Class Essentialism? (Was: Marxism and the Militias)

Matt D. afn02065 at
Fri Sep 1 11:51:48 MDT 1995

You wrote:

>Matt, the serious part of our disagreement is the difficultry of
>assigning class.  You think I do this on an idealist basis.  To me that
>is nonsense, but I am acting from the assumption that you simply need to
>have more criteria than your "orthodxy" would allow.  Now if that make me
>"unorthodox" I could't give  a flying fuck.

Yes, I think you do it on an idealist basis -- specifically, that these
"criteria" you're adding to the mix are nothing more than the (political?
other?) _ideas_ that a person holds, and whether those ideas conform to what
you think a working class person _should_ think.

>For me it's not a question of the difficulty of looking inside their heads.
>(When someone is trying to take your knee caps out this is'nt such a
>problem generally)It's what they do and are likely to do politically that
matters.  Now we seem >to agree on what the militias will probably do.  We
might be short of evidence,
>but we would be pretty stupid and pretty dead if we always waited for
>some one to do "research" before we came or jumped to a political conclusion.

We agree to some extent on what the militias represent, except that you seem
to think that they _are_ fascist organizations, whereas I think that they
could _become_ a force for American fascism.  We disagree about whether
someone that is _now_ in a militia is necessariy a fascist, or somehow "not
a worker".  I am saying that there are _non-fascist workers_ in the
militias.  You seem to think that this is impossible.

>Now I plead guilty to reluctance to admitting that workers can be
>fascist.  I know from my Irish experience they can.  But I remain
>convinced that organised Labor is the enemy for fascists and not the
>source generally of recruits.

Organized labor is something on the order of _12%_ of the workforce.  A
discussion of the American proletariat that restricts itself to organized
labor will not reach useful conclusions about the working class in America
generally.  But hell, I'll say that there may well be union members in the
militias.  Who the hell knows?

>So if a worker ends up say in the UFF
>(Ulster Freedom fighters), for me he has joined the petty bourgeois grubs
>and is no longer a part of the workers' movement.

Right.  Part of the _workers' movement_.  What is a "petty bourgeois grub"?
The term p.b. seems to have no content for you other than an invective to
toss at workers you don't agree with.

>I simply will not care if he spend 8 hours a day up to his elbows in shit.
If he spends the
>rest of his time in a fascist organisation then he has deserted the
>workers and is no longer one.

Your idea of the working _class_ sounds like Lenin's idea of the
revolutionary _party_.

>So theoretically class for me is not
>simply a matter of the relationship to the means of production but also
>to do with one's role in the relations of production.

Except that you mean by "role in the relations of production," "political

-- Matt D.

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