Front Page Titles (by Subject) 4: The Forms of Class War - Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
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4: The Forms of Class War - Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis 
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, trans. J. Kahane, Foreword by F.A. Hayek (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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The Forms of Class War
The total national product is divided into wages, rent, interest, and profits. All economic theory considers it definitely settled that this division proceeds, not according to the non-economic power of the individual classes, but according to the importance which the market imputes to individual factors of production. Classical Political Economy and the modern theory of marginal value agree in this. Even Marxian doctrine, which has borrowed its theory of distribution from classical theory, agrees. By deducing in this way the laws according to which the value of labour is determined, it, too, sets up a theory of distribution in which economic elements alone are decisive. The Marxian theory of distribution seems to us full of contradictions and absurdities. Nevertheless it is an attempt to find a purely economic explanation for the way in which the prices of the factors of production are formed. Later on, when Marx was moved for political reasons to recognize the advantages of the trade union movement, he did make certain slight concessions on this point. But the fact that he stuck to his system of economics shows that these were only concessions which left his fundamental views untouched.
If we were to describe as a “struggle” the effort of all parties on the market to get the best price obtainable, then we might say that there is a constant war of each against each throughout economic life; but not by any means that there is a class-war. The fight is not between class and class but between individuals. When groups of competitors come together for joint action, class does not confront class, but group opposes group. What a single workers’ group has obtained for itself does not benefit all workers; the interests of the workers of different branches of production are as conflicting as those of entrepreneurs and workers. When it speaks of class war, socialist theory cannot have in mind this opposition of the interests of buyers and sellers in the market.72 What it means by class war takes place outside economic life, though as a result of economic motives. When it considers the class war as being analogous to the war between estates it can only refer to a political fight which takes place outside the market. After all this was the only kind of conflict possible between masters and slaves, landowners and serfs; on the market they had no dealings with each other.
But Marxism goes beyond this. It assumes it to be self-evident that only the owners are interested in maintaining private ownership in the means of production, that the proletarians have the contrary interest, and that both know their interests and act accordingly. We have already seen that this view is acceptable only if we are prepared to swallow the Marxian theory whole. Private ownership in the means of production serves equally the interests of owners and non-owners. It is certainly by no means true that the members of the two great classes into which according to Marxian theory society is divided, are naturally conscious of their interest in the class struggle. The Marxians had to work hard to awaken the class consciousness of the workers, that is, to make the workers support Marxian plans for the socialization of property. What joins the workers for co-operative action against the bourgeois class is precisely the theory of irreconcilable class conflict. Class consciousness, created by the ideology of the class conflict, is the essence of the struggle, and not vice versa. The idea created the class, not the class the idea.
The weapons of the class struggle are no more economic than its origins. Strikes, sabotage, violent action and terrorism of every kind are not economic means. They are destructive means, designed to interrupt the movement of economic life. They are weapons of war which must inevitably lead to the destruction of society.
[72. ]See Marx’s words quoted on p. 292.