The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: 2. Class Consciousness. The discussion was initiated by Fred.Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!
The difference between ideology and class consciousness - and the reasons for these two modes of thought - is clearly explained in this piece. And struggle and strikes are the main producer of class consciousness as we know. For Luxembourg there are many different types of strike in a "ceaselessly moving, changing sea of phenomena." For Lenin there are mainly two: the economic and the political. The economic is the one we are all familiar with, but what is the political? Lenin doesn't really say, in discussing 1905.
"An outstanding feature was the manner in which economic strikes were interlaced with political strikes during the revolution. It is quite evident that only when these two forms of strikes are closely linked up with each other can the movement acquire its greatest power. The broad masses of the exploited could not have been thrown into the revolutionary movement had they not seen examples of how the wage workers in the various branches of industry compelled the capitalists to improve their conditions. This struggle imbued the masses of the Russian people with a new spirit.” (Lenin, ibid)
But, as the ICC goes on to explain, it isn't when the capitalist gives in that we see political gain, but when he doesn't, or when he snatches back what he previously conceded. It's when "social gains are torn back" says the ICC that the working class begins to understand that capitalism is in mortal crisis, that there is now nothing to be gained, and that we will have to consider the political alternative of overthrowing capital and building the communist society.
This being the case, then the proletariat finds itself today in an excellent position for the development of it's class consciousness! The bourgeoisie are everywhere snatching back the meagre "gains" they have begrudgingly bestowed over the long years of our exploitation. Health care - where it exists - is being destroyed. Education, social benefits of all kinds, even "the right to work" - buried now under a heap of unemployment figures - are all starting to disappear as the
bourgeoisie's own profits do likewise. Capital is a corrupt and decomposing mess. The stink is everywhere. But we are starting to smell it.
Thanks for initiating this Fred : and for comments on the other thread 'The Consciousness of The Proletariat'
Risking a somewhat fatuous cliché I don't think one can have 'too much' Class Consciousness : and your formulation of and questions about the process and relation of economic to political to 'radical' which almost 'de facto' cannot produce the final 'radical' awareness until the Working Class as the ruling class reach the 'final' realisation that this is a contradiction in terms and that 'class' is an out-moded concept .
...er......that's the theory .....meanwhile back in material reality : yes , the ever more blatant attacks , hypocrisy of , threadbare moral posturing by the ruling class - which seem so obviously brutal , empty , immoral , unjust - have indeed produced a world-wide surge of resistance from the oppressed class ...but .... as many discussions on the forum have tried to debate ,argue,clarify,are these disparate social revolts in any way revolutionary .... are they doomed to 'recouping' ....is the uneveness of development too uneven? is the fragmentation too far gone ?
Marx wrote that the class in itself ( with radical chains ) now existed ...sure : but that was/is irrelevant, he added unless it was/is conscious of its 'unique' position in the history of all hitherto societies .
Yes this tearing back of social gain would seem to be an unmistakeable stimulus and yet even the Verizon strike - advanced , heavily industrialised country - still has the Trade Unionism mystyification to overcome , an important step in raising the economic to the political , which I take to mean the raising of consciousness from the power to 'gain ' something, to the gaining of power : thence to the realisation that there is nothing to have power over .
As you say it is very easy in one's armchair ( actually I'm on the sofa ) to see the 'potentially' excellent position , but the oppressed masses , driven by material circumstance to do 'something' , seem to me as I look at the world around me :
a) not even at step one ,but fighting to get there
b) at step one but not aware of/ or fighting to get to step two
c) light years from step three .
Some in the milieu say of the ICC : 'sitting on the riverbank , waiting for the corpse of capitalism to float by....'
The ICC not unrealistically responds : ' you can't just 'push the river' with wishful thinking or inject syringes full of 'class consciousness' into it .....
Am I making any sense ? ( "no" is a quite acceptable answer :@})
AS says:"Risking a somewhat fatuous cliché I don't think one can have 'too much' Class Consciousness : and your formulation of and questions about the process and relation of economic to political to 'radical' which almost 'de facto' cannot produce the final 'radical' awareness until the Working Class as the ruling class reach the 'final' realisation that this is a contradiction in terms and that 'class' is an out-moded concept ."
Of course we can't have too much class consciousness, but then who said we could? The rest of this sentence flummoxes me.
AS goes on: "...er......that's the theory .....meanwhile back in material reality : yes , the ever more blatant attacks , hypocrisy of , threadbare moral posturing by the ruling class - which seem so obviously brutal , empty , immoral , unjust - have indeed produced a world-wide surge of resistance from the oppressed class ...but .... as many discussions on the forum have tried to debate ,argue,clarify,are these disparate social revolts in any way revolutionary .... are they doomed to 'recouping' ....is the uneveness of development too uneven? is the fragmentation too far gone ?"
The bourgeoisie have indeed brought about "a world-wide surge of resistance", says AS. But he then goes on, on the basis of comments on the forum, to question whether any of these social revolts are revolutionary in any way. That's all right, that's a valid questioning. But rather than coming up with any sort of answer to the question, he takes a certain turn of mind, suggesting that various factors will doom them all to failure in any case.
For me this is very pessimistic, and I don't believe that pessimism about the revolution has any point. There is no point, no hope, no future, in thinking that the revolution will never happen. To think this way is to condemn humanity to a miserable death. (NB. I am not saying that AS thinks this, just that what he says brings it to my mind.) Revolutionary Pessimism - unless it means the idea that the revolution may fail - is in anyway a contradiction in terms. How can you be a revolutionary if you think the revolution will never happen?
I agree with AS when he says that it's easy to sit on a sofa and feel good about developments round the world. Perhaps over-optimism, or hope, is an illusion. But who can live without illusions? (Only when we have communism will illusions disappear.) I can't agree with him that the proletariat isn't even at step one of the struggle, or that we are "light years" from step three. Nor do I appreciate the idea of syringes full of class consciousness awaiting injectees. But then I suppose I am an addict of "wishful thinking". (Werent Marx and Engels too? After all they always looked for and found the positive in the most dire of proletarian circumstances.)
Finally, AS asks if he's making any sense. Yes, you make a lot of sense AS, and I trust I haven't misunderstood too much of what you write. It's just that I don't altogether agree. But I think you wont mind that. Fraternally, Fred