We have commented already today on this essay but might continue with a discussion of the question of creating working class democracies and its failures.
The problem is that a working class democracy was never defined and in the context of Tzarist Russia undergoing revolution russian authoritarianism and Lenin’s hatred of liberalism turned into a hatred of democracy and somehow the whole idea of democracy disappeared despite the fake elections that were staged as a set of fronts.
But more generally the ‘working class’ concept is flawed and we see that unless we are referring to anarchism the idea of a working class government ends up meaning government by a vanguard. Here the atrocious idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat entered to generate a hopeless muddle. Marx’s cogent insight into the capitalist capture of liberalism backfired. Liberalism, rights, and finally democracy were turned into outcast notions.
The working class has not performed in the way Marx envisioned. And the focus is finally about working class economic conditions, wages. It is not as such a radical revolutionary class, it would seem. And what happens to all the other classes? Further an ecological socialism must consider a larger set of issues than working class gains.
We have suggested thinking in terms of a, or ‘the’, Universal Class, the People, with the working class as just one subset of that general classification. We have to ask what happens to all the social sets and merge them into a common category. Why should the working class be the dominant class? It is class all over again. Marxists spend all their time and energy harping on the working class in hopes of some miracle of coaxing them to do their bidding. It won’t happen, and has never happened.
But we can envision a working class revolution creating a universal class for the whole of society or we can simply assign all volunteers to the job, even, as Engels, capitalists. Or we can simply think in terms of the People and its Universal Class with the inexorable vanguard which must have a democratic mindset and yet be able to generate sufficient authority to guard a Commons: we have suggested a solution in our model of DMNC. Almost all the revolutionaries have been middle class (a close look at the Russian case however, shows a considerable working class factor but the revolution was in reality created by a vanguardist intelligentsia). Clearly a movement has to recruit from the Universal Class, expect a factor of vanguardism, create an explicit model of democracy built into a communist system, and have a liberal look: we remorph liberalism into communism, and the result is a communism that looks like liberalism. The idea from Marx of a hard shift from capitalism to communism was totally misleading and led to social amputation of all the elements required for a balanced society.