Marx and the condition of the working class

By Val Reynoso

Karl Marx was inspired by Hegelian theory and is known for his explication of dialectical materialism and historical materialism.

Dialectical materialism refers to the objective reality independent from the mind and spirit, it describes the tangible consequences of class struggle and life under a capitalist system. Historical materialism refers to the idea that all forms of social thought and institutions are a reflection of economic relations modified by class struggle; the bourgeoisie will set the conditions to create the oppressed class and proletariat that will then overthrow them.

Dialectical and Historical materialism also incorporate the Marxist ideas of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The thesis will attract the antithesis and the synthesis is the product of their conjunction.

Each synthesis will be greater than the last because as class struggle shifts throughout the ages, the economic system inches closer to communism. Feudalism produced the lord and serf which synthesized to produce capitalism. The bourgeoisie and proletariat will synthesize to create communism.

As Marx once said, “Landlords’ right has its origin in robbery. The landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for the natural produce of the earth.”

Capitalism is fueled by the theft and exploitation of resources of the earth and especially the land and bodies of nonwhite people, as well as the unpaid labor of workers. Nonwhite people live under a system that was built on violence against them and is continuously fueled this way. The material consequence nonwhite people and workers must endure due to this is that they are constantly subjugated throughout their lives in all aspects.

Capitalism was birthed and founded through the enslavement of African peoples and their free and cheap labor, along with the genocide, displacement and enslavement of Native peoples, all for the benefit of and construction of European empires at the material expense of oppressed nationalities. Capitalism is violence; imperialism, colonialism and all other oppressive isms are violence.

Malcolm X said that the intention of the abuser is to trick you into thinking you are participating in the reverse version of violence inflicted upon you if you fight back.

It is typical of mainstream media to conflate oppressor with oppressed, to equate systemic violence against marginalized people to resistance and defiance against that. Although violence is bourgeois, oppressed peoples can only aggressively defend themselves against capitalism and colonialism since it is clear that aggression is the only language oppressors understand.

The material consequence of the proletariat overthrowing capitalism is the establishment of a socialist transition to communism so that healthcare, education and all other societal aspects can be universalized—improving the overall material condition of people as a whole.

Val Reynoso is a Politics and Human Rights undergrad, journalist and Marxist-Leninist activist.

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