On Petty-Bourgeois Ideology: Social Democracy to Fascism

What is the Petty-Bourgeoisie & What is their Aim?

The petty-bourgeoisie is a sub-stratum of the bourgeoisie class who own their own means of production. They are inherently capitalist, yet they cannot be said to have the same power and influence in the marketplace as larger capitalists. This leads to a group which, while fundamentally opposed to the interests of the proletariat, doesn’t necessarily share the interests of the bigger bourgeoisie in all cases. This leads to a “third position” which is against imperial capitalism (capitalism taken to its logical conclusion) and socialism.

Liberalism and Social Democracy

Despite the rhetoric one hears in the arena of mainstream politics, classical liberalism and neoliberalism share a common vein in their stalwart defense of bourgeois property. The rhetoric of defending “the middle class” from “corporatism” is where the bourgeois ideology and petty-bourgeois ideology are divided, yet both political expressions end up supporting a bourgeois line at the end of the day, and at this phase petty-bourgeois ideology is not yet ready to confront the hegemony of the big bourgeoisie. In fact, petty-bourgeois ideology can never do this in earnest, for reasons I will lay out below.

Anarchism: “Left” & Right

In anarchism, we see petty-bourgeois ideology become more “radical” in that denunciation and “revolutionary” banter is put forward in two different ways. The “left” of anarchism, consisting of anarcho-communists, anarcho-syndicalists, and other “libertarian socialists” such as Kautskyites and Luxemburgists. These so-called “revolutionaries” pay lip service to a working class line, yet their liberal ideology leads them to prioritizing petty-bourgeois individualism over revolution. The result of this confused set of priorities and general ideological impotency is a line with no realistic conception of how revolution will be won and how post-capitalist society will be defended from counter-revolutionary forces.

The right of anarchism, the anarcho-capitalist “libertarianism” of such reactionaries as Ron Paul and (insert libertopian name here), falls into the same problem with their battle against corporatism. Anarchists want revolution against “authority,” yet fail to understand that revolution is inherently authoritarian (in that it imposes the authority of one class over another), and anarcho-capitalists want a “free market” without a small group coming out on top and dominating it. Both ideologies are ultimately an expression of Utopian desires on behalf of those who cling to petty-bourgeois ideology, and at the end of the day have no teeth in challenging for a moment the power of the big bourgeoisie.

Fascism: Petty-Bourgeois Ideology’s Logical Conclusion

The final manifestation of petty-bourgeois ideology is fascism, which is the truest expression of petty-bourgeois ideology. Fascism is the most openly terrorist form of capitalism, Here bourgeois liberalism is thrown out the window for nationalism and statism to “overcome” class conflict, and the rhetoric launched forward is both seemingly critical of capitalism and in direct opposition to the working class. Speak with any fascist and they will talk about a “third party option” between communism and capitalism. Nazis, for instance, speak of both as being “Jewish conspiracies.” The first two expressions of petty-bourgeois ideology had no teeth to take on either the bosses or the workers, yet here fascism gives the petty-bourgeois an axe to wield against the proletariat, ultimately serving the ends of capitalism by repressing and murdering those who pose the greatest threat to it.

Categories: Theory

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