A False Vision Of The Working Class

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A False Vision Of The Working Class
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I thoroughly enjoyed the article by C.Mir. and look forward to seeing the promised follow up articles. Below are a few thoughts I have had while reading the article and hope it contributes to this important debate.

I think that the problem that bedevils all those organisations/militants who identify themselves with Leon Trotsky arises from Trotsky and his inability and refusal to see the extent and the complete defeat of the Russian working class both its industrial and agricultural sections. Rather than acknowledging this defeat during the 1920’s he always fell back on the belief that the Russian workers would rise again and expel the bureaucracy from both the party and the state. This analysis by Trotsky led to the theory of the degenerated workers state so beloved by all Trotskyist organisations since this time.

Are the parties nothing more than the “totalitarian instruments of the state” or would it be more true to see the existing parties, especially the small “revolutionary” groups such as in the UK the SWP, SPEW, CPB, SEP etc. as being splinters of the ideological representatives of either the left intelligentsia or of the labour bureaucracy? To see the militants in these ways I believe allows us to recognise that the winning of the working class to communist left positions is more complex and more difficult than we previously thought. Lets not underestimate the depth of the integration of the working class, not only in the UK but globally, in the capitalist matrix. This integration can and is quite possible to lead to a state of barbarity and further decomposition.

Good point that the contemporary left within the Labour Party especially the so-called followers of Corbyn the Corbynistas sees both its members as well as those who vote for them in elections as being essentially individual citizens. Long gone is the view of any collective identity based from the workplace i.e. the point of production. It is this perspective that needs challenging in a systematic way and this article and series of articles is a step down this process of reenabling workers to see ourselves as being both intellectually as well as emotionally collective citizens of the working class and with loyalty to a globalised class that is hostile to any form of nationalism or patriotism.


Whatever happens the working class of all nation states will enter into struggles be they strikes or demonstrations against their exploitation that is in the nature of the beast that is capitalism. This is the one lesson the capitalists have historically been unable to see. After all during the nineteenth century employers saw their workers as being inherently happy with their wages and conditions and it was only those damn socialists that were interfering and making their once happy workers unhappy. What they could not see and what they still cannot see is that it is their inherently exploitative socio-economic system that is the cause of this fundamental dispute between themselves and their workers. The problem for the communist left is to get the workers to see beyond their individual employers and instead to see that we are an historic class that has as its objective the abolishing of capitalism and its replacement with a classless society free of exploitation and oppression.

I had some trouble with this

I had some trouble with this article. For one, its not clear who it is directed at? Former members of leftist organizations who are now associated with the Communist left? Is it directed at the ICC's own members? Its sympathizers? I can certainly see how there could be certain pathologies in the method of debate that might carry over from membership in such organizations, even when one has renouced certain of their political positions, but I don't think one can reduce the problems in functioning of the communist left to the presence of certain former members of leftist organizations. There may be bigger problems that go to the conditions under which the political generation of 1968 was formed and even to the conditions of politicization today. Doesn't the tone of this article cast a plae of suspicion over anyone who may have been formerly associated with a leftist organization?

More specifically, I find the listing of "aberrant theoretical positions" as one of the potential pathologies a little ominous. What does that mean? What are the aberrant positions and who makes this determination? It seems there is no better way to stifle debate than to label certain positions "aberrant" from the start.

But to the substance of the article's claims about a "false vision" of the working class. I don't think the article overcomes the "class in itself" vs. "class for itself" problem. Its not that the vision of the working-class that leftist organizations might have is false. It may be incomplete, but even most leftist organizations make haughty claims to the historical greatness of the proletariat. It seems that both visions might be in some dialectical sense right. In its daily existence, the working class is a mass of individual citizens, with particular identities formed by things that are not exactly class based like race, ethnicity, nation, religion, etc. and some that may be in some way conencted to their work, but are still not the universal class category of proletarian: union member, pipe fitter, etc. The point of the revolutionary process is for the working-class to transform itself from this everyday consciousness to a revolutionary subject. Of course, that only restates the problematic: how does that happen? Certainly not from the electoral and activist methods of leftists, but to say that the problems that their politics are designed to solve, but fail to do so, aren't real seems fanciful.

The article even admits this problem in a footnote, when it suggests that consumerist culture really has had an effect on working class militancy and consciousness, after having just denounced leftisits for characterizing the working class as warped by consumerism. Maybe I need to read it again.....