On the Class Analysis in the Modern Communist Movement
Communist Party of Germany (KPD)
The number of employees and their percentage in the workers' movement has constantly increased in the last hundred years. Within the group of people who receive salaries the following picture is produced: the percent of workers is constantly shrinking, while the percent of employees is constantly rising.
Does it follow from the relative increase of the employees in comparison with the workers, that the social importance of the proletariat has decreased, while the "new middle class" has gained in importance, that we are therefore on the way to becoming a "middle class society"?
The reality is quite different: the employees do not at all form a uniform stratum and are certainly not a "new middle stratum."First of all we must emphasize the fact that the concept "employee" is not a class concept. It extends from the director to the short-hand typist, who in an office typing pool types up text from a dictation machine at a set rate. Concerning the director, one of the most vulgar but nevertheless frequently encountered "refutations" of Marxism is the claim that, in the age of joint-stock companies those people who, actually preside over the means of production, are themselves only "salaried employees."
It is obvious that the manager, the top employees and officials are classed with the middle bourgeoisie, as long as they do not belong as top managers directly to the monopoly bourgeoisie.The stratum of employees arose historically as a group of wage workers in commerce, who worked as bookkeepers, writers, etc. in the offices of the commercial capitalists.
Just as the unpaid labor of the workers of productive capital directly creates surplus-value, the unpaid labor of the commercial wage workers of commercial capital creates a share of that surplus-value.
Marx proved that the commercial employees, even if they create neither value nor surplus-value, are exploited by the commercial capitalists, that their labor power is bought by their variable (changing) capital and that their unpaid labor is a source of profit.
Thus the conclusion is suggested that the commercial employees belong to the proletariat.
Actually however all commercial employees do not belong to the proletariat. Rather one section belongs to the petty-bourgeoisie, since it is differentiated from the proletariat in many respects: for example, higher income or other privileges.
The advance in the division of labor leads to the separation of a series of working people from the process of production, who are now employed exclusively in the process of circulation.
Besides, the increasing concentration and centralization of capital leads to the fact that more expenses must go for direction, planning, management, etc.; thus the commercial and administrative activities increase and therefore also the number of employees.
Despite the tremendous changes that the social situation of the mass of the employees have undergone in the last decades, there remain certain particularities that differentiate their conditions of work from that of the workers.
Partly it is a matter of real privileges in relation to the industrial proletariat. But something can appear to be a privilege under superficial examination, such as when an employees wears clean clothes to work. But on closer examination, it turns out that wearing a suit is a burdensome obligation that is also expensive. The bourgeoisie always tries to use such differences to drive a wedge between workers and employees and to create the impression among the employees that they are somewhat better.Fundamentally one can not consider those employees, who have a chance to rise to an essentially better position, as belonging to the proletariat. They have, like the small proprietor, a personal economic interest in the products of their labor, which differentiates them from the proletariat.
The view, that the employees do not belong to the actual proletariat, but to a stratum that exists outside the actual proletariat, is not correct.
Certainly, in contrast to the industrial proletariat an employees does not produce surplus-value. But it in no way follows from this, that the employees form a stratum that all together lies outside the proletariat. There is also a difference between the agricultural worker and the industrial proletariat, but nevertheless the agricultural workers belong to the proletariat as a whole.
According to Marx's instruction, there is the same difference between the commercial wage worker and the industrial proletariat as there is between commercial capital and industrial capital. Finally, it is also nonsense to maintain that the trading capitalist does not belong to the capitalist class.
Let us look at the activity of an employee at the cash register in the supermarket. Their working conditions are similar to the requirements of harsh factory work. However these employees, who are active in the sphere of circulation, produce no value. Must one thus count them as petty bourgeois, although their work and living conditions are generally similar [to that of the industrial proletariat]?We can not determine the class relations of the employees by whether or not they create value and surplus-value, but only based on whether and to what degree their working and living conditions approach that of the industrial proletariat.
If one assigns any kind of significance to the question of the creation of surplus-value in the class analysis, then one comes unquestionably to the most absurd conclusions: if a locomotive driver drives a freight train on one day, and a passenger train on another day, then one must count him on the first day as part of the proletariat, since his labor adds value to the commodities by their transportation, while on the other day as part of the petty bourgeoisie, since his labor in performing a service creates no value.
The scientific-technical revolution also leads to a further increase of the employees occupied in technical professions.
The revisionists of various kinds claim that the scientific-technical intellectuals belong in whole or in part to the proletariat.
The revisionist parties have good reasons to count the largest part of the intellectuals among the proletariat, since the intellectuals together with the labor aristocracy represent the chief social support of these parties. However this relation has nothing on common with Marxism-Leninism.The actual task of the technical and engineering personnel is in the activity of directing and organizing. Of course they provide unpaid surplus labor and are exploited by the capitalists; at the same time they are the representatives of the capitalists in the direction of production. The task of the engineers is above all to find methods of raising the productivity of labor. Therefore they stand by their position in production in contradiction to the working class and serve capital.
Of course this does not mean that every engineer is the sworn enemy of the working class.
When we emphasize the fact that the scientific-technical intellectuals do not belong to the working class, we are not speaking here of the technicians, who produce directly and are not part of the directing and organizing activities.
The analysis of Marx and Engels, that bourgeois society is increasingly split into two hostile classes, has been fully confirmed. The increase in the employees does not in any way mean the increase in the middle class; moreover within the ranks of the employees the section that belongs to the proletariat is constantly increasing.
Thus the overwhelming portion of the office workers today belongs to the proletariat; also the large portion of salespeople, as well as a portion of the workers in banking and insurance. Also a smaller portion of the officials belongs to the proletariat; the fact that the post office and railways are state enterprises leads to some of the workers employed in these enterprises having the status of officials.A larger share of the employees belong to the proletariat, and a larger portion to the lower petty bourgeoisie, the closest allies of the proletariat, while the broad masses of the employees used to be a social prop of the bourgeoisie. The social development has also led to a class shift within the ranks of the employees, which has strengthened the fighting position of the working class.
For the communists this leads to the conclusion, that they must pay close attention to the work among the employees and to struggle so that the mass of the working employees will stand on the side of the industrial proletariat in the proletarian revolution.
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