|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2014)|
|Part of a series on|
|Part of the Politics series on|
Classless society refers to a society in which no one is born into a social class. Such distinctions of wealth, income, education, culture, or social network might arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society.
Since these distinctions are difficult to avoid, advocates, such as anarchists, communists, etc. of a classless society propose various means to achieve and maintain it and attach varying degrees of importance to it as an end in their overall programs/philosophy.
The term classlessness has been used to describe different social phenomena.
In societies where classes have been abolished it is usually the result of a voluntary decision by the membership to form such a society, to abolish a pre-existing class structure in an existing society or to form a new one without any. This would include communes, of the modern period, such as various Utopian communities, the kibbutzim, etc. as well as revolutionary and political acts at the nation-state level such as the Paris Commune, Russian Revolution, etc. The abolition of social classes and the establishment of a classless society is the primary goal of communism, libertarian socialism and anarchism.
Classlessness also refers to the state of mind required in order to operate effectively as a social anthropologist. Anthropological training includes making assessments of and therefore becoming aware of one's own class assumptions, so that these can be set aside from conclusions reached about other societies. This may be compared to ethnocentric biases or the "neutral axiology" required by Max Weber. Otherwise conclusions reached about studied societies will likely be coloured by the anthropologist's own class values.
Classlessness can also refer to a society that has acquired pervasive and substantial social justice; where the economic upper class wields no special political power and poverty as experienced historically is virtually nonexistent.
In Marxist theory, tribal hunter-gatherer society, primitive communism, was classless. Everyone was equal in a basic sense as a member of the tribe and the different functional assignments of the primitive mode of production, howsoever rigid and stratified they might be, did not and could not, simply because of the numbers, produce a class society as such. With the transition to agriculture, the possibility to make a surplus product, i.e. to produce more than what is necessary to satisfy one's immediate needs, developed in the course of development of the productive forces. According to Marxism, this also made it possible for a class society to develop, because the surplus product could be used to nourish a ruling class, which did not participate in production.
The surplus product was stored for a time of distress in special repositories, which then also had to be guarded. Especially during these times the stored products had to be defended against the immediate fears of the population, so that they were not all consumed right away. The people who did this, could, therefore, also decide if someone was not to be fed. They had to be more powerful than the masses of the population. The ruling class was born – hence the negation of the classless society, or the first negation.
There are three societies that followed the class tribal society. First, there was ancient society, in which the major class distinction was between master and slave. Then, there was feudal society, in which lord and serf played the roles of class war. The last stage of class society is bourgeois society, or capitalism, in which it has been simplified to owner and worker. According to Marx, there should be a classless society once again at the end of the development of productive forces, specifically through the development of infrastructure and production technology. Class society, would be sublated, the Hegelian circuit completed, as the productive forces burst their confinement in bourgeois society as they did those of feudal- and orientalism, and the contradiction of class society is finally resolved into a version of the prior classless state but at the much higher level of human development that would be in effect then. Similar to primitive communism, where everyone must do useful work to have access to the things they need, in communism, everyone can use the means of production to fulfill their needs, to the extent that a ruling class is no longer controlling access to these; this final stage of production is the negation of the negation of classless society, in Hegelian terms.
This society would be a co-operative union of free producers, who are both owners of the means of production and self-employed, i.e. with no intermediary between themselves and the society that consumes their labor. There is no private ownership of the means of production. These are the property of the whole society. Because all decisions are made in a grassroots democratic system, there is no longer a need for a state as an instrument of class rule and it would die off, when it has in fact become superfluous. Because after the proletarian revolution the economic system would no longer be plagued by rivalry and crises, and rationalized production is assumed to increase greatly. Agriculture would also be rationalized, because it would be practiced on larger farms. It would be possible to get rid of all shortages, so that the reasonable needs of all people could be satisfied. Socially necessary work is no longer alienated, and individuals become free to pursue their individual personal interests with time freed from the life-or-death struggle that bourgeois thought poses as a false need for workers to compete for capitalist remuneration (in money which represents that which they, the worker/producers, as a class, created in the first place) in order to secure the necessities of life.