International Review no.146 - 3rd Quarter 2011

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International Review no.146 - 3rd Quarter 2011
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: International Review no.146 - 3rd Quarter 2011. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Lessons from Spain

This article, together with it's complement, "The movement of the Indignados" provide an exciting and bewildering read. Excitement at the tremendous possibilities that might be unleashed, but bewilderment at the seeming chaos and ferment of mass movements. A protester says: "everyone can speak" and, more tellingly, "you can think out loud". Some youths scrawl "All power to the Assemblies" on a wall, only to fall foul of the "commission of respect" - a bourgeois organization, and part of the fetishism-of-democracy movement, DRY. But other protesters point out that these youths only want to "express themselves". Something of course, along with any acts of spontaneity, that the bourgeois see as dangerous, subversive and definitely forbidden. One slogan says: "Seize the Square". But here again this challenges the bourgeois sense of order, in which we are all supposed to be 'private' citizens, minding our own business, casting a vote only when required, and certainly not engaged in seizing things!

Democracy is a big hurdle for the working class, as it struggles to find it's voice and it's feelings of solidarity.This is explained in a footnote. "[16]. Democracy is based on the passivity and the atomisation of the vast majority reduced to a sum of individuals so vulnerable and defenceless that they think their “self” can be sovereign. By contrast, the assemblies are based on the opposite view: people are strong because they are supported by their “wealth of social relations” (Marx) by being integral to and part of a vast collective body." This may well be the main lesson to be drawn from this summer's events in Spain (and Greece and elsewhere) that if we, the working class, want to "think out loud", then we have to organize ourselves to do it OURSELVES. No one else can do it for us. And we certainly have nothing to learn from the bourgeois in this area. They have always been isolated loners (except when it comes to war alliances) and will remain as such till we remove them.

Agree with Fred above

Agree with Fred above particularly the latter points. I think that this article is important and addresses many of the questions raised about class struggle and the conditions for the development of class consciousness. With all the inherent weaknesses, the main dangers to the movement outlined, the article makes clear that this is an expression of the working class with very great potential for the future. In my experience of working in industry for decades, outside of "politicos", I hardly heard the word "capitalism" mentioned, let alone discussed or critiqued as such by workers. It's an indication of how far we've come, I think, that we can read of the liberating effect of the assemblies, their open critique of capitalism and the hope they bring for the future. More so than Egypt for example, we see the working class here as a major force with its arguments about the "violence of capitalism". Again the quote from The German Ideology is apposite here on the "alteration of men on a mass scale". And this is not a one-off: "by changing the world and changing our lives we transform ourselves" is a revolutionary process that can only continue if the dynamic is maintained; change and transformation constantly interacting and deepening towards wider struggle, revolution, communism (and beyond).

There's real, positive potential being demonstrated here in the assemblies and the article draws the lessons one of which being "This may not seem very much to those waiting for the proletariat to appear like a bolt from the blue and show that it is clearly and unequivocally the revolutionary class of society. However, from a historical point of view, and taking into account the enormous difficulties that lie in its path, this is a GOOD START, since it has begun a rigorous preparation of the subjective terrain". This is the direct opposite of bourgeois democracy (including trade unionism) and, as the article says, not the matter of a individual workers' choice to be brave or cowardly, but collectivity, combativity and solidarity.