[OPE] The concept of the New Marxist Exploiting Class

From: Jurriaan Bendien <jurriaanbendien@online.nl>
Date: Mon Mar 21 2011 - 15:09:25 EDT

Paul Z,

I haven't patented or copyrighted this concept yet, sorry. Briefly, the NMEC
concept originated when I began to think more reflectively and theoretically
about my personal experience of Marxists internationally, comparing their
rhetorics to what actually happened. I can only make a few points about it
in one email.

I had read Hal Draper on the "two souls of socialism" and I realized that
Draper, though he drew attention to an important issue, had not really
captured the essence of the problem.

Very briefly, the real problem was the general fact that politico's can
"appropriate or "hijack" a political agenda which is not their own, using
and manipulating the sentiments of the people for purposes quite differently
than the people intended (any middleclass upstart can of course prattle
about "class struggle").

This is a complex phenomenon of misrepresentation and masking, a combination
of illusion, deception and self-delusion, about which I cannot go into all
the specifics here, except to say that people might start out with the best
intentions, but find themselves, in the course of the battle, forced into a
political position where they serve quite different interests than what they
initially thought. This process is actually also quite well described by
quite a few political historians (like Isaac Deutscher, although Deutscher
as a Marxist also re-mystifies the real story).

It is not something unique to labour movements either; it is a possibility
in any kind of politics, e.g. antique politics, feudal politics, bourgeois
politics. However, it takes specific forms in labour movements, since labour
movements have generated various different political classes with a
collectivist ethic (e.g. social democratic, fascist, socialist,
Marxist-Leninist, New Left-managerial etc.).

I had also studied the intellectual degeneration of Marxism in the 20th
century in some detail, and the Marxist critiques of the bureaucratization
of the Russian revolution. Further, I had delved into the historical
processes of the formation of social classes and estates. And I realized
that an organized group of people sharing an ideology could, in specific
circumstances where the existing society was disintegrating, transform
themselves into a new political class, a new managerial elite. They could
change the system of property rights, to vest their own rule as a new
exploiting class.
Marx defined the concept of class very specifically: "Insofar as millions of
families live under conditions of existence that separate their mode of
life, their interests, and their culture from those of the other classes,
and put them in hostile opposition to the latter, they form a class."

I had studied the social scientific literature on the history of political
state systems, so I was well aware that the Marxist theories of the state
were one-sided theories, ideologically aiming to justify the power and
interests of the Marxists.

>From there it was only a small step to reach the conclusion that the
anti-freedom, pro-statization and racial ideologies of the
Marxist-Leninists, social democrats, Castroists, Chavists and Trotskyists
reflected the interests of knowledge bureaucrats who aimed to become a new
managerial elite, a class "for itself" that would re-engineer society,
reshape the world after their own image... and line their own pockets so
they could have a satisfying, comfortable existence giving expression to
their favourite ideology. This is the New Marxist Exploiting Class, where
Marxist ideology is the means to upward mobility.

These knowledge bureaucrats form a new class, whether incipiently as a
proto-class e.g. with academic privileges or as a fullfledged polity with
state power, whether benign or despotic. Naturally, they want to reap a
reward for their efforts - many of them objectively grow quite rich, like
Castro, Ceaucescu and Mao. The exploitation of the Marxist class takes
primarily the form of extracting tribute, especially tax money, servant
labour and surplus-labour, but it takes many other, ancillary forms, since,
once the Marxist class effectively controls the state and the means of
production via a party-state organization, it can derive numerous different
privileges from its position (read for example the confessions of Mao's

How does any class obtain power? They can obtain it, because they accumulate
wealth through inheritance, robbery or clever trading, or because they
successfully articulate an ideology which is supported by a lot of people
(including rich people), or because they have a superior ability to organize
and mobilize people etc. Marxists are a specific kind of people, many of
whom (though not all) aspire to power, but they can get to power only via a
specific route. Whatever the modalities of the process, though, these
Marxists aim to manipulate people to exploit their labour for their own
Marxist cause, and form a movement that can bring the Marxists to power. The
seek out the type of people who will fit on their bandwaggon or pull it

Not all Marxists or Marxian scholars can I think be regarded as members of
the New Marxist Exploiting Class. They could be on the fringes of it, or
have nothing to do with it at all. It depends a lot on what they believe,
and on their own modus operandi. Some are honest scholars or plain
communists, others petty thieves and opportunist swindlers. Some Marxists
are genuinely interested in fighting against oppression, but other only
utilize the fight against oppression for their own oppressive and
exploitative agenda.

Why define a specific "New Marxist Exploiting Class"? Why not just talk
about a bureaucratic caste, a ruling stratum, or a ruling class? Well I
suppose the labels are less important that the phenomenon they aim to
denote. However, the point is that the Marxist concepts themselves both
reveal and mystify the truth about class power. For Marxists, Marxism can do
no wrong, and if it does wrong, it is not Marxism, but that is not
objective - and the lack of objectivity becomes a problem when it is
necessary to understand what the real interests being pursued are. To the
extent that Marxists cannot admit that they can give rise to a new class, or
are a new political class, it is better to refer to the New Marxist
Exploiting Class, because this bluntly and clearly states what it is really
about, and forces Marxists to take sides. Necessarily, the NMEC always ends
up falsifying and distorting the idea of Marx and Engels.

I suppose I could write a whole book about all the subtleties, sentiments,
moralities, tricks etc. of Marxist middle class people, peasants and wurkers
on the road to class power, but obviously I cannot do that here.

I am not arguing that the reign of the NMEC is always reactionary, to the
contrary, a ruling political class may perform quite a progressive role for
a certain time. If it didn't, its rule would not last long at all. But the
progress is always conditional on people doing what the NMEC says, and
providing surplus-labour for the NMEC, i.e. they accept its authority. The
NMEC achieves its goal completely, when people are trapped in a symbiotic
dependence on the NMEC and cannot get out of that.

Modern society is inceasingly a world society. National boundaries are
increasingly crossed. I think that therefore the NMEC should be theorized as
a class at the level of world society, even although it draws power from a
territorial state.



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Received on Mon Mar 21 15:11:05 2011

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