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Classes in Capitalism and Pre-capitalism

Marx in  his eminent work ‘classes in capitalism and pre capitalism’   articulated a methodological approach to the study of society in terms of  economics and history i.e. historical materialism. He referred to it as ‘materialist conception of history’. The fundamental proposition of historical materialism is that ‘in the social production that men carry on, they enter into definite relations, independent and indispensible of their will, these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material powers of production.
The sum total of these relations of production corresponds to a definite stage of development of their material powers of production.  These relations constitute the ‘base’ i.e. the economic structure on which rests the cultural, legal and political ‘super structures’ to which corresponds the social consciousness. Marx wrote that it is not the consciousness of men that determined their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.
Central to Marxian dialectics is ‘CONTRADICTION’ MEANS OF PRODUCTION includes whatever is used in production i.e. capital, land, tools etc.  When labour works on these means, it becomes the forces of production. On the question of ownership of ‘means of production’ one arrives at relations of production.For MARX, the economic forces at work cause history to develop in a dialectical manner.  Once labour has produced to fulfil basic requirements, new needs arise and thus new means of production arise. Means of production are developing constantly. But relations of production develop at a much slower rate. Thus there is a contradiction between the two, which is manifested in the intensification of class struggle.
Thiscontradictiondemands change i.e. suppression of prevailing relations of production and substituting them with more adapted relations. Thus, history moves forward as dialectic between means of production and relations of production. Each stage in history has its own logic of development from which successive stages develop.
Marx reconstructed these stages as
Firstly, primitive communism: where the means of production are commonly owned and there is no notion of private property and hence no classes and each appropriate their own labour in its entirety. When nomadic people became settled, it leads to tribal competition, domination and subjugation.
Secondly, slave society: which was divided into 2 classes – masters and slaves.  Masters own the slaves and hold them in bondage. There were sharply defined lines of social differentiation.
Thirdly, feudal society: nobility walk off with a definite proportion of the product of the producing classes, such as the serfs. Although the peasantry own the land are recognized as citizens, they are not recognized as citizens with rights. There was domestic handicraft production and also elementary industrial production.
Fourthly, bourgeois society: it is characterized by two main classes- the bourgeois and the proletariat. The former own private property, while the latter sell them their capacity to work in order to live. This stage is marked by constant revolutionizing of the production process which does not correspond with the relation of production leading to a revolution by the proletariats to overthrow the bourgeoisie, making the society classless.
Fifthly, socialist society: where the contradictions of the previous stage mature up and the means of production are commonly owned.
Furthermore, Marx indicated that in the future, there will be a communist society where private property in the means of production will be nonexistent and will be used in common by the producing class, marking the dissolution of all classes.
In his work he wrote that the exploitation faced by the peasants and that faced by the industrial proletariats is only different in form. The exploiter is the same – capital. The individual capitalists exploit the individual peasants through mortgages and usury, the capitalist class exploits the peasant class through the state taxes. Only the fall of the capital can raise the peasant; only an anticapitalist, a proletarian government can break his economic misery, his social degradation.
Capital hounds this class as its creditor, so it demands credit institutions, capital crushes it by competition, so it demands associations supported by the state; capital overwhelms it by concentration, so it demands progressive taxes, limitations on inheritance, taking over of large construction projects by the state, and other measures that forcibly stem the growth of capital. This utopian, doctrinaire socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, and to the abolition of all relations of production on which they rest.
Karl Marx has mentioned the gradual development of society through the prism of class evolution and these classes also have antagonistic relations. He has substantiated his argument by various examples which dealt with transition from feudal mode of production to capitalist mode of production. He has not put much focus on post capitalist class formation in the present article. Marx was writing in the background of rise of industrial revolution that further corresponded to evolution of capitalist economy. So, his lived experiences provide authenticity to his writings.