Class Society & the State


I thought like the precinct you know how
we think organize on the ice Shane banner I’m taking this locker for the
cost like you a piece while you fake niggas trying to copy master P I wanna
be free to laugh hey but I have what I need to live bring the power back to the
street where the people live we take a while the plums are filling up the
prison’s dine over money and rely on religion for help we do for self like
ants in a colony organ I see welcome to a socialist economy oh we’re like based
off the common need and all my comrades ready just read me what I want to cover
today it’s basically the Marxist theory of the origin of the state and classes
and it’s the state and classes because it’s actually as you will find out for
those who don’t know already it’s the same thing really and they go together
so you can’t look at the origin of one without looking at the origin of the
other so why and how did the state did classes arise and how they developed
over the centuries and as I said this presentation is really just a summary of
a single book which is angles 1884 work the origin of the family private
property and the state so many of you have read this book and if you have then
think of this as a little bit of revision and for those of you who
haven’t I really hope that this will inspire you to go and do so because
there isn’t really a substitute and this presentation definitely isn’t a
substitute for just reading the book I first read this book when I was 15 and
it absolutely opened my eyes and gave me a whole new way of looking at the world
which has stood me in good stead ever since I go back to it it gives you a
framework for understanding the whole of human history which is no small feat in
a small book and it also gives an explanation for the de visite division
of society into classes reveals the basis for the oppression of women in
society and finally being a Marxist analysis not
only does it do all of that but it points away to the future to the
resolution of these antagonisms between classes on sex
is and that’s the last point is really worth reiterating or well the first
point I made sorry that the state and classes class society go hand in hand
there was no state before there were classes and when classes disappear in
the future so will the state even the socialist state is an organ of class
rule although of course in this sense in that time it’s a majority class rules
that makes it a very different kind of a state but even that states will
gradually wither away as class divisions die out so it’s really important to
understand class society as a temporary phenomenon so what is the state when
simple terms the state is a special coercive force a repressive machinery of
coercion wielded by one class the ruling class within human society in order to
maintain its rule over the rest has there always been a state all those
intimated earlier the answer is no for the vast majority of human history there
were no classes and therefore no state no need for a special apparatus for
maintaining the rule of a particular class which begs the question in how was
society organized if there wasn’t a state it’s very hard for us to imagine
life without policemen and courts and prisons and civil services and all the
other things that go along with you know class rule so primitive societies were
organized around units of kinship and various kinds of family unit in
different parts of the world different kinship based societies persisted for
millennia and were in fact only undermined after they came into contact
with modern imperialism now the fact that different parts of the world were
at different levels of development when they first came into contact with
European imperialism had one great advantage for us now today which is that
all sorts of data could be gathered by kind of pioneering anthropologists by
people who are just interested he went out to live with and Beaver tribes and
and and try to understand how they lived and why and what that meant was a
certain point in the middle of the nineteenth century there was for those
who are interested in putting it together
a lot of data available and there was a pioneering anthropologist from America
called Lewis Morgan who like Marx did with information about capital got
together huge massive information he specially commissioned a lot of
information he gathered up more from other studies and went through it really
painstakingly to work out what whether there were parallels see where they were
drawn draw the conclusions find the patterns and extract the fact that there
is in fact a general law of development governing prehistoric Society and this
was happening in parallel to the work that Marx was doing when he was laying
bare the laws of development of production and because he came to very
similar conclusions to Marx albeit from a very different direction his
conclusions are still disputed so the terminology he used in the and the
understanding that he brought to anthropology is still not fashionable
although actually a lot of his work is the basis for our understanding it’s
it’s simultaneously debunked very similar to the way that Marx is treated
so Morgan divided the prehistoric era into two main areas he called them
savagery and barbarism and each of those he subdivided and the transitional point
for each stage he defined by a major revolution in the means of production so
again a very Marxist approach looking at the real conditions of people’s
existence and seeing how when they changed the way that they were able to
produce their society changed and what he noticed was that corresponding to
each of these stages there was a change in the way that the family was organized and just a note here it’s really
important to understand these terms not in the kind of vernacular sense of all
you’re a savage or you’re a barbarian you know like it’s it’s an insult it’s
not a value judgment it’s just a word used to describe a particular time and
although they don’t imply any kind of a judgment what they do convey is that
there was a progression and a development from one type of
organization of society to another and that thing that’s very important because
a lot of modern-day anthropology is very keen on just trying to make out like
it’s all the kind of random amorphous kind of method stuff that have to
happens to happen and actually one of the problems that people have in having
ignored the the the the profound understanding that human society
progresses and develops from one stage to another they then find it very
difficult to make sense of history without falling over themselves and so
when you look at you know I was going around the internet trying to look at
well people don’t use Morgan’s terminology and some people are going to
find it offensive so what terminology do they use and terms that we’re more
familiar with our Paleolithic or Stone Age or but then when you look a bit
deeper as long as Doyle has tried to find okay so what could what corresponds
to what you know in in the way that they talk about these things on television
ancient history and things that we you might be familiar with in the way that
Morgan talks about them and angles how can how can I find the corresponding
kind of terminology but of course it’s all disputed because
the the historians they talk about all that and the anthropologists and
paleontologists and all of those people archeologists who use these terms try to
then set dates for the errors when was the Paleolithic when was the Neolithic
and then they all start arguing each other because of course it happens at
different times in different places depending on the stage of development of
society and in some continents different terms altogether are used but basically
it’s that they’re recognizing the same things and argue with each other out
over the dates because they’re refusing to accept the basic premise that there’s
a development happening and the speed of the development isn’t the same in every
place but the progression basically is so the lower stage of savagery is
basically the beginning of humankind when Homo sapiens arrived into the world
and the corresponding terminology is
basically middle Paleolithic or Old Stone Age and it starts around 200,000
years ago when modern humans arrived on the scene and we have the emergence of
humanity as a new species and the development of articulate speech and man
is a herd animal so the in terms of the family the thing to understand is that
there was really no no family in that sense if you if you are a herd animal
there isn’t really room for sexual jealousy there are no rules on who can
have intercourse with whom there’s no concepts as incest or infidelity etc but
through this period there would have been a gradual evolution of group
marriage and the gradual emergence of a prohibition of intercourse between
generations so father and daughters mothers and sons or just in fact it
wouldn’t have been seen that way it would have been just this generation in
that generation because there wasn’t necessarily the recognition of who is
whose parents so everybody is seen as a parent or a
child now know examples of this type of society were still in existence when
anthropologists were traveling the world and meeting previously uncontacted
peoples but um traces of it have been found in the language it’s one of the
really interesting things that comes out of Engles book and again you see you
know how society develops that in many societies the relationships that
actually are existent are recognized in a society exist side by side with a
language which is still referring to the previous form of organization of the
family so in way in in in terms that people have for referring to each other
you can understand where their current or
Oshin has come from one stage before and Morgan found a lot of evidence for the
evolution of the family in the language that people had to describe
relationships with each other and an example I can give you of that if you
like in in kind of modern-day is for example you will have Indians in
capitalist India and you know now in capitalist Britain referring to or
having specific words that refer to father’s elder brother and father the
younger brother but only one which one kind of uncle for mother’s brother okay
and that tells you something about the structure of Indian society but not
necessarily today so much as under feudalism yeah and that and the type of
relationships that were that were important and that were dominant but
that has survived in the language although it’s it’s losing its
significant um in in modern capitalist society so the middle stage of savagery starts
around 50,000 years ago which we recognize as when modern humans started
to spread around the world and Morgan pinpoints it as a time when
fish was used for food and this enabled humanity to spread following coasts and
rivers and I find this really interesting because he pinpoints this as
being really a key to humanity spreading that they followed coastal rivers and
used fish and what’s interesting is DNA evidence is showing that it was
precisely along coasts and rivers that humanity did populate the world now I
don’t know if this is to do with fish I know if they ate fish because they were
there or having started eating fish they wanted to carry on following where the
fish was but certainly they did they did spread out following coasts and rivers the first weapons make a new type of
hunting possible and obviously once you have Spears and clubs a very different
type of hunting becomes possible and it becomes more of a kind of regular type
of work that you can do but cannibalism is still something that happens in this
era because food sources are very uncertain and living examples of these
types of society were contacted were studied in the middle of the 19th
century in Australia and in Polynesia and in terms of the development of the
family what you find is that gradually a kind of group marriage is emerging
whereby a widening circle of people who you’re not allowed to have sex with
means that there are groups who are married to each other but don’t have sex
within the group and because of this you start to see the well and alongside this
I should say you start to see the formation of these communistic
households which have formed around groups of sisters or brothers who then
will have a group of wives or husbands in common and this was the beginning of
the formation of what’s called the gems and the gems was the family based unit
that formed the nucleus of organization for all barbarian societies which angles
describes as a firm circle of blood relations in the female line between
whom marriage was prohibited so and really the key thing to understand about
these incest laws is they are helping to make tribes more successful because as
we know the main reason for having a problem with incest with relations
sexual relations and and procreation with between people who are too closely
related is it leads to problems genetically and therefore less likely to
survive and be successful so it’s really discovering this and gradually
implementing rules is one of the ways in which human society gradually makes
itself stronger and more able to better compete with its rivals and to survive
you know what nature is throwing at it and to succeed and to progress so as
they gradually slowly start to make these discoveries and implement rules
then you start to see the process of the development speeding up with
all technology with all you know kind of advanced you know a little advanced
takes you a big step forward and the upper upper savagery which correlates
very roughly to what term present-day historians will talk about as the
Mesolithic starts around 20,000 years ago and morgan pinpointed it to be the
beginning of the invention of the bow and arrow and also as you can see all
sorts of other technologies wooden vessels finger weaving baskets sharpened
tools canoes so a very different approach to the environment if starting
to evolve and settlements and existing examples again were quite plentiful in
the world at the time that Morgan was studying and writing and at this point
so many rules had come up regarding who it was and wasn’t acceptable to sleep
with and who you know and defining different family members that group
marriage was gradually out of the group marriage was gradually appearing a kind
of custome customer repairing so it’s not an unbreakable bond but it was more
likely for people to be kind of roughly monogamous and have a partner that they
would be with for a long time or maybe for life and then we get to to barbarism which is really the period of prehistory
were much more familiar with domestication of animals establishment
of Agriculture it’s a tote is the end of hunter gathering in the beginning of
farming and a stationary life and throughout this period a human society
is characterized by a pairing marriage starts around 12,000 years ago with the
introduction of pottery and accompanied by the beginning of cultivation of
plants for food I’m not going to talk to you about all all of the aspects of what
marriage was like or what the households were like I just asked you to to read
the book because it is really fascinating stuff what is important to
render stand though is that women had an extremely high status in all societies
up until this point they were they were the only parent that could be guaranteed
even if you’re in a appearing marriage you know there’s no guarantee women
aren’t locked up so women are seen as the parent of any child even if the
father is recognized women is the ones who have the right so descent is always
reckoned in the female line and that’s how the tribes are structured around
around that those family relationships that go through the mother and women’s
you know the traditional division of labor between men and women meant that
in terms of housekeeping in terms of domestic labor women had supremacy in
the home that doesn’t mean they were tied to the home it meant that they were
very much the boss of the home which is a quite a different thing now I’ll talk a little bit about the
Gentile society because it helps you to understand what it was that formed the
basis of all was all but or which the state and classes grew up inside of a
tribe was made up of a number of gents that’s family groups a gens would elect
leaders for peace and for war all members of the gens would
participate in elections marriage within the gens is prohibited so it’s a society
that’s totally based on relationship it’s not based around an area of land
it’s based around who you’re related to and how property was a property of
Vergennes not a person so you could pass property down from mother to son or
mother to daughter or or mother to brother but not wife to husband a
husband to wife not father to son and as you know as a system of of loyalty
everybody owes everybody support assistance help so there’s no there’s no
such thing as a freeloader people have rights and obligations and if someone is
disabled you know in war or for some other reason they must be looked after
somewhere it’s old they must be looked after you know just as they looked after
all people in their time so the tribe tribes had their own territories and
names and they also had a council made up of all the various elected leaders
that decided on the common affairs but their deliberations were held in public
and anyone could join in the debate and decisions usually required to be
unanimous now as they think an interesting example of that had traces
of this was the was the old Libyan councils you know they tried to look for
something in the modern world to compare it
and I’ve seen people comparing it to councils in New England but personally
made no sense to me what it reminded me of very strongly was something that had
the vestiges of this old gentle form of of decision making you know that they
had this system of councils where everybody was supposed to come along
join the debate and it was supposed to be decision by unanimity were you
supposed to discuss until everybody’s agreed
now that bears very strong hallmarks to me of something that’s just being
carried through from a Gentile society and war is something that’s carried on
by volunteers the whole population has arms and access to arms and when there
needs to be a war people get up and go to war so there isn’t a special separate
body of armed men that we would recognize as an army and Morgan
describes the Iroquois which he spent a lot of time with he says all members of
an iroquois GN were personally free and they were bound to defend each other’s
freedom they were equal in privileges and personal rights the peace leader and
war leaders claiming no superiority and they were a brotherhood bound together
by the ties of skin liberty equality and fraternity though never formulated were
cardinal principles of the gens these facts are material because the James was
the unit of a social and governmental system the foundation upon which Indian
society was organized it serves to explain that sense of Independence and
personal dignity universally an attribute of Indian character and then angles goes on to say decisions
are taken by those concerned and in most cases everything has already been
settled by the customer centuries there cannot be any poor or needy the communal
household and the Jen’s know their responsibilities as towards the old the
sick and those disabled in war all are equal and free the women included there
is no place yet for slaves nor as a rule for the subjugation of other tribes so
this base it is a description of what we have also comes under the broad heading
of primitive communism the stage of society before there are classes so then
we come up to the Bronze Age end of the Stone Age and as there are revolutions
in agriculture you have the gradual dying out of cannibalism as something it
becomes taboo as it basically becomes no longer needed when you have a surplus
and the ability to to rely on your food sources then you can start to find it
horrific the idea of eating other people now a very important thing that happens
at this time with the development of animal farming the development of large
herds is the accumulation of a surplus and wealth which although initially in
the hands of the gens is increasing in their hands of individuals and suddenly
two important things happen one is if there’s a surplus you can feed more
people some people don’t have to work slaves become a useful thing they can
look after herds do the work for you get fed and you can get rich off the back of
it something else that happened because of the customary division of labor that
that being with animals was traditionally a
man’s work the herds and the slaves belonged to men and you also then get
the beginning of commodity exchange between pastoral and other tribes as the
the ones who are looking after and gaining wealth through herds are able to
buy other things that they need from from other tribes and so you’re starting
to also see a division of labor and the beginning of Commerce and these are all
the roots of class Society and of a society that then needs a state and
there are examples of this stage of society found in Mexico the Aztecs for
example the Incas in Peru and the Maya and Aztecs in sexual America and closer
to home the area and Semitic pastoral tribes of Asia and Europe that we’re
used to hearing about typify this stage of development and the growth of private
property in male hands leads to the overthrow of mother right suddenly it
becomes important for fathers to know who their children are and to be able to
pass property on to them because previously that property would have gone
to their sister’s children perhaps and so you get out of the old form of
the family developing the patriarchal family still an extended family still
still a quite a communal family in the early days slaves and people people
living together but organized under paternal power under the rule of men who
therefore have sway not only in the field but also in their you know with
the flocks but also in the home you still have an elected rather than a
hereditary head of the household so it’s not necessarily you know eldest son
father to eldest son it could even be you know a nephew or
whatever but it’s a male an Engel says that the overthrow of mother right was
the world historic defeat of the female sex the man took control in the home
also the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude she became the slave of his
lust and a mere instrument for the production of children this degraded
position of the woman especially conspicuous among the Greeks of the
heroic period and still more of the Classical Age has gradually been
palliated and glossed over and sometimes clothed in a milder form in no sense has
it been abolished and then around 3,000 years ago and we
come to the iron age and Morgan defines that as beginning with the smelting of
iron ore and ending with the invention of alphabetic writing which obviously
brings us then to written history and this took place only in the eastern
hemisphere so the Americas never got this far and it’s kind of assumed that
one of the main reasons for that is just to do with what cultivar cultivatable
crops and animals they had they’re only the llama are really suitable for
domestication and not massively widespread only really maize as a good
cereal crop so you know a lot of this is very much down to chance where these
things happen and how quickly and of course once you get to the iron age and
these technology is really advancing then they start you know you start to
see the end of kind of natural development in other places because it
simply gets exported you know these people are advancing much faster than
everybody surrounding them and so they take over with their better technology
with their better equipment with their new ideas about food and animal
production etc so large-scale agriculture becomes
possible in the iron age and of course the iron axe means you can clear huge
amounts of forest land for tillage and pasture again it really allows for a
quite what’s that mathematical word it works exponential thank you advanced and
development and you really see the development of human history from this
point really starts to to gallop and of course a massively enlarged food supply
means a very rapid increase in population and a rapid increase in
population more people gather together more closely also means more ability to
learn and to remember learning and to of course with writing write things down
and pass them on in that way and and know things that somebody who didn’t
know directly could tell you but just to make technological advances generally
you really need lots of people to do that so there’s a math of new inventions
and products and at the beginning these are these are some of the big ones the
bellows the hand mill the potter’s wheel metalwork wine oil and the beginnings of
architecture as arts and commodity production advances you start to get a
division of labor and therefore there’s a market to sell things to people that
they’re not naturally making themselves or in their own families and so there’s
people involved in agriculture and they’re people who are involved in
handicrafts work that was previously done collectively in the family is now
being done by specialists and therefore of course the advance of trade and money
all these things are beginning to undermine the old natural economy where
people just really dealt in things that they produce themselves or within their
family you start to get the beginning of heavily fortified towns that lead to the
kind of city-states and walls for plunder become commonplace so rather than just being over rivalry
to survive it’s much more about taking other people’s amassed wealth so a very
different motivation for war and the examples of this stage of development
are the Greeks of the heroic age and the tribes of Italy the Germans of tatah
just the Vikings etc and at some point during this stage the monogamous family
develops which I’ll talk about in a minute and you start to see the fusing
of tribal territories into nation-states for the purpose of mutual protection so
people are getting together into bigger units and it’s based much more on a
specific geography and you’ll starting to see some war leaders becoming
permanent leaders rather than temporarily for one war or another and
the transformation of the old Gentile organization into the beginnings of what
looks like a class society because there’s two jobs that need to be done
one is oppressing neighboring tribes so you’re trying to conquer and take their
stuff and the other is dominating and oppressing those who’ve been
dispossessed and you aren’t happy with the new state of things whether they’re
whether they’re women whether they’re slaves or just poorer people who haven’t
done well out of the new amassing of of wealth so it’s important to recognize
that a monogamous family isn’t monogamous in the sense of you know I’ve
made a choice that I won’t be unfaithful to my husband it’s not the product of
the romance marriages are arranged by family and monogamy is insisted upon as
far as women are concerned so that the ancestry of children can be assured
an angles remarks that this is the first form of the family to be based not
unnatural I’m not arising from the natural conditions that humor animals
bear themselves in but on economic conditions on the victory of private
property over primitive natural communal property so monogamy becomes important
because there is private property to be inherited and it’s really really
important to understand that connection that the whole history of oppression of
women is about that it’s about private property belonging to men by a pure
accident of where it first arose and that that property there needed to be
passed on to guaranteed offspring and how do you guarantee your offspring when
it’s when it’s the women are having the babies you make sure that the women have
no freedom to be out making their babies elsewhere how else can you be sure you
can’t so angles said that the decisive victory
of the monogamous family is one of the signs that civilization is beginning and
must remember here again that civilization isn’t like a low data
return all your civilized than your barbarian it simply means the era of
class society the era in which huge advances were made based on the division
of people into those who work and those who don’t it is based on the supremacy
of the man the express purpose being to produce children of undisputed paternity
such paternity is demanded because these children are later to come into their
father’s property as his natural heirs it is distinguished by the much greater
strength of the marriage tie which can no longer be dissolved at either
partners wish as a rule it is now only the man who can dissolve it the right of
conjugal infidelity also remains secured to him at least by custom it is the
existence of slavery side by side with monogamy the presence of young beautiful
slaves belonging unreservedly to the man that stamps monogamy from the beginning
with its specific character of monogamy for the woman only but not for the man
and that is the character it still has today and you can just think about that
where debri used earlier virtue you know and how loaded it is and how even up
until today that attitudes towards men who are sexually promiscuous and women
who are sexually promiscuous are so very different and the kinds of terminology
there are to describe those things tells you a huge amount about you know the
attitudes we’ve inherited from our society about what is expected and what
is right and what is proper and you know that’s basically it’s millennia of that
baggage that says you know that made it more
Rule four women to be pure and keep themselves only for their husbands and
men well men will be men won’t they so civilization is a term that covers
all of documented history up to including and including modern
capitalism and it basically covers all of class Society so that’s the slave
owning society the feudal society and the capitalist society and it’s
characterized by the division of society into classes in which the Gentile
Constitution we talked about earlier has been replaced by a state and enforced
monogamy has become dominant in the family in the home so I’m going to give
you angles again this is the first class opposition that appears in history
coincides with the development of the antagonism between men and women in
monogamous marriage and the first class suppression coincides with that of the
female sex by the male monogamous marriage was a great historical step
forward nevertheless together with slavery in private wealth it opens the
period that had lasted until today in which every step forward is also
relatively a step backward in which prosperity and development for some is
won through the misery and frustration of others it is the cellular form of
civilized society in which the nature of the opposition’s and contradictions
fully active in that society can already be studied so that’s really important to
understand you know we can we can look at all the contradictions in class
society and all of the ways in which so many the mass of people really suffer
and have been degraded as a result of society’s division into classes when you
compare the condition of most people on the planet to the condition of the old
you know the Iroquois Indians you know the old primitive communists and they’re
three people in their tribes described you can think wow I’d like to go back to
that please right but class Society enabled us
as a collective as a species to dedicate some people’s time purely to art science
the understanding of the world around us and a development of technology and
those developments have come on at an accelerating rate ever since the
division of society into classes and they have laid the basis for us to take
society forward to a much higher level of freedom and equality than the one
that was enjoyed by the primitive humans so long ago and so it’s important to
recognize those things the more taenia see that even while we can Revere the
respect that was characteristic of the early human societies and look forward
to rehabilitating that it’s not a recipe it’s not a wish to go back to primitive
hunter-gatherer societies or early nomadic beings but we do want to revive
what was great about the way those people lived and what and and how they
treated each other and how they saw themselves so we see the seeds of the new state
growing up within the old society the amassing of private property the
beginnings of a hereditary nobility the enslavement of captured enemies an angle
says only one thing was wanting an institution which not only secured the
newly acquired riches of individuals against the communistic traditions of
the Gentile order which not only sanctified the private property formerly
so little valued and declared this sanctification to be the highest purpose
of all human society but an institution which set the seal of general social
recognition on each new method of acquiring property and thus amassing
wealth that continually increasing speed an institution which perpetuated not
only this growing cleavage of society into classes but also the right of the
possessing class to exploit the non possessing and the rule of the former
over the latter and this institution came the state was invented so think
there’s something really important to understand there as well that you know
the love of stuff the obsession with property is very new actually it’s not
it’s not automatic in the human psyche people lived four hundred thousand years
in collective groups you know with with with bits and bobs that they didn’t
think we’re important they didn’t put focus or importance on their property
they put it on their relationships with each other that was what was paramount
to them that seemed obvious and natural and normal and if you bought one of
those people into today’s world they think that we were pretty nuts and so
all of this talk about human nature human nature you it’s human nature to be
greedy and acquisitive it’s human nature you know to exploit other people to put
yourself first dog-eat-dog all of these phrases and justifications which are
used to try to make us feel that this way of living this you know is the
pinnacle of what humans have you know always been aiming at is really shown up
for so much nonsense you know anyone’s conception of what
human nature is almost invariably is a result of the kind of society that they
are a product of and so the feudal person’s idea of what human nature was
which is much closer to us today would still have been very different to what
ours is today and the slave-owning society would have been different still
and some very much you know the primitive communistic
approach to human nature and what the hell they would have seen that and
what’s natural and normal and ordinary for people to do and to behave totally
different to the way we see it today so these arguments can be quite easily seen
through once you have a bigger picture and what some perspective they seem very
persuasive because this is the only society we’ve known we were born into it
and so everything that we grow up with seems natural and inevitable just like
it seems inevitable to my two-year-old that if you touch the screen on a phone
something happens all right he grew up in a world of touchscreen phones to him
they’re like grass all right they just exist they just are whereas you know to
my to my mother’s generation when my mother’s quite good but I know you know
plenty of her relations refused to go near you know an email or or a mobile
phone and you know it’s all it’s all some kind of craziness that sensor
that’s sent to destroy our worlds so what you have gradually appearing now
then at the state is formed you start to find that members of society are being
defined according to class instead of according to their gender sort of
according to their old family connections and divisions into Nobles
farmers artisans free people and Flav’s and a gradual transition to hereditary
right to office by noble families the spread of the money economy and the rise
of the existence of a special public force the state which is no longer the
same as the people’s organization of themselves
you get the army you get the police you get prisons and other coercive
institutions arising and the clock this the sharp of the class antagonisms the
stronger the coercive machinery has to be and people have to start paying taxes
in order to pay and governments start taking out loans you thought that was a
new thing that goes right back to the beginning of classes class society in
the state state debts and representatives of state power have to
be given special prestige they don’t naturally have it because everybody
thinks they’re a great chap and and voted for them there are special decree
that say this person is very important if you don’t respect them we’ll lock you
up and the state is a weapon in the hands of the most powerful politically
dominant class a means of holding down and up and exploiting the oppressed and the rights that people get within
these societies pretty much go hand in hand with how much wealth they’ve got
how much land how much money usually land how many slaves Engles points out
that although the modern Republic which still
has a state and seems much more democratic and you know we’ve all got
everyone’s got a vote now it says wealth employs its power indirectly but all the
more surely within our own advanced capitalist state as it does this in two
ways by playing corruption of officials of which America is the classic example
and by an allegiance between the government and the stock exchange and
today we’d say maybe the dominance of the financial oligarchy which is
affected all the more easily the higher the state debt mounts and the more the
joint stock companies concentrate in their hands not only transport but also
production itself sigh so in class society that the central
link of society is the state it’s used by the ruling class and it’s it’s used
to hold society together because it the society is fractured once you have
classes peoples people’s interests are not the same there’s a permanent
opposition established also between the town and the country when you have the
social division of labour between those who produce food and those involved in
industry Commerce arts science etc so we’ve seen that the state was brought
into being at a certain stage of the development of productive forces at a
time when society was split into antagonistic opposing classes possessors
and dispossessed oppressors and depressed and this division into classes
while disadvantageous to the vast majority nevertheless has played an
objectively progressive role in the history of humanity without the creation
of that minority parasitic layer freed from the constraints of production art
and science and the great strides man made in human understanding and mastery
over nature would not have taken place but since civilization is founded on the
exploitation of one class by another it’s development proceeds in constant
contradiction every step forward in production is at the same time a step
backwards and a further degradation in the position of the great majority of
the oppressed greed Engel says the desire for accumulation of wealth and
more wealth is the prime motivating force throughout the period of
civilization so not forever not since humanity
emerged from the forests on the plains not forever into the future the period
of civilization the period of class society so greed is the prime motivator not of
society but of every single scurvy individual here was its one and final
aim if at the same time the progressive development of science and a repeated
flowering of supreme art dropped into its lap it was only because without them
modern wealth could not have completely realized its achievements the whole era
of civilization of class society has made possible a massively accelerating
concentration of knowledge and constant revolutionising of the means of
production until we have arrived at the point where the technical capability now
exists for providing a decent educated and fulfilling existence not only for a
small minority but for all humankind all that stands in the way of society
fulfilling its potential is the current organization of production for
capitalist profit rather than to meet human need and this was already true in
1884 when angles wrote this book he was able to conclude that we are now rapidly
approaching a stage in the development of production at which the existence of
these classes has not only ceased to be a necessity but becomes a positive
hindrance to production they will fall as inevitably as they once rose the
state inevitably tell the state which organizes production anew on the basis
of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state of
machinery where it will then belong we’ll put the whole state machinery
where it will then belong into the Museum of Antiquities next to the
spinning wheel and the bronze axe and I just like to leave you with the words of
Morgan and this is the conclusion that he came to on the basis of the evidence
that he was viewing from an anthropological perspective and as you
will see it’s a very Marxist conclusion he comes to he says since the advent of
civilisation the outgrowth of property has been so immense its forms so
diversified its use is so expanding and its management so intelligent to the
interest of its owners that it has become on the part of the people an
unmanageable power the human mind stands bewildered in the
presence of its own creation the time will come nevertheless when human
intelligence will rise to mastery over property and define the relations of
State to the property it protects as well as the obligations and the limits
of the rights of its owners a mere property Korea is not the final destiny
of mankind if progress is to be the law of the future as it has been of the past
the time which has passed away since civilization began is but a fragment of
man’s existence and but a fragment of the ages yet to come the dissolution of
society bids fair to become the termination of a career of which
property is the end and aim because such a career contains the elements of
self-destruction democracy and government brotherhood in society
equality in rights and privileges and universal education foreshadow the next
higher plane of society to which experience intelligence and knowledge
are steadily tending it will be a revival in a higher form of the liberty
equality and fraternity of the ancient gents what is the state the state is this
horror matters bureaucracy it is the police department in the army the Navy
in the prison system the co-op’s and what have you this is the state is a
repressive organization

24 thoughts on “Class Society & the State

  1. dead prez – police state (if you didn't recognize that it's a dead prez song, you should check them out, they make some great conscious music)

  2. At the moment the great mass of people don't have a revolutionary consciousness, there might be a counter revolution which could bring about fascism, I don't want that, but I do want to overthrow bourgeois society!

  3. Im not against communism if it means a classless society where the state has withered away. Im for socialism with workers control!

  4. I don't think communism is inevitable, we just don't know what it will be like yet. Has to won through hard struggle!

  5. How do we form a defence of Capitalisms Ideology? Ideas apart from Experience of phenomena are what both complete our cognitions. Capitalist form their Ideology biased by their self-interest and them apply it to all of society. By forming new ideas based on personal experience we can challenge the Bourgeois Idealogy!

  6. Please show me one example of country, nation or community of human kind where this ideology or very similar was really working. I can give a list from middle ages and ancient times where living in 'comunis' ( latin ) all types similar systems never worked. This list I have mainly from one of greatest mind in Poland from first half of XX century – Feliks Koneczny.

  7. Nice to have a "framework" to understand state, private property, family and classes-one problem=its horses**t. Societies of hunter-gatherers had families, and as much private property as they could carry (not much, just some tools and bits they valued) The tribe  "owned" the territory in common. But Englels would not have known this. 

  8. Studying cultural anthropology, archaeology, and resource management/renewable resources are ultimate what gave me a framework of theoretical knowledge to corroborate marxist analysis.

    We called “primitive communism” egalitarian hunter-gatherer bands.

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