RACHEL and MIM

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at nyxfer.blythe.org
Tue Sep 12 23:24:21 MDT 1995



On Tue, 12 Sep 1995, Tom Condit wrote:

> I find a certain congruence of line on the question of class
> politics very interesting.  While mim3 (all MIM members use this
> number thing, I suppose as some sort of pretense of security
> concerns combined with humility) has presented his argument in
> Leninese vocabulary, we also find a very similar line in:
>
> "Traditional mass production, with its core of large firms, has
> collapsed.  As this collapse has occurred, the white male working
> class has been displaced as the main focus of struggles for
> equality.  The class struggle (workers vs. owners) has shifted to
> new arenas --race, gender, environmental and economic justice, and
> so forth." (RACHEL)
>
> Of course, RACHEL and MIM draw opposite conclusions as to what we
> should do about this.  Or do they?  The widespread popularity of
> Maoism among "middle class" radicals in the 1960s was partly a
> reflection of the fact that many of them had already been affected
> by (or perhaps the better word is "infected with") early versions
> of the RACHEL line emanating from places like the Center for the
> Study of Democratic Institutions (a Ford Foundation think tank).
> According to these early post-industrial thinkers (circa 1962-
> 1966), automation was abolishing work, our new central problem was
> what to do with all our impending leisure time, and the class
> struggle at the point of production was therefore obsolete.
>
> According to the MIMistas, we are now in an "information economy",
> there aren't any more white workers and ... the class struggle at
> the point of production is therefore obsolete.  Instead, what we'll
> do with all our newfound leisure time is engage in protracted
> people's war.  Maoism as post-modern ideology! RACHELism as
> guerilla struggle!
>
> Of course, the both projects are somewhat askew from reality.
> RACHEL puts in clearer form some of the MIM assumptions with
> its/her/his/their use of the term "white male working class".
> Since classes are by definition made up of families rather than
> individuals, how could there be a "male" class?  Similarly, it will
> be of some surprise to the millions of individual African Americans
> and Latinos who made up 35% of the industrial work force in the
> U.S. at its high point as a percentage of the population in the
> 1960s that they were "white males". (This will especially surprise,
> of course, those of them who were women).

MIM replies: We will ignore their jokes about our line
on what to do about imperialist parasitism and its consequence
of making the white working class non-proletarian. If you read
our theory journals, including #1 on this subject, you will
see that we raised this question of oppressed nationality
workers and you will notice that we did not say all workers
within U.S. borders are bought-off. We only denied the
existence of a Euro-Amerikan proletariat.

>
> In the mid-1960s, a key point of transition for many student
> radicals from liberalism to Maoism was the adoption of a social-
> worky concern with the "poor", defined by color in many cases as
> much as by race.  You could take two auto workers, one black and
> one white, who worked side by side on the same line for the same
> pay and benefit, and to these otherwise-intelligent young radicals,
> one was "poor" and the other was "middle class."  It's out of this
> kind of intellectual confusion that MIMista revisionism arises.

MIM replies: No, this was not their confusion, but your factual
mistake. The two are not in the same CLASS position and that's
what makes the issue so difficult. I will give you one example.
Last I checked, the difference in average home equity of white
and Black people exceeded $44,000. Those figures are published
in the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Home equity
is another word for property--a kind of property that still
identifies Euro-Amerikans as settlers. Home ownership remains
a key avenue of parasitism that Blacks have yet to catch up in.
Two workers will have the same job, but one will have a much
higher net worth thanks to generations of settler property
handed down. (And anyone who knows how the tax structure is
rigged to favor settlers, er, home-owners, knows that that
difference is compounded again at tax time and then again at
the time the workers applies for credit.) So basically
there is absolutely nothing ocular about this class difference,
though it has partially ocular genesis.

The other thing that you missed is that oppressed nationality
workers as A CLASS (and it never ceases to amaze me that
people say "Italian working class," "German working class," etc.,
but when it comes to saying "Black working class" or "Latino
working class," the multiracial integrationist/reformist "Marxists"
cry "MIMerista revisionism"), as a class it is the whites
who are predominantly white collar and have that outlook.
Meanwhile, a Black industrial worker or Latino farmworker does
not have the relatives to look to as examples or expectations
for sharing as massively in parasitism under capitalism;
nor do they have those
kinds of connections. Even the most tepid liberals know that affirmative
action is necessary, because given two workers one Euro-Amerikan
and one person of color, the one set benefits from
conscious and unconscious socialized
conformity and the other suffers from lack of connections. So
it is nonsense to speak of two autoworkers, one oppressed nationality
and one Euro-Amerikan as sharing the same class position.
>From any reasonable statistical angle, the Euro-Amerikan rationally
expects to own more property, enjoy greater likelihood of
promotion to white-collar work and see children go to college
and "make it" into the white-collar world.

If you doubt any of what I just said factually, I suggest you
purchase MT#1 or get serious and read the Statistical Abstract
of the United States from a few different years. An hour or
two in the reference library anywhere will dispell this mythology
of the white proletariat.

>
> There exist in this world several hundreds of millions of people
> who exist by selling their ability to work with hand and brain. We
> not only directly produce actual, physical commodities, we move
> them from place to place, count and store them, supply those who
> produce them with the raw materials, feed and clothe them, and
> carry out all the millions of tasks of social production. Is the
> factory worker a "proletarian" but not the longshoreman? the seaman
> but not the ship's clerk? the trucker but not the dispatcher? the
> garment worker but not the store clerk? the one who works on the
> automated loom but not the one who programs it? the printer in the
> mint but not the bank teller?  Reflect on these questions.
> Stevedores, truckers, seamen, don't "produce" anything (except, of
> course, profits for their employers), but no one I know of has ever
> claimed that they weren't members of the working class. Why this
> drawing of the line at the color of the collar?  What makes that
> any different from drawing the line at the color of the skin, or
> the shape of the genitals?

MIM replies: Hooray! I truly applaud you for leading this
discussion back to where it should have gone in the first place.
The answer is simple: we are Marxists. As we recall Marxism
it is centered on obtaining food, shelter and clothing. Others
have been inspired to see Marxism as something else and that's
fine as long as they don't claim to be Marxists. If people read
Marx and became inspired to organize security guards--who are
alone over 1% of the work force--then good for them. But to
claim that such an enterprise is Marxist: that's different.

The fact remains in 1995--thanks to some closely fought
but ultimately failed class struggles this century--it is
in the proletariat's interests to see to food, shelter and
clothing. Even exploited workers who have these things already
have no interest in the war and repression associated with
the property system that prevents fulfillment of those basic
needs.

Hence, we say at MIM that the international proletariat
doesn't need security guards, advertisers, property lawyers,
labor supervisors and other fluff in the economy that is
now well beyond half the Euro-Amerikan economy. (Even autos:
hasn't anyone noticed all the crap the capitalists make
people buy in autos?)

If you read my first post on this subject, you will see
that we included transport workers as necessary. It is
in the interests of the international proletariat to have
some transport--though would it be as much transport as
we use now for essentially parasitic purposes? I don't know.
Some transport would decline and other forms would
increase in a system organized in proletarian interests.

All this is another way of saying: what does the proletarian
worker really need to reproduce h/hself? What would be priority
in a socialist system? We believe Mao answered that question
very well in China.

>
> As we look at the world around us, we can see that the choice of
> the future is even more clearly between socialism and barbarism,
> with barbarism now in the ascendance.  If we are to tilt the scales
> in favor of humanity, it means uniting the working class of all
> nations, cultures, genders, industries and trades.  Those whose
> intellectual abilities are devoted to finding ways to read people
> out of the class or to declare it non-existent, whether they call
> themselves post-modernists or maoists, are simply part of the dust
> we need to wipe off our glasses if we're going to see a way
> forward.
>
> Tom Condit
>

MIM replies: This is not uniting the working class. This
is seeking to use the proletariat for the benefit of
the labor aristocracy. The labor aristocracy as Lenin pointed
out is the principal prop of imperialism amongst the masses.
What you are doing is developing intellectual abilities to
include parasites as part of one common proletarian class. As we showed
with our quote from Lenin and our quote from the COMINTERN,
white-collar workers did not used to be counted in the
proletariat. You may argue that Lenin and the COMINTERN
were wrong, but let's be clear that it is you taking up a
postmodern enterprise: seeing the vehicle of historical
progress as other than the
proletariat in this age of imperialism. While we see Euro-Amerikan
youth as key for the Euro-Amerikan nation, let's remember that
the imperialist country population is a small minority and let's
retain faith in the real international proletariat, as it
was defined in the COMINTERN's day and as it should be defined now,
and as it concretely exists--over 80% in the Third World.

Pat for the Maoist Internationalist Movement





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