Where do Students fall in Class Society?

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Joined: 9-11-13
Jan 24 2014 16:23
Where do Students fall in Class Society?

I remember reading somewhere about a division between the worker's movement and the student movement around the 60s and recently I have been interested in what I assume to be the council communist position (or at least Pannekoek's position) of forming a vast range of discussion groups in order to have the worker's learn communism independent of a party focusing on representatives inserting this or that idea into the passive proletariat. It sounds like the point where a synthesis could take place between these two movements, but I do wonder a bit about its feasibility.

For example, while I assume that the Intellectuals that teach students can be either proletariat because of wages or be their own class due to the sense that knowledge allows for independence from class struggle, does this apply to students as well? Are they more proletarian because they work for another group or less because they don't work for a wage? Does being a part-time worker and full-time student make a person more or less likely to be revolutionary? If the student is possibly revolutionary in the Marxist sense, does that mean we should focus on students over traditional laborers? Does the fact that students bring their own struggles for gender, racial & sexual equality, environmentalism etc. create a means for revitalizing Marxism or a means by which we are distracted from the larger issue of a society ran consciously by the workers?

Sorry for the long list of questions, but I would really appreciate any input or links to other articles here.

Entdinglichung's picture
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 24 2014 16:44

since the expansion of universities and polytechnics (both due to technological changes and an expanding public sector which caused the need for a workforce with a better formal education) after the 2nd world war, being a student in most industrialized societies progressively did not mean to get a commanding post in industry or state administration, from the 1960ies on, doing a degree at university meant for the majority of students to become a (probably less badly paid) wage slave, but the problem with these developments was always, that many students who became wage slaves in the future still thought, that they would become "something better" ... authors like Andre Gorz or Ernest Mandel (e.g. http://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1970/06/university.htm ) wrote around 1970 loads of stuff about these societal changes, someone doesn't necessary has to share the consequences they were drawing from their studies but they offer often good analytical stuff on the role of higher education in society

Mr. Natural
Joined: 26-01-14
Jan 29 2014 21:20

InsertGenericCommieHere (hereafter IGCH),
Your many questions (and confusions) regarding the nature and definition of class belong to Marx, too. Class and the dialectic are perhaps the most problematic issues in Marxism, and Marx was still trying to define class in Capital III when he died.
The following remarks are taken from Bertell Ollman's Social and Sexual Revolution--the first two chapters, "Marx and the Working Class," and "Class." Ollman is the noted American Marxist proponent of the materialist dialectic as understood and employed by Marx, and is still teaching at New York University at the age of 78. There will be much from Ollman in my posts, as the materialist dialectic, as understood and used by Marx, brings Marxism and potential revolutionary processes to life. The "must-read" book on this is Dance of the Dialectic (2003).
"Class" is usually employed to refer to one's position in the social economy. Ollman: "the basis for distinguishing classes appears to be a group's relations to the prevailing mode of production." He continues: "The plurality of criteria Marx uses in constructing classes is reminiscent of present day confusion on the subject" Ollman then refers to a number of citations which he asserts show "various and apparently contradictory uses of 'class' in the volumes of Capital. The conclusion remains that for a variety of purposes, Marx divides society up in many different ways, speaking of the parts in each case as 'classes'." Ollman concludes, "Marx cannot escape the more serious accusation of having a litter of standards for class membership and of changing them without prior warning."
Ollman does point to Marx's most common class construction: "Marx's tripartite division of society into capitalists, proletarians and landowners is the prevalent one, and it is also the classification most in keeping with his other theories." In the same vein, he writes, "Marx's only attempt to present a connected account of class appears at the end of Volume III of Capital, but unfortunately, he never completed it. From these few paragraphs, we learn that wage laborers, capitalists and landowners constitute the three large classes of modern society. Yet, he admits that, even in England where capitalism is most developed, 'the stratification of classes does not appear in its pure form.'"
Yet, IGHC, many if not most lefties are still waiting for the proletariat to storm out of its factories and make the socialist revolution. Well, I'm tired of waiting. Obviously, the left has historically been unable to organize on this basis, and time is running out. Humanity's Frankenstein monster, capitalism, is about to cash us in, and we must update Marxism to account for the past 150 years of capitalist development. Marx and Engels would have been doing this, but they are now permanently indisposed. So where are the modern Marxists?
Capitalism has GLOBALIZED, which means we all now work in various ways for The System. As regards its relations to the means of production, the human species has been enveloped, shaped, and captured both mentally and physically by capitalist globalization--its institutions, values, practices, and human servants.
So I'm saying that the entire human species is the new "class" in relation to the capitalist means of production/destruction, that capitalism is obviously about to extinct us or send us into a New Stone Age on a devastated planet, and that we can organize revolutionary processes from a grassroots understanding of this most ugly "class" reality.
I really like the idea of discussion groups as promoted by council communism, and the topic of the impending destruction of humanity as a class at the hands of capitalism seems like a subject worthy of discussion. But I'll bet there isn't a single course at your university that does this.
More than enough for now! Be thankful I didn't get into the dialectic. My overall message has been that you, as a human being, IGHC, work for capitalism and it is about to kill you. YOU have been enslaved, and you need to defend yourself in company with all the rest of us who have similarly been enslaved and doomed.
My red-green best, Mr. Natural