The distraction of class, 2002 - AYN discussion

The distraction of class, 2002 - AYN discussion

An article written by one member of the Anarchist Youth Network in its more lifestylist wing. It is reproduced here as a useful example of the attitudes of this individualist trend in the organisation against class analysis, with a response to it.

The response was by one of the class struggle anarchists in AYN. A long debate on the open email list (hence the informal style) ensued but only one response is included, as none of the points in it were really accepted by the author, T, and the disagreement over class lasted right up until the end of the organisation, and rendered it basically useless within that time.

The distraction of class
Hey it's T [name removed] here, this is my new address. Can someone do the adding thing for me please? Basically I had real difficulty with my degodfather@... address so could someone (again) please kick that address off. thanks

It's a shame I couldn't reply to all that "class war" stuff earlier because I probably have totally different opinions to most anarcho-commies on the subject of class. I think "class war" which means all the poor people should rise up and kill all the rich is bullshit as it misses the point entirely that the poorer people are conditioned to want to become rich and so any resentment of the rich is often jealousy. The attitudes of all classes to wealth is pretty similar - they all have some but want more. If this weren't the case surely the "working class" would have risen up and overcome the rich ages ago.

Anyone who thinks the rich aren't oppressed by the system is pretty deluded. There's more than economics at stake here! Another really dodgy thing about class is that everyone has different ideas of where the line is drawn between working/middle/upper/ruling class. Someone will probably reply with something about the "relationship to the means of production" or some other marxist crap but I don't like "the means of production" too much either wink but that's another rant.

I believe very much in making war on the class structure which divides people according to wealth and causes inequality. However, I think making a big issue of class and preaching hatred of people who may just have been born into a richer family only puts across a view in which money and how it is distributed is emphasised even more when far too many people give too much time to chasing money already. If your "working class" mate suddenly won the lottery or got some other lucky break and got loadsa money would you suddenly hate him and want to make war against him? Would he become a "class traitor" (I hate that term) automatically?

We also need to recognise the gap in wealth in western countries is nothing compared with the gap between us and the third world. There aren't many people in this country starving or dying of things we can easily cure like dihorrea or all the other awful problems those in absolute poverty have.. for these people to resist capitalism or try to live "outside the system" would cost their lives.

Finally, I think the idea of Class War also gives force to the view that we are building towards some moment in the future in which we will have a revolution and wealth will be re-distributed and everything will be nice. Now unless you want to enforce anarchy on the majority of humanity (in which case it wouldn't be anarchy cos it'd be enforced by authority) then we are a bloody long way off reaching the tipping point of the scales for a revolution of that kind. I find it far more encouraging to take the view that anarchy has always been here because there has always been rejection of authority and I see the revolution as the ongoing process of spreading of anarchic ideas.

I hope people realise this is discussion not division tongue

T

Re: The distraction of class
I don't want anyone to interpret this as me having a go at anyone, it's just a friendly disagreement which doesn't affect collaboration between us in any way grin

T wrote:
kids united thirdseason4u@y... wrote: It's a shame I couldn't reply to all that "class war" stuff earlier because I probably have totally different opinions to most anarcho- commies on the subject of class. I think "class war" which means all the poor people should rise up and kill all the rich is bullshit

I don't know advocates of class war (the thing not the group) who think that it means killing the rich.

The attitudes of all classes to wealth is pretty similar - they all have some but want more. If this weren't the case surely the "working class" would have risen up and overcome the rich ages ago.

Uh I think they've tried on many occasions. They all ended up being crushed by capitalists, commies or the fash.

Anyone who thinks the rich aren't oppressed by the system is pretty deluded. There's more than economics at stake here!

I agree totally. But it's not like nobody is supporting the system: when we go on demos or do blockades or when workers go on strike, there are actual people who will stop at nothing to smash them/us.

Another really dodgy thing about class is that everyone has different ideas of where the line is drawn between working/middle/upper/ruling class. Someone will probably reply with something about the "relationship to the means of production" or some other marxist crap...

Well you might think that it's "crap", but it is a fact that there is one class of people who have to sell their labour time to survive (proletariat/working class), and there's another one which exploits the labour of proletarians, extracting a profit. It doesn't matter that someone might have a different idea of what "middle class" is - that simple fact remains. The ruling class is the one which sets the cops on us, breaks strikes and starts wars. They might be oppressed themselves, but that doesn't stop them oppressing us. The class war isn't about killing them all, it's about making them equal to us by not letting them exploit or have authority over us: it's about abolishing them *as a class* not as human beings (although I wouldn't care if someone shot that bearded twat, Branson)

Also I think it's useful to look at how people become revolutionary - if you're involved in a struggle at work, it becomes very clear very quickly that there are two distinct sides with opposite economic interests.

I think making a big issue of class and preaching hatred of people who may just have been born into a richer family only puts across a view in which money and how it is distributed is emphasised even more when far too many people give too much time to chasing money already. If your "working class" mate suddenly won the lottery or got some other lucky break and got loadsa money would you suddenly hate him and want to make war against him? Would he become a "class traitor" (I hate that term) automatically?

Again - that's not actual class. That's the definition of class most people hold because that's the one presented by the mainstream media. I'm not going to stop talking about class because most people misunderstand it, just like I'm not going to stop calling myself an anarchist because most people misunderstand it. I don't hate anyone with rich parents - what I hate is that some people exploit other people's labour.

Finally, I think the idea of Class War also gives force to the view that we are building towards some moment in the future in which we will have a revolution and wealth will be re-distributed and everything will be nice. Now unless you want to enforce anarchy on the majority of humanity (in which case it wouldn't be anarchy cos it'd be enforced by authority) then we are a bloody long way off reaching the tipping point of the scales for a revolution of that kind. I find it far more encouraging to take the view that anarchy has always been here because there has always been rejection of authority and I see the revolution as the ongoing process of spreading of anarchic ideas.

I don't think that enough people having anarchist ideas is enough. In Spain a lot of people had anarchist ideas: they tried to put them into practise and they got butchered. We have to defend ourselves aswell.

I hope people realise this is discussion not division tongue

I hope I'm not misunderstood either.

john