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Theories of the New Class: Intellectuals and Power

Lawrence Peter King
Iván Szelényi
Series: Contradictions
Volume: 20
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Theories of the New Class
    Book Description:

    In Theories of the New Class, Iván Szelényi, one of the most incisive and respected analysts of the intellectual class, and Lawrence King put New Class theories into a broad historical framework for the first time. This book grounds class theories in contemporary issues, and uses modern polemics to revitalize historical debates on the origins of capitalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9591-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Intellectuals and the End of History
    (pp. xi-xxxiv)

    The collapse of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe was a moment of such obvious historical importance that Francis Fukuyama (1989) was able to advance his now-famous thesis that this change was inevitable, given the existence of a world-historical, evolutionary trend toward liberal capitalism. In this view, liberal capitalism is the “end of history,” the most rational and enlightened way of organizing society. With the death of communism, Fukuyama makes clear, the hopes that the working class will unseat the bourgeoisie fade into the past. The “end of history” thesis, however, also directly challenges another body of theories that predict...

  5. One Proto-Theories of the New Class: Hegel, Saint-Simon, and Marx
    (pp. 1-18)

    In the introduction we called Bakunin the first New Class theorist. This is only correct if we understand New Class theories as critical assessments of Marxist forecast concerning the class character of postcapitalism. From Bakunin to Gouldner the social analysts whom we call New Class theorists all agreed with Marx that a postcapitalist future was inevitable, though they did not think that this society would be either classless or a dictatorship of the proletariat. They all predicted the rise of a new dominant class, which—if one used a broad enough definition of intellectuals—was likely to be composed of...

  6. Two The Vanguard Project
    (pp. 19-44)

    As the Marxist scenario of socialism was gradually turning from intellectual speculation into a political force, with the establishment of the International and, even more, with launching of the Second International and of social democratic parties, the relationship between intellectual theorists and the working class gained new importance.

    In the Marxist-inspired working-class movement, intellectuals, usually from bourgeois and gentry families, played a disproportionate role, as if it might be easier for them to see the light, to understand the “historic mission of the proletariat,” than for ordinary workers. Furthermore, particularly by the end of the nineteenth century, those movements in...

  7. Three A Bureaucratic Class in Soviet-Type Society
    (pp. 45-65)

    Ever since Russia declared itself to be on the road to socialism, there have been skeptics, usually on the political left, who would argue that this experiment could not be consideredgenuinelysocialist. Over the decades, the number of skeptics increased. Many of these skeptics celebrated the fall of the Soviet empire, arguing that these countries were an embarrassment to socialist politics.

    We are not obsessed with definitions; the debate over what name should be used to describe those socioeconomic systems that existed in the U.S.S.R. for over seventy years and in Eastern Europe for some forty years, and that...

  8. Four Beyond Bureaucratic Power: Humanistic Intellectuals and Technocrats under State Socialism
    (pp. 66-98)

    A new way of thinking about the structure of actually existing socialist societies began to emerge from the mid-1960s onward. A new generation of theorists focused its attention on the relations between the bureaucracy and intellectuals, in a new way. The earlier common wisdom—shared by theorists of state capitalism, bureaucratic collectivism, and the New Class theory of Milovan Djilas—that, under state socialism, the power of the bureaucracy is unchallenged and the intellectuals belong to the suppressed and exploited, was being re-thought.

    The changing relationship between bureaucracy and intellectuals, and the social position of the intelligentsia in the structure...

  9. Five The Fall of the Class Project of the Socialist Reform Intelligentsia
    (pp. 99-122)

    If there ever was a class project of intellectuals under East European state socialism, it certainly did not last very long, and by the time it was possible to identify this process, the transformation of the bureaucratic ruling estate into a dominant class was already in the process of disintegration.

    We associate the intellectual class project with the policies of Nikita Khrushchev. But Khrushchev was ousted from power as early as 1963; thus he lost power before the reforms he tried to implement could take off the ground in Eastern Europe. The 1960s, however, was a somewhat confusing decade in...

  10. Six Intellectuals under Postcommunism
    (pp. 123-143)

    In retrospect, it appears that 1989 can be seen as a successful revolution by the socialist technocrats and managers. After two decades of intra-elite struggles, the technocrats were finally able to defeat the bureaucratic fraction of the elite. This happened first in Hungary and Poland, and two years later in the Soviet Union. In the other state socialist countries, the domestic processes may not have been enough to culminate in a system breakdown. In countries like Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Rumania, or Bulgaria, the old guard had to be forced out with the help of Soviet reformers. In the whole region,...

  11. Seven Bourgeois and Post-Marxist Theories of the New Class in the West
    (pp. 144-173)

    The most significant contributions to New Class theory came in the East, where the weakness of capitalism and the success of communism gave these theoretical debates far more gravity than in the West. They were developed in response to the hegemony of a party guided by Marxism, and thus struck at the very heart of the legitimacy of the existing order, the notion that the “vanguard” ruled for the people. Further, the state socialist society that emerged in these countries endowed these ideas with much greater power than they would generate in the advanced capitalist West. It is the lack...

  12. Eight The Neo-Marxist Response to Bourgeois Theories of the New Class
    (pp. 174-191)

    Marxist class theory was slow in responding to the challenge (to the Marxist scenario for the transition to socialism) provided by the bourgeois theories of the New Class discussed in the last chapter. There were several possible lines of defense. The first was to expand the definition of the working class to include intellectuals, or at least the possessors of technical knowledge. Serge Mallet was among the first who attempted to reformulate Marxian theory to acknowledge the increasing significance of technocratic skills.

    According to Mallet, in advanced capitalism a “new working class” is being constituted by the highly skilled technicians...

  13. Nine The Limits of the New Class Project in the West
    (pp. 192-218)

    The waves of New Class theorizing in the West, while influenced by events in the socialist world, have corresponded to real class projects that paralleled real changes in the structure of the economy and the political systems of advanced capitalist economies. New Class theorists, however, have tended to overemphasize the importance of these changes and to see them as the cause of the rise of a new dominant class capable of bringing revolutionary changes to the functioning of the capitalist economy.

    The first wave of New Class theorizing in the West was responding to the rise of the dominant property...

  14. Conclusion: The “Third Way” as the Fourth Wave of New Class Projects?
    (pp. 219-244)

    In this book we have offered a review and critique of the history of New Class theories. We have sought to sustain two major arguments concerning this body of ideas. First, we have argued that these theories serve as the ideological accompaniment to failed “collective mobility projects” in which various types of intellectuals have sought to advance their own interests by claiming to represent the interests of others. This accounts for the constant rebirth of these theories over the past 150 years or so. Second, we maintain that each of these class projects has failed because it was incomplete in...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 245-252)
  16. Works Cited
    (pp. 253-262)
  17. Index
    (pp. 263-268)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-269)