Physical training of Marxists

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
Physical training of Marxists
Printer-friendly version

The revolution will necessarily be an intense and lasting physical effort.

Hunting, sports and outdoor activities would have the advantage of strengthening the endurance, social cohesion, discipline and trust of Marxist groups.

What do you think?

Not for Marxist groups in

Not for Marxist groups in particular, but such idea has been suggested for workers in general:

Well, that was more about gym routine, than the outdoor sports you suggest, since cardio work-out is frowned upon. Allegedly though people prefer to put headphones on (ie isolate themselves from the environment) than to interact/chat, which perhaps makes sense, whilst doing intensie exercise such as lifting.

Thank you for these links!

Thank you for these links!

When I was younger, I was a regional fencing champion. Then my life degenerated and it became a mess. I lost a lot of weight, but my health was not bad ... it is not very bad today, but I feel pretty weak.

I have never seen a community within Marxist organizations. On the contrary: everyone founded their family, everyone found a job and it was every man for himself. There are inequalities within Marxist organizations. It is, in itself, a total aberration that the economy is not planned within Marxist organizations. And people find it clever to divide themselves on concepts that they do not even master.

A lot of ponny show, and then, finally, students who missed their lives, or teachers; Oh, that, we do not miss teachers in Marxist organizations! And it does not move, nothing evolves.

We do not know where we are going. One degrades physically and/or mentally. It degenerates politically, in that the way of life does not conform to ideals. Even in small.

Marxist organisations

Before talking about physical and mental training, which is in any case a universal need, I think we need to clarify what is meant by a marxist organisation. Perhaps Tagore can tell us which organisations, or which type of organisation, if he doesnt want to be too specific, he has previously belonged to. 

>Perhaps Tagore can tell us

>Perhaps Tagore can tell us which organisations...


This is a vital question, so I don't have to tell "this organisation", ou "that organisation".

However, if you are member of ICC, you can tell how ICC think to this question, as a member.

But the question is probably more general.

There is a question of a deterioration feeling in the capitalist society. Sport, diet and all this bullshit are an epidermic reaction to this deterioration.

There has often been a link between the labor movement and an impulse towards physical and intellectual culture. But now, this link... Everyone in his sports club, and no connection with the labor movement, no connection with the collective? Ho, yes! Nationalism! Sport divided by nations! Patriotic feeling!

Is ICC a collective?

Do not you have a feeling of rotting? Cells still alive separated from their unit, devoured by worms ... A decaying social corpse.

On this "deterioration

On this "deterioration feeling in capitalist society", understood in a simply physical sense, I guess it's linked to the often-lamented trend of disappearance of manual labour (especially heavy industry), evolution toward service jobs, work behind the desk. One should not fall into exagerations, there are still batallions of the classical strong workers (in construction industry, but also nurses, etc.), who don't need the gym. But for those sitting behind a screen all day, I don't see a good solution except try to limit the damage (quite literally, there is no good chair AFAIK that would avoid health problems in the long term).

Your argument is relevant,

Your argument is relevant, even if I personally did not think about it. After all, physical deterioration exists especially among manual workers.

12.3% of the US population takes psychiatric drugs; 16.7% among adults.

34.2% have a metabolic syndrome, related to the consumption of psychiatric narcotics, poor diet and lack of physical training.

Our society is devoid of ideal. Many people simply expect a huge disaster, not a revolution at all.

When people are not pessimistic, they are subject to scams. They are presented with impossible and futile technological projects, such as the Hyperloop and the colonization of Mars. When they do not adhere to these illusions by their minds, they adhere to them by their money, financing portable air-conditioners, self-filling water bottles and solar roads.

Raw materials are running out, they are really running out! Automatically, unstoppable, we go to war for the grabbing of the last reserves.

We're really going to die like microbes in a petri dish who have exhausted their food, in the middle of their feces!

An estimated 40 million Americans take psychiatric drugs.

Metabolic Prevalence Syndrome by Race / Ethnicity and Sex in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-2012

Are you basing yourself on

Are you basing yourself on any studies on physical deterioration in manual vs. intellectual labourers? The socialist solution would be to combine the two, so there's variation in people's lives. But as for the facts in present society, I don't know if intellectual labourers have better condition (than manual labourers) in general. My purely impressionistic view is still that manual labourers are physically in better shape, while "intellectual" workers (ie those in sitting occupations) are weaker, if we could compare, everything else the same (same hours worked, same income level, etc.).

No, intellectual workers have
It seems there is little

It seems there is little studies, partly because they need to show it is related directly to the kind of work (and not, say, to lifestyle or income differences):

"Those who have a lower life expectancy have it because of a range of factors.

"They may live in housing which is damp and has poor heating, or near busy roads which means more air pollution.

"But the nature of people's jobs also has an effect. If you have autonomy and control over what you do, you tend to be in better health.

^ Just on this last comment, surely non-manual workers (eg cashiers, retail staff, etc.) do no have much greater "autonomy and control" over what they do at their job, than manual workers.

Also, maybe just a detail, but we were taking about physical strenght, not purely life expectancy, a distinction made in this passage from a 2018 study :

Blue-collar work and women's health: A systematic review of the evidence from 1990 to 2015

Differences in mortality are consistently noted between men and women in the general population, whereby women outlive men in almost every country in the world and with lower mortality rates observed among women throughout the lifecourse (Åkerstedt et al., 2004, Aittomäki et al., 2003, Ahlgren et al., 2012). Yet women on average exhibit higher rates of morbidity, report inferior self-rated health, and use more health services as compared with men (Case and Paxson, 2005).

Theories explaining the “gender paradox” in morbidity and mortality suggest that biological characteristics and social pressures operating across the lifecourse—both independently and synergistically—contribute to inequalities in men and women's health (Andrés et al., 2010, Ahlgren et al., 2012). Within the context of the relationship between work and health, differences in biological susceptibility to workplace hazards can result from differences in toxicokinetic responses (i.e., absorption, metabolism, and excretion) to occupational chemicals, dust, and other hazardous substances (Arbuckle, 2006). The consequences of nontraditional work hours (e.g., swing shifts, night shifts) can also manifest differently in men and women due to differences in circadian rhythms (Santhi et al., 2016). Lastly, anthropometric differences between men and women can mediate the effects of blue-collar work on health risks: spaces, equipment, and tools that are optimized for the average male worker may be ill-suited for female workers (Arena et al., 1999, Arnold and Bongiovi, 2012, Arbuckle, 2006).

Non-biological differences in susceptibility to health risks include behavioral differences, such as in smoking habits, diet, and use of medications, as well as differences in psychosocial stressors. Women in blue-collar workplaces, for example, are especially vulnerable to experiencing gender discrimination, sexual harassment, social isolation, and work-life conflict (Asztalos et al., 2009, Bakirci et al., 2007, Baigi et al., 2001, Bennett et al., 2007, Berman et al., 1994, Baigi et al., 2002, Bentley et al., 2008).


Here's a study from Japan: Which is Worse for Your Long-term Health, a White-collar or a Blue-collar Job?

we show that the physical abilities of male blue-collar workers decline more rapidly with age, especially after age 60, than those in other occupations. However, the probabilities of contracting a chronic disease among male white-collar workers increase more rapidly with age than they do for male blue-collar workers. [...] there are differential effects between blue- and white-collar jobs on decline in health over time among Japanese men, but not among women.

Note that this is about older ager people. The study finds a distinction between physical performance (the tests involved eg walking or climbing stairs) and chronic disease (such as diabetes). The latter are more common among white collar workers.

However, my results might capture the difference inunobservable factors, such as lifestyles and working conditions, between white-collar and blue-collar workers. AsMaruyama et al. (2010)point out, because of long commutes, long working hours,skipping meals, and dining with colleagues, lifestyles of white-collar workers tend to be more irregularthan those of blue-collar workers in Japan. For example, white-collar workers eat out more frequently compared to blue-collar workers.
If poor diet and lack of

If poor diet and lack of exercise are functions of capital's structuring of the labor process, what can really be done? Tagore seems to suggest that members of revolutionary organizations (as opposed to the working class in general) have a special responsibilty to live a healthy lifestyle. But, as we know, the organization is itself affected by all the negative social trends in the society at large, so how is that responsibility supposed to be enforced? Should out-of-shape comrades be shamed into making better personal decisions? Would we all have to turn over our blood test results, like Presidential candidates are supposed to do? Bill Maher evoked much controversy a week or so ago, by suggesting that the number one problem with healthcare today is obesity and that society should bring back shaming as the way of combatting it. Certainly, shaming has been a major weapon in reducing smoking rates in the West (Don't Be a Dragon Lady!) Although, some will smoke now simply because it has become transgressive, even more transgressive than soft drugs. But how would shaming work in an organization that is supposed to function on the basis of mutual solidarity?

BTW, there has been no shortage of essays lately emanating from the socialist milieu denoucing the cult of exercise as a kind of bourgeois virtue signalling, whereby professionals enage in a conspicisous display of self-mastery as a way of demonstrating their moral and physical superiority to the deplorable working class, who smoke, drink and eat trans fats all day long--think the annoying bicyclists who insist on riding on the road when there is a bike path they could use. Somewhat gratuitous attacks on Trump's physique and his penchant for rich food are a staple of liberal-Resistance (TM) types. On the other hand, Putin's habit of posing for the cameras showing off his sculpted upper body are a part of his cult-of-personality.

I stress in particular that

I stress in particular that physical training would improve the social cohesion and discipline of the group, in the field of the body, and not only in the field of the mind.

If 5 Marxists go hiking, this raises questions of general interest:

How is the trip organized? Is it one person who decides for the whole group, several, or the group as a whole? On what criteria? To what extent is the strength and endurance of each one taken into account? The security? The willingness?

In organizing a trip, you raise issues that also arise for the political organization, during the revolutionary period and in general.

my question

My question to Tagore about the kind of 'marxist organisations' you have experienced or joined in the past: it was aimed not at finding out the exact organisation you belonged to, but at understanding its political trajectory, most importantly, its real class nature. I don't  think this is too 'private' a question and it is essential for any progress in discussing the issues you raise.

I doubt it will enlighten you

I doubt it will enlighten you in any way.

I was a candidate for integration into a Trotskyist micro-group, I was refused because of my opposition to their union support policy.

I have been a traveling companion of various organizations, such as WSWS, ICC and la Riposte, without ever joining any of them.

I worked almost exclusively in autonomy, in ephemeral activist teams, which appear and disappear with the strikes.

In any case, I would like the ad hominem arguments to stay out of the discussion.

not ad hominem

It's not ad hominem, because we may have some substantial disagreements about what a "marxist organisation" is, and until we discuss this point, we can't really make any progress in the discussion. 

Tagore's posts touch the

Tagore's posts touch the question what a Marxist organisation ideally should be, to what extent it can demand discipline, that is, intervene in the "personal" life. I understand in general Tagore is wlling to go further even than just physical health, such that the party life should have prevalence also above family life, job choice and down to the spending choices of the income/wage. If the party cannot intervene in these matters, then there is no real community. The reply to this was that a real community is impossible in "atomized" capitalist society – of course there can develop some friendships and perhaps trust, but not real community (subordinating private lives to a common social purpose). It seems to me there is no clear sense what the minimum or maximum dedication/discipline can possibly be expected.

But let's stick to the present subject of just physical training. There exists hiking clubs, which organise/control in a way the hiking behaviour of its members. In this limited extent the hiking club is an example of a community. Therefore if a Marxist organisation can do a hiking trip, it's a step in the direction of stronger community. That seems true.

The example of hiking is also good, because now there apparently exists in management culture the practice of walking meetings. I'd propose: why could not, instead of renting a place inside, the Marxist group hold its meetings during walks together outside? Maybe it's difficult to walk during the dark evenings or rain, or it attracts attention ("security" as Tagore indicated), or some comrades are in too bad health/tired, or it would be impossible to write notes whilst walking.