Thursday, March 22, 2007

Comments on Base/Superstructure

Superstructure is the manifestation of elaborate social relations, the surface, the face of the core or the face of base social relations: forces and relations of production. The base give rise to the superstructure, this does not mean that the base dictates the superstructure of society, but that the superstructure does not exist without the base. The base is composed of the direct relations within society, forces and relations of productions, meaning social relations. The totality of social relations once digested by the mass or general consciousness of society manifests the superstructure. this means that the composition of the superstructure is not always consistent with the composition of the base, for example social relations under capitalism is composed of class division, but that does not mean the superstructure is always dominated by class politics, but also class politics cannot appear to the superstructure without the having a class base of society. This is exactly the relation between freedom and constraint. The formation of the superstructure can also be directly contradictory with the base, and this is basically the heart of Marx’s dialectics, since the superstructure is mainly dominated by the ruling class, so when the ruling class goes through political and economic paths which directly contradicts with the compositions of the base and its material and historical development at that stage, at that point the contradictions within the existing social relations (base) appears to the surface, such points can be considered revolutionary moments, where the material conditions of a certain society within a certain historical period have matured enough to be able to produce a revolution, but such revolution will not develop if there is no revolutionary organization that is pushing forward for it. So a revolution can not be performed by a revolutionary party, it is accomplished by the mass of the working class, within circumstances or conditions transmitted from the past. Nobody has ever explained this better than Marx himself in a famous passage in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:


"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past."

The role of a revolutionary organization is to build itself and to build the working class, i.e. building a movement that is ready when the conditions of a socialist revolution are mature; this means that such a movement needs to build a developed class consciousness which enables the working class to lead a socialist revolution.

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