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Class and capitalism

The only way to understand history and the current situation in Britain and the world is to understand class. Marx realised that all history is the story of the struggle between classes.

Class is a scientific, economic idea. Your class is defined by your role in the economic life of society. In Britain, there are only really two classes – a capitalist class, made up of those who own the means of making wealth and exploit the work of others, and the working class, who have to sell their ability to create value, for wages, in order to survive. Workers are paid for their ability to create value, not for the value they actually create – the difference between these two creates profits for the capitalist.

Under capitalism, the capitalist class controls the means of production – in Britain today this means the banks and finance houses, the land and property, and what is left of industry, agriculture and business. This control leads to political power – they decide how the country is run, and they make sure the state is run in their interests. This could hardly be clearer in the current crisis, where a Labour government pours our money into the banks.

Although the capitalist class holds the political power, it is tiny in comparison with the working class, the vast majority. Being working class has nothing to do with your educational level, where you live, whether you work with your hands or your brain (actually, everyone does both in some way) or even your income level. All who work for a living are rarely more than a wage packet or two away from disaster. The myth of a “middle class” is blown when you lose your job and can no longer pay the mortgage or rent.

While the capitalist class holds power this will never change. So all workers have the same basic interest – to take power away from the opposing class and run society in their own interest, for the vast majority, by putting an end to capitalist exploitation of workers and the domination of profit and greed.

The capitalist class will never give up their power willingly – why would they, when this will mean their destruction? So the working class must seize power for itself – a revolutionary change. Doing it won’t be difficult – it’s the change in thinking which is hard.