Nothing is more cogent than the marxist study of class and capitalism. But unfortunately, as noted many times and in previous post, marx made that a theoretical construct when it should have remained an empirical set of studies.
The working class has been behind the eight-ball since Sumer invented ‘capitalism’ and history shows their passive defeats. Archaic Greece shows the kettle starting to boil, however, that being a rare documented case where we have information at all. The Greeks shows the whole dilemma: they achieved a first: the idea of freedom, and a set of republics, and then a direct democracy. But the complete overhaul of society was beyond them as ‘eleutheria’ coexisted with slavery. But the overall dynamic of history is different. In modern times we see the start of efforts to correct the broken format of social existence.
What we see in fact is the way marx tried to energize leftists, and the proletariat, by using that theory to inspire them. But overall the confusion of working class and vanguard politics remains unresolved. If we examine trump’s base we see the working class coopted into idiocy, and with the all-important labor movement(s) we see a lot of ambiguities in the midst of a robust line of attack on capitalist expropriation: labor politics is still far from revolutionary, mostly.
We have suggested keeping several irons in the fire: a platform based on the working class is classic, and should have a core focus. But our idea of the universal class reminds us that we should multitask multiple ‘class’ initiatives, lumpenproles, middle classe(s), even capitalists and the bourgeoisie. And the status of the dangerous vanguards requires explicit failsafes.
The whole game ends up with people with a certain idealism versus everyone else, plus deadbeats. We end up with the danger of vanguards, themselves with bolshevism the purveyors of the working class ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ an idea fronting for dictatorship of the (marxist) vanguard, and the Big Honcho of the vanguard, karl m.
A closer look at marx’s work shows that his clever strategy was not so much about the working class, but the need for a vanguard specifically trained and coached to not be coopted and to try and work with the working class, a subtly different thing.
It is worth noting that all the lefts we see are mostly vanguards of that type, at best. The left must continue its working class initiative but it might have more success if its adherents were such sentimental marxist converts. The revolutionary vanguard is both dangerous and even more feckless than the working class.
We note that the russian revolution does in fact show a lot o working class orgs, the soviets, and these were betrayed by the vanguard leninists. It is a probably insoluble riddle.
The resolution is a practical definition of a socialist/communist system in sufficient detail to be carried out with rough exactness so that the questions of the one and true class become secondary.
R48G: DMNC, working class, universal class//The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky February 25th, 2017 · https://www.dropbox.com/home/Public?preview=Two+Manifestos+version+2.pdf
This is a compelling summary of both trotsky’s bio and the history of the russian revolution. That history raises a large number of questions and invokes a factual history of great complexity. We need to carefully assess that history and yet at the same time we should realize that the ground has shifted under our feet and we live in a situation different from that of the second international onward. We
must be wary of getting stuck in the past. The key issue is that we don’t really need to compute stages of revolution and/or trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’. In the US we have a developed capitalist economy, and most ironically a working class whose status is ambiguous: it is really a middle class phenomenon
and thus not dissimilar to the ‘petit bourgeoisie’ (?). It is thus a disappearing class, for this and other reasons, e.g. globalization, automation, etc… And our particular formulation with three sectors could assist the study of the issue of agriculture by being flexible: can have planed, capitalist, and small scale agricultural enterprise, the latter perhaps in transition to a larger system and technically a part of the Commons but as if privately owned. Or whatever…The point of the ‘third sector’ is evade the creation of a monstrosity of total state control…
We confront a very different situation, and in many ways the problem has become simplified (although the question of revolution remains very ‘unsimple’!): we need a transition to a postcapitalist system that has been designed in advance and whose principles need to be implemented constitutionally. We need
a fully thought out and comprehensive solution, which includes solutions to the problems of democratic politics, in the context of a neo-communist system, solutions to the problems of military industrialism, imperialism, covert agencies, the deep state, and importantly the fiasco of israel. Reading this history one gets the sense that marxism made the problem too difficult. We agonize over the working class, mostly in vain. We have suggested a focus on ‘the’ or ‘a’ universal class, which really means a complex alliance of classes or subsectors, and this can immediately turn around and evoke the working class subset. But it can just as well focus on sectors of the middle class. The point is that beyond classes lie
individuals and it is individuals who join parties, movements, and who must be a vanguard to lead a revolution. Instead of wondering if classes will remain true to socialism we ask how a vanguard can construct a fair and honest constitutional system that fulfills a platform of neo-communism, economic dynamics, and economic rights and ways and means to create a ‘real democracy’.
We have developed economies and don’t need, thank god, a five year plan of forced industrialization or
a war with a peasantry. We can simply bypass all of that.
And we must design this so the issue of ‘socialism in one country’ and all its agonizing dilemmas and history become dead letters: we must design a democratic market neo-communist solution for one country and yet this system can still relate to a globalization context that might still be stuck in transition to postcapitalism and still subject to capital. How such a system would replace the internationales
and/or comintern, etc…, is up in the air, but soluble. The US would face a real challenge here but could
lead the way to a larger system which can ‘lego block’ its way into a federation of socialist systems, …
It will be hard for legacy marxists to deal with what seems heresy as to the working class. I would say relax: we don’t have to change anything. Instead a change in conceptual terminology creates a superset of the older set of concepts. We can focus on the working class in its older aspect any time we want. But a larger field opens up as we stop struggling to play yoyo with the tricky ‘working class’ and get about the business of creating social equality in a constitutional system.
There is still a working class, globally. We must be very careful to be able to change gears there and adapt our flexible framework to solidarity on the way to a global system of postcapitalism.
The life of trotsky is a compelling saga and should be a part of our canon, but at the same time we should be wary as with lenin of thinking we have sort out all the issues of the older legacies. Much of it has slipped into history…
“There is now no one except me to carry out the mission of arming a new generation with the revolutionary method…” – Trotsky, Diary in Exile The Old Testament prophets belonged to a religious order…
Source: The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky