Indignation at the heart of the proletarian dynamic

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baboon
wading through molasses

I think that the discussion reflects many of the difficulties of the working class to take its struggle forward - to state the obvious - and that we are learning that there is no royal road to the mass strikes of the working class. Through the discussion and positions expressed by the ICC, I've taken social movements to mean, not inter-classism, but movements coming from the proletariat that don't take place from the workplace. I think that we all share Demo's concern about the "muted level of workplace struggles" - muted not least not only  by the trade unions on the ground but the whole grip of trade union, democratic ideology. But the social movements, at their best, and as first of all KT, then Ernie and MH describe them, reflect a strong element of how the unemployed and potential unemployed can struggle against the effects of decomposition (the lumpenisation of the unemployed). It's this element of losing the factory, because of the threats of shutdown or the sack, and "gaining the streets" that the working class as a class has to impose itself and its organisation upon and it's where the employed and unemployed elements of the class can potentially unify.

I don't see the revolution, or rather the mass strike, coming about incrementally from solid class demands built up brick by brick as it were. You could argue that it happened a long time ago (you could argue that) but the trigger for 1905 was a police spy/priest-led demonstration appealing to the great father, the Tsar. This old example underlines the fact that the working class doesn't have to make a revolution to be potentially revolutionary.

I think that the above is expressed somewhat by Demo with his idea that the mass strike in Poland was "fundamentally bourgeois". I disagree and suggest that the lesson of Poland in 1980 was that it was fundamentally proletarian. To Demo's "downsides" of events in Poland, I would add that the workers were up against a trade union that was easily identifiable with the state and that self-organisation was "thrust upon them" - in much the same way as strikes and protests are unfolding in China today and the recent past.

A few salient reminders regarding Poland: the "trigger" here was an increase in the price of meat. The response was a wave of wildcat strikes throughout numerous cities involving, here and there, now and then, class demands (wages, etc.,), political and "cultural" demands - what you might call "social". But the real victory was the self-organisation and extension of the struggle, the coordination of the movement, the actual halting of strikes to ensure the running of transport, provision of food, etc., the election and centralisation of revokable delegates from the inter-factory strike committees. And, learning from the repression of 1970 and 76, armed self-defence and workers' militias. There wasn't a revolution and the strike committee negotiated with the government but that doesn't make it fundamentally bourgeois as the actions of Nato, the Warsaw Pact, the Voice of America, the BBC, the British trade unions and the Catholic Church to counter and drown the movement show so well.

Demogorgon
"I think that the above is

"I think that the above is expressed somewhat by Demo with his idea that the mass strike in Poland was "fundamentally bourgeois". I disagree and suggest that the lesson of Poland in 1980 was that it was fundamentally proletarian. To Demo's "downsides" of events in Poland, I would add that the workers were up against a trade union that was easily identifiable with the state and that self-organisation was "thrust upon them" - in much the same way as strikes and protests are unfolding in China today and the recent past."

Whoa, there, partner. I didn't say the Polish strikes were bourgeois at all so I don't know why you're using quotation marks! They were absolutely an expression of the proletariat attempting to learn the lessons of previous struggles.

The point I was making is that, for all their strengths, they never reached revolutionary proportions and yet people were talking about future struggles not being as obvious as the Polish struggles. If we can't reach that level again ... and go far beyond! ... then we're in real trouble. The fact that these sorts of movements are absent - in the central countries at least - is a sign of weakness, not strength.

jk1921
Central Countries

Demogorgon wrote:

The point I was making is that, for all their strengths, they never reached revolutionary proportions and yet people were talking about future struggles not being as obvious as the Polish struggles. If we can't reach that level again ... and go far beyond! ... then we're in real trouble. The fact that these sorts of movements are absent - in the central countries at least - is a sign of weakness, not strength.

Here is another assumption that the ICC has championed for a long time--the "leading" role of the working class in the old industrial core countries (hence, the name "central countries") in the recovery of class consciousness. Now, comrades continually cite struggles far away from the core as proof that something is afoot globally. Is the leading role of proletariat in the core countries another assumption that needs revision?

Demogorgon
"Here is another assumption

"Here is another assumption that the ICC has championed for a long time--the "leading" role of the working class in the old industrial core countries (hence, the name "central countries") in the recovery of class consciousness. Now, comrades continually cite struggles far away from the core as proof that something is afoot globally. Is the leading role of proletariat in the core countries another assumption that needs revision?"

Quite possibly, but it's important to understand exactly what we're revising and why. The working class (especially the industrial working class) has expanded enormously in formerly peripheral countries, but it's still a relatively young proletariat. So there's the question of the historical experience of the class - the argument has always been that the "core" proletariat have experience of democracy, unions, etc. which the newer ones lack. When struggles begin to develop, you'd expect to see the core proletariat beginning to critique those left-wing manifestations of capital far more quickly. The argument was not so much that the struggles wouldn't begin in the core countries but that that would be where the decisive battles would be fought. I can still see the logic of that argument.

One thing worth considering though, is the change in the productive apparatus and its global distribution. While the ideological argument still holds, the idea that the global proletariat would be dependent on the productive apparatus of the core countries rings a little less true today. While the death of industry in the West has been greatly exaggerated, there is clearly a far wider distribution of productive capacity today. On the other hand, the complexity of the global supply chain is also much greater. The interdependence between nations and regions is, of course, the material basis for internationalism and the erosion of the nation state ... but it also means that the days of proletarian bastions like Russia are most likely gone. The revolution will have to globalise far more quickly to succeed.

ernie
An unprecedented situation

This is discussions continues to throw up more and more important questions concerning the perspective for the class struggle, and a feast of food for thought and reflection. In the discussion comrades have referred to the International Situation Resolution adopted by the 20th ICC congress, and I think that it would help to framework this discussion if we discussed the framework offered by this resolution. The resolution takes up all of the points made in this discussion and seeks to provide the necessary framework for answering them:

"15) Although the ruling class would like to present its putrid sores as if they were beauty spots, humanity is beginning to wake up from a dream which has become a nightmare, and to grasp the total historic bankruptcy of this society. But although the feeling that there is a need for a different order of things is gaining ground faced with the brutal reality of a world in decomposition, this vague consciousness does not yet mean that the proletariat has become convinced of the necessity to abolish this world, still less that it has developed the perspective of constructing a new one. Thus the unprecedented aggravation of the capitalist crisis in the context of decomposition is the framework in which the class struggle develops today, although in an uncertain manner given that this struggle is not developing in the form of open confrontations between the two classes. Here we must underline the unprecedented framework of the present struggles since they are taking place in the context of a crisis which has lasted for nearly 40 years and whose gradual effects - apart from particular convulsions - have ‘habituated’ the proletariat to seeing a slow, pernicious deterioration in its living conditions, which make it all the harder to grasp the gravity of the attacks and to make a consequent response. Even more, it’s a crisis whose rhythm makes it difficult to understand who lies behind the attacks which are made ‘natural’ by their slow, staggered nature. This is very different from the obvious and immediate convulsions in the whole of social life in a situation of war. Thus there are differences between the development of the class struggle – at the level of possible responses, of breadth, of depth, of extension and content – in a context of war which makes the need to fight dramatically urgent, as was the case during the First World War early in the 20th century, even if there was not an immediate response to the war - and a crisis evolving at a slow pace.

The starting point for today’s struggles is precisely the absence of class identity in a proletariat which, since capitalism entered into its phase of decomposition, has had serious difficulties not only in developing its historic perspective but even in recognising itself as a social class. The so-called ‘death of communism’, supposedly brought about by the fall of the eastern bloc in 1989, unleashed an ideological campaign whose aim was to deny the very existence of the proletariat, and it dealt a very heavy blow to the consciousness and militancy of the proletariat. The attacking force of this campaign has weighed on the course of the struggle ever since. But despite this, as we have been saying since 2003, the tendency towards class confrontations has been confirmed by the development of various movements in which the working class ‘demonstrated its existence’ to a bourgeoisie which had wanted it buried while it was still alive. Thus, the working class of the whole world has not stopped fighting, even if its struggles have not attained the hoped for breadth or depth given the critical situation it faces. However, thinking about the class struggle in terms of ‘what should be’, as though the present situation had just fallen from the sky, is not permissible for revolutionaries. Understanding the difficulties and the potential of the class struggle has always been a task demanding a patient, historical, materialist approach, in order to find sense in apparent chaos, to understand what is new and difficult and what is promising"

The underlining of the  unprecedented nature of this period and the challenges it poses to the class and its revolutionary minorities is of great importance. It poses an important methodological question: how to we approach this situation? The Resolution stresses that we need to seek to understand the unfolding events within the context of the decadence, decomposition, the impact of the reflux following 89, the unprecedented length  of the crisis, the ability of the bourgeoisie to "manage" the crisis.There is an extremely complex inter-play of dynamics and forces taking place, which is posing new questions. Clearly we have to base our analysis on the firm foundation of Marxism and the lessons of the past, but we also have to be able to see those lessons in the context of developing events.

This is examplified by the question of social movements. As I have said before I am not sure about the name we give them but the central point is that these movements have thrown up a phenomena that we have not really seen before: the massive mobilization of tens of thousands of mainly young people, mostly precariously employed or unemployed, faced with no real future who have refused to passively accept this situation. These movement were not despairing riots but serious attempts to come together, discuss, organise some form of activity that offered some form of hope and future in this world of black hopelessness. This was done via mass assemblies, open meetings, discussions. These movements in their highest forms involved many proletarians, in Brazil this mobilization took place around the clear proletarian demand for the reduction in transport fares. These movements also contained what we have said are the proletarian bases for responding to the crushing weight of decomposition:

"

Clearly, ideological decomposition affects first and foremost the capitalist class itself, and by contagion the petty bourgeois strata who have no autonomy as a class. We can even say that the latter identify especially closely with this decomposition in that their own specific future, without any future as a class, fits perfectly with the major cause of this ideological decomposition: the absence of any immediate perspective for society as a whole. Only the proletariat bears within it a perspective for humanity. In this sense, the greatest capacity for resistance to this decomposition lies within its ranks. However, this does not mean that the proletariat is immune, particularly since it lives alongside the petty bourgeoisie which is one of the major carriers of the infection. The different elements which constitute the strength of the working class directly confront the various facets of this ideological decomposition:

  • solidarity and collective action are faced with the atomisation of “look out for number one”;

  • the need for organisation confronts social decomposition, the disintegration of the relationships which form the basis for all social life;

  • the proletariat’s confidence in the future and in its own strength is constantly sapped by the all-pervasive despair and nihilism within society;

  • consciousness, lucidity, coherent and unified thought, the taste for theory, have a hard time making headway in the midst of the flight into illusions, drugs, sects, mysticism, the rejection or destruction of thought which are characteristic of our epoch.

 

Unemployment as weight on class in decomposition but social movements saw massive moblization of unemployed, precarious etc" These on Decomposition

This is the point that the Resolution is trying to take up when it talks about the general and the universal. When we wrote the Theses we did not invisage mass movements of the young unemployed, which drew in the older generation into massive street assemblies which openly discussed the future. One of the most impressive memories I have of the events around the Indignado movement was a video of tens of thousands of workers streaming into the centre of Barcelona from the working class barrios and the sheer joy on their faces as they coverged with thousands of others on their way towards the centre, also the report of the way that for the first time since the 70s the working class barrios of Madrid had organised demonstration into the centre of the city from their barrios. Yes there were illusions about democracy but these movements were characterized by an indignation with the whole system. There is a tendency in this is discussion at times to forget what actually took place and to concentrate on the weaknesses.

No one is saying that these movements are the answer in themselves but that their emergence expresses an active response to the crisis and the weight of despair in society.

If you sees these movements, in their highest moments as express a proletarian response, the fact they did address the general weight of decomposition, does not mean turning our theses on their head but indicate the beginnings of a proletarian process of seeking to understand the wider meaning of its social conditions.

As we say in the Resolution:

"Decomposition, which entails a brutal worsening of the minimal conditions for human survival, is accompanied by an insidious devastation of the personal, mental and social terrain. This translates itself into a “crisis of confidence” of humanity. Furthermore the aggravation of the crisis through the spread of unemployment and precarious working has weakened the socialisation of young people and facilitated the tendency to escape into a world of abstraction and atomisation."

The social movements, did express the first attempts to try and respond to this loss of confidence by the proletariat.

Sorry this is a bit of a rush but need to go a sale the press now!

baboon
apologies

Sorry about that Demo, I completely misread the point that I wrongly put in quotation marks.

Good framework from Ernie above.

jk1921
Core vs. Periphery

Demogorgon wrote:

"Here is another assumption that the ICC has championed for a long time--the "leading" role of the working class in the old industrial core countries (hence, the name "central countries") in the recovery of class consciousness. Now, comrades continually cite struggles far away from the core as proof that something is afoot globally. Is the leading role of proletariat in the core countries another assumption that needs revision?"

Quite possibly, but it's important to understand exactly what we're revising and why. The working class (especially the industrial working class) has expanded enormously in formerly peripheral countries, but it's still a relatively young proletariat. So there's the question of the historical experience of the class - the argument has always been that the "core" proletariat have experience of democracy, unions, etc. which the newer ones lack. When struggles begin to develop, you'd expect to see the core proletariat beginning to critique those left-wing manifestations of capital far more quickly. The argument was not so much that the struggles wouldn't begin in the core countries but that that would be where the decisive battles would be fought. I can still see the logic of that argument.

One thing worth considering though, is the change in the productive apparatus and its global distribution. While the ideological argument still holds, the idea that the global proletariat would be dependent on the productive apparatus of the core countries rings a little less true today. While the death of industry in the West has been greatly exaggerated, there is clearly a far wider distribution of productive capacity today. On the other hand, the complexity of the global supply chain is also much greater. The interdependence between nations and regions is, of course, the material basis for internationalism and the erosion of the nation state ... but it also means that the days of proletarian bastions like Russia are most likely gone. The revolution will have to globalise far more quickly to succeed.

 

I agree with a lot of what you say here. However, it is worth noting that the idea that the working class in the core countries will reject democracy more quickly is almost the exact opposite of what happened in the revolutionary wave: the German working class continuously handed power back to the social democrats under the premise of democracy. It was in Russia, where there were much weaker "democratic" institutions, that the revolution went the furthest. All of this was, of course, the basic premise of the communist left's analysis of the failure of the revolutionary wave--the German Revolution did not succeed because the proletariat remained entranced by bourgeois demcoratic ideology. Of course, they also made the same point you do that the world revolution could not succeed until the Western European working class rejected these ideas. I find all of this rather confusing and a bit circular.

 

Alf
Good move by Ernie to go back

Good move by Ernie to go back to the resolution and to underline its method. I would also like to mention the following point of the resolution, point 16, which, following the respot presented to the congress, takes up the idea of the 'five streams' that lead towards the mass strike: 

 

Thus, during the last two years, we have seen the development of movements which we have described with the metaphor of the five streams:

  1. Social movements of young people in precarious work, unemployed or still studying, which began with the struggle against the CPE in 2006, continued with the youth revolt in Greece in 2008 and culminated with the movement of the Indignados and Occupy in 2011;

  2. Movements which were massive but which were well contained by the bourgeoisie preparing the ground in advance, as in France 2007, France and Britain in 2010, Greece in 2010-12, etc;

  3. Movements which suffered from a weight of inter-classism, like Tunisia and Egypt in 2011;

  4. Germs of massive strikes as in Egypt in 2007, Vigo (Spain) in 2006, China in 2009;

  5. The development of struggles in the factories or in localised industrial sectors but which contained promising signs, such as Lindsey in 2009, Tekel in 2010, electricians in the UK in 2011.

These five streams belong to the working class despite their differences; each one in its own way expresses an effort by the proletariat to find itself again, despite the difficulties and obstacles which the bourgeoisie puts in its way. Each one contained a dynamic of research, of clarification, of preparing the social soil.

 

In the light of some previous threads, it's worth noting that this passage

(a) doesn't mix all 'social movements' together, but sees some (especially those in the 'peripheries') as being more heavily influenced by interclassism without necessarily succumbing to it altogether (b) sees three of the streams as strike movements, with all five of them leading towards the mass strike. In other words, the ICC is not losing sight of the importance of strike movements but is seeking to see them in a wider process through which the proletariat will 'find itself'.

Part of this process involves the class movement taking up demands which go beyond the immediate and the economic. We have seen an embryonic tendency in,Turkey and Brazil, for example, for ecology and the absurdity of capitalist urbanisation and 'development' to be a focus around which mass indignation can erupt. In other situations it has been the treatment of women. The taking up of these demands is very different from the kind of single issue and essentially petty bourgeois campaigns we saw in the 1968-89 period. They provide a glimpse of how the proletariat can become the tribune for all the oppressed. But to go back to the method of the resolution: this can only come to fruition if the different streams come togther. 

jk1921
This is a good analysis and

This is a good analysis and summary of the current thinking in the ICC around these issues. I think though it raises the questionsof why the working class needs to "find itself" in the first place? Is this different than previous periods? Is it a weakness? Is it all about the "weight of Stalinism" etc or are there other objective factors giving rise to this? It comes back to the issue of class identity, which Demo has raised here and which I noticed also appeared in some of the Congress reports.

baboon
Reading back over this thread

Reading back over this thread with some serenity I think it fair to say that, in general, nobody supports the idea of a proletariat that's crushed and being mobilised or ready to be mobilised for imperialist war - at least I don't think so. On the other hand, the main question seems to be has or to what extent has decomposition, a decomposition which itself mitigates against global imperialist war, but not warfare in general, undermined or possibly completely compromised the revolutionary perspective of the working class. If the class hasn't been beaten, if it is still on the road to revolution, or to major class confrontations at least, then how can we "prove" that, how can that be demonstrated because there will always be questions and concerns about the capacity of the working class to step up to the plate as it were. Ernie's two posts above give the framework for beginning to answer these complex questions and that is the framework of method. I think that this method is comprehensively outlined in the 20th Congress resolution and particularly in the five streams which give the possibility for a stronger basis for class struggle. I agree with the resolution on "developing struggles" since 2003, on the developing "vague consciousness" that things can't carry on as they are, and that these struggles are developing in "an uncertain manner". I also agree with point 19 that we shouldn't be looking for first class identity, then struggle and out of this the consciousness and from that the development of perspectives. This is a mechanical application of the class struggle of "what we'd like to see" and I don't agree with the incremental stages of class struggle position, if such a position exists. The resolution says that the proletariat must relearn the lessons of the 70s and 80s but this is not to condemn the class to go around in circles but to pick itself up and renew its struggle - marx was clear about this element of the proletariat's existence and this necessity of its defeats along the way. There's obviously no workers' councils now calling for revolution, no demonstrations calling for imperialist war to be turned into civil war but we have seen that the proletariat across the world has not stopped fighting even if those struggles have not reached the levels of what we think they should be - to paraphrase the resolution. So, today, the proletariat is not ready to lie down and accept the attacks of the bourgeoisie (unless one's position is that it is): "Thus one of the major components of the evolution of the crisis escapes from a strict economic determinism and moves onto the social level, to the rapport de force between the two major classes..." I think that this is reflected somewhat in the actions and plans of the bourgeoisie - see for example the role of the unions in the article on the German elections. We all agree that there have been high levels of class struggle during the counter-revolution, massive factory strikes and mobilisations of large numbers of the unemployed. Their limitations were determined by the period in which the working class was gradually mobilised for imperialist war. That's not the case today for the core of the working class and it's certainly not the case for the expressions of the unemployed that we've seen in the last years. The first revolutionary wave came from a global war, an imperialist massacre, often involving the destruction of the best elements of the working class and the sudden, brutal attacks that went along with it, as well as the divisive nature of the war and its aftermath which were not the best conditions for the workers to make a revolution. It's a very different situation today and I think that the five streams highlighted above give us a useful tool for analysing this period. The proletariat doesn't know itself yet but it's still taking enough of a "critical stance" in order to say that this is still the perspective. I don't think that any of this underestimates the necessity for the self-organisation and extension of class struggle at the level of strike committees, factory committees and soviets. I think that what's called "social movements", ie, movements involving workers and unemployed outside of the factory base, can complement them.

 

A point first raised by Alf on the differences between "partial", single-issue struggles around the 60s and 70's, feminism, pacifism, ecology and the like and the wider, more class-based confrontations against those issues today and the recent past. Take the example of feminism in the 60's which was mainly an issue of the petty-bourgeoisie and very much confined to itself as a single issue which largely excluded or was even antagonistic to the working class. Recently, many of the movements of protest in and around the Arab countries, movements themselves most prone to the influence of the petty-bourgeoisie and the "culture" of women being in the background, even these, which have included the working class and unemployed on the streets, has seen the role of women much more to the fore shoulder to shoulder with men. It's no accident that regime thugs targeted women protesters with sexual assaults just as it's no accident that in Syria for example, children were targeted by the Assad thugs in the early days of the protest. And again on the question of war and pacifism, this was a different issue now and then, ie, the 60's, when pacifism was an easily recuperated single-issue when it was not in out-and-out support of the Russian bloc. The war in ex-Yugoslavia early 1990's, which followed high levels of factory-based class struggle in that country in the late 80s, showed how quickly the effects of decomposition and its imperialist twist, could undermine the class struggle even in central Europe where workers who were previously on strike together were mobilised into killing each other in a war of decomposition in every sense - naked imperialism, the destruction of centuries-old culture, the basest brutality, massacres and rapes. From Vietnam to the 93 Gulf War there were further reactions from the working class against war in the form of demonstrations involving a great number of youth. Obviously very limited in their scope but indicative of a class not mobilised for war - whatever the excuses of the bourgeoisie. But these expressions, and the anti-war/anti-regime struggles almost on the Syrian front line in southern Turkey - which had a distinct resonance in the capital and helped to build up massive and wider demonstrations taking in the issues of unemployment and the razing of public spaces, are poles apart from the manipulated and confined pacifism of the 50s and 60s. And again the question of ecology; I won't go into this in detail, there's plenty on this website, but the single-issue of the past decades was again confined to the petty-bourgeoisie, presented no critique whatsoever against capitalism and was even tied up with its overtly anti-working class sentiments. Today however, while there are still dangers to it, we see, in some of the recent movements, expressions against the capitalist destruction of the planet which again has taken place here and there within a wider movement of the working class, that's if you count the unemployed, youth and precarious workers as part of the working class. In China, demonstrations of whole working class areas erupting in fury against pollution, smog, etc., are part of the unfolding class struggle.

 

A.Simpleton
Reply to #84/#83

Re ;#84

Baboon's considered summation and clear presentation of the progression of this vitally constructive thread is excellent and I agree with both the general arc of it and subsumed specifics - e.g. the unmissable need that the Bourgeoisie have to ramp up their domineering/trumpeting propaganda/machiavellism and its significance (which does not mean 'mechanistic proof' of anything but...) or his assiduous reporting of actual Industrial Proletarian presence in all manner of different scenarios: god knows even the 'establishment press' can lose their lives just trying to film what is actually going on in war zones.

Re : #83

You know jk ,as I have stated elsewhere, that your try and try again resolve to distill the essence of valid questions is the foundation of this thread: and also that there is no default antagonism setting on my craptop....there is a however coming .....

However

1)

When you say : ' it raises the question of why the working class needs to "find itself" in the first place ?' I'm puzzled.The working class has always needed to 'find itself': that's a core fundamental of Marx's radical, once-in-history, new starting point and dialectic method: so nothing can 'raise' this question : Marx over-rode the question itself by de-mystifying idealist ,political economic assumptions and revealing the actuality of the relations of production under Capitalist mode. Now I know what you're getting at: but - say - in Germany 1919 with all the 'apparent' 'revolutionary advantages' that the 'apparently' clear-cut concentration of 'the proper class' concentrated in highly industrialised centres , at a time when the enlarged reproduction of Capital was -if you like -'more obvious' and there were exponentially less humans on the planet, nonetheless , Leibknecht and Luxemburg were surely tearing their hair out to try to map the route by which the class could' "find itself'?

2)

'Is this different from previous periods?' Is what different ? The need to 'find itself'? - No : the circumstances on the ground in which it needs to find itself: absolutely Yes .

3)

'Is this a weakness?' : ( hold that 'non-antagonistic' thought): Is what a weakness ? 'the need to find itself'- No : and any way what meaneth 'the'weakness' here ? The Oppressors who own the means of production, distribution et al.,the Oppressors who materially and ideologically control the relations of production are de facto 'strong' because they - according to the bible of political economy- 'allegedly''own' the non-level playing field: but it cannot be deduced that the poor oppressed footballers are 'weak' just because they don't own it, don't appear to even be aware that they don't , and are not this minute trying to forcefully repossess what is theirs. 

Again I know what you are getting at and I share the 'wondering' : indeed it cannot be 'disproved' that the workers are not worldly-wiser by the week: nor can it be 'proved'. But I am not a sociologist ,I am a Marxist. Demogorgon's pre-eminently valid point way back about  'things getting too black and wnite' 'even decomposition being a process' not a 'thingyfied' thing, with 'power over' is very important

It affects both classes in the struggle, the arm wrestle.It is the new context for what has not changed at root.

Marx wrote that 'the workers are not the victims of any particular injustice - but injustice in general: and precisely because they are always in the worst possible position, they are potentially in the best possible position.

Potentially .... i.e. they cannot be 'replaced' as the liberating force: but the whole of this thread advances the assessment of how their 'capacity' to realise that 'potential' (and the two words are not synonymous) is affected by 'new circumstances' ... and when in history were there ever no 'new circumstances?

I hope I have not retarded that advance with my simpletonism.

AS

 

baboon
Good stuff from Capital

Good stuff from Capital AS.

Just to point to an interesting discussion from some textile workers in Instanbul whose factory had been closed down, on why it was important to take to the streets. See the latest post by pikatron on the thread "Istanbul Taksim Park is not about trees" edit: on libcom.

jk1921
Class Identity

A.Simpleton wrote:

When you say : ' it raises the question of why the working class needs to "find itself" in the first place ?' I'm puzzled.The working class has always needed to 'find itself': that's a core fundamental of Marx's radical, once-in-history, new starting point and dialectic method: so nothing can 'raise' this question : Marx over-rode the question itself by de-mystifying idealist ,political economic assumptions and revealing the actuality of the relations of production under Capitalist mode. Now I know what you're getting at: but - say - in Germany 1919 with all the 'apparent' 'revolutionary advantages' that the 'apparently' clear-cut concentration of 'the proper class' concentrated in highly industrialised centres , at a time when the enlarged reproduction of Capital was -if you like -'more obvious' and there were exponentially less humans on the planet, nonetheless , Leibknecht and Luxemburg were surely tearing their hair out to try to map the route by which the class could' "find itself'?

There is the issue of "class identity" here. Yes, it is true that the working class has always had to "find" its revolutionary potential, but find itself? For many decades of the late nineteenth and first two-thirds of the twentieth centuries the working class may have been mobilized behind this or that version of bourgeois ideology; it may have been cowed by democracy, leftism or the unions, but at least it knew that it was a class with distinct class interests. 

Even members of the ICC have acknowledged the issue of loss of class identity as a real problem, i.e. LoneLondoner's response to Jamal in a different thread. Of course, it would be all to tempting to try a Hegelian reversal here and say that the loss of class identity is really a good thing, because working class identity is no longer so tied up with the unions, left parties, etc., but I don't think that is terribly convincing.

It would also be possible to challenge the assertion of loss of class identity on empirical grounds. Maybe it is overblown? Certainly, the situation changes from country to country. Class identity has always been weak in the U.S. compared to Europe, but still it seems hard to argue that there hasn't been at least a relative loss of class identity over the last several decades as a result of neo-liberal restructuring. The question is what is the effect of this on the forms of struggle we are seeing today?

Fred
jk wrote: " For many decades

jk wrote: " For many decades of the late nineteenth and first two-thirds of the twentieth centuries the working class may have been mobilized behind this or that version of bourgeois ideology; it may have been cowed by democracy, leftism or the unions, but at least it knew that it was a class with distinct class interests. " Is is it actually true that "it knew that it was a class with distinct class interests"?  How can we be sure? Wouldn't being  mobilized behind bourgeois ideology be a definite block to its consciousness of itself as "a class with distinct class interests."?  Sure, it was aware of itself as downtrodden and abused; though perhaps not as "exploited" in the full Marxist sense of the word. And, in the second third of the twentieth century, it was made aware of itself as being  inferior to all other classes.   During this period the working class became the bourgeoisie's whipping boy and was generally accepted socially to be inferior in every possible way: poorly educated; unwashed; ill-fed and ill-clad; untrustworthy and of opinions which, if expressed at all were to be dismissed as foolish nonsense bordering on idiocy.  This was the revolutionary class in its nadir. How could it see itself as a class with distinct class interests? What it did see however, was that it was a class despised, and the lowest of the low.  The bourgeoisie had great success in imposing this understanding on the whole of society including the class itself.  Perhaps it was this very degradation that did for once impart some sort of class misery and class awareness. But it wasn't necessarily very helpful at the time.  We shouldn't forget that the 2nd. World War was a terrible punishment and humiliation for the defeated working class. Many were put to death in battle while their friends and relations were starved, frightened to death, and bombed and murdered back home.  In these circumstances it might be difficult for anyone to retain any useful understanding of itself as a class with any interests other than total submission to the bourgeoisie, the bosses, bourgeois law and bourgeois democracy, and the iron law of factory discipline. Any thinking outside of these vicious controls was almost impossible and stamped on severely if discovered.   Now I know it wasn't necessarily to same case in the 19th century; there was no massively destructive war.  But what I called "factory discipline" was imposed everywhere as the order of the day. And this verges on the totally destructive of the human spirit including that of the working class. Read Engels, Zola, Mrs. Gaskell and Dickens. So while revolutionaries may have been developing their ideas of the workers as being  "a class with distinct class interests" I wonder quite how far this concept permeated the class itself, other than their daily unavoidable knowledge of themselves as being the exploited class whose conditions had to be fought for to be improved and which became by and large  the limitations of the struggle they engaged in.   Surely a class class identity which can lead to mass strikes and insurrection has yet properly to emerge.  For this we need to have clearly identified the class enemy and its dictatorship. Pannekoek doubts that the class in Germany in 1919 had sufficiently identified itself as a class for itself, and as the revolutionary class, and as a class motivated by thought processes and a developing consciousness quite beyond the imaginings of the bourgeoisie, which limitations helped in its defeat. This might be an arguable point of view, for how do we develop our consciousness of who  we are and our task as the revolutionary class, except through struggle?  This perhaps is where history comes in.  For maybe next time we'll be better prepared psychologically and have greater understandings of ourselves as the revolutionary class with our own formulated class interests and international solidarity to forge the way ahead.  

slothjabber
Relevance of protests in Ukraine?

If there are two counterposed ideas being expressed in this thread, then I think one is that the protests in Turkey and Brazil represent the working class refusing to be trapped in the factories and instead finding their way into the streets (a positive development) while the other sees the working class failing to to exert itself politically an instead falling for nationalism and especially ideologies of 'national renewal' (a negative thing).

 

I know how I would fit in the current protests in Ukraine into a narrative of the increasing difficulty the working class has of breaking with nationalism. What relevance do the protests in Ukraine have to those who uphold a narrative of the working class's increasing ability to go beyond itself and potentially lead other strata in society?

ernie
Nothing proletarian about the events in the Ukraine

The events in the Ukraine are a graphic display of the terrible dangers facing the working class as capitalism decomposes. The events there have seen thousands mobilized to defend one set of capitalist gangsters against another. Apart from the immediate political difficulties pose by the situation the ruling class will be happy to see workers pitched against each other in the name of nationalism.

There is reporting of the involvement of far right groups in the opposition but that is a bit of a red herring, even if these nationalists are squeeky clean "democrats" or "socialists" they are still the enemies of the working class. Their aim is to replace one set of bastards by another. It is the working class the is and will pay the price for this.

The bourgeois media are happy to talk about revolution etc because it portrays revolution as senseless violence.

These events are not in the same dynamic as those in Spain, Brazil, Turkey etc which epressed real disconent and tried to avoid being used by any of the bourgeois parties. In Spain the bourgeoisie tried  work through the M25 people who sort to manipulate the movement for their and their backers ends but they meet with real opposition in the assemblies. There were confusions aplenty in these movement including nationalism but they were not the dominant dynamics. Also the strengthen of nationalism vaired with the strengthen of the movement. This was examplified by the movement in Barcelona where are the beginning the main assemblies produced all its material in many languages and sort to ensure everyone could speak, through translation into many languages, but the telling characteristic of the movements decline was the insistence of Catalan being the main language.

Also in these movements the main stream bourgeois politicans kept well away. Obivously their "left" brothers and sisters were active but the main parties had no influence. In Ukraine the prominant leaders have been the politicians of the main opposition parties from the beginning. There may be people or groups involved who do not agree with the main aims of the movement etc but their intentions are of no matter here: any group calling for participation in this inter-bourgeois confrontation is an enemy of the working class.

baboon
Yes, I think that the ground

Yes, I think that the ground being fought on in Ukraine (and, for the same and different reasons, Thailand) is rotten and will swallow the working class up and spit it back out again. I think that there is a fundamental difference in the dead-end and democratic mobilisations in Ukraine - a counter-offensive of western imperialisms - and events that carried (with all the confusions mentioned above) a critique of capitalism, elements of self-organisation and expressions of internationalism that existed in Spain, Turkey and Brazil. Russia, a major protagonist in the fight in Ukraine, has pointed to the hypocrisy of the western nations and asked what their police forces and the political regimes that back them would do if the cops were attacked in the way they have been in Ukraine. But these same western nations are beyond that and I tend to agree with Ernie that they are quite happy to divide the working class like this (the working class in Ukraine is  a pivotal "bridge" between east and west) and present the result of this inter-imperialist scramble as a "revolution" or "fight for freedom". The legacy of the break-up of the eastern bloc still looms large and the bourgeoisie are still very much using it against the working class.

Questioned earlier on another thread, there is also what seems to be the growing role of Germany in this fight and the role of German imperialism generally. In this respect we have already noted the role played by Germany in the European war in the Balkans in 92 and there's two articles of interest on this on the World Socialist Web Site ("4th International"- so it tends to take the side of Russia): "German government announces the end of military restrictions", 1.2.14 and "Germany, US push aggressive policies at Munich Security Conference", 3.2.14.

The prononcements from the German bourgeoisie are in some ways similar to those of Japan, a country which is re-arming and, like Germany, dumping its "pacifist" ideology. Jens points to the similarities in the east today with the period running up to WWI, and this was a point made by the Japanese Prime Minister recently in a warning to China.

KT
Brazil, positive: Ukraine negative

I agree with the assessments of events in Ukraine made by the ICC article on this site and with the above posts of Ernie and Baboon.

I’d like to look a little closer at the way Slothjabber posed the issue in post #89.

Slothjabber wrote: “I know how I would fit in the current protests in Ukraine into a narrative of the increasing difficulty the working class has of breaking with nationalism. What relevance do the protests in Ukraine have to those who uphold a narrative of the working class's increasing ability to go beyond itself and potentially lead other strata in society?"

Which narrative are we talking about here? The ICC’s vision of a general, social trajectory, of an uneven, constantly interrupted “historic course” which still, despite immense difficulties, is leading to massive class confrontations whose outcome is by no means certain? Or perhaps the article on which this thread is based which said: “The revolts in Turkey and Brazil in 2013 prove that the momentum created by these movements [beginning with the ‘Arab Spring’] is not exhausted.” I’m assuming it’s the latter.

If so, I’m not sure anyone has argued that “the protests in Turkey and Brazil represent the working class refusing to be trapped in the factories and instead finding their way into the streets...” In fact:

a) the relative absence of the proletariat in the factories and offices from many of these movements (early events in Egypt non-withstanding) has been one of their most significant weaknesses upon which all posters on this thread are agreed;
 

b) the idea of a proletariat consciously “refusing to be trapped in the factories” implies a very high degree of class consciousness indeed. Again, I don’t believe anyone has actually argued this and
 

c) the real reason for the predominantly street-based movements has been precisely the fact that the vast majority of protesters – particularly in Egypt, Turkey and Brazil but also elsewhere – have been young people without work, without a factory or office to be trapped within. They are, largely, the proletarian unemployed, or those who’ve never even had a job. The street is precisely their terrain.

I don’t believe anyone on this thread has argued that the movements from Tunisia through to the Ukraine “uphold a narrative of the working class's increasing ability to go beyond itself and potentially lead other strata in society.” Indeed, in its initial statement on the “social movements” of 2011 (1), as well as in the article, subject of this thread, about the massive protests in Turkey and Brazil, 2013, it is affirmed that the 2011-2012 Indignados movement in Spain represented this movement’s high point and that, even if the movement hadn’t exhausted itself, its peak had passed.

In addition, the initial ICC statements on the ‘Arab Spring’ stressed not just what was common to the phenomena (in particular the effects of the economic crisis, food price rises and massive youth unemployment as well as the search for solidarity and a certain internationaslism) but also the many national and regional differences, insisting that no two movements were alike nor enjoyed the same dynamic.

The present unrest in Ukraine, whilst superficially sharing some elements of recent movements, most certainly concretises many of the weaknesses of the proletariat and its attempts to assert itself against bourgeois democracy and nationalism. In fact it demonstrates these weaknesses in spades. I have argued long and hard on this thread that the movements in Turkey and Brazil did not “begin and end on a bourgeois terrain” as some comrades appeared to believe. I don’t at all feel the same of the movement in Ukraine. However, to answer Slothjabber’s question directly, this in no way alters an understanding that the biggest and decisive class battles are still ahead of us.

(1)   Statement on the Social Movements of 2011 https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201203/4766/statement-social-movements-2011

   

Hawkeye
Opinions and activities

A small paperback book published in English translation in 2009, as by the Buddhist author Thich Nhat Hanh, is entitled 'You Are Here', with subtitle 'Discovering the magic of the present moment'.  

After discovering the vast extent of all the foregoing comments, doubtless important in all sorts of ways, without then suggesting that all participants should adopt his advice, it seems to me that even within the domain of all that is implied by a thoroughgoing internationalist communist set of views, it is too easy to spend lots of time focussing on what is happening 'somewhere else' (ok, maybe there is no separate 'somewhere else' for internationalists !), whereas, normally, all that we can usefully do 'here' is to do something of local internationalist value 'here', maybe of useful local propaganda value, which might lead to recipients taking interest in wider concerns.  Whatever the mass of derogatory views of the 'communist left' regarding non-CL views, I read the 'Morning Star', here, where I am, after many years of seeing what the ICC and CWO have to say, as well as that of numerous other marxist exponents. I guess that at least one commentor will be thinking 'Here we go again!', but maybe unhappy as can be. Never mind.

A.Simpleton
Straightforwardness

Thank you. Hawkeye. To me this quality is what comes across in your measured posts. For the sake of thouroughness I used to forensically note chapter and verse if I quoted something. With enough self awareness to know that I can feel downcast - like a stand up comedian - if even a single member of the audience doesn't appreciate what wasn't meant to be the best joke ever in the first place, I don't bother so much now (except with Marx's writings).

Yes the mention of a 'passing creative ' - not some defined eternal position - from reading some letter of Boggov to Milkmanov sometimes lead to a puzzling 'light shower' or 'downpour' of 'Neo-Tripeist' accusations. Defined eternal positions are what Marx blew out of the water in 1845: the German Ideology in any case.

Maybe it's just soppiness: add the breakneck speed at which some 'ping-pongs', as you aptly call them, occur: add horrendous bullying sessions by comrades who nonetheless were really giving me some vital news (obviously Alf cannot be named for polemical reasons )

If the upshot is an improvement in my grasp,understanding or even 'style', if 'in the final analysis' as Marx so often wrote, constructive clarity ensues, even if I finally grasp the point which I don't agree with, then bring it on.

Indeed: Thich Nat Hahn - Vietnamese Buddhist monk - had a remarkable correspondence with Thomas Merton an American Trappist monk, while the Nam war was raging. Merton - the ultimately attackable 'mystified' religious' blah blah wrote incredible stuff about the war for anarchist magazines from his monastery and the Abbot had no problem with it .One Article 'Reflections On the Trial Of Adolf Eichmann' was so utterly relevant to an earlier thread on this forum re: Hannah Aarenhdt's book that I prepared a long post but by the time I was satisfied with my construction it was old news.........

Heres a quote I came across while 'miss-clicking' in the marxist archive: 

We know where the demarcation of workers according to nationalities leads to. The disintegration of a united workers' party, the splitting of trade unions according to nationalities, aggravation of national friction, national strikebreaking, complete demoralization within the ranks of Social-Democracy – such are the results of organizational federalism. .

The only cure for this is organization on the basis of internationalism.

Therefore, the international type of organization serves as a school of fraternal sentiments and is a tremendous agitational factor on behalf of internationalism.

This is not the case with an organization on the basis of nationalities. When the workers are organized according to nationality they isolate themselves within their national shells, fenced off from each other by organizational barriers. The stress is laid not on what is common to the workers but on what distinguishes them from each other. In this type of organization the worker is primarily a member of his nation: a Jew, a Pole, and so on. It is not surprising that national federalism in organization inculcates in the workers a spirit of national seclusion.

Surely many readers would agree that it 'ain't nothin' but the truth ? however when the author is discovered .......

Knowing 'nation' race' to be flawed imposed concepts makes it not necessarily 'wrong' to ...er...start where you are ....Well if I believe that where I am is where the bourgeoisie say I am then yup danger ... but I have never really believed in 'Nations' at all - from quite an early age. The deep european Celts were squashed by Germanic,Saxons, Angles, Friesians: the Saxons partially got to be top dog: East Anglia yes : but West Saxons , South Saxons Wes-sex, Sus-sex. Middle-sex. Ess-sex: and later all sorts of other stuff (Danes, King Svein of Seden.Olaf norway etc. etc.) and then Normandy.

'Our' 'country' could just as easily have been called 'Sexland'.

(cheap joke)

AS

 

 

Alf
agree with KT

I agree with KT's response to slothjabber. There is no guaranteed, incremental increase in class consciousness. In general, in the wake of the surge of struggles and  which was at its most evident between 2006 (French student movement) and the movements of 2010-2013, we are going through a very difficult period and the counter-pressure coming from the ruling class and from the sheer weight of capitalism's advanced decay is extremely strong at the moment.  

Alf
Be Here Now

Here/Now - from the Buddhist point of view - surely doesn't mean 'under this particular tree at 10 minutes past three', but in the entire multiverse and all of time, so I don't see how this idea can be used to justify localism or nationalism.  

Simpleton: that was an excellent quote, chapter and verse would have definitely helped.

A.Simpleton
Marxism and the National Question.

Chapter VII : The National Question In Russia.

J.V.Stalin 

hmmm...

Fred
Hell on earth and Buddha.

As to the here and now, what exactly is it like?  For millions it is hell on earth.   For millions life is a total misery or bordering on it.  Small children are being  tortured in Syria according to news programmes.  For what purpose exactly?  For sadistic fun?  For the expression of hatred against all of human life as we sink to the lowest barbarism possible; and all just to try and prop up a decomposing system the stench of which must now have spread to the outer layers of the universe!  

 

I saw a little kid being helped to wash his hands in some dirty puddle in a Syrian street on Sky news.  It was so sad.  But I suppose he's lucky to be alive!  But is he?  Only if he grows up during and after a successful proletarian revolution, otherwise he has absolutely nothing at all to look forward too  and might be better off dead now before one side or the other of the warring bourgeoisie get their hands on him as killer for them, or tear him slowly to pieces for being on the wrong side of all the hate.  

Existence in the 5th. Century BC wasn't much fun for most people either.  I don't believe Buddha was trying to discover "the magic of the present moment" at all.  That sounds like hippy poppycock and psychedelic crap. Buddha understood that life for most people, under slavery, under the conditions in India at that time, or even now, was so hard, such a battle, so full of misery and unhappiness that some way of persuading yourself to accept it and just put up with it was about the only relief available.  Perhaps in discovering some kind of "escape" through meditation he offered a way out in the absence of the possibility of political change.  Had political change been on the agenda, like now, he could have been like Marx, or at least a comrade on the communist left: after all he was a great believer in the power of thought and the need to organize a community of like minded others, as at least some kind of resistance to the status quo! 

 

So don't try to claim Buddha for the bourgeoisie as some kind of panacea for all the ills the bourgeoisie has invented.  He wasn't some jingle-jangling hippy, all beads, bells and incense, a bit like the Catholic Church; he was a realist and knew only too well what the "magic of the moment" was for most people. Total hell, and in need of change. 

jk1921
Status Quo

Fred wrote:

Had political change been on the agenda, like now, he could have been like Marx, or at least a comrade on the communist left: after all he was a great believer in the power of thought and the need to organize a community of like minded others, as at least some kind of resistance to the status quo! 

"That things are 'status quo' is the catastrophe."

---Walter Benjamin.

Fred
puzzled

Hi jk.  What do you think Walter Benjamin meant? 

jk1921
Good Question

Fred wrote:

Hi jk.  What do you think Walter Benjamin meant? 

 

Good question. Probably that we shouldn't busy ourselves waiting for capitalism to "collapse" in a final catastophe. The catastrophe already happened. That's what I thought about reading your last post.

radicalchains
I agree

I agree very much with jk's interpretation. We are living in a constant catastophe - the current. The fear of a worse tomorrow is a kind of defence mechanism against the present. The ruling class go a long way to distort and hide reality and fact but we also do it ourselves en masse perhaps (talking about general population here)?

A.Simpleton
History is continuous

This is a section heading early on in the German Ideology - relating obviously to the well worn 'history does not make men, men make history ....but they do not make it just as they please'

So, with regard to the clarity emerging from all the quality posts above of, some of the 'handles' by which one can get a grip on the 'new circumstance of the constituion of The Class are coming into focus.

1)Defeat/Victory : a specific struggle/strike is defeated by the vast array of traps and false alternatives the Bourgeoisie have ready and loaded (the press)

AS I agreed above jk, it cannot be 'proved' or 'disproved' that those defeated workers 'think' differently after the event: are more aware or less aware of the reality of their situation as opposed to the 'appearance' of their situation.

But I do find myself wondering how 'going down fighting to defeat' necessarily implies a sort of 'automatic' demoralisation, a decrease in awareness, a necessarily implied degradation of the workers ability to think. 

The 30-40 year old sons and daughters of miners from Doncaster or Durham have told me how hungry they felt for months and months back in '84: a child doesn't 'forget' going to bed hungry. They may go for the grab it and run life themselves - so as to prevent a repeat.

However, I simply can't be convinced that 'eventually' they will put that experience down to 'just bad luck' or some other non-related-to-prduction-mode phantom. 

The bubbling under 'growing up-ness' (maturation) is no more 'unlikely'. In fact because history is continuous and hunger hard to forget, it seems more credible that these 'archived' experiences, hurts, insults remain uncancelled. This human angle on defeat and 'awareness' is no 'driver' towards the process of the class becoming gradually more consciousness sure, but it is not overly romantic surely, to state that each defeat or memory of 'father's' defeat (multiply 100,000 times) increases the known list of chrages against the oppressors and strength of conviction that they are guilty - should 'that 'trigger event' arise.

2) There will naturally be - as in all of it - uneveness but the same could well apply to the unemployed. You are suddenly without a job sacked - without warning- even airline pilots have experienced this. A pilot I know was literally driving to Gatwick to fly his plane when a member of Cabin Crew (not management note) phoned him to say the company he flew for didn't exist anymore/gone/bankrupt - the plane was not 'theirs' anymore for him to fly.

Repeats of this -jumping through every hoop- to get another job and then the same thing happens - not just to you but many you know is surely 'archived'; similarly.

Leaving aside the 'never employed' for the moment: the unemployed whose experience is 'chained to wage labour' :dumped: re-chained: dumped, are still workers with all the potential of the class and memory of the same exploitation.

Yes : divorced from work means divorced from the workplace and therefore takes away from these or those workers the heretofore crucible-location of economic struggle but I am just suggesting that this does not by some contrived equation = retardation of awareness.

I - obviously- have not answers to the questions that I feel are being homed in on viz:

1)Diminishing (or is it ? have to be careful of the subjective there) 'classic' location of struggle - which is really problematic for Marxists because the shopfloor is (or has been) where the live wires of the power struggle of the relations of production meet or spark,

2)Even the idea of 'alternative'/'additional' locations is weird because 'the street' -say- is 'fine' but is not specific :it's also where the frustrated oppressed -understandably- smash the place up with no productive 'conscious' aim. It's where mystified sects rage against 'foreigners' or whatever. It is 'common' ground for many. But even this can work both ways: Baboon has posted often about the presence of embryonically conscious industrial workers in more amorphous scenarios.

It can't be argued that the focussed awareness of that presence -even if a minority- is less likely to effect and focus others,

But of course the opposite is also true.

Just some thoughts,

AS

 

Fred
I agree with radical chains

I agree with radical chains that "we are living in a constant catastrophe". But it's been like this ever since we were driven out of paradise, as Genesis  puts it; ever since we got caught up in class society and alienation started to set in.  The only and major difference now is that when we finally free ourselves from this mess there isn't another class society waiting to trap us again: like going from feudalism  to capitalism. This time, if there is a "this time", we'll emancipate the whole of humanity once and for all.  That's the good news. 

 

I suppose the "fear of a worse tomorrow" may hold us all back.  The reality is though that there may not be a "tomorrow" for much longer!  That's the bad news.  But this danger, which is surely becoming more and more obvious, with the clearly deteriorating climate, the endless warring of the bourgeoisie's rival and phony democracies,  the stalemate of democracy in places like Thailand and Ukraine, the pointlessness of it everywhere else, the effects of austerity in the "civilized" economies and the non-stop news coverage of these pathetic events,  knowledge of which is impossible to avoid, must be putting the question of "tomorrow" on the agenda in an increasing number of minds,  including the Indignados  and the working class itself?   

 

As AS says, quoting (mis-quoting?) Marx: we don't get to choose the historical time in which we will make our own history (isn't this what Marx meant?)   But the times we live in now call out if not scream in agony that now is the moment to give class society its marching orders.  And better to go down fighting, even if to defeat, that sink helplessly  into the stinking shit of bourgeois decay.  "But screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail," as Lady Macbeth put it.  (The Macbeths were a complete disaster of course, but put that to one side for now.) 

 

A.Simpleton
In detention :@{

A very good and proper response Fred: the 'words are right' but it is a misquote.

As an introduction to positive thoughts about how the class does not just 'lie down mystified' it was 'not well chosen' (and that's being polite)

Add more schoolboy howlers from me and it is wrong on several levels.

1) It doesn't even come from the German Ideology (oh god .. I am no longer fit to be even a librarian)

2) It is from the 18th Brumaire where he is using it to show the opposite of what I have implied.  

Bourgeois Revolutions 'dress themselves up in the old costumes' presenting nothing but the 'time-honoured disguises'

'Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an Alp on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.'

The Proletarian Revolution is of a different order . This is the vital contrast he then presents;

On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew.

They deride the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever.

They recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals - until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out.

You put it even better;

 But the times we live in now call out if not scream in agony that now is the moment to give class society its marching orders. 

Finding out where, why and how I have misunderstood is inspiring actually.

AS

(50 Lines: 'I must not be an academic pratt in class')

 

John Gaunt
Meanwhile, back in ignore land ... indignation continues

Beware: it's The Balkans.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26086857

 

 

 

 

KT
Meanwhile, back in ignore land ... indignation continues

Beware: it's The Balkans. (And watch out for immediatism)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26086857

 

 

 

 

baboon
Great minds - never mind

Just posted a bit about this on libcom before I "visited" here. It certainly looks different from Ukraine - no support for local politicians (apparantly), no flags, attacks on all government buildings and the police. The unrest has spread to a number of towns including Bihac, Mostar, Zenica and Sarayevo - all towns hit badly by the war in the 90s. Reuters reports that it started on Wednesday night in the northern industrial town of Tuzla, where thousands of workers have been made redundant and immediately lost their pensions and health benefits. It reports that workers were joined in the street protests by students. Bosnian unemployment is officially 27.5%.

We have to be wary but there seems little hint of the nationalism and imperialist rivalries that characterises Ukraine.

And it's kicking off in Rio again over fare rises.

jk1921
Solidarity?

baboon wrote:

Just posted a bit about this on libcom before I "visited" here. It certainly looks different from Ukraine - no support for local politicians (apparantly), no flags, attacks on all government buildings and the police. The unrest has spread to a number of towns including Bihac, Mostar, Zenica and Sarayevo - all towns hit badly by the war in the 90s. Reuters reports that it started on Wednesday night in the northern industrial town of Tuzla, where thousands of workers have been made redundant and immediately lost their pensions and health benefits. It reports that workers were joined in the street protests by students. Bosnian unemployment is officially 27.5%.

We have to be wary but there seems little hint of the nationalism and imperialist rivalries that characterises Ukraine.

And it's kicking off in Rio again over fare rises.

Is there evidence of inter-ethnic/religious solidarity in what is happening in Bosnia, i.e Serbs, Croats, Muslims struggling together?

baboon
Don't know

I don't know for sure jk but it looks like it. Around ten per-cent of the town of Tuzla were reportedly on the streets along with a song about being "on our way to Sarajevo". I wouldn't make much of this but there are reports of cries of "revolution" in Zenica (among other anti government slogans). The actions of the proletariat in Tuzla have certainly provided a spark (apart from lost pensions and healthcare, the last few weeks wages wasn't paid to these sacked workers). And nobody seems to be supporting the local Bosniak, Serb or Croat politicians. I would hazard a guess that there are early spontaneous expressions of solidarity at work here. But let's be wary...

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