CLASS struggle has been an integral part of social evolution since the formation of societies. Elite capture is the root cause of this struggle where a group of wealthy people control the state and exploit the masses until a society-wide struggle for a just structure begins. While exploring the history of social transitions, we discover amazing details of how modern England transformed itself into a social order that benefits everyone. During a certain period in England’s history, class struggle was prevalent. During King John’s reign, social exploitation was rampant as he demanded higher taxes from the nobles who were eager to pay less. A civil war broke out in the country, resulting in the nobles emerging as the winners.
The social system of England had more evolution to undergo. Magna Carta’s creation as a law in 1215 resulted from the persistent class struggle that involved people battling against the elite’s domination. England’s social order has continued to evolve, leading to the development of modern England where social justice plays a crucial role. Every society has social classes. Wealth, power, religion, culture and regions are the basis for these class divisions. The process of classes fighting for power and wealth is like a spinning wheel that never ceases.
The key is for struggles to occur peacefully so no violence takes place during societal transitions. Indeed, societies can make the transition to become better societies through peaceful or violent methods. Leaders who prioritize social stability help maintain peace in societies and motivate individuals to work hard towards gaining wealth which is beneficial for both the state and its people. This phenomenon has been happening in all the developed countries in the contemporary world. America has created billionaires and entrepreneurs who worked hard to achieve upward class mobility and transform their social status.
The state’s institutions safeguarded such individuals, turning them into state assets. America’s emergence as a global leader in economy and technology is due to the successful presence of constructive class struggle in the state. The prevalence of democratic values such as the rule of law, freedom of speech and security of life and property is a prerequisite for it to happen. Negative class struggle, however, leads to the destruction of societies. In what way does this struggle happen? When states become exploitative, individuals suffer in all possible ways. When a state’s institutions become extractive, the elite use them as tools to rule over the masses.
When this happens, the divide between rich and poor grows and they begin to compete for wealth and power. Aristotle said a long time ago, “The rich and poor quarrel with one another and whichever, side gets better, instead of establishing a just or popular government, regards political supremacy as the prize of victory. To safeguard their mutual interests, the powerful and wealthy collaborate to establish laws and regulations that uphold social order. When poor people win, they begin to persecute the wealthy under the guise of justice. Societies face permanent downfall due to such disastrous scenarios, leading to revolutions that destabilize states.
The Arab Spring is an instance where people hit the streets to dethrone their leaders. Decades of consistent class struggle resulted in pushing the people towards poverty, injustice and joblessness, ultimately leading them to choose the extreme option of revolting against their rulers. The Arab states which underwent revolutionary changes, are still grappling to achieve a minimum level of stability and prosperity. The reality of class struggle is evident and its pace can vary between societies – some experience a slow progression while others undergo a rapid one. If a society is troubled by illiteracy and lack of enlightenment, the advancement of social struggle will be imperceptible. Some societies require decades to transform themselves and the reason lies here.
Due to its ethnic diversity, Afghanistan has been unable to achieve a positive class struggle for development and progress. The people of Afghanistan are in a constant power struggle, hindering the formation of a sustainable society. Numerous factors contribute to the class struggle in society. The struggle for power and wealth is the basis for class struggle in some societies, while ethnic and religious differences form the basis in others. When states provide a fair and conducive environment for people to work hard and compete, there is a type of class struggle that brings betterment and progress to societies.
The relevance of Confucius’ views, who lived around 500 BCE, is significant in this regard. In his view, sustainable growth was only possible if societies maintained principles of merit and transparency in their order. According to him, these societies discover the most capable individuals to govern the state. Additionally, he held the belief that such states attract the most skilled individuals. In such a society, positive class struggle arises. A fair social order enables talented and innovative individuals to attain social mobility.
However, elite capture is common in societies where negative class struggle persists and the powerful and wealthy maintain their rule through laws that favour them, leading to chaos and destruction. Social growth incorporates class struggle as a phenomenon that should not be suppressed by violent means which would hinder its positive momentum. Any society that engages in this behaviour faces an unwanted revolution, with far-reaching consequences for those in power and those who are not. Societies of this kind find it nearly impossible to survive as a nation, as their fate is always linked to disintegration.
Societies were established to enable people to achieve their maximum potential. The origins of an unjust social order can be traced back to human hunger and ego. As a result, societies worldwide fought to establish a fair and just social order. Even in modern times, this struggle is still observed. The phenomenon of class struggle in societies has played a significant role in shaping the world map. Unfortunately, many leaders, even in the modern world, fail to understand the importance of fostering a fair society, causing them to be swept away by negative and brutal class struggle which brings destruction and ruin.
—The writer is CSS Officer, based in Sargodha.
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