The struggle at the heart of our history

Under capitalism, the class relationship is disguised by a “free” exchange of goods on the market.

Paul D’Amato, Socialist Worker,  November 11, 2011

KARL MARX and Frederick Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto that the “history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.”

They meant written history of course. They weren’t referring to early human societies of small bands, where humans lived by sharing whatever they gathered or hunted. But once people began to produce a surplus–a period tied to the invention of agriculture and the domestication of animals–society split into classes.

Engels argued that class society arose at a certain point “because human labor was still so little productive that it provided but a small surplus over and above the necessary means of subsistence.

Therefore, he argued, “any increase of the productive forces…was possible only by means of a greater division of labor. And the necessary basis for this was the great division of labor between the masses discharging simple manual labor and the few privileged persons directing labor.”

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