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Class Society

The Materialist Conception of History

 When Karl Marx formulated the Materialist Conception of History he gave us a key to unlock the door to a chamber of horrors—the sordid basis of high-flown sentiments. He showed that, since the passing of tribal society, history had been a record of the struggles of different classes to control the social wealth; that the grouping into classes originated out of the way wealth was produced and distributed in each period; that the shape of the main ideas of a period can only be explained by the economic conditions of the time. Further, that class struggles will only disappear when clashing interests have been reduced to one interest; that is when all forms of private ownership in the means of production have been replaced by the common ownership of the means of production.

You, Too, Can Be Class Conscious

 There are three things that you must know before you can become class-conscious. First, you must know what constitutes a class; secondly, you must know to which class you belong, and thirdly, you must know what are your class interests. Having acquired that amount of knowledge you can claim to be a fully fledged class-conscious member of society.

 There are a deuce of a lot of confused notions about social classes. People talk about lower classes, upper classes and middle classes. They even talk about upper middle and lower middle classes and of the working classes. These social divisions are income groups, not classes. A person’s class is not determined by the amount of money that he can get hold of, but by the manner in which he gets it.

Socialism and Psychology: An Open Letter to a Critic

Dear X,
 
You ask me what I am doing for the community, and whether I have not underestimated the important differences of type or character in human beings which you consider such a formidable obstacle to the establishment of Socialism. I will try and answer your questions.
 
In the first place, let me direct your attention to the fact that the “community,” for which you expect me to do something, is sharply divided into two distinct classes, one of which owns the means of living of the other. Do not take my word for this! Professor Clay (I know you are impressed by Professors), a most respectable person, told us, on February 19th, 1925, in the sober columns of the Manchester Guardian, that less than 6 per cent. of the population held four-fifths of the national capital and received nearly half the national income.

Our Message for May Day and Every Day

 Once again May 1st sees the gathering of Labour to march, with banners flying, to the places appointed as centres for speech-making. For over forty years these processions have been an annual Labour event, but the class that lives on Labour still remains solidly entrenched in the seat of power, and, bitter commentary on the periodical display, is kept there with the aid of the votes of the processionists.

 It is interesting to recall that at one of these meetings in 1915 Ben Tillett, for long a favourite May-Day orator, addressed the following message to French workers: —

    Britain alert, mutually co-operating with France, stands for civilisation, for a spiritual awakening of Europe for the overthrow of Kaiserism, militarism, and the capitalistic vandals whose brutal power is now ravishing Europe, and the world itself.”
    ("Reynolds,” May 9th, 1915.)

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