Saturday, August 27, 2005

Agorism Contra Marxism, part 4

[This continues a multi-part summary of known existing portions of Samuel Edward Konkin III’s unfinished book Agorism Contra Marxism, which began, and ended, its serialization in Strategy of the New Libertarian Alliance #2, 1982-83.]

Marxist Classes

Marx recognized that the millennium-old class structure of Europe was drastically and noticeably changing and that he lived in a revolutionary time. “The old order,” wrote SEK3, “was making way for a new one. The Aristocracy was on its way out, either to liquidation (as in France and the U.S.) or to vestigial status, kept around for ceremonial purpose by a sentimental bourgeoisie (and lower classes) as in England. The bourgeoisie was in the ascendancy in the first half of the nineteenth century — Marx’s formative and most active years.

“Future events could and were explained by this class struggle theory: the Europe-wide rebellion of 1848 swept away much of aristocratic power restored after Napoleon’s defeat; the American Civil War was the Northern bourgeoisie’s way of smashing the remnant of landed aristocracy preserved as by the South.

“While this phenomenon so far was widely acknowledged (though it applied poorly to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1), Marx was as interested in the transformation of the Lower Class as in that of the Upper Class. Peasants were being driven off their farms, serfs were given their freedom to go to the cities to become industrial workers. And here was the focus of Marx’s insight.”

First, based on Adam Smith’s Labor Theory of Value, Marx saw the evolving workers as the only real productive class. He saw the bourgeoisie evolving into a smaller, aristocratic group that held ownership of the new means of production: factories, assembly lines, distribution and transportation systems, etc. The world, Marx said, was being neatly divided between a non-productive class (the former bourgeoisie, now capitalists) and a productive class skilled in using capital goods but not owning them (the proletariat). Capital would control the State. To Marx, this was the world of the future, as evident in his present.

Marx’s second insight was based on Hegel’s dialectical materialism. History was an ongoing clash of ideas: the thesis existed, the anti-thesis rose in opposition, and the clash created a synthesis (a new thesis). Wrote SEK3: “This is why Marxist sloganeers always call for ‘struggle’ — it’s all their theory allows them to do!”

So just as the bourgeoisie ousted the aristocracy to create capitalism (the synthesis), Marx declared that the new proletariat would oust capital and synthesize into, well, nothing. The proletariat victory, Marx predicted, would eventually end classes and class conflict. Granted, the proletariat (or, rather, its vanguard elite) would control the State temporarily. But once classes vanished and there was no class conflict to repress, the State would “wither away.”

To be continued...
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