Part 7: The Convulsions of Ideology

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IR 58, 3rd Quarter 1989

Understanding the decadence of Capitalism, VII

THE CONVULSIONS OF IDEOLOGY 

The ‘ideological crisis’, the ‘crisis of values’ which journalists and sociologists have been talking about for decades is, contrary to what they say, not a ‘painful adaptation to capitalist technological progress’. It is rather the expres­sion of the halt in any real historical progress by capitalism. It’s the decomposition of the dominant ideology which accompanies the deca­dence of the economic system.

All the convulsions which capitalist ideologi­cal forms have gone through over the past three quarters of a century in fact constitute not a permanent rejuvenation of capitalism but an expression of its senility, demonstrating the necessity and possibility of the communist revolution.

In the previous articles in this series [1], which sought to respond to those ‘Marxists’ who reject the theory of the decadence of capitalism, we concentrated mainly on the economic aspects of the question: “It’s in political economy that we must seek the anatomy of civil society,” as Marx said [2]. We reiterated the marxist vision according to which it is economic factors which determine that, at a certain moment in their de­velopment, the various historical systems of so­ciety (slavery, feudalism, capitalism...) enter into a phase of decadence. As Marx put it:

“At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of produc­tion, or - what is just a legal expression for the same thing - with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces, these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins and epoch of social revolution.” [3].

We have shown that capitalism has undergone such a process since the first world war and the international wave of proletarian revolutions which put an end to it. We’ve shown how this system has been transformed into a permanent obstacle to the development of the productive forces, to the production of humanity’s means of existence: the most destructive wars in history, a permanent arms economy, the greatest famines ever known, epidemics, wider and wider areas condemned to chronic underdevelopment

We’ve insisted that capitalism is locked up in its own contradictions and can only postpone its day of reckoning through a desperate flight into credit and unproductive expenditure.

At the level of social life we have analysed some of the fundamental transformations brought about by these economic changes: the qualitative difference between the wars of the 20th century and those of ascendant capitalism; the bloated growth of the state machine in decadent capi­talism, in contrast to the ‘economic liberalism’ of the 19th century; the differences in the forms of life and struggle for the proletariat between the 19th and 20th centuries.

However this picture remains incomplete. At the level of, the ‘superstructures’, of the ‘ideological forms’ which are based on these cri­sis—ridden relations of production, we have also seen convulsions and transformations which equally express this decadence. From the same passage by Marx:

“With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of a natural sci­ence, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic - in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.” [4].

In our texts on decadence (in particular in the pamphlet devoted to it) we’ve gone into certain characteristics of these ideological transformations. We return to them here in or­der to respond to certain aberrations which our critics have formulated on this question.

THE BLINDNESS OF ‘INVARIANCE’

Those who reject the theory of decadence, who can’t see any change in capitalism since the 16th century on the concrete level of produc­tion, are no less myopic when it comes to seeing the evolution of capitalism at the level of its ideological forms. What’s more, for some of them, in particular the punk anarcho-Bordigists of the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste [5], anyone who claims to recognize any transformations at this level is simply displaying the “moralising” vision of the “priests”. This is what they write about this:

‘~..It only remains to the decadentists to add on ideological justification, the moralising argu­ment ... of a superstructural decadence reflect­ing (like the vulgar materialists they are) the decadence of the relations of production. ‘Ideology decomposes, the old moral values col­lapse, artistic creativity stagnates or takes re­bellious forms, philosophical obscurantism and pessimism develop.’ The 64,000 dollar question is: who is the author of this passage: Raymond Aron? Le Pen? Monseigneur Lefebvre [6] ... Oh no - it’s from the ICC pamphlet The Decadence of Capitalism. The same moralising discourse thus corresponds to the same evolusionist vi­sion, whether from the mouths of the priests of the right, left or ultra-left.

“As if the dominant ideology was decompos­ing, as if the essential moral values of the bourgeoisie were collapsing! In reality what we see is a movement of decomposition/recomposition on a growing scale: each time the old forms of the dominant ideology become disqualified, they give rise to new ideological recompositions whose bourgeois content and essence invariably remains identical.” [7].

The good thing about the GCI is its capacity to condense into a few lines a particularly high number of absurdities, which, in a polemic, allows one to economise on paper. But let’s begin at the beginning.

ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATIONS AND THE IDEOLOGICAL FORMS

According to the GCI it is ‘vulgar materialism’ to establish a link between the decadence of the relations of production and the decline of the ideological superstructures. The GCI has read Marx’s critique of the conception which sees ideas as a purely passive reflection of material reality. Instead, Marx puts forward a dialectical view which sees the permanent inter—relation­ship between these two entities. But you’d have to be an ‘invariantist’ to deduce from this that the ideological forms aren’t subject to the evo­lution of material conditions.

Marx is very clear on this:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, ie. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material rela­tionships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance.” [8]

How could the “dominant material relation­ships” go through the convulsions of a period of decadence without the same thing happening to their “expression in ideas”? How could a so­ciety living through an epoch of real economic development, where the social relations of pro­duction appear as a source of the amelioration of the general conditions of existence, be ac­companied by ideological forms identical to those of a society in which the same relations are leading society towards misery, massive self-de­struction, permanent and generalised anguish?

By denying the link between the ideological forms of an epoch and the economic reality un­derlying it, the GCI claims to be combating ‘vulgar materialism’, but it only does this by falling into the idealism which believes in the primordial existence of ideas and their indepen­dence from the material world of social produc­tion.

CAN THE DOMINANT IDEOLOGY DECAY?

What offends the GCI is that one can talk about the decomposition of the dominant ideology. To see this as a manifestation of the historic deca­dence of capitalism is to develop a “moralising argument”. Against this, they offer us a great truth: bourgeois ideology in the 20th century is, just like it was in the 19th century, “invariably” bourgeois. Conclusion? Therefore it doesn’t decompose (!).

In the ‘dialectical’ view of ‘invariance’ we are taught that as long as capitalism exists it re­mains “invariably” capitalist and that as long as the proletariat exists it also remains “invariably” proletarian.

But having deduced from these tautologies the non-putrefaction of the dominant ideology, the GCI attempts to deepen the question: “what we see is a movement of decomposition/recomposition on a growing scale: each time the old forms of the dominant ideology become disqualified they give rise to new ideological recompositions...“

This isn’t quite so ‘invariant’. The GCI obvi­ously doesn’t give any explanation about the origin, the causes, the beginning of this “movement on a growing scale.” The only thing it’s sure about is that — unlike in the ‘decadentist’ conception - this has nothing to do with the economy.

But let’s get back to this discovery of a ‘movement’ by the GCI: decomposition/recomposition. According to their explana­tion, the dominant ideology permanently goes through “new ideological recompositions.” Yes “new”. This is eternal youth! What are these “ideological recompositions”? The GCI comes up with an answer straight away.

“This is what we’re seeing with the re-emergence in force and on a world scale of religious ideologies.”

But as everyone knows, religion is the last desperate cry of ideological mystification. Other novelties: “anti-fascism ... democratic myths anti-terrorism.” What’s new about these old re­frains used by the ruling class for at least half a century, if not for much longer? If the GCI doesn’t have any other examples to give it’s be­cause fundamentally there are no “new ideologi­cal recompositions” in decadent capitalism. Capitalist ideology can no more rejuvenate itself that the economic system which engenders it. On the contrary, what we see in decadent capitalism is the wearing out, at different speeds in dif­ferent parts of the planet, of the ‘eternal’ values of the bourgeoisie. 

WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR THE GRIP OF THE DOMINANT IDEOLOGY?

The ideology of the ruling class boils down to the latter’s “ideas of its dominance.” In other words it is the permanent justification of the social system run by that class. The power of its ideology resides first and foremost not in the abstract world of ideas confronting other ideas, but in the acceptance of this ideology by men themselves and in particular by the ex­ploited class.

This acceptance is based on an overall bal­ance of forces. It is exerted as a constant pres­sure on each member of society, from birth to the funeral ceremony. The ruling class has peo­ple specifically charged with this work: in the past the religious institutions took the main brunt of it, in decadent capitalism it falls to the ‘scientists of propaganda’ (we’ll come back to this). Marx talked about: “the active and con­ceptive ideologues whose principal means of earning their daily bread consists in keeping up the illusions about itself fuelled by this class.” [9].

But this isn’t enough to hold up an ideologi­cal domination in the long term. It’s also neces­sary for the ideas of the ruling class to have a minimum degree of correspondence with existing reality. The most important of these ideas is al­ways the same: the existing social rules are the best possible for ensuring the material and spiritual well-being of society’s members. Any other form of social organisation can only lead to anarchy, misery and desolation.

It’s on this basis that the exploiting class justify the permanent sacrifices that they demand from and impose on the exploited class. But what happens to this ideology when the mode of production no longer manages to pro-vide the minimum of well-being and society slides into misery, anarchy and desolation? When the most difficult sacrifices no longer bring any compensation to the exploited?

The ruling ideas are then daily contradicted by reality itself. Their power to convince is weakened. In a process which is always complex, more or less rapid, made up of advances and retreats which express the vicissitudes of the economic crisis and of the balance of forces between the classes, the ‘moral values’ of the ruling class cave in under the thousand and one blows of a reality which gives them the lie.

It’s not new ideas which destroy old ones, it’s reality which deprives them of their mystifying power. Marx again: “Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development, but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking.” [10].

It’s the experience of two world wars and dozens of local wars, the reality of nearly 100 million deaths, for nothing, in these quarters of a century, which has, especially in the proletariat of the European countries, dealt the most devastating blows against patriotic ideology. It’s the development of the most frightful misery, in the countries of capitalism’s periphery, and in­creasingly in the main industrial centres, which is destroying illusions in the benefits of capi­talist economic laws. It’s the experience of hun­dreds of struggles ‘betrayed’, systematically sabotaged by the unions, which is ruining the latter’s ideological power and explains why, in the most advanced countries, the workers are showing an increasingly massive disaffection from the unions. It’s the reality of the identical practices of all the ‘democratic’ political parties, from right to left, which has continually eroded the myth of bourgeois democracy and has led in the old ‘democratic’ countries to record rates of abstention from elections. It’s the growing in­ability of capitalism to offer any perspective other than unemployment and war which is leading to the collapse of all the old moral val­ues which sang to the glories of the fraternity between capital and labour.

The “new ideological recompositions” the GCI talks about simply describe the bourgeoisie’s efforts to restore some life to its old moral val­ues by coating them with a more or less so­phisticated layer of varnish. This can at the most hold back the movement of ideological de­composition — in particular in the less developed countries where the working class has less his­torical experience [11] - but in no way can it reverse it or even halt it.

The ideas of the bourgeoisie, and the hold they have, are no more imperious to decomposi­tion that those of the feudal lords or slave-owners in their days, however displeasing this may be to the guardians of ‘invariantist’ ortho­doxy.

Finally, to conclude on the GCI’s intransigent defence of the indestructible quality of the ideas of the bourgeoisie, a few words about their reference to the men of the right. With its powerful capacity for analysis, the GCI points out that certain bourgeois of the ‘right’ in France have talked about the crumbling of the moral values of their class. The GCI uses this to make yet another amalgam with the ‘decadentists.’ Why not amalgamate the latter with the pygmies, because, just like the ‘decadentists’, they observe that the sun rises every morning? It’s quite normal for right—wing factions to moan about the decomposition of the ideological system of their class; this is just the other side of the coin to the politicians of the left, whose essential task is to keep this mori­bund ideology alive by disguising it with an anti-capitalist’, ‘pro-worker’ verbiage. It’s no accident that the ‘popularity’ of Le Pen and his Front National is the result of a political and media operation carefully organised by Mitterand’s Socialist Party.

We are no longer at the end of the 19th century, when economic crises were becoming more and more attenuated, when the arts and sciences were developing in an exceptional man­ner, and when the workers saw their living conditions regularly improving under the pres­sure of their mass economic and political organisations. We are in the epoch of Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Biafra, of massive and growing unemployment for 30 years out of 75.

The dominant ideology doesn’t have the same hold that it had at the beginning of this cen­tury, when it could make millions of workers believe that socialism could be the product of a peaceful, almost natural evolution of capitalism. In the decadence of capitalism, it is increasingly necessary for the dominant ideology to be im­posed by the violence of media manipulations, precisely because it can less and less be im­posed any other way.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MEANS OF IDEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION

The GCI makes a banal but true observation:

“The bourgeoisie, even with its limited vision (limited from the point of view of its class be­ing) has drawn enormous lessons from the past and has consequently refined and reinforced its ideological weapons.”

This is an undeniable fact. But the GCI un­derstands neither its origin nor its significance.

The GCI mixes up the strengthening of bour­geois ideology and the strengthening of the in­struments of its dissemination. It doesn’t see that the development of the latter is the prod­uct of the weakness of this ideology, of the ruling class’s difficulty in ‘spontaneously’ up­holding its power. If the bourgeoisie has had to multiply a hundredfold its expenditure on pro­paganda, this isn’t out of any sudden pedagogic desire, but because in order to maintain its power, the ruling class has had to impose un­precedented sacrifices on the exploited class and has had to face up to the first international revolutionary wave.

The beginning of the dizzying development of the ideological instruments of the bourgeoisie dates precisely to the opening of the period of capitalist decadence. The first world war was the first ‘total’ war, the first that involved a mobilisation of the totality of society’s produc­tive forces in the interests of the war. It was not enough to ideologically dragoon the troops at the front, it was also necessary - and in an even stricter manner — to dragoon the entire producer class. In order to carry out this work, the ‘workers’ unions’ were definitively trans­formed into instruments of the capitalist state. This work was all the more vital because never before had such a war been so absurd and de­structive, and because the proletariat had launched its first attempt at international revo­lution.

During the inter—war period, the bourgeoisie, confronted with the most violent economic crisis in its history, and with the necessity to prepare for a new war, had to systematise and develop still further the ideology and the strengthening of the instruments of political propaganda, in particularly the ‘art’ of manipulating the masses: Goebbels and Stalin have left the world bour­geoisie practical treatises which today serve as basic references for any media publicist and manipulator. “A lie repeated one thousand times becomes the truth,” as the man in charge of Hitler’s propaganda put it.

After the second world war, the bourgeoisie was equipped with a new and formidable instru­ment: television. The dominant ideology in every household, distilled daily for everyone by the most powerful government and commercial ser­vices. Presented as a luxury, the state in fact made it the most powerful instrument of its ide­ological domination.

The bourgeoisie has indeed “refined and re­inforced its ideological weapons,” but contrary to the affirmations of the GCI, first, this has not prevented the dominant ideology from wearing out and decomposing, and secondly, this is the direct product of the decadence of capi­talism.

This development of ideological totalitarianism can also be seen in the decadence of past soci­eties, such as ancient slavery and feudalism. In the decadent Roman Empire, there was the divinisation of the Emperor and then the imposi­tion of Christianity as the state religion; in feu­dalism, the divine right of kings and the sys­tematic use of the Inquisition. But no more than under capitalism did they represent a strength­ening of the dominant ideology, a greater adhe­sion by the population to the ideas of the rul­ing class. On the contrary. 

THE SPECIFICITY OF CAPITALIST DECADENCE

Here once again we must recall the important differences between the decadence of capitalism and the decadence of societies which preceded it in Europe. First of all, the decadence of cap­italism is a phenomenon of world-wide dimen­sions, which affects all countries simultaneously, even if conditions differ. The decadence of past societies was always a local phenomenon.

Secondly, the decline of slavery, and also of feudalism, took place at the same time as the rise of a new mode of production within the old society and co-existing with it. Thus the effects of Roman decadence were attenuated by the si­multaneous development of feudal economic forms; those of feudal decadence by the devel­opment of commerce and capitalist relations of production in the big towns.

By contrast, communism is not the work of an exploiting class which can, as in the past, share power with the old ruling class. As an exploited class, the proletariat can only emanci­pate itself by destroying from top to bottom the power of the old exploiting class. There is no possibility that the premises of new communist relations could come along to lighten or limit the effects of capitalist decadence. This is why cap­italist decadence is much more violent, destruc­tive and barbaric than that of past societies.

Compared to the means developed by the bourgeoisie to ensure its ideological repression, those used by the most delirious emperors of decadent Rome, or the cruellest of feudal inquisitors, look like children’s games. But these means are in proportion to the degree of inter­nal putrefaction attained by the ideology of decadent capitalism.

“MEN BECOME CONSCIOUS OF THIS CONFLICT AND FIGHT IT OUT” 

But it’s not just the idea of a decomposition of the dominant ideology or the collapse of moral values which shocks the GCI. For the apostles of invariance, talking about the manifestations of decadence at the level of philosophical and artistic forms is also a species of ‘moralism’.

Here again one can only ask why the GCI still lays claim to marxism. As we’ve seen, not only did Marx speak about this, but he saw it as a particularly crucial area: “ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.”

For marxism, ‘men’ are determined by the relationship between classes. Thus the way con­sciousness develops about the conflict between the existing relations of production and the ne­cessity for the development of the productive forces is different according to which class we’re talking about.

For the ruling class, an awareness of this conflict is expressed on the political and juridi­cal level through the armouring of its state, through the hardening of totalitarian generali­sation of the control of the state, of the law, over the whole of social life. This is state capi­talism, the feudalism of the absolute monarchs the divinisation of the Emperor. But, simultane­ously, social life sinks deeper and deeper into illegality, generalised corruption and banditry. Since the trafficking during the first world war which made and unmade colossal fortunes, world capitalism has developed trafficking of all kinds: in drugs, prostitution and weapons, making them into a permanent source of finance (for example for the secret services of the great powers) and, in the case of certain countries, the main source of revenue.

Unlimited corruption, cynicism, the most sor­did and unscrupulous Machiavellianism have be­come qualities essential for survival within a ruling class which tears itself apart all the more violently as the sources of its riches fade away.

As for the artists, philosophers and certain religious thinkers, who are in general part of the middle classes, their masters’ loss of any future - which they probably feel more acutely than their employers themselves — means that they have a tendency to assimilate their own end to the end of the world. They respond with black pessimism to the blockage of material de­velopment by the contradictions in the dominant laws of society.

This is how this feeling was voiced by Albert Camus, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957, in the aftermath of the second world war, in the decade of wars in Korea, and Indochina, of Suez and Algeria:

“For me, the only given is the absurd. The problem is to know how to get out of this and whether suicide has to be deduced from the ab­surd.”

A sort of ‘nihilism’ has developed, denying that reason has any possibility of understanding and mastering the course of events. There is a development of mysticism, understood as a negation of reason. And this again was a phe­nomenon which marked the decadence of previ­ous societies. Thus in the feudal decadence of the 14th century:

“The swamp—like nature of the times saw the hatching of mysticism in all its forms. It ap­peared at the intellectual level with the treaties on the art of dying and, above all, the imitation of Jesus Christ. It appeared on the emotional level with the great manifestations of popular piety exacerbated by the preachings of uncon­trolled elements of the wandering clergy: the ‘flagellants’ roamed the countryside, beating and tearing their breasts with blows from the lash in village squares, with the aim of disorienting human senses and calling Christians to repent. These manifestations gave rise to an imagery in often doubtful taste, like the fountains of blood symbolising the Redeemer. Very quickly, the movement turned to hysteria and the ecclesiasti­cal hierarchy had to intervene against the trou­ble-makers to prevent their preaching further swelling the number of vagabonds…

“Macabre art developed ... a sacred text was particularly favoured by the most lucid minds: the Apocalypse,” [12].

Whereas in past societies the dominant pes­simism was counter-balanced after a certain time by the optimism engendered by the emergence of the new society, in decadent capitalism, there seems to be no bottom to the abyss.

Capitalist decadence destroys the old values, but the senile bourgeoisie has nothing to offer except the void, nihilism. ‘Don’t think!’ This is the only response which capitalism in decomposition can offer to the questions posed by the most desperate. ‘No future’ is its only perspec­tive.

A society which is breaking all historical records in suicide, in particular among the young, a society in which the state is forced, in a capital city like Washington, to install a state of siege during the night against young people, against children, in order to contain an explo­sion of banditry, is a society blocked, a society in decomposition. It’s no longer advancing. It’s regressing. This is ‘barbarism.’ And it’s this barbarism which is expressed in the despair, or the revolt, which for decades has marked the artistic, philosophical and religious forms.

In the hell which a society in decadence makes for human beings, only the action of the revolutionary class carries any hope. In the case of capitalism, this is more true than ever before.

Any society subject to material scarcity, that is to say all hitherto societies, is organised in such a way that its first priority is to ensure the material subsistence of the community. The division of society into classes was not a curse that fell from the sky, but the fruit of the de­velopment of the division of labour in order to meet this prime necessity. All relations between human beings, from the way to distribute the wealth created, to relationships of love, are me­diated through the mode of economic organisation.

When the economic machine breaks down, it’s this link, this mediation, this cement of relations between human beings that crumbles and de­composes. When productive activity ceases to create for the future then virtually all human activities seem to lose any historical meaning.

In capitalism the importance of the economy in social life attains unprecedented levels. Wage labour, the relationship between proletariat and capital, is out of all exploitative relations in history, the one most stripped of any non-com­mercial relationship, the most pitiless of all. Even in the worst economic conditions, the slave masters or the feudal lords fed their slaves and their serfs ... as they fed their cattle. Under capitalism, the master only feeds his slave as long as he’s needed for business. No profit, no labour, no social relationship. Atomisation, solitude, powerlessness. The effects on social life when the economic machine breaks down are much more profound under capitalist decadence than in the decadence of previous societies. The disintegration of society provoked by economic crisis engenders a return to primi­tive, barbaric social forms: war, delinquency as a means of survival, omnipresent violence, bru­tal repression [13].

In this swamp, the only thing which has any future is the fight against capital, which offers no perspective except generalised self-destruc­tion. The only thing which unifies and creates real human relations is the fight against capital, which alienates and atomises them. And the principal protagonist in this fight is the prole­tariat.

This is why proletarian class consciousness, which is affirmed when the proletariat acts as a class, which is developed by revolutionary po­litical minorities, is the only one which can look the world in the face, the only one which can really understand the reasons why society is blocked.

The proletariat has demonstrated this by taking its defensive struggle to its final conse­quences, in the international revolutionary wave opened up by the seizure of power by the Russian proletariat in 1917. Then it clearly reaffirmed the project which is that of the workers of the whole world: communism.

The organised activity of revolutionary mi­norities, by pointing systematically to the causes of social decomposition, by drawing out the general dynamic which leads to the commu­nist revolution, constitutes a decisive factor in the development of this consciousness.

It is essentially in and through the prole­tariat that “men become conscious of this con­flict and fight it out.”

DECOMPOSITION OF THE DOMINANT IDEOLOGY: DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONDITIONS FOR THE REVOLUTION 

For the revolutionary class, nothing can be gained by lamenting the miseries of capitalist decadence. On the contrary, it must see the de­composition of the ideological forms of capitalist domination as a factor which can help free workers from the ideological grip of capital. It represents a danger when the proletariat sinks into resignation and passivity. The lumpenisation of young unemployed proletarians, self—destruc­tion through drugs or submission to the ‘everyone for himself’ ideology of the bour­geoisie, threaten a real weakening of the work­ing class (see ‘The Decomposition of Capitalist Society’ in IR 57). But the revolutionary class can’t take its struggle to its ultimate conclusion without losing its last illusions in the existing system. The decomposition of the dominant ideol­ogy is part of the process leading to this.

Furthermore, this decomposition has its ef­fects on the other parts of society. The ideo­logical domination of the bourgeoisie over the whole non-exploiting population outside the proletariat is also weakened by it. This weak­ening doesn’t of itself contain any future: the revolt of these strata, without the action of the proletariat, can only lead to a multiplication of massacres. But when the working class takes the initiative in the struggle, this enables it to count on the neutrality or even the support of these strata.

There can’t be a proletarian revolution if the armed bodies of the ruling class haven’t them­selves decomposed. If the proletariat has to confront an army which continues to obey un­conditionally the ruling class, its combat is doomed in advance. Trotsky had already made this a law after the revolutionary struggles in Russia in 1905. This is all the more true today, after decades of the development of its weapons by the decadent bourgeoisie. The moment when the first soldiers refuse to fire on the proletarians in struggle always constitutes a decisive point in the revolutionary process. Now, only the decomposition of the ideological values of the established order, combined with the revo­lutionary action of the proletariat, can lead to the disintegration of the armed bodies of capi­tal. This is another reason why the proletariat must not ‘only see misery in misery.’

 

The GCI, for whom the revolution has always been on the agenda, doesn’t understand the changes that have taken place in the dominant ideological forms; in its ‘invariant’ universe, there’s no room for any such movement. It therefore renders itself incapable of under­standing the real movement that leads towards the revolution.

The decomposition of the ideological forms of capitalism is a crying proof that the world communist revolution is now on the agenda of his­tory. It is part of the process in which the consciousness of the necessity for revolution is maturing, and in which the conditions that made it possible are being created. 

RV



[1] International Review 48, 49, 50, 54, 55, 56.

[2] Preface to the Critique of Political Economy.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] See the previous articles in this series.

[6] Famous personalities of the right in France.

[7] Le Communiste no. 23.

[8] The German Ideology.

[9] ibid.

[10] ibid.

[11] The concrete examples of “new ideologi­cal recompositions’ given by the GCI refer mainly to the less developed countries: “rebirth of Islam, the return of a number of countries previously under ‘fascist-type dictatorships’ to the ‘free play of democratic rights and free­doms’ Greece, Spain, Portugal, Argentina,

Brazil, Peru, Bolivia...” In this way ‘invariance’ ignores the growing decomposi­tion of these same values in the countries with the longest traditions and greatest concentra­tions of the proletariat, as well as the rapidity with which they’re being used up in their ‘new’ areas of application. But when you think history is ‘invariant’, it’s hard to see it accelerating.

[12] J Farier, De Marco Polo a Christophe Colombus.

[13] The massive development, in all coun­tries, of armed bodies specialising in the re­pression of crowds and social movements, is a specific characteristic of decadent capitalism.