French Liberals Contra Marx
Early last summer, I encouraged libertarians to study class conflict theory, a powerful tool for political outreach seldom discussed in This Movement of Ours. I also began summarizing Sam Konkin’s unfinished Agorism Contra Marxism (and yes, I know I haven’t posted a new installment in a month or so).
Well, a couple weeks back, B.K. Marcus pointed readers of his blog to a 1998 paper by Christian Michel titled “The Class Struggle Is Not Over: Why Libertarians Should Read Marx and Engels.” Philosophically, the piece is sound. I think everyone should read it. What bothers me is that Michel credits Marx with the creation of class conflict theory and goes on to say that “Marxism is a tool which libertarians can find extremely useful in making people understand the domination they are subjected to in our social-democratic societies.”
Michel, like most of today’s academics, ignores totally the liberal class theory of Comte and Dunoyer, which not only pre-dates Marx but influenced his views. Where Marx held that the class struggle was between the proletariat (workers) and capitalists (owners), the earlier French liberals got to the root of the real class war, one they saw as being between the productive class (those who gain wealth through the marketplace) and the political class (those who parasitically draw their wealth through machinations of the State). I believe libertarians would be much better served by going directly to Comte and Dunoyer rather than Marx to begin their study of class conflict theory.
Regardless, Michel’s final bit of advice is unassailable:
“Our libertarian mission, I believe, is to make the creators of wealth and beauty, the entrepreneurs and the productive workers, aware of their exploitation as a class. Our calling, as the libertarian vanguard of the oppressed, is to denounce the oppressors and to deconstruct their ideology.”