Correct understanding of the main fields of social life is very important in understanding the essence of society, since society is a collective in which people live and act.
Social life has diversified and complicated form covering different fields. Social life is divided into political life, economic life and ideological and cultural life.
The most important social life is political life.
Some people take indifferent attitude to political issue and political life, thinking that statesmen and scholars should care for politics. For a long time since the emergence of division of labor, society has political circle, economic circle and cultural circle, and statesmen, businessmen and artists are working in these fields, but it is wrong phenomenon to participate only in economic and cultural life neglecting political life. This is wrong view to identify activities of experts in different fields with social life.
What, then, is political life, one part of social life?
President Kim Il Sung said:
“The political life which provides the people with genuine political freedom and rights as masters of the state and society, guarantees valuable socio-political integrity for them and enables them to add luster to it is the most important of all their activities.”
Political life is, in one word, the life to realize essential demand of social being desirous of living and developing as master of society and state. In other words, it is the activities to provide the people with genuine political freedom and rights as masters of the state and society, guarantees valuable socio-political integrity for them and enables them to add luster to it.
Since political life is linked with politics, it is necessary to know politics, in order to have deep understanding of political life.
Politics is, in one word, social function to organize and control people’s activities in a unified way according to the common interests of a class and society.
Every member of society has commonness as well as difference in their demand and interests. Without organizing and controlling these activities in a unified way, it is impossible to maintain and develop society. Accordingly, politics exists in any society.
In class society, politics assumes class character. Class character of a politics depends on which class’s interests it advocates. The politics that defends the interests of exploiter class is politics of exploiter class and the politics that defends the interests of working class and broad working masses is people’s politics.
Since politics is social function, it is conducted through a certain political organization, particularly state power and mass political organizations.
State power is comprehensive political organization that exercises political command over a society. Therefore, the people who live in a certain territory receive command and influence of their state power.
With government, executive organ, justice, prosecution, security organ and other state organs, the state power conducts politics over all members of the society.
In a class society, state power assumes class character. In exploiter society, the state power is the tools of the ruling class to rule the society according to their interests and to keep dictatorship over the working people.
Except state power, there are other political organizations in which the people who share the same ideology are involved such as party, youth union, trade union, women’s union and other mass political organizations formed according to social stratum, occupation and sex.
Political life is therefore divided into state political life to enjoy genuine political freedom and rights as master of state power, and political organizational life in which they assume socio-political integrity and add luster to it. Their significance and role have been different in different stages and different societies.
Political life is the field that has decisive significance in social life.
That is because the overall social life depends on political life.
Since politics plays major role in society, when man leads political life in an independent way, he can also lead economic and cultural life independently. If oppressed politically without rights, he cannot escape from economic misery and cultural ignorance and prejudice.
That is also because socio-political life is the most valuable life for a social being.
For man, socio-political life is far more valuable than physical life. If a man simply eats and lives without participating in political life, his life is as the same as animal’s life.
Only when man acquires and glorifies socio-political integrity as a member of revolutionary political organization, can he lead a worthwhile and eternal life.
Now, we study economic life, another part of social life.
Economic life is a social life to produce, distribute, exchange and consume material data necessary for food, clothing and housing.
Without these means of life, people cannot survive. Economic life therefore exists in any society along with humanity.
What is important in economic life is labor life to produce material wealth.
Labor life is purposeful and conscious activities to create material wealth by remaking nature. Only through producing material wealth, can people survive and develop. Only when there is labor life to produce material wealth, can there be material life to consume them. Labor life is therefore primary one in economic life and the emergence of human being is closely associated with labor.
In order to produce material wealth, man, labor power, acts against the target of labor with labor tools. Man with labor power, labor tools and labor targets are three elements of production and here man with labor power and labor tools constitute productive forces.
Labor power consists of scientific and technical know-how, experience, function, skill, etc., and is guaranteed by health. Tools of production(labor tool) means material and technical means necessary for production.
What is major in the composition of productive forces is man.
Of course, the level of development of production tools express the level of development of productive forces. It is, however, man who makes and uses production tools. Without man, there cannot be production tools. The decisive factor in the development of productive forces is, therefore, to enhance creative ability.
What is also important in economic life is material life to consume produced material wealth.
The consumption of material wealth is necessary for survival and development of man. Without consumption, man cannot maintain his physical life. Therefore, material life is the life to realize primary life of man.
Everyone wants to enjoy rich material life. Only when man enjoys equal and rich material life, can he lead an independent and creative life as social being.
Whether or not he enjoys labor life and material life that suit essential demand of social man is decided by relations of production and economic system.
As social relations of people in economic life, the relations of production include social relations of economic life such as production, distribution, exchange and consumption.
What is important in the relations of production is the relations of property over the means of production.
Those who have means of production have rights to organize the production and to deal with them. The producers of material wealth in exploiter society are the people, but they suffer from pains and poverty because they don’t have means of production.
Only in socialist society where the social property over the means of production prevails, can the people enjoy material wealth as masters of economic life.
Economic life constitutes basis of social life.
For survival and development, man should have means of life and consume. Economic life is the field of social life that provides material conditions necessary for man’s survival and development.
Therefore, economic life materially guarantees political life and cultural life.
Economic life materially guarantees political life. Self-sufficiency in economic life can lead to independence in political life. Economic subjugation leads to political subjugation.
Economic life materially guarantees cultural life. When economically rich, one can enhance cultural and sentimental demand and realize it. Without sufficient economic life, one can hardly enjoy cultural life.
Now we study ideological and cultural life, third part of social life.
Man is not satisfied with only food, clothing and housing but wants to lead beautiful, noble and civilized life with sound ideology, sentiments and rich knowledge. The field of social life to satisfy these demands is ideological and cultural life.
Through ideological and cultural life, people acquire independent ideological consciousness, creative ability and noble spiritual and moral traits to realize various cultural and sentimental demands.
In general, there are spiritual culture and material culture but the culture, in narrow sense, is spiritual culture to satisfy people’s spiritual demand and to train them into powerful beings. But in spiritual culture, as consciousness that reflects people’s demand and interests, social ideology plays decisive role in people’s activities. Therefore, it is called ideological and cultural life instead of merely cultural life.
Ideological and cultural life is a field of social life to acquire independent ideological consciousness, creative ability and noble spiritual and moral traits that suit to the nature of social being.
Only when man has independent ideological consciousness and creative ability through ideological and cultural life, can he become independent and creative being and master of his destiny. But ideology and knowledge are not inborn nor be acquired automatically. Man can acquire independent ideological consciousness and creative ability and enhance them through ideological and cultural life.
Ideological and cultural life is the field of social life also to realize diversified cultural and sentimental demands.
It is particular characteristics of man that he has cultural and sentimental demand. This demand develops higher when man gets more free from fetters of nature and society and leads richer life without worry about food, clothes and housing.
People create and enjoy valuable cultural wealth including art and literature and thus meet cultural and sentimental demand of social being desirous of leading cheerful, beautiful and noble life with high sense of cultural traits.
In this sense, ideological and cultural life includes not only ideological life to arm the people with independent ideological consciousness and enhance them but also science, education, public health, sports, art and literature.
Genuine ideological and cultural life is possible only in socialist society where the people are masters.
In capitalist country, there prevail reactionary ideology and culture, corrupted bourgeois way of life, inhumane ideology and culture that make people spiritually and physically handicapped.
As the sound ideology, culture and way of life that reflect essential demand of the working people prevail only in socialist society, people can develop themselves into more powerful beings enjoying genuine ideological and cultural life.
Ideological and cultural life takes very important place in social life.
Political and economic life is the life of people, so its level of development depends on how the people are prepared. Through ideological and cultural life, people become social beings with high sense of ideological consciousness, creative ability, noble spiritual and moral traits and diversified cultural and sentimental traits. Only then, can they become genuine masters of state and society and create and enjoy more material wealth.
As mentioned above, ideological life, economic life, ideological and cultural life are independent fields of social life but they are closely interlinked.
Therefore, in order to develop social life, it is important to develop political life, economic life, ideological and cultural life in a unified way.