Species of Class Conflict, or The Best Bestiary of Mawkish Marxist Marches Abridged

Dearest friends,

The plates of the earth constantly rub up against each other. They go up, they go down, they make mountains, they sink lands, they pop into volcanoes. Continents collide, continents separate. But there is no point to it, nor does it end (well, so long as the core burns anyway).

Life is conflict.

And so is class.

Marx was not wrong in speaking of class conflict as the engine of history. His only mistake was assuming, in that peculiar Western way, that there was progress and an end. But the wheel turns, and its turning humbles the great and makes great the humble.

What follows is a list of types of class conflict. I do not pretend this is a complete list. Still, I dare say it is an improvement over the unimaginative clods that constantly rehash the words of the Great Man and make all battles into wars over the means of production.

The Peasant’s Revolt
Proles vs UMC
This is the classic Marxist battle over the means of production, but framed in a new way. While classic Marxists believe that seizing the means of production will liberate the proles and usher in the classless age, this victory soon proves to be temporary at best. The reason is simple. One cannot run anything by committee well. Sooner or later, rule will devolve to a few key persons, and these people will be de facto owners of the means of production. Such was the case in Yugoslavia, where the Comrade Directors became just like the feudal lords they replaced (sometimes they were even their sons). Because of this, there can be no lasting seizure of the means of production. And because of that simple fact, seizing the means of production does not upend all of society and destroy the upper class, but merely the local lords. Because the local lords know they can be destroyed, these conflicts have become increasingly less total. You can’t throw out the lords for good, so you can only try to get the best terms you can. Replace the boss? Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.

In medieval society, land was the means of production, so peasant’s revolts focused on abusive and greedy lords. In industrial society, factories are the means of production, so peasant’s revolts take the form of strikes and collective action intended to force a renegotiation between labor and capital. Proles know that paradise isn’t coming, so they won’t be duped into overturning society to immanentize the eschaton. It is not the emperor that they take issue with, but the local rapacious lord.

The Baron’s Revolt
UMC vs UC
Sometimes, the ruler is mad. Sometimes, the ruler is centralizing power too much. It is upon the baronage that power is built. They are the strata of the elite which is actively extracting resources from the rest of society and serving as coordination units. The center forgets this at its peril. When the center attempts to seize too much power from the autonomous provinces, they will grumble. Fundamentally, this is an intra-elite conflict about the distribution of power. Too much autonomy and a state disintegrates, too much centralization and it becomes rigid and fragile. And sometimes the ruler is just plain crazy. When their decrees cause famine and ruin, any right thinking person will begin to question the throne. That’s why some affluent persons in rural regions voted for Trump – their local communities were collapsing, and so they cautiously offered to win their districts for the insurgent, in hopes the country could be saved.

Conflict of the Orders
Proles and UMC vs MC and UC
You can’t keep men of talent down forever. In every society, there are certain persons with power, money, and influence… but no rank. When a man born to rule is kept from the halls of power, he soon grows resentful. And because he has power, he will use it. The result is class conflict. Some among the plebs became exceedingly rich and powerful, but they were still barred from Roman high society. The same was true of the high bourgeois in Ancien Regime Europe. In the modern Philippines, you have the high families of mixed Spanish descent ruling while the Chinese bourgeois take the reins of the economy. The Jews rose to professional positions, but they wanted a real seat at the table.

You can’t keep people out forever. Sooner or later, there will be a reckoning. The UMC challengers enlist the assistance of the proles by framing it as a battle between unprivileged, hard-working outsiders fighting against those who abuse privileged legal statuses to maintain their grip on society. The UC enlist the assistance of the middle class by appeals to propriety and the natural order. This is how republics form peacefully. The old elite and the newcomers soon reach a settlement, but the appeals to equality have a lasting effect. The Roman Republic after the conflict of the orders was a real republic. Bourgeois agitation in the late 19th century really did create a flowering of democracies across Europe.

But if there cannot be a peaceful resolution, then it must be revolution.

Revolution
MC and UMC vs UC
Negotiations have broken down. There will be no room made at the table. Elites are already overproduced. Revolution it must be, and revolution it will be. The Rome that accommodated the rising plebians was a young Rome, hale and hearty, with plenty more world to conquer and exploit. The Europe that fused the new bourgeois with the old aristocracy was a Europe at the height of its power and influence. But sometimes empires are in decline. When a power rises, it is easy to grant positions to new elites. But as a power declines, existing elites become more determined to hold onto what they have. Competition is too tight to permit upstarts.

Members of the UMC will want to take the UC positions they feel their talents and ambition have earned, but they will be frozen out. Similarly, a stagnant aristocracy will be unable to absorb all the middle class aspirants seeking to join it. Discontent rises. Ambitious UMC will seek to rise by hook or by crook. What they can do in peace through great deeds, they will now seek to gain by force. The armies of disappointed aspirants serve as natural cannon fodder. The deal is simple. The baron who wishes to be king will promise their followers that they will be barons in this new world. It is men of the upper middle that spark revolutions: Trotsky, Lenin, Guevara, Castro, the Comte de Mirabeau (not as rich as you would expect a count to be). That being said, a revolution, like a cannonball, and like the great conquerors who spark them, must go on. They soon find a way of carrying people away.

What foolish things men do for a crown.

Elite Liberation
UMC vs MC
Not all revolutions are classical. Some are cultural. When a society’s elites no longer feel that they must maintain its values, they will abandon them. To be a cultural repository is a great and restrictive burden. For a naturally liberal caste to safeguard tradition is a difficult ask. No religion can withstand questioning forever, and no rites can resist rationalization. The soul of the aristocracy inclines it leftwards, as do the pressures of court life. It is only duty that binds them to their society’s cult. When duty falters, so too does their dedication to the societal cult.

Natural spite for the middle class takes over.

What happens next? A total upending of traditions and remaking of traditional norms. The WASPs stop preaching traditional family values. Cults proliferate. Everything is questioned. And the fabric of society shreds.

Society cannot be without a cult forever. The new war is a war for the souls of men. In the end, one creed will reign. From the ashes of pagan Rome rises Constantine.

Aspirant’s War
MC vs UMC and UC
Occupy Wall Street! We are the 99%! In reality, they are nothing of the sort. They do not speak for the people but for a small frustrated slice. Occupy Wall Street attempted to paint itself as a populist movement, but it was really the movement of middle class aspirants who discovered, to their dismay, that their college degrees were not magic keys to power and prosperity. Rather than give up, they attempted to take things into their own hands. It went poorly. Prole America does not sympathize with dreamers who rack up tens of thousands of debt trying to become elite. When your biggest goal is not to destroy the system, but merely to be the man holding the whip, it is difficult to find supporters. At least a baron has true imperium and majeste, however minor. An aspirant has nothing.

Of course, what aspirants have in mind is this…

Top vs Bottom
Proles and MC vs UMC and UC
A dodo. A myth. This doesn’t happen. What these aspirants wanted was to rally all of society behind them so they could tear down the elites (and then sit in the now vacant chairs). Of course, any idiot could see that these folks were both greedy and stupid.

If there is one rule in class relations, it is that everyone hates the middle class. And so, an attempt to create a Top vs Bottom situation soon becomes…

The Tea Party
Proles vs MC
You see, bringing up aspirant grievances with the elite doesn’t inspire any sympathy. Instead, it inspires anger. When Prussia conquered Poland, the better szlachta were allowed to integrate into the new regime. The same occurred in Austria. But the szlachta also included the Polish middle class. These dispossessed szlachta attempted to lead a Polish revolt in 1846. Well, as they say, “the szlachta is the Polish nation, the peasants are the slaves.” A position in the regime is table stakes. It shows you’re risking something real. What does someone outside the system have to offer? What are they giving up to lead? The prole senses, rightly, the aspirant simply aims to swap one yoke for another. What is promised is not a radically new world as in a true revolution or conflict of the orders, but more of the same under different colors. To the prole, both the Occupy Wall Street protesters and those in the glass towers were the same damn coastal bastards. The hell with them all. The real issue was not whiny pansies and their frustrated ambitions, but the regulations and taxes being forced down their throat and the disenfranchisement of the masses. So they had a Tea Party.

As for the Poles? They took those damnable szlachta and butchered them.

Power belongs to those that will seize it, not to bloviating intellectuals attempting to exist outside the system. Plus, the cultural appropriation? Distasteful.

Just butthurt about Kshatriya LARPs,
Monsieur le Baron

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