Thursday, March 4, 2021

50 Years Ago: Ideas of Class Supremacy (1967)

The 50 Years Ago column from the March 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

While it is true that the ruling ideas in a society concerning matters of social significance are always of such a nature as will tend to keep stable the society and preserve it from internal and external disruption, and that they uphold the interests of the ruling class, it must not be imagined that they are deliberately manufactured with this end in view. They are largely the legacy of past social development, built upon and remodelled as the interests which dictated them changed.

The average member of a dominating class is firm in his belief that those ideas are true. His class environment, associations and traditions are all favourable to this result. Here we come up against that curious phenomenon which has confounded so many philosophers, social and historical students—the manner in which ideas and actions which really are based upon and in line with material class interests are draped in fantastic ideal coverings and are given a moral justification which is actually taken to be their root cause instead of merely the superficial trimming.

The man of the ruling class sees that the condition of things obtaining is good for him and good for his class.

He does not put this down to the impersonal cause of a condition of property relations growing from a historically developed method of living giving wealth and position, with all that they command, to his own class withholding them from the subjected. His natural egotism, supplemented by the class tradition, suggests rather a personal cause to be found in the attributes of his class, such as “blue” blood, military prowess, a “divine right* in medieval times and thrift, initiative and directive ability in the present capitalist era. This gives rise to a contempt for the “lower” class—a contempt expressed either openly or in the thin disguise of a paternal superiority.
From the Socialist Standard March 1917

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