The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Report on the class struggle. The discussion was initiated by Fred.Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!
This enormous article. The second half so full for me of new ideas hammering home. The paragraphs about "morality" which altogether change the meaning and significance of the word.
The bourgeois has little understanding of morality beyond making sure not to get fiddled in monetary transactions. But, as the ICC points out, workers bring a different point of view and an extended dimension to this matter, having a wider grasp of the moral way of being than do their uncritical exploiters. This is because workers, not being exploiters themselves, think differently from the bourgeois as Pannekoek noted. Workers think differently and with a different methodology than the bourgeoisie. (But how to back up this assertion?) The working class isn't shackled for ever to the belief that money is all that matters and that its acquisition is the final and only purposive aim of life. The working class bears the new revolutionary seeds of the future in its very being, and this serves to change its outlook, producing its warm feelings for life and for all other people and nature as part of it.
ICC wrote: But Marx’s remarks about the value of labour power take us away from this purely economic view of capitalism towards an understanding that “historical and moral” factors play a crucial role in determining a central ‘economic’ foundation of this society: the value of labour power. In other words, contrary to the assertions of Paul Cardan (alias Castoriadis, the founder of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group) for whom Capital was a book without class struggle, Marx argues that the assertion of human dignity by the exploited class – the moral dimension par excellence – cannot by definition be removed from a scientific examination of the operations of the capitalist system. In the same sentence Marx also answers those who see him as a moral relativist, as a thinker who rejects all morality as being the hypocritical cant of one ruling class or another.
In this same article the ICC mentions the enormous creativity of Hegel, Beethoven and Goethe at the dawn of capitalist expansion. But in thinking about where actual assertions of human dignity and acts of morality by workers themselves might be found in artistic expression, I remembered the 19th.century works of English literature in the novel form, called by the critic F.R. Leavis the great tradition. For this tradition is a moral one and the morality therein is expressed often by characters of working class background, or those rendered impoverished by fate.
I can refer to George Eliot's working class character Adam Bede is all his simple honesty. Adam has great dignity in himself and the work he engages in. Or naïveté as the bourgeois would say. And Dr. Lydgate in "Middlemarch" strictly committed to medical science till misled and rendered undignified by his sexy wife, only interested in the power yielded by money. Or Gwendolen Harleth, the rich girl turned harlot upon losing her fortune in "Daniel Deronda" and selling herself to the highest bidder. But coming to realise sadly her painful fall from grace and the loss of moral standards that underpin self esteem, but which money doesn't automatically ensure.
Then there's the dignity and self-assuredness expressed by the circus workers in Dicken's "Hard Times"; in contrast to the hard nosed money making activities of the factory owner Gradgrind. And the painful morality learned by Pip in "Great Expectations" when he learns that riches can be tainted too and seeks a return to honest work. To honest wage labour that is. The assertion of human dignity by the exploited class.
To finish. I feel I have not made my case, whatever it is, very well. I apologise. But this is a new area of thought and speech for me as I think it is too for the ICC. We must continue to consider this. I look forward very much to reading the ICC's Theses on Morality fairly soon.
For what it's worth I cannot recommend this admittedly long article enough. It contains remarkable and unexpected plums such as the following inspirational paragraph.
ICC wrote: Against the common sense of empiricism, which can only see the proletariat when it comes to the surface, Marxists recognise that the proletariat is like Blake’s sleeping giant Albion whose wakening will turn the world upside down. On the basis of the theory of the subterranean maturation of consciousness, which the ICC is more or less alone in defending, we recognise that the vast potential of the working class remains for the most part hidden, and even the clearest revolutionaries can easily forget that this ‘slumbering power’ can have a huge impact on social reality even when it has apparently withdrawn from the scene. Marx was able to discern that the working class was the new revolutionary force in society on what seemed like scanty evidence, such as a few strikes by French weavers who had not yet completely gone past the artisan stage of development. And despite all the immense difficulties facing the proletariat, despite all our overestimations of the struggle and underestimations of the enemy, the ICC can still see enough in the class movements over the past 40 years to conclude that the working class has not lost this capacity to offer humanity a new society, a new culture, and a new communist morality…