"Popular revolts" are no answer to world capitalism's dive into crisis and misery

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
"Popular revolts" are no answer to world capitalism's dive into crisis and misery
Printer-friendly version

It is interesting that this article situates the recent social revolts in the same vein as the Yellow Vests. But the criticism that these movements are "inter-classist" seems problematic. Every movement is to some extent "inter-classist," including the Russian Revolution itself. What then is the bone that is being picked? The fact that the working class is not leading the movement as a class? This is true, but it is hardly surprising given the global balance of class forces in this period in history. It is still not easy to tell whether movements such as these are moments of "decomposition" as the article implies, or are expressions of a fraught recovery in class resistance struggling to emerge. In any event, there does seem to be a change in the ICC's approach from the movements of 2013-2014 (Turkish protests, Brazil tranist mobilizations at the time of the Confederations Cup) in which these movements were generally lauded as moments of recovery, if imperfect in their interclasicism. Now, interclassicim seems to be unacceptable in toto, leading to a denucniation of the movements we have seen since the Yellow Vests. What has changed? Is it the emergence of populism? Still, it is not quite clear what the metric is that leads to the divergent judgements. Is it the increased violence? The "no future" perspective? Is it then a matter of content rather than form: The Yellow Vests' supposed "racism," the expressions of "nihilism"?

Also, perhaps this article was written before the movement in Bolivia. But here you can see a popular movement against a corrupt, anti-democratic Morales leading to a right-wing take-over of the state. This is being denouced by leftists as a "racist" coup and any idea that there may have been some kind of popular movement preceding the change in government is ignored by the very same people who laud similar movements elsewhere. How much does the eventual outcome of the movement weigh in judging the nature of the movement itself?

Good analysis and better perspective

I think, this text and also ICC's position on Yellow Vests have better analysis than they had before on "popular protests" and this is very positive. The essence of the text can be found in the following sentence:

“If the working class is present in these "popular revolts", it's never as an antagonistic class to capital but one drowned within the population.”

Internationalist Voice has always insisted:

"In the case of people’s protests and movements, if the working class dissolves itself into democratic and libertarian movements, it will only weaken the proletariat itself, not the bourgeoisie."

Hmm, I don't think I can

Hmm, I don't think I can agree with either of those quotes. What does it mean to be "antagonistic to capital"? Isn't the communist position  that the proletariat must struggle on its own "class terrain" by fighting to protect its living and working conditions? Isn't the essence that of that fight present in these popular revolts even if it is "drowned out" by other popular demands. This seems to want to pose particular political demands on a struggle that is still at the very basic level of asessing how to fight to back. As far as the working class "dissolving itself" into other movements, this would imply that it was there in some kind of conscious way in the first place, which is a difficult case to make when we are confronted by a historical situation in which the proletariat is still struggling to recover its class identity--a point the ICC has made elsewhere. It seems that what is vexing about these movements is the extent to which "combativity" exceeds "consciousness," how the anger and even rage of the working class is evident, but has yet to transcend the boundaries of these broader politcally suspicious expressions.

In any event, the question is begged, and it is a question I haven't seem taken up much, "compared to what?" What is missing from these analyses is a historical method that assesses the tranjectory of the class struggle and capitalism over a particular period and situates the meaning of these more recent movements within that context? Are they defeats (a dissolving a once more consciousness proletariat into a more diffuse populist anger) or are they moments of recovery (a struggling to emerge on the terrain of the defense of living and working conditions that still cannot transcend certain limitations due to various handicaps)? That is why I posed the comparison between these movements and the events of 2013 (Turkish park protests, Brazil tranist struggles, but you could even go back to 2011 with Occupy). It is not something I have seen taken up and there doesn't seem to be much of a historical method in the analyses here, rather they seemed marked by a certain political disgust at the contamination of the working class with "populism," (which has also been a fascination of the liberal factions of the bourgeoisie). However, why this is in some way surprising or considered especially troubling is not clear to me.

Class struggle or popular struggle