In the past some philosophers observed society biologically as “animal world”, claiming animals also live in “society of species”, and some other philosophers regarded society in an idealist way, claiming that reason controls society.
The previous working-class philosophies divided society into social being and social consciousness, and attached decisive significance in the former, and also divided social structure into productive forces and relations of production, and into basis and superstructure and put stress in the production of material wealth and economic relations. This contributed to setting up materialist view overcoming biological and idealist view of society. But the previous working-class philosophy regarded society as objective conditions that restrict man, putting decisive significance to material production and socio-economic relations in man’s activities, thus failing to clarify correctly the essential characteristics of society.
By observing society with man at the center, the Juche idea gives most correct understanding of the essence of society.
Leader Kim Jong Il said.
“Society, in a nutshell, is a collective of people. The community in which people live, linked together by social wealth and social relations–this precisely is a society.”
Along with nature, society constitutes part of material world. In this context, society has commonness with nature and is included in material world.
But society has essential characteristics that is fundamentally different from nature.
What, then, is the essential characteristics of society?
That is that it is the collective in which people live and act in organic relations. Herein lies the essence of society.
Man is a being who lives collectively.
Apart from collective, man cannot exist or develop individually. Only in collective, can he acquire independence, creativity and consciousness and become social being and only through unity and cooperation, can he transform nature and society and shape his destiny.
As a result, man became social being with collectivism as essential demand and was linked in social collective to form a society.
In nature, there are many animal groups. Monkeys and honey bees live in groups. Some animals prey upon targets “collectively” almost like people, and when danger comes they send “signals” to their group, so they live in a certain “order”.
But the collective of people has particular characteristics that are fundamentally different from the groups of animals.
The collective of people is formed purposefully and consciously.
The animal groups are formed blindly, instinctively and spontaneously not consciously. It seems the animal groups have “orders” and “rules” as if conscious but they are the products of evolution of nature and have nothing to do with purposefulness and consciousness.
The collective of people, however, is fundamentally different from the animal groups.
The collective of people is formed purposefully and consciously from the common interests and demand for life. This collective is very diverse in form, size and character but all collectives are formed on the basis of commonness of purpose and interests and to realize them. In society, the collective of people, there are such rules to define co-relations of its members as morality, custom and law that ensure the collective life.
All social collectives from primitive people’s clan and tribes to nation-state and international community are formed purposefully and consciously.
Herein lies one of the fundamental characteristics of society that is different from the animal groups.
Another essential characteristics is that man’s collective is organizational link.
The group of animals is a simple collection of individuals that has no lever to link them. Unlike this group, the collective of people is organic and organizational one.
All societies have organizational system, order, structure and means to combine the people in an organic way. The more the society develops, the closer its organic link becomes.
Clans and tribes in the initial period of human emergence developed into collectives such as classes, nations, political parties and states, and in the DPRK there exists highly organized social collective that was formed into a social and political organism in which the whole party and people are rallied around the leader.
The essence of society which is different from the animal groups is that in society people live purposefully and consciously in organizational link.
But it is necessary to mention that society is not formed only with peoples.
In addition to people, the social beings, there are social wealth and social relations.
As the totality of means created and used by man, the social wealth includes material wealth and mental wealth. Material wealth is such means of life and production to satisfy people’s material demand such as food, house and clothes. Mental wealth is such means to satisfy their mental demand as ideology, morality, science, art and literature.
The social wealth is necessary means for people to live and develop. Only with social wealth, can man survive, maintain and develop society and train himself into more powerful being.
Social relations are orders to combine peoples.
Since society is a collective in which people live in link, there are certain relations among them.
Society is not simple mechanic collection but the collective organically linked according to the certain orders. The system of these orders is social relations. Apart from social relations, society is inconceivable.
Social relations are divided according to different fields into political, economic, ideological and cultural relations. And the consolidation of social relations throughout the society is social system. For instance, the capitalist relations of production that were born in the framework of feudal society had not been set as economic system in feudal society but became economic system in capitalist society.
Like this, there are not only man but also social wealth and social relations in society. Why, then, is it defined centering on man as the collective in which people live?
That is because man is master of social wealth and social relations. In other words, the social wealth and social relations are created by man and serve him.
Social wealth are created and used by man. In producing social wealth, material and technical means, of course, play big role. According to their level of development, those means substitute man’s physical and mental strength in producing social wealth. But all material and technical means were made by man and they are used in creating social wealth according to his intention. Their value is decided by how well they serve man. Apart from man, social wealth is inconceivable.
Social relations are formed and developed by man.
In order to create and rationally use social wealth necessary for his survival and development, man comes into social relations actively. The character of social relations depend on demand and ability of the people in a certain society.
According to his developing demand, he constantly changes social relations. The higher demand for independence and creative ability people have, the more advanced social relations are formed. So man is master of social relations, as it is man who demands and develops the social relations.
In conclusion, society has man, the social being and social wealth and social relations. Society is therefore the collective of people in which they live and act.
As mentioned above, the Juche idea newly clarified that society is a collective in which people live and act and thus provided theoretical premise that makes it possible to give scientific understanding of the essence of society and to correctly discover the particular law of socio-historical movement.