Observation and reflection lead to the conclusion that the class struggle, which is a descriptive term used to apply to the industrial conflicts and to some of the parliamentary struggles of the last century, is a struggle between pressure groups and parties. It is hardly a term applicable to the jealousies, disloyalties, yet social cohesion, of social groups which make up the social classes. The class struggle is something definite and exact, fixed by usage. The word class here, as in the case of the occupational classes, is correctly used, if by it is meant definite organizations which act as political parties or pressure groups, only so long as it is not confused with social strata or social classes, whose purposes are of another kind, whose loyalties are different, whose existence continues even after political parties, labor unions, and the class struggle have been abolished or made meaningless.Next Page
There is, then, a working class which is composed of all those who vote the labor ticket, and in this case it does not include the doorman who always votes Tory. But there is another working class, as Marshall insists, which is a "real sphere of social intercourse" and which remains a social class, even though the "working class organization ... occupied entirely in the defense of its interests against capital, belongs rather to the category of party." 44
Almost all revolutionary parties of working class orientation have intellectual leaders drawn largely from the middle and upper social classes. These parties seek to capture the state, and as such are parties. Many workers refuse to cooperate with them. Schumpeter, using class in the sense of social class, points out this fact: 45
For each individual his class membership is a given fact which is independent of his will. But he does not always confirm it by his actions. Persons are known to function, especially politically, with and for a social class to which they do not belong. In practical life these cases are well known, and we speak of them as fellow-travelers, renegades, etc.
In either its revolutionary or is institutionalized form the class struggle, except for some slave and serf uprisings, has not characterized the history of man except during the past two centuries. To function, it must have as its base the right of free assembly, free speech, and a free press, or their equivalent. Social classes, on the contrary, have always existed, at least among civilized men.
Usage has been of assistance in one respect. Professor Nathan, following usage, distinguishes between the proletariat and the proletarians. In the one case he lectures of class consciousness in the class struggle sense; in the other case he is referring to those whose way of life and non-militancy characterize their social class attitudes.
44. Marshall, op. cit., p.66.
45. Joseph Schumpeter, "Die sozialen Klassen im ethnischhomogenen Milieu," in Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Soziopolitik (Tübingen, 1927) p. 8; translation ours.