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Understand Events As Class Struggle

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. - Marx & Engles, Communist Manifesto

One could learn about class struggle by reading The Communist Manifesto, which is available for free on the internet, or from other important written materials. But it isn't complicated. Try this little quiz.

When a fellow worker makes foreman, most people know that his point of view changes. The same guy who used to picket may very well have picketers arrested!

I. Consciousness, or point of view, is best described as:
1. fixed and unchanging
2. changing easily as with the blowing winds
3. changeable
4. adjustible only as new facts help refine knowledge toward ultimate truth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I1: We may want to think that our values never change, but they do. A new foreman tells his former friends that he's still the same. The workers know better! Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I2 When someone's consciousness varies easily, others consider their opinions as having less value. For most of us, change comes much more slowly. Sometimes, a change in attitude is very difficult. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I3 You're right. Attitudes do change. If they didn't, we wouldn't be the adaptable creatures we are. Please skip to the next question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I4 "Ultimate truth" does not exist outside and above the natural world. We adjust our attitudes as we learn new things, but we also adjust them when we have learned nothing, but our situation changed. Please look at the question again


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II. Consciousness, or point of view, comes primarily from:
1. our religious background
2. our common sense
3. our material situation
4. our innate sense of right and wrong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II1 There is no question that religious background affects our point of view, but history shows us that it is not the primary cause. If it were, there would be little change. At least, please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II2 Common sense is a sum of our personal experiences with a little advice from people we trust. It changes with new experiences and new advice, but it cannot deal with the new problems that often arise. People known to have no common sense still have attitudes. People with a lot of common sense still change their attitudes. At least, please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II3 You're right. Please skip to the next question. It is our material situation, the way that we earn our living, that is the main determinant of what we think. People's values tend to change along with their situation. Consider a worker who is promoted to management then makes enough money to become an owner/investor. Wouldn't his/her attitudes adjust to the new situations? Of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II4 Do we really have an innate sense of right and wrong that guides us in all things? Where is it? If we did, it would not change. But change in our outlooks and attitudes does occur. If the philosophy of materialism is indeed superior to the philosophy of idealism, then we have to look somewhere else to explain people's changing sets of values. It might be good to review the exercise on materialism versus idealism. At least, please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III. Which characteristic is best for understanding what groups of people are likely to do or believe?
1. How they make their living
2. Artistic sensibilities
3. Geographic area
4. Age
5. Cultural background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III1 You're right. Please skip to the next question. The whole point of class analysis is to try to figure out what people are likely to think and do in new situations. In an individual case, many factors may come into play. But the most reliable index of a group's attitudes is what class they relate to, and that is primarily determined by their relationship to the means of production. Workers support high wages; bosses oppose them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III2 There's no denying the importance of artistic sensibilities in forming attitudes and behaviors, but it's fairly useless to try to measure or apply to future behaviors. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III3 We may cling to regional beliefs, but the same beliefs can be found in different areas. Even if geographic area may have been more important in the past than it is today, it's not just because we have become more mobile. It's because certain regions were associated with different means of production. Most of the support for slavery before the Civil War came from Southern slaveowners, but not all of it. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III4 People's attitudes and consciousness do change with age, and older people like to explain it by saying that they became wiser. While that may be true, it is also noteworthy that other things, especially their economic situations, changed as well! Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III5 Cultural background, what we learned from parents, teachers, and significant others certainly has a lot to do with what we think and do. But people who came from the same neighborhoods and from the same schools have vastly different attitudes. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV. Capitalists own the means of production and employ labor. Which of these proposals are they likely to support?
1. Lower wages
2. Lower job benefits
3. Lenient pollution laws
4. Lenient worker safety laws
5. International trade laws and policies benefitting business
6. Low availability of legal help for workers
7. Weakening of trade unions
8. Tax breaks for corporations
9. Tax breaks for luxury consumption
10. Tax breaks on inheritances
11. All of the above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV1-10 You're right, butů. Capitalists tend to support everything that gives them an advantage over their employees and more profits. But read all the answers before selecting one. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV11 You're right. Please skip to the next question. Capitalists by nature are exploiters. Historically, that was not a bad thing. When capitalist exploitation began to destroy the world, working people had to take another look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V. Workers make their living primarily from their work. Which of these proposals are they likely to oppose?
1. Lower wages
2. Lower job benefits
3. Lenient pollution laws
4. Lenient worker safety laws
5. International trade laws and policies benefitting business
6. Low availability of legal help for workers
7. Weakening of trade unions
8. Tax breaks for corporations
9. Tax breaks for luxury consumption
10. Tax breaks on inheritances
11. All of the above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V1-10 You're right, but look at all of the answers before picking one. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V11 You're right. Please skip to the next question. Working people tend to act in our own interests, just as everybody else does. Our interests are in having a good life today and tomorrow. Activists are frustrated when the furious efforts of capitalism succeed in misleading the workers temporarily, but our work would be done if workers were already fully conscious of their own interests and determined to organize to achieve them. For now, we heed Lenin's wonderful advice: "Patiently explain!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI. America's middle class may be defined by:
1. Knowing what they want
2. Uncertain, but tending toward whichever class is growing in power
3. Always supporting capitalists
4. Always supporting workers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI1 The middle class is not defined by income nor wealth, nor even by its values and attitudes. It is defined by being stuck "in between" the two great opposing classes of workers and capitalists. If they knew what they wanted, they would be a viable force on the stage of history, but they aren't. Middle-class ideologues are almost invariably idealists - a time-wasteful and confusing philosophy. Both capitalists and workers tend to be materialists. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI2 You're right. Please skip to the next question. The middle class is the vacillating class. Naturally, they tend toward whoever can reward them the most. One could spend days trying to decide a more exact definition of who belongs in the middle class, but it would be time ill-spent, since the middle class has no independent role in the formation of history. In World War II, the German middle class adored Hitler and made him much stronger. In American, they adored Roosevelt almost as much, and tended to help the working class make great gains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI3 The middle class by nature doesn't "always" do anything. Individuals may be strong-willed, but as a group, they can't cooperate much. Molly Ivins says it's like "herding cats." Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI4 In history, the middle class has supported the workers only when we were winning. Good examples: the Paris Communie, the Russian Revolution, the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, and progressive whites in South Africa during apartheid. But those same middle classes turned against the workers when capitalism grew in force! Please look at the question again


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII In history, how has the capitalist class developed?
1. Nonexistent when savages depended on hunting and gathering
2. Beneath the king and aristocrats of olden times
3. In power as modern production determined humanity's economic relations
4. Of questionable value as democracy and education make a better world possible
5. All of the above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII1 You're right, butů. Under the primitive communism of savagery, everybody was more or less equal. Their efforts were indispensable to a group barely subsisting against the assaults of nature. There was no property to speak of, and no classes. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII2 You're right, butů. Hereditary kings and aristocrats ruled civilized society. They had slaves and/or serfs to do nearly all of their work. A few clever artisans tended to lead groups of "employees," but they had little political power. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII3 You're right, butů. Modern industrial methods and relationships brought the capitalists enough power to be able to usurp the kings and aristocrats, often with the help of even lower classes. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII4 You're right, butů. Capitalism was a good thing when it replaced feudalism. Humanity's domination over nature took a great leap forward in those few hundred years. However, capitalism reached a point in which its exploitation, wars, and environmental devastation became too high a price to pay. That point occurred long ago. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII5 You're right. Please skip to the next question. Capitalists like to picture world history as always being capitalist, or at least always leading up to capitalism as the ultimate stage of human development. A quick look at the actual stages of human development shows that capitalism is only one of several, and it is as sure to disappear as it was once sure to appear. The problem for progressive activists is to make that disappearance happen soon and with as little suffering as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII. In history, how has the working class developed?
1. Nonexistent when savages depended on hunting and gathering
2. Weak when slaves performed most of the work
3. Strengthened by modern production relations
4. Capable of opposing capitalism
5. All of the above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII1 You're right, butů. The term "working class" confuses some people because they think it includes everybody who works. The highest-paid billionaire in the world works, but that isn't how he makes his living. He increases his wealth by exploiting others. Savages didn't. They worked all the time, but they weren't members of a working class. There were no classes for eons until "property" came into being. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII2 You're right, butů. It's pretty hard to get more wages when somebody else is working as a slave. But, Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII3 You're right, butů. Capitalism creates workers. Not so long ago, America was primarily an agricultural country and most people lived outside the cities. The ranks of workers were increased as capitalism took over more and more of the productive capacity. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII4 You're right, butů. It must be clear that the working class is the only class capable of standing up to the capitalists. We do it through strikes, boycotts, and other organized activities. Through the years of American history, we made many gains. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIII5 You're right. Please skip to the next question. The working class developed parallel to the capitalist class and largely because of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX. In American history, the class struggle has produced:
1. A steady improvement of democracy and living conditions for workers
2. Constant improvement with no setbacks
3. Socialism, with workers in power
4. Nothing of consequence
5. A nation that is actually worse than the one created in 1776

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX1 You're right. Please skip to the next question. Idealistic people may dispute it, but we have made a lot of progress since a group of landowning white men set up this nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX2 "Two steps forward, one step back" describes American history better than "constant improvement." Consider the advancements of civil rights and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX3 It's incredibly amusing when right-wing reactionaries describe the present situation in the United States as "socialism!" Capitalists are firmly in power. Even in history, reactionaries were likely to use the word "socialism" to advance their own ends, as is discussed thoroughly in the Communist Manifesto. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX4 Anybody want to go back to slavery days? How about before women could vote? How about 14-hour-a-day child labor? Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX5 It is possible for someone to condemn the present condition of the United States as being worse than ever, but only if they are employing an idealistic framework. Any outrageous nonsense is "possible" in the realm of superstition, but not for materialists. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X. Why do communists support the working class and its allies?
1. Workers are more pure of heart
2. Workers have more noble goals
3. Workers can organize and relieve us from capitalist rule
4. Workers' allies, such as authors and movie stars, will lead us to a better life
5. Emphasis on the middle class or on "the most radical people" is just as good, but we prefer the working class because we've always done it that way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X1 Workers are pretty much like everybody else. They tend to act in their own interests and there's no point in romanticizing about it. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X2 Workers are pretty much like everybody else. They tend to act in their own interests and there's no point in romanticizing about it. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X3 You're absolutely right. Congratulations on working your way through this little quiz that is deliberately booby-trapped with all kinds of crazy notions. Capitalists forced undisciplined workers to organize just to work for them. Workers tend to oppose capitalists on every important front. That makes them the best people to birth a new democratic order that will be fair to the environment and to the rest of the human race. Facilitating that process is the highest calling for people today. Please put your understanding to action and join the Communist Party. Also, please give me some feedback so I can improve on this process. -Jim Lane

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X4 It's true that many authors and some movie stars articulate a better world very well. They also do a great job of criticizing the world we have. But they can't do much about it. Please look at the question again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X5 Silly as it sounds, this response actually finds some agreement. The "new left" of the 1960s hoped to find humanity's salvation among students and middle-class professionals. Today, a lot of internet users tend to overstate the importance of computer techs as potential change agents. Others believe that they can organize the poorest, most disenfrancised people into a gigantic "radical" force. People are forever finding a "savior" among middle class spokespersons on TV, in the movies, or singing folk songs. It's normal to try to find an easier way forward, but it's frustrating in the end. Please look at the question again

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