of socio-economic formation'. Although he does no more regard, as the bourgeois theorists had done, all previous forms of society as mere preliminary steps to its present and anal formation, still he indulges in the statement that the present form of society is itself merely the last of a series of preliminary steps and, as it were, 'concludes the pre-history of a really human society'- He does not raise a fundamental objection to the extension of scientific concepts derived from the present bourgeois state of society to the conditions of past historical epochs. He explicitly states the principle that the categories of bourgeois society as the frost developed and most complex historical organization of production', furnish a key to the understanding of earlier epochs of social and economic formation.He even endorsed, in his early years, the 'correct idea' underlying that 'common action of the eighteenth century, which regarded the primitive state of man as the true state of human nature'. It is true that he later replaced this revolutionary slogan of the eighteenth century, and the fresh impetus which it had in the meantime received through the first great discoverers of primitive society in the nineteenth century, by the more sober principles of a strictly empirical and materialistic research. However, he did not even then abandon the underlying idea but rather reshaped it in a critical spirit and gave it a new and fruitful application. In the same way even the bourgeois idea of 'evolution' was not completely wiped out in Marx's theory of a social revolution. Just as there is - in spite of all the intervening revolutions, and in fact, realized just by these revolutions - one progressive line of development leading up from the historic and 'pre-historic' past to the contemporary form of bourgeois society, so will the future socialist and communist society, springing from the social revolution, though involving a fundamental transformation of the present-day bourgeois order, still remain, according to Marx, an outgrowth of existing conditions of society.
The Marxist critique of the developmental concept of bourgeois social science starts from a recognition of the illusionary character of that 'so-called historical evolution', according to which 'the last stage regards the preceding stages as being only preliminary to itself, and therefore can only look at them one-sidedly'. Just where Marx seems to adopt this naive pseudo-Darwinian metaphysics of evolution, which later was fully and blindly accepted by such orthodox Marxists as Kautsky, and on account of which such heterodox marxists as Georges Sorel have altogether denied any application of the principle of evolution to scientist sociology, he actually reverses the whole conception and thereby destroys its metaphysical character. While bourgeois evolutionists imagine, with Spencer, that they can explain the more complex organization of the higher types both of animal species and social forms by reference to the simpler organization of the lower, Marx breaks up this illusion with the paradoxical statement that 'the anatomy of man is a key. to the anatomy of the ape'.
This critical consciousness breaks the magic spell of the meta- physical flaw' of evolution. From a valid a prior axiom, it is reduced to a working hypothesis which must be empirically Merited in each case. Even though bourgeois society does provide a (key' to ancient society, it does not therefore follow that such categories as commodity, money, state, law, etc, must have the same meaning for ancient society and its mode of production as they have for modern capitalist production and for the bourgeois society which is based upon it. Thus, the path is made free for a strictly empirical research. Bourgeois society may contain the relations of earlier societies in a further developed form. It may contain them as well in degenerate, stunted and travestied forms as, eg the communal property of primitive times, according to Marx, was contained in a travestied form if the Russia 'Mir'. It likewise contains within itself the germs of future developments of present society, though by no means their complete determination. The false idealistic concept of evolution as applied by bourgeois social theorists, is closed on both sides, and in all past and future forms of safety rediscovers only itself . The new, critical and materialistic Marxist principle of development is, on the other hand, open on both sides.
Marx does not deal with Asiatic, Antique, or Feudal society, and still less with those primitive societies which preceded all written history, merely as 'preliminary stages' of contemporary society. He regards them, in their totality, as so many independent historical formations which are to be understood in terms of their own categories. In the same way he defines the socialist and communist society arising out of the proletarian revolution not only as a further developed form of bourgeois society, but as a new type which is no longer to be basically explained by any of the bourgeois categories. Marx's quarrel with the Utopian socialists is not, as many have imagined, inspired by their idea of a future state, totally different from that of contemporary bourgeois society, leaving out the shadows. A11 such utopian schemes will, when worked out in detail and put into practice, inevitably reproduce only the same old bourgeois form of society we know so well. On the other hand, Marxism, while carefully avoiding a detailed painting of future stages of development, nevertheless endeavours, in its materialistic analysis and critique of the specific historical features of contemporary bourgeois society, to and the main tendencies of the further development lading up, first to that transitional stage which is opened by the proletarian revolution, and ultimately, to that further advanced stage which Marx calls the completely developed communistic society.
Communistic society in its first phase', as it is just emerging from the womb of bourgeois society after long labour pains, is still in many ways, in its economic, political, legal, intellectual and moral structure, determined by bourgeois principles. Communistic society in its 'second phase', where it has already developed on its own basis, will be as far remote from the principles of present-day bourgeois society, as, in the other direction, the classless and stateless 'primitive communism' of the earliest epochs of human society is removed from contemporary society. Communistic society, when it is fully developed, will have left the narrow bourgeois horizon far behind and will ultimately realise the slogan which, in an abstract form, was first annunciated by the 'utopian' pioneers on the threshold of the nineteenth century : 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.' To the philosophical dialectic of Hegel, which he otherwise regarded as the perfected installment of a developmental investigation of society, Marx raised the objection that, in the 'mystified form' in which it became fashionable in Germany, it seemed to glorify existing conditions'. On the other hand, the new and rational form in which this Hegelian dialectic reappears in Marxist social research, has became 'a scandal and abomination to the bourgeoisie and its doctrinaire spokesmen; because it includes in its positive understanding of existing conditions at the same time an understanding of their negation and of their necessary disintegration; because it conceives of every form manifested as being in the flux of movement, ie also from its transitory aspect; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and because it is essentially critical and revolutionary'. The outstanding difference between Marx and Hegel in this respect, is evident without a more detailed analysis. Hegel, who glorified existing institutions and moderate progress within the narrow confines of the contemporary Prussian State, explicitly limited the validity of his dialectical principle to the past development of society and consigned future progress in a purposely irrational manner to the 'mole, burrowing below the surface'.Again, though criticising the so-called 'pre-formation Hypothesis', according to which all future forms are already physically contained in those that precede them, he emphasized at the same time the correctness of the idea underlying this hypothesis, ie the assumption that social development 'remains by itself in its process and that by such a development no new content is brought about, but only a change of four'. Development is therefore, according to Hegel, 'only to be regarded as if it were a pla
he something else which is set by it, is in fact nothing else'. It is evident that from this Standpoint which, in its unyielding Hegelian formula, amounts almost to an involuntary criticism of the principle of evolution as used by the bourgeois social investigators, there is no room for the conscious human-social act, which will radically transform and overthrow the present order of society. Hegel said, concerning the real 'purpose'' of all historical action, that 'it is already fulfilled in truth, and need not wait for us', Its actual performance, then, only 'removes the semblance as if it were not yet performed'.. Hence in contrast to some of his followers, who later on actually tried to use his dialectical method as an instrument for revolution, Hegel considered the only purpose of his philosophy to be to 're-establish' the conviction from which 'every unsophisticated consciousness proceeds': what is reasonable is real, and what is real is reasonable', and thus to bring about the final 'reconciliation' between 'reason as self-conscious mind' and 'reason as a given reality'.
It is here that we face the most important consequence of the total destruction of bourgeois evolutionary metaphysics which is implied in Marx's materialistic criticism of the Hegelian idealist dialectic. Marx's study of society is based upon a full recognition of the reality of historical change. Marx treats all conditions of existing bourgeois society as changing, ie more exactly, as conditions in the process of being changed by human actions. Bourgeois society is not, according to Marx, a general entity which can be replaced by another stage in a historical movement. It is both the result of an earlier phase and the starting point of a new phase, of the social class war which is leading to a social revolution.
(Originally published in Marxist quarterly,1937)Back To Class Against Class