In Marxist theory, tribal hunter-gatherer society, primitive communism, was classless. Everyone was equal and carried out the same work. With the transition to agriculture, the possibility to make a surplus product, i.e. to produce more than what is necessary to satisfy one's immediate needs, developed in the course of development of the productive forces.
ED: actually it would seem there's as many shapes to primitive societies as there are shapes of pot. They all involve social hierarchies, I'd suggest they're not classless. The basic shared structure seems to be:
kids | people | elders
spiritual work | practical work
there is a system of ritual & costume to describe each individual's position within the society.
According to Marxism, this development of production surplus also made it possible for a class society to develop, because the surplus product could be used to nourish a ruling class who do not participate in production.
The surplus product was stored for a time of distress in special repositories, which then also had to be guarded. Especially during these times the stored products had to be defended against the immediate fears of the population, so that they were not all consumed right away. The people who did this, could, therefore, also decide if someone was not to be fed. They had to be more powerful than the masses of the population.
It would be worth adding a 3rd class: the military or mercenary. Not to be underestimated. Massive source of political corruption in Rome. These people don't produce, and don't own. Their work is enforcing social order. When one looks at the USSR, the military force is essential to isolate & understand.
The ruling class was born – hence the negation of the classless society, or the first negation.
There are three societies that followed the classless tribal society. First, there was ancient society, in which the major class distinction was between master and slave.
Then, there was feudal society, in which lord and serf played the roles of class war. The last stage of class society is bourgeois society, or capitalism, in which it has been simplified to owner and worker. According to Marx, there should be a classless society once again at the end of the development of productive forces, specifically through the development of infrastructure and production technology, which would negate class society.
Similar to primitive communism, where everyone must work to get the things they need, in communism, everyone can use the means of production to fulfill their needs, to the extent that a ruling class is no longer necessary; this final stage of production is the negation of the negation of classless society, in Hegelian terms.
This society is supposed to be a co-operative union of free producers, who are both owners of the means of production and self-employed, i.e. with no intermediary between themselves and the society that consumes their labor.
There is no private ownership of the means of production.
ED: or the means of production is decentralised & distributed throughout society. Miniaturised & fully automated factories weren't conceived of in marx's time.
These facilities are the property of the whole society. Because all decisions are made in a grassroots democratic system, there is no longer a need for a state as an instrument of class rule and that class system would die off when it has become superfluous.
Because after the proletarian revolution the economic system would no longer be plagued by rivalry and crises, ...
ED: that'll be the day LOL. There will always be rivalry & crises, they're an essential part of human nature. Deprived of real crises, people will simply make mountains out of molehills.
... rationalized production is assumed to increase greatly.
ED: the concept or possibility of hands free total automation was not present during marx's time
Agriculture would also be rationalized, because it would be practiced on larger farms. It would be possible to get rid of all shortages, so that the reasonable needs of all people could be satisfied.
ED: I suppose that the ideas are not invalid here, although where it comes to the issues of food production, it would seem that this light will never be at the end of the tunnel. The grass is always greener somewhere. The ripest fruits are transient.
Sufficient Quantity for all... sure. Equally High Quality... never.
Work is no longer alienated, it is an expression of an individual's personality.
ED: Kustom Culture, Hot Rod. The culture of DIY as lifestyle.
As physical skills are made redundant by automatic processes, it's no longer about the effort of doing, it's about concept, design.
The contemporary work of selecting your stuff, cultural costumes. Specification is a form of work done in virtual reality or abstract symbolism, and then rendered into reality.
Marxism is awfully materialist. There's far more to life, and the quest for status & social hierarchy it would seem according to modern studies into psychology... you'll not be getting away from it.
Just look at the way that people behave at star trek conventions for example. It's not a matter of material, or starvation. The ongoing competition & status games of who is trekkier than who. Fashion trends & fads.
Virtual reality gaming.
The behaviour isn't a material matter, this is about abstracted symbolism. Trekkier than thou.
Holier than thou.
It's essential to pay a lot of attention to this matter: the social value systems, and how people organise themselves around them.
I don't think it will ever be got rid of. That's why Marxism has got a big hole in it, it seeks to abolish something which is as part of people as their legs: social hierarchy behaviour.
It always cracks me up when you see hippies competing over who is more "right on" and peace and love than the next hippie. They get quite aggressive over it.
Or who is more commie than commie.
People want to feel that glow of others' admiration. It's like food. Wham... dopamine.
That's why people race, that's why they game, to figure out the collective resources. Some people are clever, some people are strong. We like knowing who is who, and what people are best at. Horses & courses. It's good for the community.