Left wing of the bourgeoisie - valid?

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hmmm
Left wing of the bourgeoisie - valid?
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When Trotskyists, Stalinists and Maoists are derided as left wing of the bourgeoisie, is it meant only in a rhetorical sense? Otherwise it does not make any sense from a class perspetive since the majority of these movements are formed either of workers or peasants who are not members of the bourgeois class.

Red Hughs
The Left Wing Of Capital

Excellent question - I was thinking of posting this topic myself.

I'm not a member of the ICC. However, I believe the term "left wing of capital" is a crucial theoretical understanding for the Communsit Left.

 

 

Before going into it further, I should mention that it also easy for sectarian or opportunistic characters to take advantage of this approach to merely attack their enemies. We have to be careful to avoid this while still using the theoretical understand that this concept gives us.

 

 

The situation of the former Soviet Union perhaps shows the left wing of capital most clearly. The position of the individual bureaucrat there was as a member of a ruling class. But the bureaucrat expressed their membership in this class by repeating the usual Stalinist lies - that Soviet Union was a classless society, etc. Rather than having a rational political position, either moderate or radical, they had an ideologyl as consequence of their position in the economic system.

 

 

We can generalize this to see the left wing of capital as that the fraction of the bourgeois (and potential-bourgeois) most attached to the tendency towards state capitalism. Their ideologies, whether "liberal" or "revolutionary" actually express solidarity with a present or future ruling bureaucracy. The most obvious expression of this is how the "parties" all aim to capture state for themselves and the sad results when they do.

 

 

This situation is really not different from the way that capitalists quite sincerely believe that increasing the domination of the market is humanitarian gesture despite misery which market penetration has caused.

 

 

Self-delusion is nearly universal in a decaying social system such as the present one. This is why is crucial for militants to look behind the ostensibly good intentions of people and the material processes at work.

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Also, I would question whether the leadership of Stalinist, Maoist or Trotskyist organizations would be a majority working class. But that's not really the key question. The key question is what tendency do they represent? Do they represent the tendency to negated capitalist relations and create communism or do they represent the tendency to modify capitalist relations in the direction of state capitalism. Given the history of the various stalinist nations, I think it's clear that they represent the later.

 

 

I would mention also the increasing unity of capital make the left less distinct. But does mean that these ideologies become more revolutionary, just that pseudo-revolutionary have become even more marginalized with the more "mainstream" left and right wings hardly being distinguishable.

 

 

[I am still having with line breaks being removed, BTW]

 

devoration1
The organizations are

The organizations are bourgeois- their membership may be workers, students, peasants, etc. What is important is not the make-up of an organization, but what is supports and how it functions.

 

To say they are working class because workers are members is like saying the Catholic Church is a workers organization because it is mostly made up of workers, or that the United States Army is a working class organization because its members are mostly workers.

 

A perfect example of the bourgeois nature of these groups is the Nepali Maoists. They form the largest party in a coalition democratic government. While in power, they supported legislation to ban strikes by the working class, in the interests of the national capital. Every Maoist, Stalinist & Trotskyist group act as agents of capital. The rank and file members of these groups are often sincere workers, who are simply misguided and being mislead.

 

Here's a link with references on the anti-working class activity of the Maoists in Nepal:

 

http://libcom.org/library/myths-realities-nepalese-maoists-their-strike-ban-legislations

hmmm
Class

Thanks, but I have not seen Marxists defining the Catholic church as specifically bourgeois institution. In fact, its roots lie more in feudalism.

 

Marxists define class with respect to the relationship with the means of production. None of the Trotskyist/Stalinist have claims over the means of production. So, to classify them as bourgeois seems very counter-intuitive.

zimmerwald1915
Class or Political Group

I don't think it's entirely appropriate to use the exact same method to classify a class and to classify a political group.  A class is truly identified with its relationship to the means of production.  Political groups are more complicated.  In the first place, the bourgeoisie has never in its history been united politically.  When it was tearing down the feudal society, there were political differences in how to go about it.  When it was building up its own society and both creating and situating itself within the national framework, there were political differences on how to go about that.  And now that its society is falling to pieces there are political differences within the bourgeoisie on how best to deal with it.  These political differences find their real, organizational form in political parties and smaller political groups.  It is thus in the activity and ideology of these political groups then, that we find their class nature.

 

In fact, both Trotskyists and Stalinists have as their basic aims the seizure of the capitalist state, and thereafter, using state power, the means of production, by their party.  It is here we find their basic betrayal of the working class: deeding property over the the capitalist state, whether or not a self-proclaimed workers' party is at its helm, is the abandonment of the Marxist programme of socialization and the liberation of the proletariat by its own collective actions.

Red Hughs
"None of the

"None of the Trotskyist/Stalinist have claims over the means of production. So, to classify them as bourgeois seems very counter-intuitive."

 

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Historically, Stalinists certainly did have control over the means of production. The Cuban and North Korean Stalinists still do. Trotskyists and Stalinists still aspire to a situation akin to the positions of the former CP of the USSR.

 

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Of course, such a position is quite different from the position of a private owner of capital. It is much more indirect, the benefit the bureaucrat gets is much ideological than immediately material (bureaucrats in the USSR never received the compensation of capitalists in the West, even if they lived better than average).

 

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I suppose one call the capitalist left "would-be state capitalists". But the thing is, every small capital is a "would-be large capitalist". Soa would-be bourgeois is just a bourgeois whose investments haven't yet panned-out.

 

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We should also keep in mind that in this day-and-age, Trotskyists and Stalinists are a small minority of the overall left, as least in the first world. The majority of the left are within the integrated complex of social service agencies, academia and NGOs - most of the left doesn't aspire to revolution but positions reforming the existing state. The career of Van Jones shows quite well the trajectory of a modern American leftist (he went from Harvard Law School to membership in the RCP to Green Jobs Czar to, I believe some position in the city of Oakland).

 

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I would also say that these terms should not be used to give the impression that those on the capitalist left behave in a simplistic, predictable or always-insincere fashion. This isn't even true about explicit capitalists (though a good percentage of capitalists do qualify as out-and-out pigs, the ones that don't won't save us). Rather, the point is that being in the now-very-institutionalized process of the reform of capitalism essentially involves viewing the working class as "resources". Capitalism is not a simple system, it only becomes through the large-scale effects of the law of value cause it to have the qualities that it. The leftfundamentally views workers as "resources", whether they are reformist or "revolutionary" and they gain this process through administering or aiming to administer the "practical" reformation of capitalist.

 

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When confronted with points like this, leftist often say something like "that can't be true because if it was true, capitalism would be impossible to change".  And if you look the structure of this common statement, you'll notice that its saying that one must accept a particular view because otherwise one would believe one's actions would be futile. This illustrates how the thinking of "well intentioned people" are tranformed into positions which defend their class interests.

(line break seems to be still broken, hopefully it will be fixed soon)

 

jk1921
The ICC have often said that

The ICC have often said that "all factions of the bourgeoisie are equally reactionary." In fact, this has been the position of communists since at least the Third International. Therefore, it is misleading to think of factions of the bourgeoisie as being either "right" or "left" in the sense of the right being more reactionary and traditionalist and the left being more "progressive." Since the communist revolution is now on the agenda of history; all bourgeois fractions are equally the enemy of the working class. Thus, we have to be careful when talking about the bourgeois right and left. These labels can have some anachronistic connection to the policies and politics of old times, but today they are more used ideologically to divide and conquer the workers. To the extent that these differences are real--they refer to intra-bourgeois politics; but it is difficult to see much of substance in these distinctions today. Its true that in the U.S. for example, there is a faction of the bourgeoisie that is more Keynesian and one that is more monetarist; but often these policies are pursued by whatever faction of the bourgeoise happens to be in power when they are useful. This is witnessed by Obama and the Democrats moving away from more Keynesian stimulus and towards tax cuts in preparation for the upcoming elections. Similarly, Clinton more or less continued the policies of the Regan era, while Blair and New Labour were distinguishable from the Thatcherites mostly by rhetoric.

jk1921
The ICC have often said that

The ICC have often said that "all factions of the bourgeoisie are equally reactionary." In fact, this has been the position of communists since at least the Third International. Therefore, it is misleading to think of factions of the bourgeoisie as being either "right" or "left" in the sense of the right being more reactionary and traditionalist and the left being more "progressive." Since the communist revolution is now on the agenda of history; all bourgeois fractions are equally the enemy of the working class. Thus, we have to be careful when talking about the bourgeois right and left. These labels can have some anachronistic connection to the policies and politics of old times, but today they are more used ideologically to divide and conquer the workers. To the extent that these differences are real--they refer to intra-bourgeois politics; but it is difficult to see much of substance in these distinctions today. Its true that in the U.S. for example, there is a faction of the bourgeoisie that is more Keynesian and one that is more monetarist; but often these policies are pursued by whatever faction of the bourgeoise happens to be in power when they are useful. This is witnessed by Obama and the Democrats moving away from more Keynesian stimulus and towards tax cuts in preparation for the upcoming elections. Similarly, Clinton more or less continued the policies of the Regan era, while Blair and New Labour were distinguishable from the Thatcherites mostly by rhetoric.

Red Hughs
I would agree with jk that

I would agree with jk that the "left" and "right" mean less and less today. However, I don't think that makes the thrust of opposing "the left wing of capital" invalid. The supposed opposition within capitalist society is more capitalist than ever. The various faction of capital represent only various mixes of private and public intervention - generally the state intervening to shore up the profits of one or another enterprises and, of course, weakening and dispossessing the working class for that purpose. The good portion of the American "left" serves as lobbyist for various artificial market-based iniatives supposed for the improvement of the planet such "cabon credits" or solar tax credits or such schemes benefiting one or another capitalist interest.

One side note is that I don't think Obama's policies were ever conventionally "Keynesian". Keynesian is a broad category, I'll admit but it is generally thought of/involving state money to create jobs which in turn increases the circulation of the goods in the conventional commodity exchange part of the economy.

As far as I can understand Obama's policies, they have essentially very little stimulous in this sense and a vast amount of direct and indirect to particular corporation combined with general support of the financial system. The state sector takes-up about 1/3 of GDP. It is certainly growing and its growth is entirely unrelated to the providing anything like a welfare state or solving unemployment. (I wish I could provide more concrete discriptions with links but despite the Internet, US spending is extremely obscure subject given that considerable effort is made to make the actually situation unclear. I will continue research).

(nice to have breaks working now, perhaps the admins could remove the extra breaks I added in my earlier post?)

baboon
Yes, absolutely left wing of

Yes, absolutely left wing of the bourgeoisie, with some of the clarifications above on the overall unity of the ruling class; the preparation for and the unbroken attacks on the working class from the Callaghan Labour government of the 70s, the Thatcher government and then seamlessly onto Tony Blair and company. Similar for the US over its imperialist aims (much wider than single term political parties): Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama - again seamless with the only difference one of rhetoric or "presentation" as the bourgeoisie like to call it.

 

One could see the whole global expression of the left wing of capital at work over the Mavi Mamara "flotilla to Gaza" stunt engineered in part by elements in the Turkish state. Leaving aside for the moment the not insignificant point that there was nowhere in Gaza for this ship to dock, the brutality of the Israeli response was entirely predictable. Thus the left wing of capital world-wide rallied behind this stunt, drawing in wooly-headed anarchists, to protest against the imperialism of Israel while the imperialist butchers of Britain, France, America, Germany, Russia and so on, carry out their widescale killings and tortures throughout Asia and Africa. In the latter, the Democratic Republic of Congo being a case in point.

 

The left wing of capital today is perfectly capable of carrying out terrorist atrocities and, as with the case of the FLN and the FARC in Latin America, involvement in large-scale drug operations and the violence that accompanies them.

 

In Britain today, we see the left wing of capital, specifically its trade union set-up, manoeuvring already to divide the working class and attempt to sabotage the expected struggles against the cuts. Similarly, elements in the Labour Party are already their positions towards the "left".

red flag
Agree with baboon its not

Agree with baboon its not only the trade unions which are a problem but also the various leftist groups who all look towards either the trade unions or the labour party to lead the fight against the cuts.  One thing is certain this fight will be truly inefective if led by these organisations for they will remain on the terrain of parliamentry struggle with the emphasis on getting motions passed deploring the cuts while hoping the capitalist class will have some sort of moral reawakening.  This wont happen and the cuts will go through with loads of hand wringing from the left of capital.