Austrian class analysis

From Mises Wiki, the global repository of classical-liberal thought
Jump to: navigation, search

Austrian class analysis is a class theory which splits society into two main classes: the exploiters and the exploited.[1] The exploiters are the class who achieve material gains through coercive means. While the remaining individuals in society, the exploited, utilize the market to acquire wealth from voluntary, consensual interactions. The wealth created by those who utilize the free market is also the source of wealth for the class of exploiters, as the activities of the exploiters are not wealth generating, but rather consist primarily in wealth transfers. The roots of Austrian class analysis reach back to thinkers such as Adam Smith, J.B. Say, Frederic Bastiat, John Calhoun, and Ludwig von Mises.[2] Austrian class analysis traces the source of class conflict in society to the actions of the state. The state in possessing the monopoly on the use of force is able to allow certain individuals to obtain wealth through coercive means, and because these activities are not wealth producing, they inevitably lead to exploitation of others.

Austrian versus Marxian perspective

Austrian class analysis stresses that such class conflict would not exist under free-market capitalism because in such a case the institutional arrangement would only permit the accumulation of wealth through voluntary exchange and interaction.[1] This view is in stark contrast to Marxian class theory which views the source of class conflict to in fact be the result of capitalism. A further difference between Austrian class theory and Marxian class theory is that the Austrian view does not subscribe to any form of polylogism: the idea that different classes utilize a different logic or way of thinking.