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Marxist Glossary - Expanded Edition: 3.0

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21st Century United States North American Narrative
(Excerpt)
Class: The origin of classes lies in private property. Class is based on property rights as owners and non-owners of means of production and the right to deploy labor and appropriate the surplus product. Class is an economic and political phenomenon, rather than a subjective form of consciousness or social rating. The cause of the general form of classes is the stage of development of productive forces, the division of labor and property relations. In antiquity, the general form of the working class was based on handicraft. As means of production developed and evolved into more complex tools and machines, a manufacturing form of working class developed. The manufacturing workers and all the layers of society intertwined into the system of production constituted the social organization of labor. The industrial revolution birthed the industrial form of the working class, which expressed a new industrial social organization of labor. Today’s electronics revolution, with its computers, robotics and additive production processes (3D printing), destroys the industrial form of class and creates an electronic form of class. Under capitalism, robotics shuts out billions of proletarians from the production process, consigns hundreds of millions to life at the margin of capitalist society and destroys industrialism in all forms. The growth of a mass of destitute proletarians is part of the process of creating new classes that correspond to the new means of production. On the one hand, robotics displaced the industrial working class with an electronic form of working class. On the other hand, there is a new destitute proletariat increasingly pushed out of civic society and living on the margin. This new form of class and new form of the proletariat is birthed in antagonism with all forms of private property and develops in external collision with capitalist society. Just as a new form of proletarians has been created by new means of production, a new form of capitalist class has been created whose wealth is detached from surplus value production and outside the value relation. (See, Speculative finance, Surplus value, Value.)
2017