Appendix 2: on workerism and economism

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Appendix 2: on workerism and economism
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Appendix 2: on workerism and economism. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

the concern for a small plot of green

This very brief appendix contains exciting ideas and the beginnings of explanations.   Various articles currently on this website show the ICC engaging in a lot of soul searching and investigations of what it starts to see as some of its own errors and foolishness, as well as new formulations arising from these, in the heat of various historical moments. This is a brave but essential thing to do, even if it  opens the door to unsympathetic critics looking for what they'd see as weakness.  But then they must do what they can't resist. 

But the brief discussion in this appendix about workerism, economism and Luxemburg's notion of larger moral and cultural dimensions to proletarian being (which idea  of course was put down or at least not encouraged under the rule of Social Democracy) contains flashes of inspirational insight of a most encouraging kind.

 I think this appendix begins  to change concepts of what constitutes a worker and what constitutes a struggle and a workers' movement today.  It certainly did for me. I think it sees positive signs of resistance and maturing consciousness in places where not everyone - for some of us remain trapped inside a "cloth cap"  history of the workers movement; where the ragged trousered philanthropists remain forever unaware of their philanthropic and moral dimension - is prepared willingly to go. This resistance, this lack of trust and confidence in our ability as workers to respond to dying capital, because of a lack of confidence in ourselves and our class, seemingly dead to the world, and  smothered in bourgeois degeneracy, is not after all and necessarily the whole picture,  or even a clear statement of what the problem actually is. 

There is another aspect to this problem which eludes an analysis limited by workerist spectacles. To a far greater extent than in the period 1968-89, the proletarian character of a movement, and its prospects of evolution, will be shown less in its sociological or economic character and more in its political character, in the extent to which ‘theory has gripped the masses’, in its capacity to locate the immediate struggle in the perspective of the revolution and communism. We can see this reflected in the question of demands. The outbreak of the movement in Turkey, for example, began around the defence of a small area of green in Istanbul, threatened by the insensate urban development projects which characterise a large part of the ‘growth’ of capitalist economies today. This was not at all the only factor in the explosion of the movement – the repression the state doled out to the original protesters was probably a far more potent element. But behind the concern for a small plot of green is the growing awareness of the ecological question, the dawning realisation that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable interchange between humanity and nature. This kind of reaction is very different from the struggles of the 68-89 period, where there was a much wider divorce between ‘class issues’ (mainly economic demands) and largely petty bourgeois campaigns about the environment. It is a step towards the proletariat becoming what Lenin referred to as a tribune for humanity. We can see a similar development around the problem of violence against women and other ‘social’ questions

The times they are a changin' as somebody said in the 'sixties. It might be getting better all the time as well, though it certainly isn't  always obvious! 




Did I really dare to state that the ICC has been foolish at times  in the post above?  Yes I did. Re-reading I am surprised at my audacity. But please don't ask me for an example of the said "foolishness" though I'm sure there must be one somewhere.  Love and best wishes, Fred.