The culture of debate: A weapon of the class struggle

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Fred
The culture of debate: A weapon of the class struggle
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: The culture of debate: A weapon of the class struggle. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
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Fred
As a way out of the impasse

As a way out of the impasse which has appeared on the "Why does humanity need world revolution?" thread I'm starting this one. For it seems that questions about the culture of debate, which debate the ICC sees as fundamental to the proletarian endeavor, may lie at the root of some of the problems that turn up on this Discussion Forum. This article is incredibly long, which doesn't encourage many readers, but to be taken very seriously. It says that the culture of debate runs counter to the stream of bourgeois society, where violence, manipulation and the scoring of points, and attempts to isolate and denigrate opponents, replaces the proletarian search for clarity. There's a further point too. On this forum, it sometimes seems to me, a dynamic of teacher/student, adult/child, or, in bourgeois terms, boss/employee seems to permeate. The ICC are the teacher/adult/authority and the posters take up the role of "supplicant". This doesn't apply on all threads. Supplicants can be led to want to always defend the ICC, even when it isn't under attack!, because childlike we look for the pat-on-the-head from our superiors. A further result of this is that certain "delicate" topics are more or less rendered taboo. Parasitism might be one, relations with other emerging groups seeking regroupment with the ICC, or not, could be another. It's difficult to say. Because we supplicants are not totally in the ICC's picture. We don't always know what our "elders" think about certain matters. There are certain things the ICC keeps to itself. There's some secrecy about. Security comes into it, but not all the time. Thus the debate we all want tends to be inhibited. Some people ask a lot of questions, but rarely get answers, while others make statements which just blow away in the four winds. There isn't much of a debate at all. But this is only on the forum. Maybe the real debate is elsewhere.

Then there are the various crises the ICC has suffered. The cause, says the ICC, is the refusal to discuss. The splits should never really have happened. But who does the ICC discuss with? Is it in discussion with Birov, or the radical groups in Spain, or Klasbalo, or those Canadian groups who seem to be looking for regroupment? We know it isn't in any discussion with the ICT because, in conveying sympathy to the Spartacus group (young ICTers attacked by fascists) Ernie went to lengths to point out this was only an initiative of comradely support, and nothing more. But for all we outsiders and sympathizers know there could be lots of discussion. But we're kept in the dark. Why? KT says there are signs of the ICC opening up a bit. That's good news.

"One of the most corrosive effects of bourgeois individualism is the way it destroys the capacity to discuss, and in particular to listen to and learn from each other. Dialogue is replaced by rhetoric; the winner is the one who can make the most noise (as in bourgeois elections). The culture of debate, thanks to human language, is the main way to develop consciousness as the primary weapon for the class that bears humanity's future. For the proletariat it is the sole means for overcoming its isolation and impatience and for directing itself toward the unification of its struggles." This is a quote from the article in question. It's very good, isn't it? I take it to heart. But the capacity to discuss involves being open and honest, and sometimes talking about unpalatable matters, and not being secretive, and maybe taking risks, or even making mistakes.

I hope I'm not making a mistake in posting this. I love the ICC with all my heart. It's platform, it's website, it's articles, are all wonderful to me. I think it is unassailable as a fortress of proletarian solidarity. So why not let down the drawbridge, haul up the portcullis, blah blah blah we all want to change the world!

radicalchains
A parting of the

A parting of the winds....

Some graffiti from France in 1968 said: "When examined, answer with questions."

So in that spirit...

(Fred says:)

"The culture of debate, thanks to human language, is the main way to develop consciousness as the primary weapon for the class that bears humanity's future.

I thought it was experience and reflection upon struggle? 

 

LoneLondoner
How do you reflect, though?

radicalchains wrote:

I thought it was experience and reflection upon struggle? 

I would say two things about that. First, how do we reflect if not through debate? I assume here that nobody imagines that reflection on struggle can take place in a kind of philosophical ivory tower.

Secondly, reflection need not necessarily be on struggle in the first instance - in many cases it may come through a more general reflection on the state of the world and the future it holds in store for us. So it's broader than just struggle.

radicalchains
Yes, you are right LL but I

Yes, you are right LL but I do not recognise essentially talking to one another as THE primary weapon it is part of development. And I also agree about general reflection of the state of the world, I did sort of mean that when I just said 'experience'. However, I thought the primary weapon - consciousness is developed not through talking or debate but through struggle. Being defeated, struggling in new ways, having some limited success and so on? 

 

I think the worker from 3:13 illustrates my point, the irony of course is that he is talking!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC27XpmtCN8

(UK Visteon worker on occupation)

LoneLondoner
Can you have struggle without debate?

radicalchains wrote:

However, I thought the primary weapon - consciousness is developed not through talking or debate but through struggle. Being defeated, struggling in new ways, having some limited success and so on? 

But could you imagine struggle without debate? What happens in mass meetings (at least as we would like to see them) if not debate? What happens on the picket lines? How do workers try to bring others into the struggle? I don't think you can separate the two: you can't have workers' struggle without debate.

IMHO one of the most important things about the Indignados movement (to name but one) is precisely that workers actually had a public space in which to debate that wasn't dominated by professional politicians, unionists, media, etc. A place to debate - that is precisely what has been taken away from us...

radicalchains wrote:

I think the worker from 3:13 illustrates my point, the irony of course is that he is talking!

Well exactly so! And of course all these guys are talking about this on the picket line. Which I think... errr... illustrates my point

Fred
Some of the stuff Fred said

Some of the stuff Fred said above is nonsense. First, contrary to what he says, there is quite a lot of debate on the forum and a lot of it is good. Then there's the stuff about posters' relationships with regard to the ICC. It's not really any of Fred's business, and he should guard his tongue. Also, on the matter of the ICC being the authority, and others being "supplicants" or pupils. Fred is really talking about himself here. Of course the ICC is one of the very few authorities on left communism, it's history and aims, and must be treated with respect, and if Fred see himself as in a way "submissive" to it, then that's his personal problem and he shouldn't try and project this onto others. Fred is a victim of the bourgeoisie's intent to destroy and prevent any meaningful discussion and debate about serious issues within this society. The bourgeoisie fears the culture of debate. It hates people thinking and talking. Years ago it used to sneer at " intellectuals" in the same way it despised and sneered at homosexuals. The Sunday Newspapers were always warning against and attacking both activities, and even appeared to see a connection. Now it's supposed to be okay to be gay ( see the ludicrous campaigns to legitimize "gay marriage" as if there's any benefits to be gained from anything the bourgeoisie sees as "legitimate" as their society decays before their very eyes.) But I doubt the same legitimacy and encouragement will be extended to intellectuals or to any thinking processes, as these present the real and serious challenges to the bourgeoisie's rule; a thinking and talking proletariat, and it's revolutionaries, are the last thing they wish to see rearing up before them, like a tsunami of class consciousness. So, yes, they prefer the scoring of points and denigration of opponents (as in PM's question time in the Commons) to the exchange of views about living now and the mess the world is in, which is the starting point of much proletarian debate.

So Fred wishes to apologize for some of the sillier things he said on April 15th. and hopes to do try to do better in future.

jk1921
Fred shouldn't feel he needs

Fred shouldn't feel he needs to apologize. His feelings were real enough at the time he expressed them. Moreover, they are ideas that come out from time to time from many others. The question is to understand where they come from and examine why these ideas continue to percolate in the milieu.

Lazarus
 ''However, I thought the

 ''However, I thought the primary weapon - consciousness is developed not through talking or debate but through struggle. ''

I think this could easily be misinterpreted.  An unemployed workr engaged in nothing but discussion with a good revolutionary could attain revolutionary clas consciousness yet masses of workers involved in intense bitter struggle (84-85 miners' strike comes to mind) could make no political progress.

Workers without the party will not attain revolutionary class consciousness.

 

NO PARTY-NO REVOLUTION.

 

 

 

 

 

radicalchains
Good example Lazarus. I do

Good example Lazarus. I do recognise the importance of debate, discussion and clarification. And that it is this society which tries to impose a separation between theory and action or mental and physical in another context. I think it was just the way I read the text or the language used. Both components of struggle (theory is part of struggle) is necessary and important. All I would like to add and I am sure you would all agree is that it is not enough that the unemployed worker attains this 'revolutionary class consciousness' but then does not apply it (collectively), hence both aspects of struggle (not separating one from the other) are important. Perhaps equally?

Fred, I find it difficult to read your post sometimes. I am often unsure whether you are being sarcastic as in your last post as you seem to swing wildly from one opinion to its opposite. I don't think it helps that you sometimes speak in the third person. Does anyone else share this opinion or is it my problem? No offence is intended.

 

 

LoneLondoner
Who will educate the educators?

Lazarus wrote:

Workers without the party will not attain revolutionary class consciousness.

As Marx said, "who will educate the educators?".

It is undoubtedly true that the party (or even today's tiny revolutionary organisations come to that) represent class consciousness "in depth" (I mean in historical depth). That is what they are for, amongst other things.

But the problem with putting the problem like you do is that you don't explain how the workers are to arrive at an idea that the organisations actually have something to say to them that connects to their condition. The existence of the party will itself depend on the workers' increasing class consciousness.

Fred
Why do people use pseudonyms

Why do people use pseudonyms on this forum? (1) because everybody else does and (2) for security. There's another reason too, at least for me. I find the false name liberating. For me, Fred is my ventriloquist's dummy. He is able to say things I wouldn't always be inclined to say myself. He even allows me to discuss with myself: and this thread is about the culture of debate. You may say I suffer from a personality disorder, am schizophrenic or just plain bonkers. I don't care! radical chains objects to the use of the 3rd. person and says it doesn't help. But it helps me, and I also find it fun. Being afraid of the use of the 3rd person - if that's what it boils down to - is just a culturally specific phobia.In many parts of the world people do it all the time, even chidren where I live now, and although i found it queer to begin with...well its surprising what you can adjust to, and use for your own purposes if you just open up a bit. After all are we not all Internationalists now, or hope to be one day soon? I know that it would be regarded with shock and distaste - for example Northern England, formerly my part of the world - especially by workers locked into strict ideological chains forged by a nationalist bourgeoisie. But that's precisely from what we want to escape, isn't it! So please let me be, and get off my back.

A similar point could be made about 'sarcasm'. I don't think I indulge in sarcasm at all. But I know it is (used to be) a big issue in N.England, where victims of exploitation, living in the gloom and misery that pervades that region - or used to - often felt they suffered at the hands of sarcasm, and tended to look for it a lot. In the early years of "Coronation Street" it used to be a major plank in the drama. But it isn't really a problem is it? In Southern England folk used to worry a lot about facetiousness. "Are you being sarcastic? Are you being facetious?" Who gives a fuck? There are more important things to consider, aren't there? Need I go on? Maybe not. And actually radical chains you did offend me, but I'm over it now. I think. But don't know about Fred....

Demogorgon
Oops, I didn't realise we

Oops, I didn't realise we were meant to use pseudonyms ...

Fred
Isn't Demogorgon a pseudonym?

Isn't Demogorgon a pseudonym?

Fred
Oops I didn't realise

Oops I didn't realise Demogorgon that you thought that I thought speudonyms were compulsory. I don't of course, and never intended to convey that idea.

Fred
Debate develops class consciousness
LoneLondoner wrote:

Lazarus wrote:

Workers without the party will not attain revolutionary class consciousness.

As Marx said, "who will educate the educators?".

It is undoubtedly true that the party (or even today's tiny revolutionary organisations come to that) represent class consciousness "in depth" (I mean in historical depth). That is what they are for, amongst other things.

But the problem with putting the problem like you do is that you don't explain how the workers are to arrive at an idea that the organisations actually have something to say to them that connects to their condition. The existence of the party will itself depend on the workers' increasing class consciousness.

There are workers who have attained revolutionary class consciousness WITHOUT the PARTY and some of them are in the ICC, ICT etc! And as to the unemployed worker who attained advanced class consciousness through contact with others who had got there earlier - well, what can he, or indeed his organized comrades, achieve on their own? The party will have to be produced by the class, through the wisdom of its militants, who see the need for it, and that the time is ripe for its formation. The class will get nowhere without the party (as in Germany in 1919), but the party will get nowhere without the class. We need a lot more class consciousness all round.