Tag Archive: marx

Lately I’ve found I have a lot of trouble deciding on revolutionary issues. I’ve spoken to different groups–Maoist, Trotskyist, Luxemburgist, anarchist, Left Communist, Stalinist, Anarcho-Syndicalist, and others–for insights about the questions that plague me. The questions are both abstract and concrete, philosophical and practical, and reveal quite clearly that in the science of revolution, the space between abstract and concrete and philosophical and practical is extremely small. Here are some of the questions.

1) Move to communism all at once or in phases (transition)?

2) If all at once, does entire working class need to be class-conscious first (aware of function of class under capitalism)?

2a) If so, doesn’t that necessarily mean that the spreading of class-consciousness will be transitional (or gradual) in nature?

2b) If not, doesn’t THAT mean that part of the nature of the revolution will be coercive? Is there a level of coercion that we must be willing to accept, or can there truly be a level of class-consciousness whereby ALL workers hasten revolution? Won’t that take, like, 200 years to bring about? (see 2a)

3) What about the petit-bourgeoisie (bosses but not owners of means of production)? Will they be included in the struggle, or must they be overthrown?

4) What about non-proletarian radicals (members of bourgeois or petit-bourgeois who actively oppose capitalism)? Can they take part in the revolution or must they be overthrown in the service of smashing class privilege, or to prevent subversion/revisionism?

5) Who will lead the effort to spread class consciousness among the working class, and will it include bourgeois and/or petit-bourgeois radicals? Couldn’t this group of revolutionaries conceivably constitute a “vanguard” whether the word “vanguard” is used or not?

6) Will labor unions be central to the revolution or peripheral to it?

7) In situations like Syria and Ukraine, where both sides of the conflict are problematic, what position can anti-imperialist revolutionaries take besides “we hope a true revolutionary group eventually takes control and corrects this destructive situation” as I see in so many socialist papers (often said when there is no strong revolutionary force in that country)? In the cases I mention, is it worth alienating populations who hate Assad or who hate Putin/Russia by siding with them as “anti-imperialist forces”? Doesn’t it diminish our credibility as radicals by siding with them when, in Assad’s case, he has sold out Palestine and collaborated with NATO, and in Putin’s case, led a slaughter in Chechnya, suppressed political dissent, and discriminated against LGBTQ people?

7a) However, it doesn’t make sense either to by default side with any and all “opposition forces,” because they are capable of being just as flawed and evil as the figures/governments they’re opposing. So what do we do?!?!?! Is it necessary to, in the service of the material reality, side with the “anti-imperialist figure” as a “lesser of two evils”? Isn’t that kind of like leftists voting for Democrats, though?

8) Is it a good idea to form new socialist/leftist/communist groups rather than rely on the old ones who are perpetually at war with each other? Or must we be so afraid of forgetting our history and thereby repeating it that we remain paralyzed during its unfolding?

9) Is it necessary for “communist” or “leftist” or “anarchist” groups to form alliances with one-issue groups? What if those alliances lead to compulsions to cut back on radical rhetoric? For instance, a pro-immigrant rights group marches with a Communist group. The Communist group’s chants are about “Burn the Rich, Smash the state” while the Immigrant Rights group chants “Hey, Obama, Don’t Deport My Mama.” The Immigrant Rights group doesn’t want to be perceived as destructive, violent, or irrational, so they avoid slogans about burning rich people and smashing things. As a result, the groups don’t intermingle, don’t unite, chant over each other, and generally illustrate the segmentation of the Left. What do we do about this?

I know I could probably learn all of this from reading Marx/Engels, Lenin, et cetera at the source itself, but I’m not the best reader in the world. I have trouble focusing and absorbing, and it takes me forever to finish one book, because I need to underline and annotate and reread constantly in order to get anything out of it. Either that or I get bored of focusing on one subject and don’t finish the book at all. But links and insights as to which readings would be helpful, would be helpful.

Sometimes it just seems like society and reality are made to be so confused and complex intentionally in order to prevent moral/hesitant people like myself from taking a side and ACTING. Maybe that is to overestimate my own importance; but, see the thing is, I *have* no importance to the revolution because I can’t take a side and act on it with conviction. It is paradoxical. It is the pleasant paralysis of the privileged radical: nothing is black or white because privileged folks have never been materially desperate. Mounting disgust soon leads to inactivity, and eventually, selling out. I don’t want that to happen to me.

Anyway, answers/insights appreciated. Of course, I know that idealism and absolute answers/truths are a Western social construct intended to manipulate. Really, I just seek conversation.

note: this is not written in my usual tone. It is just the tone that came to me at the moment I had the idea, which was while I was at a soul-music concert in New York a few days ago.

Like so many endeavors, we cannot force the people to relinquish what they know to be pleasurable, to deny them pleasure as they know it, because to do so would introduce an element of “soul-repression,” i.e. repression of those aspects of daily life that are thought to constitute expression of the soul: wanton sensuality, materialistic pursuits like cars and houses, dotage on the family, self-destructive habits like alcohol and idleness, and mindless mass entertainment that serves to perpetuate racism, gender roles, class differences, and other stratifications between exploited groups. But within the grind of their daily lives, these components persist as “simple pleasures,” between the periods of grudging work and involuntary routine, where their “soul” is allowed to briefly manifest itself before being subjected to yet another day of working for a boss.

Such an aesthetic can only be approximated, it cannot be matched, by the implication of socialist revolution, because so many aspects of that aesthetic are based on dynamics of inequality.

Does this suggest some noble character of inequality, one that we must endeavor to preserve in whole or in part within the messaging, actions, and involvement of the revolution? No. But we must remember that to singlehandedly and quite out of hand dismiss the societally agreed upon aesthetic value of inequality will, in effect, create an inequality between ourselves and the masses, and undermine our pretense to the value of presumed equality with the masses and an understanding of their needs. This, of course, assumes such are some of the shared values of the revolutionary party, values that we espouse and to which we cleave: kinship with the worker.

Before any change of aesthetic can take place, we must first successfully convey the injustice of the conditions that lead to inequality,  i.e. exploitation and expropriation of social surplus product, and reveal them as commonplace modalities of the ruling ideology. This illustration, made vividly and in the interest of class empowerment, will gradually lead to the automatic severance of any association between these conditions and fulfillment of the “soul” among the working class.