Will The Working Class Ever Reach Class conciousness?

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WeTheYouth
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Jun 8 2004 09:37
Will The Working Class Ever Reach Class conciousness?

Well will we the working class and the entire proletariat ever reach a state where collectively, the masses could challenge the state?

I have no idea where i personally fall with this, and i dont like the idea of a vanguardist revolution yet at the same time, the complete popular uprisings of the past have never been revolutionary, and i fear that may be the case as time goes on.

AlexA
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Jun 8 2004 09:44
WeTheYouth wrote:
Well will we the working class and the entire proletariat ever reach a state where collectively, the masses could challenge the state?

I have no idea where i personally fall with this, and i dont like the idea of a vanguardist revolution yet at the same time, the complete popular uprisings of the past have never been revolutionary, and i fear that may be the case as time goes on.

What do you mean exactly?

Are you asking two seperate questions - one: can we ever achieve class consciousness, and two: can you have a revolution without leaders?

Are you saying no uprising has ever been revolutionary? Or just in this country?

WeTheYouth
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Jun 8 2004 10:00

Sorry, it was ambigous.

I basically asking can we ever achieve class cociousness?

Augusto_Sandino
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Jun 8 2004 10:07

Class consciousness always fades in times of prosperity, if theres a deppression or the oil crash mentioned elsewhere in a few years, there will be a surge in class consciousness.

Steve
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Jun 8 2004 10:19

Yes we can. If I didn't believe that I'd stop doing what I do.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 8 2004 10:46
WeTheYouth wrote:
Well will we the working class and the entire proletariat ever reach a state where collectively, the masses could challenge the state?

I have no idea where i personally fall with this, and i dont like the idea of a vanguardist revolution yet at the same time, the complete popular uprisings of the past have never been revolutionary, and i fear that may be the case as time goes on.

Its possible, but i somehow doubt it will actually happen, the truth is though what choice do we have, we can either a) work for class struggle with the long term goal of revolution in mind

b)put our faith in the bourgeoisie, or the state capitaliststs or just sit around moping about it

In the words of Rosa Luxemburg, there are two alternatives for humanity, socialism or barbarism, and within the next 100 years that pretty much is the case either the proletariat wins a great victory of some sort in the class struggle, we all go extincy or due to the environemental meltdown caused by capitalism most of us die off and the remainder live a barbaric existence in constant competiton for the sparse resources of a dying world.

To be honest, i think there is a fairly high chance that most of will waste a good part of our lives pathetically in search of the revolution that will never happen, but it could be a lot worse and given our 'fortunate' (if thats the right word for it) position in such a large imperialist power, not to try for it would be a gross betrayal of the human race.

To summarise, no we're probably fucked, but so what

john

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 8 2004 10:51
Augusto_Sandino wrote:
Class consciousness always fades in times of prosperity, if theres a deppression or the oil crash mentioned elsewhere in a few years, there will be a surge in class consciousness.

I totally agree, but that won't happen for well over a decade at best

john

WeTheYouth
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Jun 8 2004 16:15
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To be honest, i think there is a fairly high chance that most of will waste a good part of our lives pathetically

I dont think so, i would rather spend my days attacking the state than living on my knees.

Augusto_Sandino
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Jun 8 2004 19:36

But although ive lost almost all revolutionary faith, i havent been turned off anarchism. You look at what the big anarcho unions achieved in their heyday, it was worth it without the revolution. Even being proud of your class and it's culture is a little victory in itself i think.

Besides, anarchism has always been better at recognising the achievements of the individual!

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JoeMaguire
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Jun 9 2004 13:11

No mate, sounds reformist to me sad

Capitalism is an unstable system, anarchism provides us with a non-compromising alternative, and like it says elsewhere the only thing that changes the world is like minded people banding together black bloc

Augusto_Sandino
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Jun 9 2004 18:50
october_lost wrote:
No mate, sounds reformist to me sad

Perhaps, perhaps. wink

WeTheYouth
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Jun 10 2004 19:26
revol68 wrote:
more to the fuckin point will any of u useless snivelling anarcho liberals reach revolutionary conciousness! what a pretentious fucking topic. angry

Anarcho Liberals ?? WTF ??? It is a needed question.

Augusto_Sandino
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Jun 10 2004 20:31

Look at the thread that goes "anarchy + amger = destruction"

WeTheYouth
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Jun 10 2004 21:10
Augusto_Sandino wrote:
Look at the thread that goes "anarchy + amger = destruction"

lol.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 11 2004 16:18
WeTheYouth wrote:
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To be honest, i think there is a fairly high chance that most of will waste a good part of our lives pathetically

I dont think so, i would rather spend my days attacking the state than living on my knees.

na we'll still be pathetic tho, afterall despite the revolutionary sloganeering this is an internet message board wink

john

WeTheYouth
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Jun 11 2004 17:30
cantdocartwheels wrote:
WeTheYouth wrote:
Quote:
To be honest, i think there is a fairly high chance that most of will waste a good part of our lives pathetically

I dont think so, i would rather spend my days attacking the state than living on my knees.

na we'll still be pathetic tho, afterall despite the revolutionary sloganeering this is an internet message board wink

john

Its not pathetic. And if it is, why do it.

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Ed
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Jun 11 2004 20:33
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more to the fuckin point will any of u useless snivelling anarcho liberals reach revolutionary conciousness! what a pretentious fucking topic.

Er Revol, do you feel like a big man coming onto internet message boards and being rude? I don't get it, did you not learn simple manners as a child? Is this how you talk to people face to face? Fair enough you disagree with what people are saying but you've got two choices:

1) Put your own point across and try to win people over to your way of thinking (while leaving yourself open minded enough to feel that there may be things that others can teach you)

2) Not give a fuck. Who cares? It's just a silly discussion on an internet message board.

Overall, you gotta remember mate that Enrager is an anti-authoritarian resource and community building project. When you're being arsey, you're not doing a very good job at the community building. I mean, what new person to Anarchism is gonna want to ask questions if they're worried they'll get their head ripped off by some seasoned Anarcho-old timer? red n black star

Augusto_Sandino
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Jun 11 2004 21:05
Ed wrote:
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more to the fuckin point will any of u useless snivelling anarcho liberals reach revolutionary conciousness! what a pretentious fucking topic.

Er Revol, do you feel like a big man coming onto internet message boards and being rude? I don't get it, did you not learn simple manners as a child? Is this how you talk to people face to face? Fair enough you disagree with what people are saying but you've got two choices:

1) Put your own point across and try to win people over to your way of thinking (while leaving yourself open minded enough to feel that there may be things that others can teach you)

2) Not give a fuck. Who cares? It's just a silly discussion on an internet message board.

Overall, you gotta remember mate that Enrager is an anti-authoritarian resource and community building project. When you're being arsey, you're not doing a very good job at the community building. I mean, what new person to Anarchism is gonna want to ask questions if they're worried they'll get their head ripped off by some seasoned Anarcho-old timer? red n black star

Im glad someone else was coming to that conclusion. wink

Steve
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Jun 12 2004 07:55

Good post revol. The only quibble I have is when you say "we are part of the working class" I think there are certainly some anarchists who are not and can't shake of their patronising attitude.

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Ed
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Jun 12 2004 10:23

Yeah revol, I 100% agree with you. In fact, out of every single post I've ever seen you put up, I don't think I've EVER disagreed massively with the content. It's just that I don't see why you've got to be so arsey about it. I doubt very highly you'd get so aggressive in a face to face discussion so why do you do it on these boards? I mean, if we were in the pub and we disagreed over the role of reformist TU's in the class struggle, would you flip out? No, of course not. And if you would then I don't want to meet you really...you sound like a nutter! grin

As for being an old timer, I was refering more to experience rather than actual age. I'm only 18 but I've been involved in Anarchist activity for over two years now and I know that sometimes even I can be intimidating for people who've only just started to think about possibly getting involved. How many times have you been at a meeting where it's been all the regulars chatting, discussing, using in-jokes and activist words to make their points all the while new-comers are just sitting in the corner, wide-eyed, silent and baffed by everything that's going on around them and then never turn up again coz it's all too innacessible? You see what I'm getting at?

Basically, I'm just saying you've got great politics but you don't have to be an arse, it doesn't make you more working class red n black star

Peace

WeTheYouth
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Jun 12 2004 13:45
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im just increasingly fed up with people on this board implying that the working class needs to listen to us and everything would be great. The masses aren't a homogenous blob of matter waiting to be introduced to some great idea for them to act.

Well, this topic was not started for that, this topic is a discussion on class conciousness not ways for us to make the working class listen. All i am saying is that can ever large scale class consciousness be achieved? Not how to wake up the masses.

wld_rvn
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Jun 16 2004 22:52

Dear WTY,

Yes, the working class can achieve class consciousness. Indeed, as the only revolutionary class the proletariat is the only class that can become truely conscious of its position in class society and of its historic mission.

However, the process by which the class comes to consciousness is tortuous and by no means easy! You may find the following texts produced by the ICC relevant.

The 'Perspective of Communism' series (particularly Part 3)

http://www.internationalism.org/specialtexts/WR025_poc.htm

Point 16a of the ICC's Platform also deals with the question of Class Consciousness

http://www.internationalism.org/plat/icc_platform.htm

The ICC also has a pamphlet on this question, aptly entitled 'Communist Organisation and Class Consciousness'. Details here:

http://www.internationalism.org/contact_icc/iccpams.htm

Any comments on these are welcome, either here or by e-mail via our site.

Fraternally,

WR,

Section in Britain of the ICC.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Jun 16 2004 23:28

A word from Guy Debord here, paraphrased as I don't have the text to hand;

The revolutionary thinkers may believe that they can use aspects of society such as mass media to bring about change, but this disregards the fundamental nature of such institutions, which is to give orders.

From 'notes on the society of the spectacle' 1986.

The reason the masses are so hard to communicate with on such issues is the very nature in whch they have gained information in the past, ie from an (implied or otherwise) 'higher power'. The challenge is to show people that no higher power truly exists, which cannot be achieved by preteding, in whatever form, to be superior to those you would educate.

True change can only be affected by appealing genuinely to reason, and not attempting to subvert it.

WeTheYouth
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Jun 17 2004 10:08

I read the ICC positions on class conciousness, and found that you base all the opportunities for a revolution based on economic factors which will make the proletariat rise up and wipe away capitalism.

What i find is that you fail to acknowledge other factors away from the econimc state of capitalism and the proletariat itself. If the economic condition are right for a revolution, like they have been before where was the revolution?

The working class even when reaching the economic conditions has all sorts of divisions and onslaughts to overcome. We as working class are divided by Racial lines, Patriotism, Xenophobia. We also have to face the onslaught of pro-capitalist socialisation, such as obedience to authority, apathy and the belief in meritocracy.

I do not think that economic conditions are the most prominent factor in but part of a whole host of factors which all put restraints on us, and class struggle.

bigdave
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Jul 25 2004 16:00

Aye this is a subject I've been thinking about a lot. I feel that "the masses" cannot be in control because they are systematically conditioned to be ignorant stupid and greedy. This is done through manipulation of the ego/animal consciousness. Until more people understand how the mind works then, yes the "revolutions" are just resetting the capitalist meter and swapping the ruler. We look for leaders as a part of our animal thought processes - we have to rise above this individually and help others do so.

Good luck. neutral

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cantdocartwheels
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Jul 27 2004 22:19

i think its good that the ''masses'' as you put it are 'greedy'

If every worker just sat back and said ''oh well thats my lot then'' its hardly likely that we'd ever over-throw capitalism is it. People need to demand MORE than what capitalism can give them not less.

''we look for leaders accrding to animal thought processes'' that means nothing without context

Anarchists have figureheads and key activists, we might not call them leaders but they fulfill something like that role in revolutionary situations.

But i'm talking about people like goldman, haywood, makhno or durrutti not internet losers like most of us lot grin .

I think what happens materially is far more important than what happens in idealist terms.

john :red:

WeTheYouth
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Jul 28 2004 14:55

I disagree that we look for leaders as normal animal thought processes, humans need to be set aside from animals when it comes to the organisation of society and the way in which we interact, one because we can actively assess what is going on around us, and human behaviour is mainly learnt through socialisation and not through natural instinct.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Jul 28 2004 18:33

a couple of points which may have been touched upon but i'll add anyway:

-Is anyone here class conscious?

-If so what action do you take which elucidates, furthers and displays this class consciousness?

- Revolutions/uprisings tend to occur when all the 'experts' and economists are saying how well everything is, ie how smoothly and profitably the system is working. Eg Paris 68, mexico 68, the anti-capitalist uprisings in argentina, mexico, globally after francis fukuyama pretentiously and falsely pronounced 'the end of history' ie the end of class conflict.

-it follows from the above that despite all the pathetic whimperings of careerist lefties, you cant sit back and calculate the exact historical point of uprising or revolution and just wait for it to happen.

There is far too much ideology concerning revolution, patronising and moronic 'debates' about when the revolution will HAPPEN (i'm not refering to anyone on this page).

We need to ask what WE'RE doing, we need to communicate ideas in the workplace, in the street, the community, we need to organise and act on our principles, it is only through one to one communication and action that consciousness can be elucidated, not through vain marxist forums and teach ins.

LeighGionaire
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Jul 31 2004 00:53
cantdocartwheels wrote:
no we're probably fucked, but so what

smile

Mike Harman
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Jul 31 2004 05:41

I don't normally like to post long quotes, but I think Bookchin's "Listen Marxist!" covered much to do with this issue very, very well. Here's part of it from

http://www.nasalam.org/bkchn06.htm

Note, this contains the full text, most internet sources cut it off at about a quarter of the way through. I highly recommend "Post-Scarcity Anarchism" which this essay comes from, and which puts it into a much wider context. It was written in the late '60s and a lot of it is directed at members of a couple of different American Communist Parties, but it's still good.

>>

We have seen capitalism itself perform many of the tasks (including the development of a technology of abundance) which were regarded as socialist; we have seen it "nationalize" property, merging the economy with the state wherever necessary. We have seen the working class neutralized as the "agent of revolutionary change," albeit still struggling with a bourgeois framework for more wages, shorter hours and "fringe" benefits. The class struggle in the classical sense has not disappeared; it has suffered a more deadening fate by being co-opted into capitalism. The revolutionary struggle within the advanced capitalist countries has shifted into a historically new terrain: it has become a struggle between a generation of youth that has known no chronic economic crisis the culture, values, and institutions of an older, conservative generation whose perspective on life has been shaped by scarcity, guilt, renunciation, the work ethic and the pursuit of material security. Our enemies are not only the visibly entrenched bourgeoisie and the state apparatus but also an outlook which finds its support among liberals, social democrats, the minions of a corrupt mass media, the "revolutionary" parties of the past, and, painful as it may be to the acolytes of Marxism, the worker dominated by the factory hierarchy, by the industrial routine, and by the work ethic. The point is that the divisions now cut across virtually all the traditional class lines and they raise a spectrum of problems that none of the Marxists, leaning on analogies with scarcity societies, could foresee.

THE MYTH OF THE PROLETARIAT

Let us cast aside all the ideological debris of the past and cut to the theoretical roots of the problem. For our age, Marx's greatest contribution to revolutionary thought is his dialectic of social development. Marx laid bare the great movement from primitive communism through private property to communism to its highest form--a communal society resting on a liberatory technology. In this movement, according to Marx, man passes on from the domination of man by nature, to the domination of man by man, and finally to the domination of nature by man5 and from social domination of such. Within this larger dialectic, Marx examines the dialectic of capitalism itself--a social system which constitutes the last historical "stage" in the domination of man by man. Here, Marx makes not only profound contributions to contemporary revolutionary thought (particularly in his brilliant analysis of the commodity relationship) but also exhibits those limitations of time and place that play so confining a role in our own time.

The most serious of these limitations emerges from Marx's attempt to explain the transition from capitalism to socialism, from a class society to a classless society. It is vitally important to emphasize that this explanation was reasoned out almost entirely by analogy with the transition of feudalism to capitalism--that is, from one class society to another class society, from one system of property to another. Accordingly, Marx points out that just as the bourgeoisie developed within feudalism as a result of the split between town and country (more precisely, between crafts and agriculture), so the modern proletariat developed within capitalism as a result of the advance of industrial technology. Both classes, we are told, develop social interests of their own--indeed, revolutionary social interests that throw them against the old society in which they were spawned. If the bourgeoisie gained control over economic life long before it overthrew feudal society, the proletariat, in turn, gains its own revolutionary power by the fact that it is "disciplined, united, organized" by the factory system.6 In both cases, the development of the productive forces becomes incompatible with the traditional system of social relations. "The integument is burst asunder." The old society is replaced by the new.

The critical question we face is this: can we explain the transition from a class society to a classless society by means of the same dialectic that accounts for the transition of one class society to another? This is not a textbook problem that involves the judging of logical abstractions but a very real and concrete issue for our time. There are profound differences between the development of the bourgeoisie under feudalism and the development of the proletariat under capitalism which Marx either failed to anticipate or never faced clearly. The bourgeoisie controlled economic life long before it took state power; it had become the dominant class materially, culturally and ideologically before it asserted its dominance politically. The proletariat does not control economic life. Despite its indispensable role in the industrial process, the industrial working class is not even a majority of the population, and its strategic economic position is being eroded by cybernation and other technological advances.7 Hence it requires an act of high consciousness for the proletariat to use its power to achieve a social revolution. Until now, the achievement of this consciousness has been blocked by the fact that the factory milieu is one of the most well entrenched arenas of the work ethic, of hierarchical systems of management, of obedience to leaders, and in recent times of production committed to superfluous commodities and armaments. The factory serves not only to "discipline," "unite," and "organize" the workers, but also to do so in a thoroughly bourgeois fashion. In the factory, capitalistic production not only renews the social relations of capitalism with each working day, as Marx observed, it also renews the psyche, values and ideologies of capitalism.

Marx sensed this fact sufficiently to look for reasons more compelling than the mere fact of exploitation or conflicts over wages and hours to propel the proletariat into revolutionary action. In his general theory of capitalist accumulation he tried to delineate the harsh, objective laws that force the proletariat to assume a revolutionary role. Accordingly, he developed his famous theory of immiseration: competition between capitalists compels them to undercut each other's prices, which in turn leads to a continual reduction of wages and the absolute impoverishment of the workers. The proletariat is compelled to revolt because with the process of competition and the centralization of capital there "grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation."8

But capitalism has not stood still since Marx's day. Writing in the middle years of the nineteenth century, Marx could not be expected to grasp the full consequences of his insights into the centralization of capital and the development of technology. He could not be expected to foresee that capitalism would develop not only from mercantilism into the dominant industrial form of his day--from state-aided trading monopolies into highly competitive industrial units--but further, that with the centralization of capital, capitalism returns to its mercantilist origins on a higher level of development and reassumes the state-aided monopolistic form. The economy tends to merge with the state and capitalism begins to "plan" its development instead of leaving it exclusively to the interplay of competition an market forces. To be sure, the system does not abolish the traditional class struggle, but manages to contain it, using its immense technological resources to assimilate the most strategic sections of the working class.

Thus the full thrust of the immiseration theory is blunted and in the United States the traditional class struggle fails to develop into the class war. It remains entirely within bourgeois dimensions. Marxism, in fact, becomes ideology. It is assimilated by the most advanced forms of state capitalist movement--notably Russia. By an incredible irony of history, Marxian "socialism" turns out to be in large part the very state capitalism that Marx failed to anticipate in the dialectic of capitalism.9 The proletariat, instead of developing into a revolutionary class within the womb of capitalism, turns out to be an organ within the body of bourgeois society.

The question we must ask at this late date in history is whether a social revolution that seeks to achieve a classless society can emerge from a conflict between traditional classes in a class society, or whether such a social revolution can only emerge from the decomposition of the traditional classes, indeed from the emergence of an entirely new "class" whose very essence is that it is a non-class, a growing stratum of revolutionaries.

>>

bigdave
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Aug 3 2004 16:29

Aye, we're back to the working class. People actually feel proud of this when they might better consider themselves lucky. The working class (and the others) exist as a result of humanity failing to rise above the most basic, exploitative level of development as a society. One where competition is regarded as a good thing and devil take the hindmost - capitalism, they call it.

As far as "animal thought" goes, I believe its a very important concept in understanding how consciousness and exploitation are interlinked.