On ‘Force’

Black Civil War Soldiers

Black Civil War Soldiers

“The question of how one group’s understanding of reality, its ideology, appears to prevail over others when it comes to real and effective political power. Depending on who poses the question, it is the problem of social order, of converting power into authority, or of political hegemony. The most obvious answer – force- is not an answer. There is never ultimately enough force to go around, particularly since submission is hardly ever an end in itself. If the slaveholders had produced white supremacy without producing cotton, their class would have perished in short order. A colonial ruler does not just want the natives to bow down and render obeisance to their new sovereign. The natives must also grow food, pay taxes, go to work in mines and on estates, provide conscripts of the army, and help to hold the line against rival powers. For these activities to proceed the natives must not just submit, they must cooperate. Even in those few cases in which submission is an end in itself, force is never enough in itself. Slaveholders, colonial rulers, prison guards, and the Shah’s police all had occasion to discover that when nothing remains except force, nothing remains – period. The rule of any group, the power of any state, rests on force in the final analysis. Anyone who gives the least thought to the matter reaches that conclusion, and thinkers as different in other respects as Weber, Marx, Machiavelli, and Madison would have no trouble agreeing on that. Rule always rests on force in the last analysis. But a ruling group or a state that must rely on force in the first analysis as well is one living in a state of siege, rebellion, war or revolution.” – Barbara Jean Fields, Slavery, Race, and Ideology


“Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.” – Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 1. Chapter 31: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist

About bolshevikpunk

Mainline Marxism or Die. Activist, Student, and Degenerate.
This entry was posted in barbara jean fields, karl marx, Marxism, quotes, revolution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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