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Argentina: Only the proletariat fighting on its own class terrain can push back the bourgeoisie
The events of December 2001 to February 2002 in Argentina have awoken a great interest amongst politically aware elements all over the world. They have provoked discussion and reflection in workplaces among combative workers. Some Trotskyist groups have even spoken of "the beginning of the revolution".
In the Communist Left, the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP) has devoted several articles to these events and has published a Declaration according to which "In Argentina the ravages of the economic crisis have stimulated a powerful and determined proletarian movement on a class terrain and self-organisation, which expresses a class rupture".
The interest aroused by the social upheavals in Argentina is understandable and totally legitimate. Since the collapse of the Eastern bloc in 1989, the international situation has not seen any massive proletarian movements on the same scale as the strike in Poland in 1980, or the struggles in Argentine Cordoba in 1969. The scene of world events has been dominated by war (the Gulf War in 1991, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, the Middle East?), by the ever more devastating effects of the advancing world economic crisis (mass redundancies, unemployment, falling wages and pensions), and by the different expressions of capitalist decomposition (destruction of the environment, proliferation of "natural" and "accidental" disasters, the development of religious and social fanaticism, of criminality, etc).
This situation - whose causes we have already analysed of in detail - is one reason why politicised elements are paying close attention to the events in Argentina, which seem to mark a break in this uninterrupted series "bad news": in Argentina, street protests have caused an unprecedented merry-go-round of presidents (five in fifteen days), they have take the form of "self-organised" neighbourhood assemblies and have loudly rejected "all the politicians".
Revolutionaries have a duty to follow closely such social movements, in order to take position and to intervene wherever the working class finds an expression. It is certainly true that the workers have taken part in the wave of mobilisations in Argentina, and that some isolated struggles have adopted clear class demands and confronted official trade-unionism. We express our solidarity with these combats, but the best contribution we can make as a revolutionary organisation is to analyse events as clearly as we are able. This clarity will determine the ability of revolutionary organisations to intervene adequately, by referring constantly to the historic and international framework defined by the marxist method. The worst thing that the vanguard organisations of the world proletariat could do would be to sow illusions within the working class, encouraging its weaknesses and letting it mistake its defeats for victories. Far from helping the proletariat to regain the initiative, to develop its struggles on its own class terrain, to assert itself as the only social force in total opposition to capitalism, this could only make such a recovery much more difficult.
From this perspective the question we have to ask ourselves is: what is the class nature of events in Argentina? Is it a movement where the proletariat is developing its "self-organisation" and "breaking" with capitalism as the IBRP says? Our answer has to be a resolute NO. The proletariat in Argentina has been drowned and diluted in a movement of inter-classist revolt, a movement of popular protest which has expressed not the proletariat's strength, but its weakness. The class has been unable to assert either its political autonomy or its self-organisation.
The proletariat has no need to console itself or to clutch at illusions. What it does need, is to rediscover the path of its own revolutionary perspective, to assert itself on the social stage as the sole class able to offer humanity a future, and in doing so to draw behind itself the other non-exploiting strata of society. To do so, the proletariat must look reality in the face, it cannot be afraid of reality. In order to develop its consciousness, and to raise its struggle to match what is at stake in the historical situation today, it cannot spare itself the deepest criticism of its own weaknesses and mistakes, a profound reflection on the difficulties it encounters on the way. The events in Argentina will serve the world proletariat - and the proletariat in Argentina whose combative capacities have not been exhausted, far from it - as a clear lesson: inter-classist revolts do not weaken the power of the bourgeoisie but of the proletariat itself.
The collapse of the Argentine economy is a clear manifestation of the worsening of the crisis
We will not embark here on a detailed analysis of the economic crisis in Argentina. We refer readers to our territorial press (see in particular Révolution Internationale n°s319 and 320).
Of particular significance in this situation is the brutal rise in unemployment from 7% in 1992 to 17% in October 2001 and then to 30% in the space of only 3 months (December 2001), and the appearance, for the first time since the Spanish colonial era, of hunger in a country which until recently was considered to be very near a "European level" and whose principle products are precisely meat and wheat.
Far from being a local phenomenon, caused by corruption or a desire to "live like Europeans", the Argentine crisis is a new episode in the aggravation of the capitalist economic crisis. This crisis is world-wide and affects all countries. But that does not mean it affects all of them in the same way or at the same level. "While it does not spare any country, the world crisis exerts its most devastating effects not on the most powerful, developed countries, but on the countries which arrived too late in the world economic arena and whose path towards development has been definitely barred by the old powers" ("The proletariat of Western Europe at the centre of the generalisation of the class struggle" International Review no31). Furthermore, faced with the worsening of the crisis the more powerful countries have taken measures to defend themselves from its effects, and to deflect them onto the weakest countries ("liberalisation" of world trade, "globalisation" of financial transactions, investments in the key sectors of the weakest countries by means of privatisation, the policies of the IMF etc, i.e., all that which has been called "globalisation"). This is nothing other than the application to the whole world economy, by the largest countries, of a series of state capitalist policies designed to protect themselves from the crisis and to make its worst effects fall upon the weakest (See International Review no106, "Report on the economic crisis"). The figures supplied by the World Bank (World Development Indicators 2001) are eloquent in this respect: between 1980 and 2000 private creditors received from all the countries of Latin America $192 billion more than they had lent them, whereas in 1999-2002, in only two years, this difference was no less than $86.2 billion, that is to say, nearly half the amount paid in the previous 20 years. For its part, the IMF between 1980 and 2000 granted $71.3 billion in credits to the countries of South America whilst in the same period these countries repaid it £87.7 billion!
And the situation in Argentina is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind Argentina there are other of countries, equally important for various reasons -their supply of oil, their strategic position, etc - who are potential candidates for the same economic and political collapse: Venezuela, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia ?
An autonomous proletarian movement or a blind and chaotic inter-classist revolt?
As the IBRP states tersely in its Italian publication: capitalism responds to hunger with more hunger. They also make it clear that the various "economic solutions" proposed by governments, oppositions or "alternative movements" such as the Social Forum of Porto Alegre, offer no alternative. These demagogues' ingenious concoctions have been discredited one after the other by the facts of 30 years of crisis (see the report on the crisis in International Review no106 and "30 years of capitalist crisis" in International Review n°s 96 to 98). They therefore correctly conclude that "It is useless deluding oneself: at this stage of the crisis capitalism doesn't have anything else to offer beyond generalised poverty and war. Only the proletariat can halt this tragic course" (IBRP web site, op.cit.).
And yet, the IBRP evaluates the protest movements in Argentina as follows: "Spontaneously proletarians went out onto the streets, drawing with them young people, students and substantial sections of the proletarianised petty bourgeoisie who are pauperised like themselves. Together they directed their anger against capitalist sanctuaries: banks, offices, but above all the supermarkets and shops in general, which were attacked like the bakeries in medieval bread riots. The government, hoping to intimidate the rebels, couldn't find any better response than to instigate a savage repression, resulting in dozens of deaths and thousands wounded. The revolt wasn't extinguished but instead spread to the rest of the country and increasingly began to assume a class character."
We can distinguish three components in the social movements in Argentina:
Firstly, the attacks on supermarkets essentially carried out by marginals, lumpens and also by the young unemployed. These movements have been ferociously repressed by the police, private vigilantes and the store owners themselves. In several cases they have degenerated into the robbing of houses in poor neighbourhoods or the looting of offices, warehouses, etc. The main consequence of this "first component" of the social movement has been tragic confrontations between workers, as was illustrated by the bloody confrontation between piqueteros who wanted to take away food and the porters of the Central Market of Buenos Aires on the 11th January (see Révolution Internationale no320). For the ICC, these expressions of violence within the working class (an illustration of the methods specific to the lumpenised layers of the proletariat) are an expression of its weakness, not its strength. These violent confrontations between different parts of the working class are a barrier to its unity and can only serve the interests of the ruling class.
The second component has been the "cacerolas [saucepan beaters] movement". This is essentially composed of the "middle classes", exasperated by the sequestration and devaluation of their savings in the so-called "little bank holiday" (the corralito). These layers are in a desperate situation. "In Argentina, poverty is combined with high unemployment, into which are falling the 'new poor', ex-members of the middle classes, due to a declining social mobility, the inverse of the wave of immigration into the country at the beginning of the 20th century" (from a web site containing summaries of the Argentine press). Employees of the public sector, pensioners, some sectors of the industrial proletariat, have shared with the petty-bourgeoisie the same terrible blow of the corralito: the efforts of a life's work, intended to supplement a wretched state pension, have practically gone up in smoke. However, none of these characteristics gives the cacerolas movement a proletarian character: it remains a popular inter-classist revolt dominated by nationalist and "ultra-democratic" thinking.
The third component is formed by a series of workers struggles. There have been strikes by teachers in most of Argentina's 23 provinces; a combative movement by railway workers at a national level and the struggle of the bank workers. The struggles at the Ramos Mejias hospital in Buenos Aires, and at the Bruckmann factory in Gran Buenos Aires led to clashes with both the uniformed police and the trade unions;. During the last two years, there have been numerous mobilisations by the unemployed with those involved blocking roads throughout the country (the famous "piqueteros").
Obviously, revolutionaries cannot but salute the immense combativity displayed by the working class in Argentina. But as we have always said, the workers' combativity, however, strong, is not the only or even the main criterion that allows us to see clearly the balance of forces between the two fundamental classes in society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The first question we need to answer is this: could the dynamic of these workers' struggles, breaking out all over the country and in many different branches of industry, rise to a massive movement capable of leaping the fire-breaks put in place by the ruling class (notably the democratic opposition and the unions)? The reality of events obliges us to answer: no. It is precisely because these workers' struggles remained scattered, and proved unable to develop into a massive unified movement of the whole working class, that the proletariat in Argentina proved incapable of putting itself at the head of a movement of social protest, and drawing the rest of the non-exploiting strata in its wake. On the contrary, because the workers' were unable to take the lead in the movement, their own struggles were drowned and polluted by the hopeless revolt of other social strata. While they may themselves be the victims of the collapse of the Argentine economy, these latter have no historic future. For marxists, the only method that allows us to see clearly in such a situation is summed up by the question: Who is leading the movement? What class has taken the initiative and imprinted its dynamic on events? Only if they can answer this question correctly can revolutionaries contribute to the proletariat's advance towards its own liberation, and therefore the liberation of humanity from the tragic course that capitalism is leading it down.
And here the IBRP makes a serious error of method. It is not the proletariat that has pulled along the students, the young and large sections of the petty-bourgeoisie: on the contrary, it is the desperate, confused and chaotic revolt of a mixture of popular layers that has drowned and diluted the working class. Even a superficial examination of the positions, demands and type of mobilisation of the neighbourhood assemblies that have proliferated in Buenos Aires and which have spread throughout the country demonstrates this with brutal clarity. What was said in the announcement of the "world cacerolazo" on 2nd/3rd February 2002 which found a widespread echo in more than 20 cities on 4 continents? Well: "Global cacerolazo. We are all Argentines - everybody into the street in New York - Porto Alegre - Barcelona - Toronto - Montreal ( add your city and your country) the thieving world bank - Alca - multinationals - away with them all! Governments and politicians are corrupt, none of them should remain, not one of them! Long live the popular assemblies! People of Argentina arise!". This "programme" for all its anger against "politicians" is the same as that defended everyday by those self-same politicians, from the extreme right to the extreme left, and even by "ultra-liberal" governments, all of which know how to "criticise" ultra-liberalism, the multinationals, corruption etc.
Moreover, this movement of "people's protest" has been strongly marked by extreme and reactionary nationalism. In all the demonstrations of the neighbourhood assemblies the same aim has been repeated ad nauseam: "create another Argentina", "rebuild our country on its own foundations". On the Internet sites of the various neighbourhood assemblies there are nationalist debates such as: "Should we pay the foreign debt?"; "Should we use the peso or the dollar?". One web site commendably proposes the "education and the becoming conscious" of the people and the opening of a debate on Rousseau's Social Contract and calls for a return to the Argentine classics of the 19th century such as San Martin or Sarmiento. One would have to be blind (or prefer reassuring fairy tales to reality) not to see that this nationalism has also infected the workers' struggles: the TELAM workers lead their demonstrations with Argentine flags; in a workers' neighbourhood of Gran Buenos Aires the assembly held against the payment of a new municipal tax began and ended by singing the national anthem.
Because it was inter-classist and without perspectives, this movement could do nothing else but demand the same reactionary solutions that have led to the tragic situation in which the population is plunged. But this repetition of the old, this search for its poetry in the past, is the most eloquent testimony to the character of this impotent and futureless social revolt. As is shown with all sincerity by a participant in the assemblies "Many have said that we do not make proposals, that all we can do is to oppose. And with pride we can say that this is true, we are opposed to the established system of neo-liberalism. Like a bow drawn taut by oppression, we are arrows unleashed against the totalitarian domination of ultra-liberal thinking, Our action will be sustained by our people, inch by inch, in order to exercise the oldest people's right, popular resistance" (taken from the web site www.cacerolazo.org).
In Argentina in 1969-73 the events in Cordoba, the Mendoza strike, the tide of strikes that inundated the country, were the key to social evolution. Although they were far from being insurrectionary in character, these struggles marked the reawakening of the proletariat, which conditioned all the political and social agenda of the country.
But in the Argentina of December 2001, with the worsening decomposition of capitalist society, the situation is no longer the same. The proletariat is confronted today by new difficulties, obstacles which it still has to overcome in order to assert itself and develop its class identity and autonomy. Unlike the period at the beginning of the 1970s, the social situation in Argentina today has been marked by an inter-classist movement, which has diluted the proletariat's strength and proven impotent to affect the political situation any more than ephemerally. The movement of the cacerolas has certainly achieved an exploit worthy of the Guinness Book of Records, with the overthrow of five presidents in fifteen days. But all this is shortlived. Whatever the clique in government, it is still the bourgeoisie that holds power in Argentina, as elsewhere. Now, the web sites of the popular assemblies bitterly argue about how the movement has dissipated itself as if by magic to such an extent that the astute Duhalde has managed to re-establish order without having to lessen, in the least, galloping poverty and without his economic plan leading to even the most minimal solution.
The lesson from events in Argentina
In the present historical period, which we have defined as the phase of capitalism's decomposition, the proletariat runs a serious risk: that it will lose its class identity, lack confidence in itself, in its revolutionary capacity for establishing itself as an autonomous and determining social force in the evolution of society. This danger is the product of several interconnected factors:
The blow to the proletariat's consciousness as a result of the collapse of the Eastern countries and the bourgeoisie's ability to identify this with the "collapse of communism" and "the historic failure of Marxism and the class struggle";
The weight of the capitalist system's decomposition, that is eroding social ties and encouraging an atmosphere of competition even between sectors of the proletariat itself;
The fear of politics and politicisation which is a consequence of the form taken by the counter-revolution (by means of Stalinism "from within" the proletarian bastion and the parties of the revolutionary proletariat's own Communist International) and the enormous historical blow delivered by the successive degeneration of two of the best creations of the proletariat's political capacity and consciousness within the space of a generation: firstly the Socialist Parties and then, barely ten years later, the Communist parties.
This danger could end up stopping it taking the initiative faced with the profound collapse of the whole of society, which the historical crisis of capitalism is leading towards. Argentina clearly shows this potential danger: the general paralysis of the economy and important convulsions in the bourgeois political apparatus, have not been used by the proletariat in order to establish itself as an autonomous social force, struggling for its own aims and drawing the other layers of society along in its wake. Submerged in an inter-classist movement, typical of the decomposition of bourgeois society, the proletariat has been dragged into a sterile and futureless revolt.
For this reason the speculation, by the Trotskyists, autonomists, anarchists, and the "anti-globalisation" movement in general, about the events in Argentina representing the "beginning of a revolution", as "a new movement", or as "a practical demonstration that another society is possible" is very dangerous.
What is more worrying is that the IBRP should have echoed these confused ramblings by contributing its own illusions about the "strength of the proletariat in Argentina".
These speculations disarm the young minorities, secreted globally by the proletariat, who are searching for a revolutionary alternative faced with a world that is falling apart. Therefore, for us it is important to explain the reasons for the IBRP's belief that it has encountered gigantic "class movements" which in reality are nothing but the windmills of inter-classist revolts.
First of all, the IBRP has always rejected the concept of the historic course with which we have tried to understand the evolution of the balance of forces between the proletariat and bourgeoisie in the present historical situation opened up by the historic resurgence of the proletariat since 1968. To the IBRP all this appears as idealist "prognostics and predictions". Their rejection of this historical method leads them to an immediatist and empirical vision as much in regards to military events as to the class struggle. It is worth recalling the IBRP's analysis of the Gulf War, presented as "the beginning of World War III". The same photographic method led the IBRP to present the palace revolution which brought down the Ceausescu regime in Romania almost as a "revolution": "Romania is the first country in the industrialised regions where the world economic crisis has given birth to a real an authentic popular revolution, which has resulted in the overthrow of the government (?) in Romania are gathered all the objective, and almost all the subjective conditions for transforming the insurrection into a real and authentic social revolution" ("Ceausescu is dead, but capitalism still lives", in Battaglia Comunista, January 1990).
Clearly, rejecting any kind of analysis of the historic course can only leave one at the mercy of immediate events. The absence of any method for analysing the world historic situation and the real balance of class forces leads the IBRP to the idea that we are on the verge of World War III one day, of the proletarian revolution the next. How - according to the IBRP's analytical "method" - the proletariat is supposed to pass from a situation where it is enrolled behind the flags of nationalism in preparation for a Third World War, to one where it is ready to launch a revolutionary assault, remains for us a mystery, and we are still waiting for the IBRP to give us a coherent explanation of its oscillations.
For ourselves, rather than this demoralising to-ing and fro-ing, we are convinced that only the lodestone of a global and historic vision can prevent revolutionaries being the playthings of events, and deceiving them into mistaking popular revolts for proletarian class struggle.
The IBRP endlessly ridicules our theory of the decomposition of capitalism, saying that "it is used to explain everything". Nevertheless, the concept of decomposition is very important in making precisely this distinction between revolts and the class struggle of the proletariat. Such a distinction is essential in our time. The present situation of capitalism does indeed lead to protest, tumult, clashes between classes, layers and fractions. Revolt is the blind and impotent fruit of the convulsions of a dying society. It does not help to overcome its contradictions but rather aggravates them. It is the expression of one of the outcomes of the general perspectives put forwards by the Communist Manifesto for the class struggle throughout history: "a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes". It is this second alternative, the "common ruin of the contending classes", which is the foundation for the concept of capitalism's decomposition. This is the contrary to the class struggle of the proletariat which, if it is able to find expression on its own class terrain and preserve its autonomy by advancing towards its extension and self-organisation, has the potential to become "the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority" (ibid). All the efforts of the most conscious elements of the proletariat and in a more general way of struggling workers must avoid confusing revolt with autonomous class struggle, must struggle to prevent the weight of general social decomposition dragging the proletariat into the dead end of blind revolt. Whilst the terrain of revolt leads to the progressive exhaustion of the capabilities of the proletariat, the terrain of the class struggle leads towards the revolutionary destruction of the capitalist state in all countries.
The proletarian perspective
However, while the events in Argentina clearly show the danger facing the proletariat if it allows itself to be dragged onto the rotten terrain of "popular" inter-classist revolt, the endgame of social evolution towards barbarism or towards revolution will not be played out there, but in the world's great working class concentrations, and especially in Western Europe.
"A social revolution is not simply the breaking of a chain, the breakdown of the old society. It is also and at the same time an action for the construction of a new society. It is not a mechanical event but a social fact indissolubly linked to the antagonism of human interests, to the aspirations and struggle of classes" (International Review no31). The mechanical and vulgar materialist visions see in the proletarian revolution only the aspect of the explosion of capitalism but are incapable of seeing the most important and decisive aspect - its revolutionary destruction by the proletarian class's conscious action, that is, what Lenin and Trotsky called the "subjective factor". These vulgar materialist visions are a barrier to an awareness of the gravity of the historical situation, marked by capitalism's entry into the ultimate phase of its decadence: its decomposition. Moreover, mechanistic and contemplative materialism is "content" with the "objectively revolutionary" aspect: the inexorable aggravation of the economic crisis, social convulsions, the rottenness of the ruling class. Vulgar materialism airily dismisses the dangers to the proletariat's consciousness and the development of its unity and self-confidence that are contained in capitalism's decomposition (as well as in its ideological use by the ruling class).
But the key to the revolutionary perspective in our epoch is precisely the capacity of the proletariat to develop the "subjective" elements in its struggles (confidence, the confidence in its revolutionary future, unity and class solidarity) that will allow it progressively to counteract and eventually overcome the weight of the social and ideological decomposition of capitalism. And it is precisely in the great proletarian concentrations of Western Europe that the most favourable conditions exist for this development: "?Social revolutions did not take place where the old ruling class was weakest and its structures the least developed, but, on the contrary, where its structures had reached the highest point compared to the productive forces, and where the class bearing the new relations of production destined to replace the old was strongest (?) Marx and Engels looked for and based their perspective on the points where the proletariat was strongest, most concentrated and best placed to carry out the social transformation. Because, while the crisis hits the underdeveloped countries most brutally precisely as a result of their economic weakness and their lack of a margin for manoeuvre, we must not forget that the source of the crisis lies in overproduction and thus in the main centres of capitalist development. This is another reason why the conditions for a response to this crisis and for going beyond it reside fundamentally in the main centres" (ibid).
In fact, the IBRP's deformed vision of the class content of events in Argentina needs to be considered in conjunction with its analysis of the potential of the proletariat in the peripheral countries of capitalism, expressed in particular in its "Theses on communist tactics in the countries of the capitalist periphery", adopted by the 6th Congress of Battaglia Comunista (published in Italian in Prometeo n°13, June 1997, and in English in Internationalist Communist 16). According to these Theses, conditions in the countries of the periphery create there "a greater potential for the radicalisation of consciousness than in the great metropoles". As a result, "there remains the possibility that the circulation of the communist programme among the masses may be easier , and the 'level of attention' that revolutionary communists can attract higher, in relation to the social formations of advanced capitalism". We have already refuted this analysis in detail (see International Review n°100, "The class struggles in the countries of the capitalist periphery"), such that it is unnecessary to do so again here. What we will say though, is that the IBRP's distorted vision of the significance of the recent revolts in Argentina is an illustration not only of its inability to understand the ideas of capitalism's decomposition, or of the historic course, but of the incorrectness of these Theses.
Our analysis absolutely does not mean that we despise or under-estimate the struggles of the proletariat in Argentina, or in other zones where capitalism is weaker. It simply means that revolutionaries, as the advance guard of the proletariat, with a clear vision of the line of march of the proletarian movement taken as a whole, have the responsibility to contribute to the clearest and most exact vision of the strengths and limitations of the working class struggle, of who are its allies, and of the direction its struggle should take. To do so, revolutionaries must resist with all their strength the opportunist temptation - as a result of impatience, immediatism, or a historical lack of confidence in the proletariat - to mistake an inter-classist revolt (such as we have seen in Argentina) for a class movement.
Adalen, 10th March 2002
1 This declaration can be found on the IBRP web site (www.internationalist.net), entitled A lesson from Argentina: Either the Revolutionary Party and Socialism or Generalised Poverty and War.
2 See our articles on the collapse of the Eastern bloc in International Review n°60, on "Why the proletariat has not yet overthrown capitalism" in International Review n°103-104, and the "Report on the class struggle" in n°107.
3 The newspaper Pagina of 12th January 2002 published "an unprecedented report that in some neighbourhoods of Gran Buenos Aires the looting has moved from businesses to houses".
4 There is nothing wrong with studying the works of thinkers who preceded the proletarian movement, since the latter integrates and supersedes the historical legacy of humanity in its revolutionary consciousness. However, Rousseau is not exactly the point of departure for confronting today's present serious problems.
5 See the Theses on Decomposition which are in International Review numbers No60 and republished in International Review no 107
6 By contrast, the PCI in Le Prolétaire no460 have adopted a clear position, evident already in the title of its article "The cacerolazos can change presidents. In order to struggle against capitalism the class struggle is necessary!", which denounces the inter-classist character of the movement and says that "a way of opposing this politics does not exist: the struggle against capitalism, the workers' struggle unites all proletarians not around popularist aims, but those of the class, the struggle is not national but international, the struggle final aim is not reform but revolution".
7 For our conception of the historic course see the articles in International Review n°s15, 17 and 107. We have polemicised with the IBRP about this conception in articles in International Review n°s36 and 89
8 "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" ("Decomposition, final phase of the decadence of capitalism", in International Review n°107.