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I am author of the books Political Internet(Routledge, 2017), Intimate Speakers ( Fingerprint! 2017), has finished the typescript of three books—first, on Internet and sexuality; second, on the negative impacts of social media; and third, a novel—and is presently working on a narrative non-fiction with the working title Lovescape: Why India is afraid of love.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Karl Marx advocated a classless society after the workers overthrow the capitalists (owners of the means of production) from power. Do you think that a classless society is attainable and sustainable in the century?

Classless society pass on to a society in which no one is bound by a social class or constrained by social division based on pure economic yardsticks. Such distinctions of income, wealth, education, culture, or social network and power arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society.
Scrutiny of class divisions and struggles is principally imperative in mounting an appreciation of the character of capitalism. To Marx classes are defined and structured by the relations concerning work and labour and ownership or possession of property and the means of production. In fact, relations of production and means of production decide mode of production in every epoch in history and these economic factors more fully govern social relationships in capitalism than they did in previous stages in history of societies. Whilst earlier societies contained various strata or groupings which might be considered classes, such as patrician and plebeian, Freeman and slave, guild-master and journeyman, lord and serf, in a word; oppressor and oppressed stood in continuous hostility to one another and carried on an nonstop, concealed, open fight; a fight that each time ended either in a revolutionary restructuring of society at large or in the common ruin of the contending classes by the passing if time.
For Marx, the assessment of social class, the class structures and the changes in the said structures are central to knowing capitalism and other social systems or modes of production. Meantime, in the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels comment that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles (Bottomore, 1983:75).
In the capitalist system, for instances; the locus of the productive basis of society- the factory, is the prime layer of opposition between classes-between exploiters and exploited, between buyers and sellers of labour power and it is far more vigorous than a functional relationship. Class interests and the confrontations of power that they bring in their wake are to Marx the vital determinant of social and historical process in history.
Classes in the real sense are a social production. Ever since recorded history division of society based on many criteria has been prevalent. Marx’s contribution towards this was that of developing a scientific understanding of class in human history and its social production. For Marx Class is the channeling force of history and class struggle will ultimately result in classless society through different stages; primitive, feudal, capitalist and communist stage. This means class ultimately results in classlessness and a classless society.
Classless society, in Marxism has been the decisive stipulation of social organization, anticipated to crop up when true Communism is pulled off. To Karl Marx (1818–83), the prime role of the State is to bottle up the lower classes of society in the interests of the ruling class in the capitalist order. Nevertheless, after the class struggle has resulted in the triumph of the proletariat and the founding of a socialist society, there will be no further call for for such a suppressive organisation with the disappearance of classes, the state is expected to wither away in time and the state drop its bureaucratic and coercive utility and is substituted by collective and decentralized administration of society in the classless society.
Considering the modern world from different angle, it is immature to think that classless society is attainable and sustainable in the twenty-first century. The state exists as long as classes exist; market exists as long s classes exist; education exists as long as classes exist; nationalism exists as long as cases exist in short it is almost naive to think that straight away following a revolutionary outburst and flourishing revolution, all classes would disappear and class is irrelevant in modern life.
There is extensive proof of mounting class consciousness around the world in twenty-first century and a resumption of political and social activism not seen in the Cold war period. A totally classless society as such might not be achievable or even unattractive, but rather a society which is at least free of dehumanisation, exploitation, dire poverty, enormous disparities of wealth, malnutrition, toxic pollution, transmittable diseases, institutionalised greed and corruption and State violence might be most preferred and realistic even if some class structure still exists in this century.
The contemporary world has seen many class conscious movements as of now. Class movements are largely because the current world if full of divisive and contradictory tendencies in social, economic, political, cultural and even at psychological levels. There was what was questionably the United States' largest and most continued radical, extremely class conscious movement called Occupy Wall Street very recently. The US society is highly polarized on many factors and more specifically economic grounds and it is evident from the growing number of people in below poverty line.
To look at Europe, there seems immense dissent explode in many countries of the European Union and most remarkably in Spain and Greece; where more acutely rooted traditions of insurrectionary anarchism sparked much more violent resistance. Mainly resistance against devastating austerity measures which have completely reduced many workers' salaries, devastated their pensions and made yawning cuts to social spending in countries whose economies are more geared toward dependence on such social spending by now. Many economists argue that these austerity measures are like economic suicide and really craft the problems they are supposedly trying to remedy far bad. Whilst the vast majority of participants in these protests remained nonviolent, there were significant numbers of militant anarchists who pronged off from the main marches and rallies, sourced significant property harm and set many buildings in flames eventually.
Class problems have been seen very much vibrant and significant in Arab Spring in Middle East nations where people began to fight down despotic regimes which arguably handicapped the citizens for years. In Latin America there were considerable sentiments against neo-liberal agenda which exploited citizens and the result was the rise of a new-left in Latin American politics and the subsequent electoral victory of Left governments in Brazil, Venezuela Columbia etc.
It is not exaggeration to think that rich get richer and the poor get poorer in the contemporary world. Capitalism is an intrinsically exploitative system where rich people own the large corporations, factories, banks, mines, shops, multiplexes etc and poor people are dragged towards more inequality and inequity. Moreover capitalism coalesces with market, patriarchal ideologies; traditional authorities, leadership of different sorts, primordial allegiances like ethnic, racial identity and at large bring about a global system of flows of goods and capital across borders that ultimately result in the destruction of local communities, indigenous eco-system and even life become difficult.
In fact, class system are produced, sustained and desirable in some other way so as to fight down the ills and pit falls of modern productive system that produces more classes than before. The globalization of capitalism along with commoditisation of all human interaction has had a weighty latent and manifest impact on the nature and conditions of class configuration now a day.
It is high time briefly highlight some of the contemporaneous changes in differing geo-economic regions of the world economy as of now and see class is configured in the complex system of production, exchange and labour in a condition of market forces deciding social organisation.
The most important influence of neo-liberal ideologies along with capitalist production system based on large corporatisation manufacturing has resulted in grave problems in Latin America, Africa and Asia – more particularly in China, where colossal flows of capital by manufacturing multi-national corporations, in connection with state capital has fashioned a gigantic industrial working class population.
The ascend of Asia, especially China, in fact has led to long-term increase in commodity prices and cheap labour especially in China, the hasty specialisation of Latin American economies in primary goods exports and growing outsourcing destinations in forms of BPO and KPO in Philippines, India etc., all resulted in making new forms classes. Equally important is the fact that Agro-mineral exports based on massive flows of foreign and national ‘extractive capital’ is the motor force of growth in such economies. As a result the socio-economic axis of class configuration has shifted to new proportions.
The industrial working class protest in Brazil have been intermittent, confined to economic struggles and restricted by trade union ties to the social liberal Workers Party and largely turns to be political. Thus the arch pillar of the class struggle has been centered in the Rural Landless Workers Movement (MST) which engaged in major land-occupations of uncultivated landed estates and other forms of direct action but sure class still survives in Brazil[1] and its protest potential too infect modern capitalist order.

Venezuela can be categorized the center of class configuration in the developing world.  At the same time the axis of class movement in the Andean region has shifted dramatically to the mining and energy provinces with larger Indian-peasant populations. Moreover, Oil politics has created new forms of class resistance in the Latin American world against neo-liberal corporate. Colombia has also experienced the longest sustained armed class struggle in Latin America and perhaps the world which also added rich source to class configuration in contemporary world order.
Now comes the central question Are issues of Social Class still relevant in modern society? Is class still attainable and sustainable in the century? An  Exploration in to the issues involved in Latin America, Asia and Africa , with reference to the original ideas of Karl Marx and more recent concepts such as the notions of a 'middle class' and an 'underclass' reveal a different and more complex nature class and even class struggle in a entire out of context scenario in modern life.
Analysing the writings of Karl Marx in the 1860s and 1870s; class antagonism, deep-seated in the economic veracities of differential relations to the means of production, that  flooded into every aspect of social life, including market, work, economy, education, politics, family, religion and culture. Marx measured that all societies spaced out from the most simple were made up of two major social classes- the bourgeoisie; being the most powerful 'class', owning the means of production that is factories land, etc., and the proletariat; the least powerful 'class', being compelled to trade their labour in order to subsistence and life. Admittedly the capitalist society, the capitalist 'class' or bourgeoisie is the ruling class, owning more property and wealth, consequently facilitating them to preserve and maintain what they embrace and the working class or proletariat which Marx considered as the subordinate class exercising much less power and control in entire social milieu. For Marx, each class followed their own interests and that all through history the two major classes would be fundamentally opposed.
However, with the proletariat dictatorship and subsequent withering away of State a classless society would prevail and there will be no meaning for class struggle. But the prevailing situation in the modern capitalist social life and productive order gives a new picture of surfacing new forms of class and new forms of struggles tinged with new power relations and relations of production. In short the class is still relevant and more attainable not in the sense that to establish a proletarian revolution and withering away of state but rather to fight down the forces that bring about avoidable injustices and inequality.

[1] James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer, (17 August 2012) Class Struggle in Present Day Globalized Capitalism, accessed on 09-03-2013 (http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1906)


Bottomore, Tom, ed., A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1983

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