A sensitive and insightful article but it is an example of the marxist obsession that tends to becloud all discussions. The marxist brand is too complicated, too elusive, and self-defeating.
First historical materialism as a theory of history is a failure. It was born in the misleading reaction to hegelian idealism and produces an equally one-sided ism that is of no use to anyone except professors of marxist theory.
The field of society is ultra broad and transcends materialism and idealism To found socialism in a collision of the two is a misfire. First step forget historical materialism. Next the obsession with the working class is a misleading abstraction, and refers to the early proletariats we see in the early nineteenth century. But the working class is something else now, and in many ways it is a hybrid with the middle class. It is not revolutionary and if it took over the state would not create socialism but another class based society, with no real guarantee that the working class ownership of the means of production would be fairer. Why would it be fairer? What about the other classes? Liquidation?
The whole meme of the marxist is confused in the end.
And it is a scheme of middle class intellectuals trying to induce revolution in another class, which never succeeds. The whole analysis is muddled.
A lot to be said about this, but one might simply suggest something simpler, more comprehensible, and finally actually practical. Members of any and all classes join together in an ideology of socialist revolution, stage that revolution and create a universal class beyond all classes as a universal class. This must be a socialist or communist revolution to produce a system of that type in which all classes, especially the working class, have a place. Such a system must operate according to principle. We can’t expect historical mechanics to do this for us. If those who attempt this cannot transcend their own class as a matter or principle, then failure is inevitable. But this is simply common sense. The complex theory of marx just doesn’t work.
It doesn’t really make sense.
To create socialism adherents to the idea must move to create that, and they will be members of a given class entering the universal class. This is simply people joining a movement which might stage a transitional revolution according to a set of ideas/ideals. There is no historical law via historical materialism that is going to take the place of this.
Marxists have confused themselves and everyone else and worshipped a phantom abstraction of the working class which doesn’t really exist. Any movement as above needs indeed to consider the working class, starting with empirical examination of what that is. If such a class becomes revolutionary it can liberate itself and our larger universal class might well give it a special focus. But in general as we see the working class is now Trump’s base (in part, of course), is not revolutionary, couldn’t deal with expropriation any better than anyone else and might just end up more corrupt than the capitalists.
Marx expects historical laws to produce postcapitalism, but that is a theoretical fantasy. ACtual men must do it, and do it as a set of values, which don’t exit in the useless historical materialism…
Where, in short, can we look for some strategic and theoretical guidance?In this article I’ll address these questions, drawing on some of the arguments in my book Worker Cooperatives and Revolution: History and Possibilities in the United States (specifically chapters 4 and 6). As I’ve argued elsewhere, historical materialism is an essential tool to understand society and how a transition to some sort of post-capitalism may occur. Social relations are grounded in production relations, and so to make a revolution it is production relations that have to be transformed. But the way to do so isn’t the way proposed by Marx in the Communist Manifesto, or by Engels and Lenin and innumerable other Marxists later: that, to quote Engels’ Anti-Dühring, “The proletariat seizes state power, and then transforms the means of production into state property.” Or, as the Manifesto states, “The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class.”