Class Consciousness : in the light ( perhaps 'twilight' is better ) of decomposition

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A.Simpleton
Class Consciousness : in the light ( perhaps 'twilight' is better ) of decomposition
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This post is offered as a 'host' for clarity , views , education on the seldom mentioned in this forum ( so far ) yet vital issue of the development of Class Consciousness in The Proletariat .

I shall never forget the day I 'realised' that not only were The Urban Proletariat the first oppressed class which possessed a rare , in fact unique position and power in 100,000 years of human history.

They were in chains , just as previous oppressed classes had been ...BUT 'radical chains'....

Marx explained to me ( obviously not personally ) that the whole of the history of human societies had now evolved to a point where there was a new 'sea change' class , whose emancipation did not merely lead on to 'the next class struggle' but a new class whose emancipation - if successful - could not but lead to the emancipation of the human species .

Nothing to sell but their labour : nothing to lose but their chains .

This emancipation was by no means assured : but Marx's analysis that either it would happen and 'real history' could begin ; or humanity would end in 'the mutual ruin of the contending classes'

Never has the development of Class Consciousness been as vital as now , it seems to me .

The Working Class as a class 'in itself' was newly identifiable : this meant little unless it became a class 'for itself' which I take to mean a growing understanding - consciousness - of its power and role and its eventual ability to abolish the idea and actuality of class itself .

Don't imagine magic here : Marx ( on Bakunin 1875 ) quite clearly explains that even 'in power' it will still be a class because the economic conditions , its old enemies and the old organisation of society will still exist .

I say 'never has this been as vital' : why ?

Because :

a) The fragmentation of the Workers has physically/geographicaly progressed : less huge shop-floors/factories : the dispersal of even service workers into ever more 'separated' units making the Klasse an sich less self-evident ( as Capitalism's Decadence 'requires' )

b) Plus of course the bourgeoisie are happy to step up the ideological mystification of 'classless society' : 'embourgoisement' of workers : glad to conspire in preventing any class consciousness in their historical enemy .

I accept that the 'uneveness' of development makes generalisation erroneous ,BUT again it seems to me that Proletarian awareness of itself as a Klasse fur sich : for itself , is a huge challenge not only for the workers but for the revolutionary milieu .

****

In the light of the 'Riot' thread for example : a worker in uniform is ordered to suspend his holiday to fight chaotic barbarism on the streets of cities and fight young proletarians not in uniform who are burning down other proletarian's homes .

Hence my 'by-line' in the light of decomposition : the odds are stacking up against the development of Class Consciousness ?

Or not ?  contributions welcome for The Working Class need :

- “an awareness of what is at stake in the present historical situation, and in particular of the mortal danger that social decomposition holds over humanity;

- determination to continue, develop and unite its class combat;

- an ability to spring the many traps that the bourgeoisie, however decomposed itself, will not fail to set in its path.[21]

AS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 - “an awareness of what is at stake in the present historical situation, and in particular of the mortal danger that social decomposition holds over humanity;

- its determination to continue, develop and unite its class combat;

- its ability to spring the many traps that the bourgeoisie, however decomposed itself, will not fail to set in its path.[21]

Red Hughs
I believe this is an

I believe this is an excellent question.

I've made several posts on Libcom that reference the same basic theme and I've gotten more or less the silence of crickets.

Given that the cycle of crises is certainly upon us and the general level of class consciousness is low, it seems clear that the proletariat will have to create its consciousness in struggle or suffer the consequences. IE, suffer greater and greater immiseration and manipulation of all sorts.

But naturally any process of class consciousness coming out of struggles that are ad-hoc and rather unconscious or filled with false-conscious will be challenging. It seems like we need to talk about that challenge.

 

 

 

 

A.Simpleton
Reply To Red Hughs : from AS

I always read your comments on any thread as they so often point to/raise important 'underlying' questions and challenges beneath the the milieu's 'headlines' - for want of a better word  .Even when the views you express , or the positions you vitally defend are opposed the tone is measured and at least at first searching for unity rather than jumping to polemic .

As I predicted in a personal e-mail to the groups 'info-desk' re posting this topic ( originating from the Socialism or Barbarism ) Note The ICC have written some spot on articles about decomposition , decadence , and the phases thereof which re-aligned me and yet.....

'...but I don't suppose it will attract much interest ' - perhaps an erroneous self-fulfilling-prophecy strategy !,  but I was correct . Yours is the sole response .

In that e-mail I asked some pretty basic questions : a section just to give the tone

 

........... I was thinking of starting a new thread entitled : Socialism or 
> Barbarism and , prone to defeatism as I often am I wanted to ask 
> things like : when capitalism's decomposition has never been SO 
> blatant , when its decomposition is SO plain to see : world 
> bankruptcy : bets on bets on defaults on debts from bets on debts 
> etc . : when every ruling bourgeois dog is turning on every other 
> ruling dog : state against state : corporate world against state : 
> state against media against army against state against police ( ad 
> infinitum ) ... why are the understandable angry responses of the 
> oppressed always somehow 'not right' : 'unproletarian' : 'disorganised' 'chaotic', 
> thereby doomed to 'recoupment by the bourgeoisie .
>
>

*  It got to the point where I thought : ok ...just HOW acute do the 
> tensions have to get ? : just how blatant do the attacks on the 
> oppressed have to get ? : just HOW murderously dysfunctional does 
> the relationship between the contending classes have to become 
> before the ONLY alternative can assert itself and consciously take 
> on its role .
>
> It led to wondering if the critique of 'purism' ( occasionally 
> levelled at The ICC ) did not have some substance : the weight of 
> its own contradictions cannot but bring down capitalism : I do not 
> doubt it : but 'the mutual ruin of the contending classes' seemed - 
> in the stalemate - to be our doom : barbarism was winning and would 
> win .
 

The Thread ended up as The Class Consciousness one you have commented on because I felt it was one of those underlying issues in need of clarity and position .

I can think of quite a few reasons for this almost inevitable recoupment :

Increasing fragmentation : unevenness of development of the forces of production in every way throughout the globe ( this is a huge topic in itself surely with profound ramications for 'workers of the world uniting '): increasing mystification - as you say class consciousness is low .

So it is indeed a challenge as you say to address the context , theory , and practice needing to be established concerning the almost blinding contradiction of massive uprisings , violent dissent , revolt ,disaffection , 'falling apartness' , acute tension , and yet it is all in some way not revolutionary because the uneven revolts , reaction, anger of the oppressed does not lead and indeed cannot in these situations .

I remember you starting a thread 'just wondering if there was always some bourgeois compnent in proletarian revolutions ' I heard exactly what you were saying and have mulled it over .  

If it's not the milieu's job to try to discuss or attempt to address this especially now , then whose is it ?

Anyway thank you : you have had the same experience ,see some importance in my attempts .

At least I don't feel a complete ass !

AS

 

Alf
class consciousness

I agree that AS has raised important questions, which, as I understand it, revolve around a central issue: how, in a decomposing system which daily works to dissolve the identity of the class, at the economic level (break up of working class concentrations, massive long term unemployment, etc) and the social level (increased atomisation, gangsterisation, etc) - in turn ably assisted by the ideological campaigns of the ruling class which doesn't hesitate to use its own decay against the working class - how in the midst of all this does the working class regain its class identity, its sense of itself as a social force? 

The theses on decomposition point out that time is not on the side of the proletariat. Certainly the slide into barbarism can engulf us before any authentic revolutionary response can grow. But it does not conclude that the process has already gone too far, and I think we can still say this now, 20 years or so after the theses were written. Recent events confirm the two sides of the dilemma: Libya for example, showing what happens when the response of the class is lacking in a situation of extreme social crisis. The riots in the UK are a comparable example (without the imperialist war of course): an initial response to state oppression which rapidly gets drowned in anti-proletarian actions and conflicts. 

On the other hand, this did not happen in Egypt or Tunisia, where the working class element in the revolt was much stronger; nor in Spain or Greece. In all these movements (like the one in Israel as well) there is immense confusion about the place of the class struggle, a wall of democratic illusions and a real mixture of 'inter-class' social elements. But at the same time, real signs of an emerging proletarian response and self-affirmation, as we have outlined in our articles in Spain, or the Greek comrades of the TPTG have done in their article. It is in developments like these, occurring with increasing simultaneity, which persuade us that the road to revolution is not yet closed.   

A.Simpleton
The working class element : reply to Alf

Thank you Alf ...

If only for at least affirming that I am not a blind man in a darkened room looking for a black cat .

Now :

'..the working class element was much stronger ( in Egypt )...' true : but what will be the result ? 'democracy' ..Trade Unions ? which may well be de-mystified and rejected by the proletariat at some point but as you say : 'time is not on the workers' side'

I always thought that one particular cover page of WR during the collapse of Stalinist State Capitalism was exceptionally apposite . Apart from the customary clear critique by the ICC of what was actually happening ,it carried a picture of the workers emerging from a murderously dark tunnel marked 'STALINISM'  ... running free into the light .... only to lacerate their bleeding hands on a barbed wire fence marked 'DEMOCRACY' : one picture incisively telling a very long story .

And despite all the very valuable discourse on this forum of the - each different in character - Arab world uprisings ,how class conscious or potentially so they were what the factor of uneveness of development might produce , which is always a challenge for both the workers and 'vanguard' ( however one might define that ) , it still all left me thinking this ( to paraphrase a cliché )

No-one ever said that proletarian revolution was easy and certainly no true 'scientific communist' ( to use Luxemburg's term ) could or should guarantee it .

Socialism or Barbarism : a stark choice : again , as you say time is not on the working class's side . 

No wonder I personally am prone to defeatism : were I a gambling man I would bet on 'the mutual ruin of the contending classes ' : a pointless bet for the 'winnings' would never be collected : so that's no use .

No wonder others search for an alternative to the 'well-determined circumstances' in which the 'spontaneous creation of workers councils' would be a very real possibility .

Sorry all that is a bit messy , but you catch my drift .

*****

Beltov writes on another thread :

" Yes, decomposition is corrosive of solidarity and class identity, but it acts mainly at the level of the social superstructure, whereas the economic crisis hits the base - hence the working class full on - offering the perspective of struggles in which solidarity, class identity and solidarity can develop. "

I thirst like a man lost in the desert thirsts for water for an expansion of how this develops before I either :

a) lapse back into the armchair of my lethargy, bewildered and jaded .

or

b) run to the open arms of a 'beacon party' who will soothe my fevered brow with the 'new vista' of 'spreading class consciousness from a central office'

( Please excuse the surely allowable mild sarcasm :@})

AS

jk1921
I think AS's concerns are

I think AS's concerns are totally legitimate. Alf does a good job expressing these concerns in a succinct way. Essentially, the question boils down to: how do we know when there has already been too much decomposition? Its a serious question, but it is very difficult to answer. For example, the situation with class consciousness in the U.S. is fairly grim. The U.S. working class is undergoing an intense process of deskilling, marginalization and casualization. Many are unemployed for years at a time, while some have dropped out of the labor force altogether. Many who still cling to full-time jobs suffer tremendous disorientation and fear. A sizable portion of the U.S. working class is susceptible to the most anti-social right-wing ideology, just as the bourgeoisie intensifies its campaigns on this level. When they do struggle, workers tend to do so under the union banner, unable to see the difference between thenselves and the unions, who are now able to paint themselves as the victims of a right-wing assault (see Internationalism's leaflet on the Verizon strike). On the surface things don't look good. Of course, on the other hand we have the example of the mass upsurge in Wisconsin (at least until it was co-opted by the unions and the defense of democracy): a struggle that occurred--as Alf points out--simultaneously with mass uprisings in other parts of the world, all responding to the same process of global austerity. It is always important to keep the international frame of the class struggle in mind.

Perhaps as long as there are people who are williing and capable of being critical of capitalist society, and who are able to frame their questioning towards the class terrain, then there remains the prospect that a counterweight to decomposition can be found?

A.Simpleton
Proof of Life : reply to jk

Thank you jk

Yes : ' it is always important to keep the international frame of the class struggle in mind' : as you said elsewhere : immediatism , localism : bad things .

But also to put it 'simplistically' - as A.Simpleton obviously would - if there were not such massive events ( however misdirected , recoupable , chaotic ) arising then even this one individual would not have shrugged off the lethargy of indifference to arrive here on this forum still willing and capable of being critical of capitalist society .

How anyone could endorse capitalism escapes me ...well not exactly because I well know how mystification is a very powerful tool : more incisively , how anyone could believe that it 'just simply is the final form of human society with all its faults' is clearly historically illogical : ignoring ( just for starters ) the huge fact that - say- Kings were once divinely chosen , and the oppressed 'accepted' this until ............

Alas ! it is what the State can do not the 'individual' that matters .

AS

 

 

 

 

jk1921
Once you have become critical

Once you have become critical of captialist society, it is very easy to look at others who continue to justify this system as stupid, intellecutally lazy or disinegenous. Of course, if most people didn't buy into captialist ideology, the system wouldn't work anymore. Captialist reproduction requires on some level the consent of the exploited or it couldn't function. Figuring out how we overcome this fact is why we are all here. I don't think there are many easy answers on this front, however.

d-man
Hegel's phenomenology meets decadence

Quote:
The period when a mode of production is in the ascendant the majority of the population invariably looks forward with hope. The course of social development is regarded not only as natural but sometimes also as the sole possible course of events. “So long as a mode of production still describes an ascending curve of development, it is enthusiastically welcomed even by those who come off worst from its corresponding mode of distribution.”

  But sooner or later difficulties overcome a class– antagonistic mode of production, and it begins to move towards a decline. What only recently seemed to be quite durable dissolves like smoke mainly, needless to say, among those “who come off worst". Disappointment and discontent mount. The system of values that had regulated people’s behaviour for centuries totters. Traditional notions about what is good and just, kind and beautiful are questioned and often labelled as prejudices, as delusions of the epoch.

  Disaffection and indignation become the norm. Wavering and grumbling gradually embrace even the ruling classes. Their ideology and culture begin to crumble. Scepticism and cynicism spread ever wider. Long-standing social links are severed. And on that soil there emerge philosophical schools preaching loneliness, the senselessness of existence, nihilism and pessimism.

text

CHAPTER ONE SENSE OF CONTENTEDNESS   PURPOSE  

kinglear
Is the quote above, given by

Is the quote above, given by d-man actually from Hegel? If so I'm amazed. It sounds like Marx, only easier to understand. I hadn't realized Marx "borrowed" so much from the boss. He's got it absolutely dead on right. Wavering and grumbling, disaffection and indignation (the 'indignant' to point out the obvious), the crumbling of the ruling ideology, and the spread of skepticism and cynicism! Wow! If ever there was a plain description of the age we live in now, then this is it. Hegel you were a genius!

However it all falls apart with the emergence of the 'philosophical schools', rather than the emergence of the class which will overthrow the now decadent system. Though even for Hegel that class is there - those "who come off worse". Yet , for Hegel, they too are presumably overwhelmed by loneliness, pessimism and nihilism. But perhaps he isn't wrong here. Given the amount of pessimism weighing down this forum, in it's on- going obsession with decomposition (decomposition being one of the more unpalatable parts of ICC liturgy, at least for me) and the failure of the working class to achieve the required amount of consciouness deemed necessary by those who already have it and are impatient with those who lag behind, maybe Hegel got this right too! But this I don't really believe.

For some of us the crisis has been here for forty long and wearysome years. This is not so for the majority of our class, for whom it is something startlingly new. The bourgeoisie having been successful, up till now, in hiding and disguising it. Now the crisis is apparent in all it's ghastly reality, even to those who don't want to see it. So, you revolutionary skeptics, grumbling about the perceived failure of those who are coming off very much the worse now, to respond in a conscious manner...well, just shut it and give us time. And, meanwhile, try reading the excellent and hopeful article on this site, about the Verizon strike "a beacon of hope" as Internationalism dub it. At least not every one in the ICC has succumbed to the contagion of misery. And thank you d-man for introducing me to Hegel, who's not such an old fuddy-duddy after all.

d-man
re: Hegel

It's a couple of soviet Hegelians in the 70s who give here a phenomenology of the state of spirit or consciousness for the epoch of capitalism's decline. The book describes what A.S. alluded to as the 'embourgoisement' of workers, the feeling of lethargy and jadedness (quietism, ascetism and stoïcism) or its opposite, false hope and activism (morality of outlets). This isn't something new since 1990 or 1914, it goes back already to the bourgeois political reaction to 1848, most notably in the guise of Schopenhauer (see the always scathing Nordau). Or also in 1925 Otto Rühle about the attraction of Buddhism to the petty bourgeoisie:

Quote:
Aber sie sehen Bankrott, Untergang, Verheerung, Pestilenz, Morast — da packt sie der Graus, und sie ergreifen die Flucht. Wohin?

Die einen zu Gott — (Sekten, Ernste Bibelforscher, Gesundbeter, Kaplan Fahsel). Die anderen in die Ideenwelt der Philosophie — (Kayserling, Tolstoi, Rudolf Steiner). Weitere in die politische Romantik — (Pan-Europa, Pazifismus, Freigeld-Bewegung). Und endlich ein Schwarm nach Asien — (Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhi, Tao, Theosophie, Buddhismus). Wenn das Abendland untergeht, kann — so meinen sie — nur Asien wirkliche Rettung bieten.

Lazarus
The answer is the Party.

The answer to the problem of the generalisation of class consciousness is the strength of the Party.

The advanced section organises itself and gains influence over the rest. This process will possibly resemble a fuse and dynamite.

Unlike the ICC, the ICT has not gone down the path of the historic course, decomposition etc.
We see the possibility of war and barbarism or proletarian revolution as outcomes to a crisis which is intensifying.

ICT does not regard the low level of class activity and consciousness as anything fixed an we expect that the crisis which has rendered previous forms of struggle and organisation impotent will eventually give rise to a much more profound class response in which the class party can operate.

No one is guaranteeing a perfect birth, but we certainly hope for the positive outcome. Let this post be one more step in that direction.

Alf
historic course

 Unlike the ICC, the ICT has not gone down the path of the historic course, decomposition etc.
We see the possibility of war and barbarism or proletarian revolution as outcomes to a crisis which is intensifying.

Lazarus: I am not clear what you mean here. We don't at all disagree with the second sentence. Of course the crisis is inensifying and of course it poses the alternative between socialism and barbarism. But what do you understand to be our conception of the historic course?  

In an article published a few years ago, we tried to show that the notion of the historic course was not some bizarre invention of the ICC but was rooted in a long marxist tradition; it was developed most explicitly by the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left during the 1930s, when they were faced with the necessity to understand the scale of the defeat suffered by the working class, to answer the voluntarist calls of the Trotskyists to form a new International in this period of defeat, and so on. Their analysis was based entirely on a materialist grasp of the impasse of the capitalist world economy, but also on the understanding that it was not enough to recognise the objective conditions for going beyond capitalism - the subjective element, the level of class struggle and class consciousness were also vital. They were passionately 'for the party', but they could see very clearly that the subjective conditions for forming a real, effective, international party were simply not there, in stark contrast to the situation in 1919. Their overall conclusion was that the odds were stacked against the proletariat being able to reverse the forced march towards world war. The situation since 1968, or since 1989, is not the same as the situation in 1933, but the method of the Italian Fraction is surely something we need to study and learn from.   

The article in question is here: 

 https://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_class_struggle.html

 

jk1921
Misery

kinglear wrote:
Is the quote above, given by d-man actually from Hegel? If so I'm amazed. It sounds like Marx, only easier to understand. I hadn't realized Marx "borrowed" so much from the boss. He's got it absolutely dead on right. Wavering and grumbling, disaffection and indignation (the 'indignant' to point out the obvious), the crumbling of the ruling ideology, and the spread of skepticism and cynicism! Wow! If ever there was a plain description of the age we live in now, then this is it. Hegel you were a genius!

However it all falls apart with the emergence of the 'philosophical schools', rather than the emergence of the class which will overthrow the now decadent system. Though even for Hegel that class is there - those "who come off worse". Yet , for Hegel, they too are presumably overwhelmed by loneliness, pessimism and nihilism. But perhaps he isn't wrong here. Given the amount of pessimism weighing down this forum, in it's on- going obsession with decomposition (decomposition being one of the more unpalatable parts of ICC liturgy, at least for me) and the failure of the working class to achieve the required amount of consciouness deemed necessary by those who already have it and are impatient with those who lag behind, maybe Hegel got this right too! But this I don't really believe.

For some of us the crisis has been here for forty long and wearysome years. This is not so for the majority of our class, for whom it is something startlingly new. The bourgeoisie having been successful, up till now, in hiding and disguising it. Now the crisis is apparent in all it's ghastly reality, even to those who don't want to see it. So, you revolutionary skeptics, grumbling about the perceived failure of those who are coming off very much the worse now, to respond in a conscious manner...well, just shut it and give us time. And, meanwhile, try reading the excellent and hopeful article on this site, about the Verizon strike "a beacon of hope" as Internationalism dub it. At least not every one in the ICC has succumbed to the contagion of misery. And thank you d-man for introducing me to Hegel, who's not such an old fuddy-duddy after all.

 

Why do you say the ICC is "obsessed" with decomposition and why do you describe the ICC as having a "liturgy"? Is there a more fraternal way to make your points? Is misery ever an appropriate reaction to reality?

A.Simpleton
Dharma or False Hope : Reply to D-Man

As you said of your contributions in previous discourse  :" Never wide of the mark" when you helped me to clarify on Libya and the debates on how 'proletarian' it was ( ' a 100% Proletarian Action can be 100% Counter-Revolutionary ' 'No feudalism there ' et alia .

This Petit- Bourgeois Artisan has indeed been attracted to Buddhism ( have you hacked my phone ?:@} ) nonetheless annoying this or that group by asking too many questions , and by being generally contrarian .

Shakyamuni Buddha having at least taught :

'...don't believe anything you read or anything you hear , no matter who wrote it or said it ....even me .. unless it aligns with your experience/ common sense '

well...nearly.... Engels I think wrote a quite humorous piece about 'common sense ' being acceptable until you 'step out of the shire into the real world ' ( surely proving that Engels was the re-incarnation of Nostradamus predicting Tolkien ? ha !) : don't think Einstein was convinced by the validity of 'common sense ' either - but I can't give you chapter and verse .

Cf: Lenin : 'a book is just a man speaking in public '

This Simpleton at least thought ....well that's a good start ......however .......this is not the place for that discussion . 

***

You make a most relevant observation that this is not a new phenomenon ( lethargy vs false hope )

Are you my Guru ? ( rhetorical )

AS

 

A.Simpleton
Revolutionary Skeptics ? some light for you ..

 Hi Kinglear :

I started a reply to your Capitalism Doesn't Care ( and it doesn't ) and I will add some info later about the financial crimes and State complicity in this  : or maybe not.........fo the sake of optimism .....ha !

And gratitude for your positive thought and exhortations : I will try harder :@}

{Bus Pass to Bus Pass ...do you remember those journeys to get the weekly 'dose' of cod liver oil '?}

I have apologised elsewhere if direction to the 'd' word articles made you sick , it's not just a question of pessimism though (see below) and remember I have no axe to grind for the ICC : in fact on the other forum I am being much informed as to whether 'dressing up' this 'd' issue as key theory is either valid or necessary , but I try to adhere to Simpletonism and keep an open mind .

I just happened to get a lot of political education 30 years ago from them when 10 million Polish workers defied all odds and took on the monumental enemy of Stalinism and even if they didn't grind it to dust they showed just how powerful they were . The Archbishops were on the radio playing puppet to the State 'go back to work : and then we'll 'talk about it ' : the U.S.S.R Tanks in the wings .And still they refused . Class Consciousness spreading like wildfire from the Gdansk and Gdenia Shipyards to the Dockers , Miners ...

The adrenalin and positivity was pumping steady at political meetings (yes - ' even ' of the ICC ) and in fact to show how scared the bourgeoisie were - and it was an ICC member who researched this - Stalinism had to resort to the insidious trick of putting Russian troops in Polish uniforms to to break the struggle . Not to mention the Miner's strike,where as a 'maverick Marxist ' in the back of an ICC members car we were blocked by the Police from secondary picketing ( I can't remember if 'Lady' Warmonger : P.M had made it illegal yet or if it was Police 'improvisation' )   

These are no 'High Priests of Revolution' with a 'liturgy' : they are most certainly not 'skeptical Revolutionaries ' ( I may be prone to defeatism from time to time... but that's a different and relatively trivial matter )

It is not 'pessimism' to identify the traps , vicious lies , sidetracks that The Ruling Class will without doubt use to break a strike or a struggle : nor is it pessimism to ask in the absence of struggle why class resistance is low and how to debate the line of march to combat the mystifications that keep it low

On the contrary it is precisely the job of the revolutionary milieu to delineate these things 

The Verizon Strike IS proof that massive combativity can arise : and I can't think of a revolutionary group that would be 'surprised' by this :

There are just a few 'weird' accusations drifting around these forums : I think through misunderstanding : like 'the counter-revolution is over' ...er....well a particular PERIOD of counter-revolution may have ended and produced new conditions

Advance /retreat : flux / reflux : revolution /counter-revolution : this is the way the class war goes surely ? The Working Class can be defeated here or there and to identify that is not to say The Working Class is defeated .....period : how anyone in the milieu could think anyone else were saying that is utterly incomprehensible to me ....The Oppressed Class 'held at bay' for a long time maybe ..but 'done in ' forever ?

Never !

AS

 

kinglear
To reply to jk. (1) I didn't

To reply to jk. (1) I didn't say the ICC was obsessed with decomposition, but that people on various forums were. LoneLondoner, on leftcom wonders what people find wrong with the theses. That's the trouble. They are such an accurate presentation of the misery and hopelessness of everyday life, that they are beyond critique. They present a totally negative view. As such they are difficult to swallow.Even more difficult to negate. I thought they ruled out the possibility of revolution. On a second reading they don't. They leave the door ajar. Just a little. (2) Liturgy. This is the product of a loose tongue in a fit of anger. But the discussion between Alf and Devrim about the accuracy of the Years of Truth claim, which came across for me as intransigence versus rational analysis, reminded me of the Vatican versus Galileo, and I wondered how far, and for how many readers, some ICC writings might take on the appearance of ecclesiastical pronouncements. A ridiculous idea. But this is how "liturgy" got started, and I should have kept it to myself and never blurted it out and I'm sorry.(3) Being fraternal. I'm not sure I know what this is.But I suspect someone is either fraternal or not, and that it's not something that can be put on at will. Or at least shouldn't be. I'm sorry jk finds me lacking here. (4) Misery. There is now so much misery in the world there's hardly room for anything else. Is there room for it on this website? Yes, but in moderation. The skepticism about the ability of the class to achieve consciousness can be overdone, specially by those for whom the weight of decomposition would seem to forbid the class achieving it in any case! That's why I point to the Verizon "beacon of hope" for the class. A beacon in a sea of misery. Finally, I confirm my great respect, admiration and affection for the ICC, which has struggled successfully through 35 years of hardship to preserve a proletarian perspective.I hope one day soon, the start of a world-wide proletarian uprising will prove the effort worthwhile. Fraternally kinglear.

jk1921
Thanks Kinglear for providing

Thanks Kinglear for providing the context. Perhaps my suggestion that your comments were not fraternal was too hasty a reaction.  I don't think the ICC beleives that decomposition forbids the class from achieving consciousness, but you are right that this would seem to be the ultimare conclusion of the idea. The question then becomes determining where we are in history in relation to capitalism's slide towards barbarism and evaluating the proletariat's ability to counteract that slide through its struggle. Its pretty clear that the ICC still sees this as a real possibility today. Frankly, I find the ICC a little too optimisitc on that question at times! 

Lazarus
I imagine you would also find

I imagine you would also find the ICT overoptimisic too.

Anyway, there is always a future possibility of revolution while humanity survives.
We dialecticians know development occurs explosively, unexpectedly.
We think a long drawn out crisis could be the exact recipe for forming the party and
revolution.
The working class retains all its potential.

L'audace, l'audace, et toujours l'audace.

jk1921
So in addition to being

So in addition to being "idealist," is decomposition also non-dialectical?

A.Simpleton
The Fuse and The Dynamite : reply to Lazarus

I think Lazarus' contribution says more in a few words than ( certainly I myself :@}) have in too many . 

Well expressed

'We dialecticians know development occurs explosively , unexpectedly '

****

Even when the ruling class appear so dominant - whether at the level of wage-cuts , fierce law , sackings , even 'sustainable' wars ( best I can manage as a description ) : or ideologically 'appear to hold the stronger hand ', actually if I think about what I meet , see , hear at work or in daily life , it only takes a few minutes of discussion to elicit not a 'default position' of subservience but the opposite in many cases :

An almost instinctive understanding of the lies , hypocrisy , 'law's delay ' , 'insolence of office ' 'heard-it-all-before' : in short the working class do have - here more , there less - a  readiness to challenge the various philosophies of poverty , which is surely what all bourgeois excuses for their greed are ?: I would find it hard to disagree that 'the working class retains all its potential' should the sudden 'unexpected' opportunity to score that seemingly impossible goal arise .

If 'we' could predict it , it would not be 'unexpected ' .

AS

 

A.Simpleton
Hold on jk :@} of course ....

I realise 'as a dialectician' myself that - to put it very broadly - everything depends on everything else : that even if a theoretical difference seems 'a small detail' superficially , it may well be such a defining difference that it  moves the whole perspective . 

Thus to ignore it would be dangerous/irresponsible....choose your word .

I did not have any preconceptions about Lazarus before your brief - one might even say 'brusque' - comment - I think that is allowable especially after your 'fair-enough' admonishment to Kinglear about 'unfraternal presentation' - for which he apologized and which he explained .

Now ( knowing over the years a little of the milieu's character ) I -perhaps wrongly in which case apologies  - tend now to deduce that Lazarus is from a group with whom you have a longstanding difference : with whom you have personally argued .

I posted this Class Consciousness topic 'in the light of decomposition' : so no problem with bringing that 'feature' ( to some ) or 'key theory' for others into the discussion : fine : apposite : important .

***

When Lazarus writes :

'We dialecticians know development occurs explosively unexpectedly' 

I read it at face value :it didn't say to me ' Simpleton! ! you are not a dialectician ' : Am I way off the mark in saying that Rosa Luxemburg might well have written such words ? ( albeit at a different point in the development of capitalism ) 

You reply :

"..so..in addition to being 'idealists'.........

Well Lazarus doesn't write anything about idealism in his short post : so all I am saying - as fraternally as possible - is that -say- an outsider or sympathiser , a newcomer maybe or 'maverick Marxist ( for want of a better word ) would not - and perhaps refrshingly so - read any subtext into the comment : how could they ? That is not to say there isn't a subtext that you perceive because you are more fine tuned .

Apologies if I seem to have used a sledgehammer to crack a nut : enough .

I posted on the other forum's 'Theses on Decompositon Thread ' Sylvia Pankhurst's 4 Criteria re: points of disagreement ( Letter to Worker's Dreadnought : 1920 ) which I found well worth revisiting .

I hope this comes across with respect to all parties ( no pun intended )

AS

 

 

jk1921
Sorry, I thought Lazaras was

Sorry, I thought Lazaras was speaking from the perspective of the ICT. Its well known that that group thinks the ICC's these on decomposition are riddled with idealism. Lazarus' comment seemed to suggest to me that perhaps they also felt decomposition was undialectical (or is it non-dialectical?) in that taken to its logcial conclusion, the theory of decomposition suggests that one day the communist revolution will no longer be possible. For Lazarus it seems that as long as humanity survives communism is always possible, because dialectics allows for rapid, unexpected developments in consciousness. I don't know, but I thought Marx talked about the "common ruin of the contending classes" in the Manifesto? Is this not a valid perspective? If Lazarus doesn't speak from the ICT's perspective, my apologies for making the assumption.

Marin Jensen
Don't get me wrong

kinglear wrote:
I didn't say the ICC was obsessed with decomposition, but that people on various forums were. LoneLondoner, on leftcom wonders what people find wrong with the theses. That's the trouble. They are such an accurate presentation of the misery and hopelessness of everyday life, that they are beyond critique. They present a totally negative view. As such they are difficult to swallow.Even more difficult to negate. I thought they ruled out the possibility of revolution. On a second reading they don't. They leave the door ajar. Just a little.

Kinglear, I think you misunderstood me. My point was that, in order to have a fruitful discussion, I wish people would actually quote the points they disagree with, otherwise we are all just floundering around trying to get a grip on the subject.

You say the theses "present a totally negative view" - but I think that this is indeed what capitalism presents us. We have to take seriously the alternative "socialism or barbarism". For those who grew up under the shadow of the bomb, the alternative was socialism or nuclear devastation. Today's world is different - "barbarism" will take the form of social disintegration (northern Mexico, for example) combined with ecological disaster and economic decline, to a point where indeed revolution is impossible. And jk1921 is quite right to point to Marx's phrase in the Manifesto on "the mutual ruin of the contending classes".

But this is not the only direction that society can take. The class struggle is the "antidote", so to speak, to decomposition. Against decomposition (individualism, social collapse, death, "no future"), the class struggle is collective, life-giving, solidarity, and the perspective of another society. The working class today is undefeated, and still capable of giving a direction to society on this basis. The road will certainly be long and difficult, but it is still open. 

 

A.Simpleton
My Turn to say Sorry :@- reply to jk

HI jk ...as it turns out .....

Although I think there is always some validity in questioning any presumptions , prejudice , or statements that exclude those who aren't 'in the know' or haven't experienced the frustrations of debating an issue of principle for so long that it eventually turns into banging one's head against a brick wall , you are in fact correct about the aforementioned biblical character .....ha ! ( hence there are mitigating circumstances to your 'brusquenesse' :@} )

MInd you , I try to keep an open mind and would beg to suggest that the brick wall may feel the same about the head ?

I feel like my fellow Simpleton , Dr.Watson amazed at the perception of The Great Detective Holmes . .

In a genuine spirit of 'let our differences be born , not of misunderstanding or not listening , but of genuine disagreement over clear principles ' , I joined in the ICT's thread re: ICC's Theses On Decomposition and tried to contribute to at least a more conscientiously posed difference of principle based on well argued conviction rather than polemic misquotes and deliberate 'detrimental editing' et al.( which Jock quite fairly from ICT and justifiably accused me of : thank you nonetheless for your tactful defence over that - above-:@} even though I deserved it ; { I was particularly impressed by your 'there appeared to be an 'ad hominem' against AS which we could probably do without '

Politely critical.

Now another contributor on the ICT thread suggested : 'leave decomposition to the dead : join the living struggle ! '

As Glenda Slagg in Private Eye would write : " geddit?????? " ...and slowly I have ...

Decomposition ? Dead ? and who rose from the dead ? ......why ! Lazarus ! ... good humoured , I'd call that .

So yes you were right  : I am fear not - if you read the third article above in my reply to Red Hughs I quote from an e-mail to [email protected] ICC etc I write :

 

*  It got to the point where I thought : ok ...just HOW acute do the 
> tensions have to get ? : just how blatant do the attacks on the 
> oppressed have to get ? : just HOW murderously dysfunctional does 
> the relationship between the contending classes have to become 
> before the ONLY alternative can assert itself and consciously take 
> on its role .
>
> It led to wondering if the critique of 'purism' ( occasionally 
> levelled at The ICC ) did not have some substance : the weight of 
> its own contradictions cannot but bring down capitalism : I do not 
> doubt it : but 'the mutual ruin of the contending classes' seemed - 
> in the stalemate - to be our doom : barbarism was winning and would win

And one last point : your answer in a reply to me above : ( excuse lack of context ) :

" the question boils down to: how do we know when there has already been too much decomposition? Its a serious question, but it is very difficult to answer "

A 'vulnerable' answer but if it's true , it's true :@}

Whereas : 

" The answer is The Party " : {Lazarus ) ....

....hmmm ....too easy to say .hard to define ......maybe too good to be true ? :@} 

AS
.

 

baboon
I think that revolutionaries

I think that revolutionaries should always be with their class and open to any possibilities but that doesn't prevent an analysis of the balance of forces, the perspectives and the necessities of the struggle. Clearly, the revolutionary perspective is not the only perspective.

In this context, I don't think that we should underestimate the scale of social revolt that is sweeping the world even though, as we've seen, this can itself exacerbate imperialist tensions and elements of decomposition. Even with the perspective of large-scale workers' movements, social movements can degenerate and have wider consequences. But for me the scale of the latter and their geo-political location is very heartening - Israel for example. And only yesterday on a foreign TV news channel (I didn't catch which one) there was a report of workers protesting in Kashmir for higher wages against police who were launching yet another security clampdown.

kinglear
LoneLondoner, I don't think I

LoneLondoner, I don't think I misunderstood you. The theses are such an accurate description of decomposing society that there aren't really any points that people can quote and then proceed to disagree with. Bourgeois society is in a total sort of "negative" mess. In that sense the theses, being an accurate description, present a totally negative view. Except perhaps for this quote: "this is the element which in the final analysis will determine the outcome of the world situation, the inexorable aggravation of the capitalist crisis constitutes the essential stimulant for the class’ struggle and development of consciousness, the precondition for its ability to resist the poison distilled by the social rot."

If the "aggravation of the capitalist crisis" was taking place and apparent to some twenty years ago, how does it present itself now? Aggravation has turned into a kind of massive leprosy of the system, glaringly ghastly for all to see, and apparently so advanced as to be beyond recovery. This is where we find hope. As you say the class is undefeated. The class represents everything that is life-giving, through it's solidarity, collectivity, and the perspective of an alternative society which it embodies. This is the antidote to decomposition. The bourgeoisie are having a field-day with their prolonged commemorations of 9/11 - just in case we all lose sight of the need for more and more wars, fights on terror, regime change in Iran and Syria, (as recently suggested by that great war-lover and christian apologist Tony Blair) and the general acceptance that there's no alternative to the bourgeoisie's all-enveloping misery. But there is. As Baboon observes above: "I don't think that we should underestimate the scale of social revolt that is sweeping the world..." The antidote to decomposition, to capitalism itself, is starting to present itself.

A.Simpleton
Good Stuff Baboon : I was getting vertigo ....

Up there in the thoretical clouds ........

As jk1921 rightly said above : it is important to keep the international frame in mind :

There are massive social upheavals the scale of which has been as large as it has been successive  and as you rightly point out not to be underestimated , even if the Oppressors figtht back with armies ,de-rail with media lies ,or 'the false hope of democracy' 'the mystification of trade-unions' all the weapons in their armoury : the scale is heartening : if the bourgeoisie jugglers want to keep all their silver plates still spinning , they are certainly have to get to a lot of sticks at the same time ... 

I especially am inspired by your comments to pay more attention to the 'geo-political' context ,

Thank you : I take from it a timely reminder to land my theoretical hot-air balloon in the real material world :@}

 

AS