It seems to me, all of human history can be described, not as class warfare… but between those that seek tyranny and those that prefer liberty. There have been times when the proletariat have sought liberty, and others where the masses have preferred tyranny, the same holds true of the Bourgeoisie and the elite. Both sides are self serving, those that seek liberty however, serve the needs and wants of all of society, while those who favor tyranny only serve their own narrow self interests. Once we understand that history is actually a struggle between the forces of autocracy and freedom much of human history comes into focus. Allegiances, wars, economic policies, socialism, free enterprise, and every other policy governments have come up with, are merely battles in the greater war between liberty and tyranny. Each seeking to hold mankind in it’s sway forever.
Class conflict is always based on the struggle between liberty and tyranny, the factions may change seats, but the conflict is always the same. The hoi polloi have great power in their numbers but are like a herd of cats, dangerous, sweeping but uncontrolled. The elite are fewer in numbers and have political as well as economic might, but to keep those attributes, the elite must constantly be wary of the people. Most often the people seek liberty but usually live in tyranny, while the elite almost always enjoy liberty but usually seek tyranny. Occasionally, the people have sought tyranny while the elite have hoped for liberty, as in the case of the founding of the US. The people wanted a king but the elite wanted limited government.
If we examine history through the lens of a struggle between tyranny and liberty much of human history is made less opaque. The various wars are obviously a struggle between tyranny and liberty, but other historical events can be described as the struggle as well. Economic policies for example, socialism is all about promoting tyranny while free enterprise is all about forwarding liberty. The French Revolution was ostensibly about restoring liberty to France but resulted in tyranny. How did that happen? Because the people who overthrew the aristocracy and king never had liberty as their goal, the revolutionaries never sought freedom, instead they wanted to be the tyrant themselves. The struggle between liberty and tyranny can be applied to every time and place, while Marx’s dialectic only describes the European feudal state, and then not very well.
With the insight that the struggle between liberty and tyranny gives us we can examine the roles of the various players in human history. We can place them in which faction they go and in doing so we can understand the arc of human history. Like the French Revolution the players usually don’t let their actual positions known, because those positions would undermine their effort to succeed, in establishing tyranny. Robespierre wrote about liberty as a means to fool the people into following his form of tyranny. While those who sought tyranny backed the French revolution, others who understood the struggle wasn’t between classes, castes or other social station, but between those who sought tyranny and those who prefer liberty, like Burke, correctly predicted the outcome. Not based on a supernatural understanding of human nature, but of the fundamental nature of the struggle, and that most of the participants wanted to replace the tyranny of the king, with tyranny of the proletariat.
Those few occasions where and when liberty won, ushered in the heights of human philosophy, science and human heartedness, plus, they have raised the lot of mankind, socially, economically, politically and culturally. The results of the few victories liberty has tasted, show it to be exponentially better for the human race and indeed individuals themselves, than tyranny. Yet the pull of tyranny is uncontrollable for some people. Some might trick themselves into believing they will be benevolent tyrants, others know just what it is they seek, but to them tyranny is a siren call, unavoidable, inevitable and too powerful to resist. The people who prefer tyranny usually understand that liberty is better for humanity but the pull of unlimited power over others cannot be resisted.
If we as a race start to understand that we live in a constant struggle between the forces of tyranny and liberty, we can start to get more liberty, and less tyranny. To do so however requires an understanding that most who claim to stand for liberty actually seek tyranny. The way to tell the difference is to look at the policies they propose. The cause of liberty is never helped by more regulations, more laws or more control, just as tyranny is never promoted by more freedom, more autonomy from the state or limited government. Those that claim their form of “liberty” demands more control of our actions, thoughts and even how we worship, are those who seek tyranny, while people who promote less government, less control, freedom of thought, and religion, are those who fight on the side of liberty. Human history is one long fight between the forces of tyranny and those of liberty, if we want a better life for our children then it is time to take sides, side with liberty.