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Encyclopedia > New class

The new class is a term to describe the privileged ruling class of bureaucrats and Communist party functionaries which typically arises in a Stalinist communist state. Generally, the group known in the Soviet Union as the Nomenklatura conforms to the theory of the new class. Earlier the term was applied to other emerging strata of the society. Trotskyists argue that the bureaucratic elite is not technically a class (since they do not directly own productive property), but a caste. They sometimes refer to Stalinist states ruled by such a caste as deformed or degenerated workers states. In Marxian political economics, the ruling class refers to that segment or class of society that has the most economic and political power. ... A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy, usually within an institution of the government. ... ... Stalinism is a brand of political theory, and the political and economic system implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. ... This article is about one-party states ruled by Communist Parties. ... The Russian term nomenklatura (номенклату́ра), derived from the Latin nomenclatura meaning a list of names, was originally the list of higher responsibility positions or jobs whose occupants needed to be approved by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. ... Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. ... In sociological theories, bureaucracy is an organizational structure characterized by regularized procedure, division of responsibility, hierarchy, and impersonal relationships. ... The term class, when used by itself, has several meanings in English. ... In Trotskyist political theory, deformed workers states are states where capitalism has been overthrown through social revolution and the property forms have changed into a collectivized planned economy, but where the working class has never held political power (as it did in Russia shortly after the Russian Revolution). ... In Trotskyist political theory, degenerated workers states are states where capitalism has been overthrown through social revolution and the property forms have changed into a collectivized planned economy, but where the working class has lost its political power and socialist democracy has been replaced by a form of dictatorship. ...


Djilas' New Class theory has also been used extensively by classical liberal and conservative commenters within the West, in their criticism of the technocratic socialist welfare state.

Contents

Technocracy

Prior to 1917 theories of a new stratum of managers, engineers and other technocrats were highly popular within the broad Socialist movement. In particular, managers, engineers and other technocrats used the idea that they were an "intellectual proletariat" to argue that they could be a motive force for revolution separate to the mass of wage earning labourers. At the time, as these technocrats did not work for wages, their claim lies outside of standard Marxist understandings of the proletariat. This article is about a movement that supports the use of technology to enhance society. ... The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ... Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is called a proletarian. ...


This technocratic meaning has continued to be associated with the term "new class" throughout the twentieth century, and repeated claims that a new class of skilled intellectual workers, professionals or managers will seek class rule as repeated every so often. These claims seem to be associated with future shock or futurism; and are particularly strident during periods of technological modernization. Future Shock is a controversial book written by the sociologist and futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970. ... Futurism has several meanings. ...


see also: proletarianisation


Early theories

Theories describing the elite in the Soviet Union as a new class initially emerged in 1917. These theories were pursued most strongly by anarchist theorists and occasionally by syndicalists, left communists and council communists. This strand of analysis has remained one of the major positions within anarchism on the role of the elite in the Soviet-style societies. This article describes a political philosophy that opposes the state, capitalism, and all forms of social hierarchy. ... Syndicalism is a political and economic ideology which advocates giving control of both industry and government to labor union federations. ... Left Communism is a term describing a whole range of communist viewpoints which oppose the political ideas of the Bolsheviks from a position which is asserted to be more authentically Marxist and proletarian than the views held by the Communist International after its first two Congresses. ... Council communism was a radical Left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. ...


see also: Solidarity (UK) Solidarity was a small libertarian socialist organisation and magazine of the same name in the United Kingdom. ...


Djilas' New Class

A theory of the new class was developed by Milovan Djilas, who participated with Tito in the Yugoslavian Revolution, but was later purged by him as Djilas began to advocate democratic and egalitarian ideals (which he believed were more in line with the way socialism and communism should look like). The theory of the new class is in contradiction to the claims of certain ruling communists, such as Stalin, who argued that their revolutions and/or social reforms had resulted in the extinction of any ruling class as such. It was Djilas' observation as a member of a communist government that party members stepped into the role of ruling class - a problem which he believed should be corrected through revolution. Djilas' completed his primary work on his new class theory in the mid 1950s. Milovan Đilas (1911-1997) was a Communist politician and theorist in Yugoslavia. ... Josip Broz Tito (May 7, 1892 - May 4, 1980) was the ruler of Yugoslavia between the end of World War II and his death in 1980. ... In history and political science, to purge is to remove undesirable people from a government, political party, profession, or from community/society as a whole, usually by violent means. ... Democracy is a form of government under which the power to alter the laws and structures of government lies, ultimately, with the citizenry. ... What is Egalitarianism? Egalitarianism is the moral doctrine that equality ought to prevail among some group along some dimension. ... The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ... Communism is a term that can refer to one of several things: a social and economic system, an ideology which supports that system, or a political movement that wishes to implement that system. ... Iosif (usually anglicized as Joseph) Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин), original name Ioseb Jughashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ჯუღაშვილი; see Other names section) (December 21, 1879[1] – March 5, 1953) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and leader of the Soviet Union. ...


Djilas claimed that the new class' specific relationship to the means of production was one of collective political control, and that the new class' property form was political control. Thus for Djilas the new class not only seeks expanded material reproduction to politically justify its existence to the working class, but it also seeks expanded reproduction of political control as a form of property in itself. This can be compared to the capitalist who seeks expanded value through increased sharemarket values, even though the sharemarket itself does not necessarily reflect an increase in the value of commodities produced. Djilas uses this argument about property forms to indicate why the new class sought parades, marches and spectacles despite this activity lowering the levels of material productivity. In Marxist economics and its contemporary derivatives, the means of production [in German: Produktionsmittel] refers to physical, non-human, inputs used in production. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ...


Djilas proposed that the new class only slowly came to self-consciousness of itself as a class. On arriving at a full self-consciousness the initial project undertaken would be massive industrialisation in order to cement the external security of the new class' rule against foreign ruling classes. In Djilas' schema this approximated the 1930s and 1940s in the Soviet Union. As the new class suborns all other interests to its own security during this period, it freely executes and purges its own members in order to achieve its major goal of security as a ruling class. Industrialisation (or industrialization) or an industrial revolution (in general, with lowercase letters) is a process of social and economic change whereby a human society is transformed from a pre-industrial to an industrial state. ...


After security has been achieved, the new class pursues a policy of moderation towards its own members, effectively granting freedom of thought and action within the new class--so long as this freedom is not used to undermine the rule of the new class. Djilas identified this period as the period of Khrushchev's government in the Soviet Union. Due to the emergence of conflicts of policy within the new class, the potential for palace coups, or populist revolutions is possible (as experienced in Poland and Hungary respectively). Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchyof (Khrushchev) (Russian: Ники́та Серге́евич Хрущёв  listen, April 17, 1894 – September 11, 1971) was the leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. ...


Finally Djilas predicted a period of economic decline, as the political future of the new class was consolidated around a staid programme of self-interest at the expense of other social classes. This can be interpreted as a prediction of the Brezhnev era stagnation by Djilas. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  listen (Russian: Леони́д Ильи́ч Бре́жнев) (December 19, 1906 – November 10, 1982) was effective ruler of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, though at first in partnership with others. ...


While Djilas claimed that the new class was a social class with a distinct relationship to the means of production, he did not claim that this new class was associated with a self-sustaining mode of production. This claim, within Marxist theory, argues that the Soviet-style societies must eventually either collapse backwards towards capitalism, or experience a social revolution towards real socialism. This can be seen as a prediction of the downfall of the Soviet Union. In Marxist economics and its contemporary derivatives, the means of production [in German: Produktionsmittel] refers to physical, non-human, inputs used in production. ... Acccording to marxism terminology, a mode of production is a particular combination of: productive forces: the material, social and productive techniques, materials and objects of a particular epoch, and relations of production: the particular property form and methods of exploitation of a particular epoch. ... Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ...


Similarity to other analyses

Of course, the specific notions of Djilas are his own development, however the idea that bureaucrats in a typical Marxist-Leninist style state become a new class is not his original idea. Bakunin had made this point in his IWMA debates with Marx in the mid to late 19th century. This idea was repeated after the Russian revolution by anarchists like Kropotkin and Makhno, as well as some communists. It was later repeated by a leader of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky. Further on, Mao Zedong also had his own version of this idea. Of course, this wide range of people over the decades had different perspectives on the matter, but there was also a degree of core agreement on this idea. Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (Russian — Михаил Александрович Бакунин), (May 30, 1814–June 13, 1876) was a well-known Russian anarchist contemporaneous to Karl Marx. ... Peter Kropotkin Prince Peter Alexeievich Kropotkin (Пётр Алексе́евич Кропо́ткин) ( December 9, 1842 - February 8, 1921) was one of Russias foremost anarchists and one of the first advocates of what he called anarchist communism: the model of society he advocated for most of his life was that of a communist... Nestor Makhno in 1909 Nestor Ivanovich Makhno (October 27, 1889–July 25, 1934) was an anarchist Ukrainian revolutionary who refused to align with the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution. ... 1915 passport photo of Trotsky Leon Davidovich Trotsky (Russian: Лев Давидович Троцкий; also transliterated Trotskii, Trotski, Trotzky) (October 26 (O.S.) = November 7 (N.S.), 1879 - August 21, 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Лев Давидович Бронштейн), was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist intellectual. ... This is a Chinese name; the family name is Mao. ...


From the other side of the fence, the work of Friedrich Hayek also anticipated many of Djilas' New Class criticisms, without placing them in a Marxist context. See esp. The Road to Serfdom. Friedrich von Hayek Friedrich August von Hayek (May 8, 1899 in Vienna – March 23, 1992 in Freiburg) was an economist and social scientist of the Austrian School, noted for his defense of free-market capitalism against a rising tide of socialist thought in the mid-20th century. ... The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the economist Friedrich A. Hayek and originally published in 1944. ...


Related articles

State socialism, broadly speaking, is any variety of socialism which relies on ownership of the means of production by the state. ... There are multiple definitions of the term state capitalism. ... Bureaucratic collectivism is a theory of class society. ... In Trotskyist political theory, degenerated workers states are states where capitalism has been overthrown through social revolution and the property forms have changed into a collectivized planned economy, but where the working class has lost its political power and socialist democracy has been replaced by a form of dictatorship. ... In Trotskyist political theory, deformed workers states are states where capitalism has been overthrown through social revolution and the property forms have changed into a collectivized planned economy, but where the working class has never held political power (as it did in Russia shortly after the Russian Revolution). ... Partmaximum (Партмаксимум) was a limit on the salary of a member of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. ... Coordinatorism is an economic system in which control is held neither by people who own capital, nor by the workers, but instead is held by an intervening class of coordinators, typically in the roles of managers, administrators, engineers, university intellectuals, doctors, lawyers. ...

Further reading

  • Milovan Djilas, New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System, Harcourt Trade Publishers, 1982, paperback, 224 pages, ISBN 015665489X (First published 1957)
  • Milovan Djilas. Unperfect society; beyond the new class, 1969.
  • The Revolution Betrayed (http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1936-rev/index.htm), Leon Trotsky's famous work regarding the alleged betrayal and corruption of the Russian Revolution by Stalin and the new bureaucratic ruling caste
  • Ed. Marian Sawer. Socialism and the new class : towards the analysis of structural inequality within socialist societies, Bedford Pk, Australia: Flinders University, 1978.
  • Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, London: Ark Paperbacks, 1986. The book was first published in 1944.

Milovan Đilas (1911-1997) was a Communist politician and theorist in Yugoslavia. ...

Technocratic new classes

  • Alvin Ward Gouldner The future of intellectuals and the rise of the new class : a frame of reference, theses, conjectures, arguments, and an historical perspective on the role of intellectuals and intelligentsia in the international class contest of the modern era, London: Macmillan, 1979.
  • Eds. Hansfried Kellner, Frank W. Heuberger, Hidden technocrats : the new class and new capitalism,New Brunswick, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992.
  • Christopher Lasch The Revolt of the Elites And the Betrayal of Democracy, W. W. Norton & Company, 1995.
  • Grace Budrys When doctors join unions Ithaca: ILR Press/Cornell University Press, 1997.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Encyclopedia: New class (2560 words)
The new class is a term to describe the privileged ruling class of bureaucrats and Communist party functionaries which typically arises in a Stalinist communist state.
A theory of the new class was developed by Milovan Djilas, who participated with Tito in the Yugoslavian Revolution, but was later purged by him as Djilas began to advocate democratic and egalitarian ideals (which he believed were more in line with the way socialism and communism should look like).
The theory of the new class is in contradiction to the claims of certain ruling communists, such as Stalin, who argued that their revolutions and/or social reforms had resulted in the extinction of any ruling class as such.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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