Are the interests of every bourgeois person (not just the class in general) always against those of the working class? I'm just intrigued whether a socialist bourgeois is necessary acting against their material interests, by which I include everything as it really is.

  • The idea that there could be an interest of a bourgeois person and not just the class in general is a capitalist illusion that only serves the interests of capital in its oppression of the working class. Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt Euch! Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 13:40
  • That's a good one. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 13:42
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    But what sort of "entity" is the class in general? The platonic idea of class? Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 13:47
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    So yes, in the end there must be individual interests (maybe not hate) that "move the world". Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 13:51
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    Marx & Lenin were both born into the bourgeois class... The Marxist doctrine is that history is made by collective action, not individual 'great men' though
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 16:38

2 Answers 2



Capital contributes future and past financial risk and knowledge about the risk. Labor contributes labor and knowledge about the labor. It's seldom an amicable partnership, and its mutual benefit does not prevent abuse of one by the other when one or the other seizes control of the power of the state to compel with the threat of violence, or constitutes its own power to do the same. But it is a mutually beneficial and necessary partnership.

Marx's fundamental contradiction (state of being composed of people or groups with necessarily opposed goals, antiquated) only works if you assume that no capitalist has ever gone bankrupt with misplaced investments. Marx overlooked this, and as a result he was simply, factually wrong in this conclusion.

  • Why do you need to "assume that no capitalist has ever gone bankrupt with misplaced investments" for Marx's fundamental contradiction to work?
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 9:23
  • I think this is just reiterating: interests being necessarily opposed precludes mutually beneficial exchange. The investor pays almost all of the risk, some of the knowledge, and little of the time; the laborer pays almost all of the time, some of the knowledge, and little of the risk; and they share in the reward: the investor gets dividends if the business is successful, and the laborer gets a wage for as long as the business survives (even if it's losing money, which most enterprises do).
    – g s
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 15:54

You'd probably need to specify what you mean by "interests" and "against". Technically the interests (hobbies, curiosities and aesthetic pleasures, ...) of any particular person can be manifold, especially if you have your basic needs met and aren't determined by your unavoidable quest to fulfill them. So there could theoretically be interests of a particular bourgeois which are not against the working class. Also "against" implies that their goal is to harm the working class.

However afaik that is not the point. The point is rather that they engage in some sort of zero-sum game with regards to social and economic power in society.

So in that regard the ruling class are the ones who have access, ownership, control or otherwise power over the relevant social and economic factors that can make them determine "the goal of society" while the subordinate class lacks this ability to make these decisions, yet are still expected to actually move society "forward" with regards to those goals. So "capital" is not just money but whatever source of power allows people to coerce others to act according to the will of those proclaiming the goals, which in industrial capitalism was ownership of the means of production.

So the interests of the ruling class (to make others work with regards to their goals) and the interests of the subordinate class (to not be coerced and/or to work towards their own goals) are generally opposed to each other unless they happen to overlap by chance. Idk work on it's own can be a satisfying way to express yourself and pass the time, so if you'd do it anyway and someone is paying you to do it you might have an overlap. Though usually that is only temporarily, the fact that your boss demands regular work even if you don't want to or restricts your work and limits your ability to express yourself in it, usually means that people grow to dislike the form of coercion even if they previously liked that kind of work.

So with regards to the ones seeking power, the rest is more or less instrumental to that goal. So the more they spend on their instruments the less they can spend on the goal itself and the less they spend on their goal the more likely they fall behind with regards to the competition for power. So if it is their interest to extend or preserve their power than it is usually not in their interest to share power with others.

So a "socialist capitalist" would give up their privileged position and just be a coworker in a jointly owned and operated endeavor upon which they would seize to be a capitalist. While if they remain in that privileged position they would not really be socialist. Socialism is supposed to be democratic, so rather than a leader, whether in the political or economical sphere, people are supposed to organize themselves and make their own decisions as a society.

That being said, this overly stressed class antagonism unfortunately also lends itself to primitive populist interpretations where people see capitalist and workers not as structural parts of a system and the goal in overcoming the necessity of these societal roles by reorganizing the society and economy to make them superfluous, but where they think of them as fixed groups and aim at "being the capitalist" or killing the people in that role, rather than getting rid of that role.

  • so the ruling class as rulers are anti working class? a bourgeois might do something nice for a working class, help an old lady across the road etc., but then goes home and profits from workers' exploitation.
    – user67675
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 14:18
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    @prof_post These classes are not meant to be understood as "wealth classes" but as power classes. So a bourgeois is a ruler not simply a rich person. Now you can ponder whether it's possible to get and stay rich without ruling other people. But yeah that antagonism does not mean that they are evil people, just that the position of being a ruler requires the creation and/or developing or maintaining of means to coerce people to ones will and make them do something without their consent. In the worst case that goal is "power for it's own sake" but even in the best case it's still coercion.
    – haxor789
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 14:31
  • i think i agree, and consider all representative democratic parties as "ruling class" etc.. where i get confused is the difference between a communist (who always takes the side of the working class as a whole against all ruling class politics and division), and a proletarian, who might not oppose e.g. a more compassionate immigration policy or fairer tax system, but won't support the ruling class' implementation and ideological bewitchment of the class (instead seeking the immediate overthrow of it all). right?
    – user67675
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 14:47
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    "Interests" is a term of art in moral and social philosophy; it does not refer to "hobbies, curiosities and aesthetic pleasures". A quick search wasn't enough to find a good definition, but loosely, an interest is something for which you have a legitimate concern, right or share in, generally something that you have a claim to that is also of significance to your wellbeing or the wellbeing of those you are responsible for. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:20
  • i guess you mean "political interest" @DavidGudeman yeah that makes sense
    – user67675
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 17:12

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