Living and loving Karl

by Evans Yonson

(Note: Originally written and dedicated to all the laborers and workers in the world in 2010. Today is Labor Day in most countries in the world. Since Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifest, labor has changed its face. It has gone global but local. The Light Traveller shares this reflection of the great Marx. Long live the Proletariat!)

To understand Marx’s The Communist Manifest, one must really get into the theory underlying the movement and the goals of communism. Class struggles provide the very foundation of all historical development. Class relationships, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat are defined by the idea of production. These relationships then lead to class conflict in any modern industrial society with the proletariat leading a revolution. Reforms or changes in the government do not guarantee the elimination of social classes thus, the need for a revolution. If the revolution succeeds then the working class would eliminate all the other classes. This leads to a classless society where there is no more need for class warfare such as money, nation-states and governments.

Are the concepts espoused by Marx in The Communist Manifest still applied in today’s society? Has it changed the way laborers see work now? Or has technology advancement impacted so much on the labor class that it had stifled the power of the movement?

Immediately after the Second World War, the capitalists in the modern world invested so much in advancing technology and devising strategies to increase human at the same time machine productivity. Machines were imagined, designed, and mass-produced. The machine that man created will eventually kill the man as a worker. Workers were trained how to operate these machines but those who were no longer trainable were then asked to resign and find another or retire. These developments have created a strong impact on the labor class especially the labor movement. Workers were slowly moving to other fields, availing of more education and expertise, or focusing on a single field of knowledge/expertise. I used to live in a little industrial town of Toledo, about 100 kms. away from Madrid. Most of my older neighbors used to work in the brick and tile making companies in the area. With the introduction of advanced technology, they were rendered “useless” and so they had to retire early on. In a company of what used to have more than 400 workers in a single shift of eight hours, the company has only 15 workers for 24 hours just making sure that the machines are well-oiled and running all the time. Most of these 15 workers are not even locals. The capitalist who invested more in the advancement of technology has become more and more powerful and rich.

The proletariat still exists in the present times. Who are they? They are the migrant workers who are willing to work for low wages, less social security benefits and so on. The local laborers have gone on to the universities to get higher education then higher qualifications and singular fields of specialization. The capitalists and the proletariat continue to co-exist up to the present but this time there is a much greater gap between the two classes rendering the laborers lost in the wilderness of the labor movement. Marx never really warned the communist followers about these things that are happening right now. Or did he miss out on this part of the movement? I believe that Karl Marx never really worried about the future so much. He didn’t write nor think about everything. He left the rest for future theorists to study on and discover.