The situation. In the first place, it only seems to be true that for capitalism production occupies the centre of class consciousness and hence provides the theoretical starting-point for analysis. Of course, if historical materialism is deployed to discover the sociological meaning of these struggles, economic interests will doubtless be revealed as the decisive factors in any explanation. This process revealed the social’ character of capital more and more clearly without affecting the general anarchy in production. The same process that the bourgeoisie experiences as a permanent crisis and gradual dissolution appears to the proletariat, likewise in crisis-form, as the gathering of strength and the springboard to victory. The cause of this aberration is to be found in the dialectical separation of immediate objectives and ultimate goal and, hence, in the dialectical division within the proletarian revolution itself. On the other hand, the position held by the capitalist class and the interests which determine its actions ensure that it will be unable to control its own system of production even in theory. The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby every other previous mode of appropriation.” (my italics.). The facts and the situations which induce this panic force something into the consciousness of the bourgeoisie which is too much of a brute fact for its existence to be wholly denied or repressed. For the proletariat the truth is a weapon that brings victory; and the more ruthless, the greater the victory. The first of these involves the relationship of the ‘later’ Lukács to the ‘earlier’ Lukács of History and Class Consciousness fame. also the Communist Manifesto. They ought not to forget that they are fighting with effects, but not with the causes of those effects. 136, 307-8, 318, etc. This twofold dialectical determination of ‘false consciousness’ constitutes an analysis far removed from the naive description of what men in fact thought, felt and wanted at any moment in history and from any given point in the class structure. There is therefore no possible position within such a society from which the economic basis of all social relations could be made conscious. In this context it is unfortunately not possible to discuss in greater detail some of the ramifications of these ideas in Marxism, e.g. For man, however, the root is man himself. For the discrete factor, the concrete situation with its concrete demands is by its very nature an integral part of the existing capitalist society; it is governed by the laws of that society and is subject to its economic structure. But it understands the process (which it is itself instigating) as something external which is subject to objective laws which it can only experience passively. However, by reducing the objectivity of the social institutions so hostile to man to relations between men, Marx also does away with the false implications of the irrationalist and individualist principle, i.e. But equally it is something that the bourgeoisie can never fully understand. It does not need to be emphasised that there is no question here of a mechanical duality. on its class consciousness. The resulting otherworldliness of consciousness vis-à-vis the real events of history becomes, in the hands of Hegel’s disciples, an arrogant – and reactionary confrontation of ‘spirit’ and ‘mass’. (The separation of empiricism from utopianism undertaken here for purely methodological reasons should not be taken as an admission that the two cannot occur together in particular trends and even individuals. For best search results, mind the following suggestions: Since our founding in 2007, TFOA has led the global single family office community by delivering world-class educational content, unique networking opportunities, and exceptional thought leadership to our highly curated network of the world’s largest and wealthiest families. For the blind power of the forces at work will only advance ‘automatically’ to their goal of self-annihilation as long as that goal is not within reach. Such knowledge would of course be unattainable were it not for the objective aspiration, and here we find confirmation of Marx’s dictum that mankind only ever sets itself tasks which it can accomplish”. During the Second World War he was forced to serve in a Hungarian labour battalion for Jews. For in this historiography with its search for ‘sociological’ laws or its formalistic rationale, we find the reflection of man’s plight in bourgeois society and of his helpless enslavement by the forces of production. Marx says on this point: [26] “The small-holding peasants form a vast mass whose members live in similar conditions but without entering into manifold relations with each other. The bourgeoisie is unable in theory to understand more than the details and the symptoms of economic processes (a failure which will ultimately prove its undoing). Objectively, then, the social character of capital was brought into play with great energy but in such a manner as to keep its nature concealed from the capitalist class. The older ‘natural’ and ‘conservative’ forms of domination had left unmolested [34] the forms of production of whole sections of the people they ruled and therefore exerted by and large a traditional and unrevolutionary influence. Capital III, pp. Nor is it the instrument it uses to create the conditions for its economic dominance (as with modern colonialism). It does not regard the particular interest and the struggle to achieve it as a means of education for the final battle whose outcome depends on closing the gap between the psychological consciousness and the imputed one. 24. The reified consciousness must also remain hopelessly trapped in the two extremes of crude empiricism and abstract utopianism. of the Jacobinism of the Montagne 1848-51). Now, however, it adopts a course directly opposed to it. The dialectical cleavage in the consciousness of the proletariat is a product of the same structure that makes the historical mission of the proletariat possible by pointing forward and beyond the existing social order. In Hegel’s words, “When philosophy paints its gloomy picture a form of life has grown old. For instance, the economic basis of a world crisis is undoubtedly unified and its coherence can be understood. [24] Accordingly it will search for ways whereby it will “not indeed eliminate the two extremes of capital and wage labour, but will weaken their antagonism and transform it into harmony”. For a class to be ripe for hegemony means that its interests and consciousness enable it to organise the whole of society in accordance with those interests. The Hungarian Marxist makes this observation about capitalism: ‘The universality of the commodity form is responsible both objectively and subjectively for the abstraction of the human labour incorporated in commodities'. © Copyright 2019 | All Rights Reserved. Robert Lanning - 2009 - Mep Publications. In consequence the practical emergence of these problems meant that the society was necessarily and irremediably doomed. The tragic dialectics of the bourgeoisie can be seen in the fact that it is not only desirable but essential for it to clarify its own class interests on every particular issue, while at the same time such a clear awareness becomes fatal when it is extended to the question of the totality. 23. This does not preclude the use of force. Consciousness and self-interest then are mutually incompatible in this instance. Ibid., p. 74. It was there, of course, in so-called periods of normality, too, and was therefore visible from the class standpoint of the proletariat, but the gap between appearance and ultimate reality was too great for that unity to have any practical consequences for proletarian action. It fixates consciousness directly on its privileges (as in the case of the knights during the Reformation) or else – no less directly – on the particular element of society from which the privileges emanated (as in the case of the guilds). Even less can we pause to glance at the relation of historical materialism to comparable trends in bourgeois thought (such as Max Weber’s ideal types). For to eliminate the objectivity attributed both to social institutions inimical to man and to their historical evolution means the restoration of this objectivity to their underlying basis, to the relations between men; it does not involve the elimination of laws and objectivity independent of the will of man and in particular the wills and thoughts of individual men. But however useful it would be to produce a typology of the various strata, we would still be confronted at every turn with the problem of whether it is actually possible to make the objective possibility of class consciousness into a reality. The unique function of consciousness in the class struggle of the proletariat has consistently been overlooked by the vulgar Marxists who have substituted a petty ‘Realpolitik’ for the great battle of principle which reaches back to the ultimate problems of the objective economic process. In this respect (and in this respect alone) its superiority in organisation is clearly visible, while the wholly different organisation of the proletariat, its capacity for being organised as a class, cannot become effective. The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 140. [13] This condition is given as a definite structural relation, a definite formal nexus which appears to govern the whole of life. These distinctions are by no means academic. In Hegel’s parlance the economy has not even objectively reached the stage of being-for-itself. It does not work itself out as a purely objective process quite apart from all (imputed) consciousness – as was the case with all classes hitherto. Moreover, it is even more difficult to establish fixed meanings for concepts in Marx’s improved version of the dialectic than in the Hegelian original. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, p. 198. And here it becomes transparently obvious that class consciousness is concerned neither with the thoughts of individuals, however advanced, nor with the state of scientific knowledge. also Wage Labour and Capital, S.W. That is to say, objectively, it appears as a ‘false consciousness’. But even this situation can be explained on the basis of the Marxist theory of class struggle and class consciousness. 46. Without overestimating the efficacy of such ideological factors it must be agreed that the fighting power of a class grows with its ability to carry out its own mission with a good conscience and to adapt all phenomena to its own interests with unbroken confidence in itself. Such classes are normally condemned to passivity, to an unstable oscillation between the ruling and the revolutionary classes, and if perchance they do erupt then such explosions are purely elemental and aimless. Its aim now is to scotch the development of proletarian class consciousness in its progress from that which is merely given to that which conforms to the objective total process; even more, it hopes to reduce the class consciousness of the proletariat to the level of the psychologically given and thus to divert into the opposite direction what had hitherto been the purely instinctive tendency. The class consciousness that springs from this position must exhibit the same internal structure as that of the bourgeoisie. He opposes to it the notion of consciousness as ‘practical critical activity’ with the task of ‘changing the world’. For the objective aspiration towards truth which is immanent even in the ‘false’ consciousness of the proletariat does not at all imply that this aspiration can come to light without the active intervention of the proletariat. By subscribing as a member to TFOA, you acknowledge and accept that all trading decisions are your own sole responsibility, and TFOA or anybody associated with TFOA cannot be held responsible for any losses that are incurred as a result. In consequence theory and practice are brought into irreconcilable opposition to each other. Quite apart from problems of culture where such fissures and dissonances are crucial, in all practical matters too the fate of a class depends on its ability to elucidate and solve the problems with which history confronts it. As Marx says of bourgeois thought: “Man’s reflections on the forms of social life and consequently also his scientific analysis of those forms, take a course directly opposite to that of their actual historical development. History and Class Consciousness Preface. a lasting action resulting in a great transformation.” The essence of scientific Marxism consists, then, in the realisation that the real motor forces of history are independent of man’s (psychological) consciousness of them. That would require – in the first instance – an exact study of the point in the total process of production at which the interests of the various classes are most immediately and vitally involved. But in a world where the reified relations of capitalism have the appearance of a natural environment it looks as if there is not a unity but a diversity of mutually independent objects and forces. Szabo argues that the peasants’ revolt was suppressed only by the ruthless use of force and that its defeat was not grounded in socioeconomic factors and in the class consciousness of the peasants. He is a founder of the tradition of Western Marxism, an interpretive tradition that departed from the Marxist ideological orthodoxy of the Soviet Union. ), and even if in consequence the reflex of the crisis is fragmented in the immediate psychological consciousness of the workers, it is still possible and necessary to advance beyond this consciousness. Second, what is the (practical) function of class consciousness, so understood, in the context of the class struggle? from the point where a proletarian class consciousness arises, they thereby place themselves on the level of consciousness of the bourgeoisie. It is true that the conscious reflexes of the different stages of economic growth remain historical facts of great importance; it is true that while dialectical materialism is itself the product of this process, it does not deny that men perform their historical deeds themselves and that they do so consciously. Hence the structuring of society into castes and estates means that economic elements are inextricably joined to political and religious factors. Try similar keywords, for example: tablet instead of laptop. 3. Whether these movements will be progressive (as in the French Revolution of 1789 or the Russian Revolution of 1917), or reactionary (as with Napoleon’s coup d’état) will depend on the position of the other classes involved in the conflict, and on the level of consciousness of the parties that lead them. Its impact remains superficial and the process of production above all in relation to labour, remains beyond its control. This law was expressed most clearly and coherently in the purely natural and rational laws of classical economics. The first question we must ask is how far is it intact possible to discern the whole economy of a society from inside it? And no class can do that – unless it is willing to abdicate its power freely. One sector of society simply lives out its ‘natural’ existence in what amounts to a total independence of the fate of the state. The fact that it must necessarily remain in ignorance of the objective economic limitations of its own system expresses itself as an internal, dialectical contradiction in its class consciousness. A like phenomenon can be observed under capitalism in the case of all ‘privileged’ groups whose class situation lacks any immediate economic base. 11, pp. The workers’ council spells the political and economic defeat of reification. Thus it is highly characteristic of both Anarchism and the ‘class consciousness of the peasantry that a number of counter-revolutionary rebellions and uprisings of the middle and upper strata of the peasantry in Russia should have found the anarchist view of society to be a satisfying ideology. In contrast to that, under slavery even that portion of labour which is paid for appears unpaid for.” [14] Now it requires the most painstaking historical analysis to use the category of objective possibility so as to isolate the conditions in which this illusion can be exposed and a real connection with the totality established. In the period following the dictatorship it will eliminate the bourgeois separation of the legislature, administration and judiciary. This can be seen at its clearest in purely ideological questions, in questions of culture. 42. It can therefore only be described pragmatically but it cannot be rationally understood. On the contrary, history is precisely the history of these institutions, of the changes they undergo as institutions which bring men together in societies. But when it comes to practice this mystification touches upon the central fact of capitalist society: the class struggle. But in vain: with the end of the century the issue was resolved by the advances of science and their corresponding effects on the consciousness of the capitalist elite. In the first place this consciousness is divided within itself. . Georg Lukács and Organizing Class Consciousness. the false path it has followed back to the right one. The only question at issue is how much it has to suffer before it achieves ideological maturity, before it acquires a true understanding of its class situation and a true class consciousness. Cf. The closer this process comes to it 1 s goal the more urgent it becomes for the proletariat to understand its own historical mission and the more vigorously and directly proletarian class consciousness will determine each of its actions. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, p. 302. With this the whole existence of the bourgeoisie and its culture is plunged into the most terrible crisis. It then becomes impossible to advance beyond the mere ‘individuality’ of the various epochs and their social and human representatives. The question is what is the proletariat and what course of action will it be forced historically to take in conformity with its own nature.Marx: The Holy Family. With the crises of the War and the post-war period this tendency has advanced still further: the idea of a ‘planned’ economy has gained ground at least among the more progressive elements of the bourgeoisie. Hence it cannot possibly remain wholly unaffected by the fact of class conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat. 358-9. In the class struggle we witness the emergence of all the hidden forces that usually lie concealed behind the façade of economic life, at which the capitalists and their apologists gaze as though transfixed. Central to class consciousness for Lukács is the recognition that social relations are neither natural nor inevitable (which reflects a ‘false consciousness’): rather, they are the artificial construction of individuals with the power to define the norms of social life (Lukács, 1923/1971). [Kritische Randglossen zu dem Artikel: Der König von Preussen und die Sozialreform.]. Cf. And the detailed analysis of the process by which capital is concretely realised shows in every single instance that the interest of the capitalist (who produces not goods but commodities) is necessarily confined to matters that must be peripheral in terms of production. And if so, what are their practical implications for the class struggle of the proletariat? 18. The achievement in this area hardly ever goes beyond the self-criticism of capitalism – carried out here by the proletariat. In so doing its own objectives – which exist exclusively in its own consciousness – must become progressively weakened and increasingly divorced from social action. Its dialectics are grounded in the irreconcilable antagonism between the (capitalist) individual, i.e. They reduce theory to the ‘scientific’ treatment of the symptoms of social change and as for practice they are themselves reduced to being buffeted about aimlessly and uncontrollably by the various elements of the process they had hoped to master. It is true that society as such is highly unified and that it evolves in a unified manner. In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of other classes and place them in opposition to them, they constitute a class. For this sector the state with its power apparatus is not, as it is for the ruling classes under capitalism, a means whereby to put into practice the principles of its economic power – if need be with the aid of force. Subsequent development of the notion of class consciousness owes much to the work of Georg Lukács. This class lives at least in part in the capitalist big city and every aspect of its existence is directly exposed to the influence of capitalism. The ability of such a class to adapt itself to the real economic development can be measured by the extent to which it succeeds in ‘capitalising’ itself, i.e. Die soziale Funktion der Rechtsinstitute, Marx-Studien, Vol. But it is no less vital not to overstep the frontier fixed for them by the economic structure of society and establishing their position in it. Nothing Found "This sudden reversion from a system of credit to a system of hard cash heaps theoretical fright on top of practical panic; and the dealers by whose agency circulation is effected shudder before the impenetrable mystery in which their own economic relations are shrouded.” [32] This terror is not unfounded,. [30] Of course, it is true that stock companies differ only in inessentials from individual capitalists and even the so-called abolition of the anarchy in production through cartels and trusts only shifts the contradiction elsewhere, without, however, eliminating it. On the contrary, those limits acquire a historical embodiment with its own consciousness and its own actions: the proletariat. That is to say, it ceases to be a real unity. Marx resolves this dilemma by exposing it as an illusion. Transcription and HTML Mark-up: Andy Blunden. These gradations, however, can no longer be referred back to socioeconomic causes. As the bourgeoisie has the intellectual, organisational and every other advantage, the superiority of the proletariat must lie exclusively in its ability to see society from the centre as a coherent whole. And similarly: "They know not what they do, but they do it." In such circumstances the state, i.e. 35. With an admirable clarity of style, Jakubowski provides a summary of the main themes of Lukacs' History and Class Consciousness and Korschs' Marxism and Philosophy (Korsch was a personal friend of Jakubowski.) The dialectical contradiction between necessary proletarian action and vulgar Marxist (bourgeois) theory becomes more and more acute. This economic self-contradiction of any purely capitalist society is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the contradictions in the class consciousness of the bourgeoisie. While we embrace growth as our global family office relationships multiply, we preserve close friendships between members by hosting small group events and building trust at the individual level. This analysis establishes right from the start the distance that separates class consciousness from the empirically given, and from the psychologically describable and explicable ideas which men form about their situation in life. Whereas the proletariat always aspires towards the truth even in its ‘false’ consciousness and in its substantive errors. But when the logic of events drives the same dialectical contradictions to the surface of consciousness the consequences for the proletariat are even more disastrous than for the bourgeoisie. In periods of crisis the position is quite different. They had only to use the power at their disposal to enforce their immediate interests while the social import of their actions was hidden from them and left to the ‘ruse of reason’ of the course of events.
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