Class feelings

Zeynep Tufekcioglu zeynept at turk.net
Fri May 3 16:33:28 MDT 1996


Louis wrote:
>The important thing to study about the FSLN is how they came to power.
>... They participated in mass struggles and won the confidence of the
>people. They refrained from using "Marxist-Leninist" mumbo-jumbo the way
>you do and communicated a revolutionary message in the most immediate
>way.

Hugh wrote:
>A party membership imbued with class *feeling* will make it difficult for any
>intellectuals or non-workers who're in the leadership to pull the wrong
>deals with the wrong people.

And Malecki, in various posts claims that worker participation will help
clarify many of the issues.

I agree with Hugh and Malecki in the sense that worker membership in the
party, and in the movement are important to put the movement on right track.
But, I think we have to qualify these arguments, otherwise we may go down at
best a futile, and at worst a dangerous path; and injure most the working
class movement.

I also included a comment made by Louis in another discussion, but I think
it is quite relevant to the argument I'll try to put forth.

I think that we have to realise the working class as an oppressed class
posseses some sine quo non qualities for advancing a revolution, as class
hatred, and a feeling of injustice -as well as some qualities that Leninists
have to be aware of and change.

The working class, as all other opressed classes has lost the ability to
express. To self-express. And through that loss, they tend to make it up by
identifying with the oppressor. (Freire pedagogy here; I highly recommend
"The Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire). The behavior of the
opressed is determined by the oppressor. The immediate response of the
oppressed is to opresss. In everyday terms, the empowered worker's first
response may not be democratic at all, as we'd like it to be.

I don't know if this made sense so far. The working class, has lost the
ability to reason and criticise, and more often than not, this loss of
ability tolerates them to live in their dehumanised condition. I believe
that the responsibility that comes with reasoning, and with fighting for
liberation is scary for most of these people.

In practical terms. Put one room full of workers' put one self-confident,
(honest and modest as well) intellectual among them. The workers' will,
again and again select the intellectual to represent and/or manage them.
Force them to lead, and they may become scared of the position, and act like
a tyrant at best. (This happens to many workers who become trade-union
leaders. The new found power, (along with the material perks of course)
throws them off course. The dynamic here has similarities.

But, it is only the working class, as the oppressed class, that can fight
for the very liberation. What Leninists should not do, however, is to
flatter the idea of being a worker as immediately having a "left common
sense", or a "democratic" feeling. What can be done is, try to interact (not
just teach or educate) with the working class, being aware of the
distinction of both categories and help force the self-expression, reasoning
and criticising of the members of the class.

It comes down to; Don't worship the proletariat as is, but become a part of
the process of the proletariat becoming what it can and deserves to be.
Trying to look through the eyes of the dehumanised class (the oppressors are
also dehumanised, but not the current concern now), and trying to understand
the shortcomings and the incapabilities will help the working class more
than glorifying it in any way. (Hugh and Malecki, I am not claiming that you
are glorifying the working class. You haven't said enough for me to say
that. Just qualifying your arguments about the role of the working class.)

What Louis has said comes in here, and not as contradicting the importance
of working class participation, but as a way of providing a path for it to
flow in. Refraining from "Marxist-Leninist" terminology, and putting the
message in immediate forms, I think is a basic link in the interaction with
the working class. (I'm not saying let's hide what we are). The working
class people can understand everything, if you use the explanation of the
concept, instead of the name of the concept which is alien to them.
Immediate form means to me (Louis, I think it means the same thing for you,
not sure) calling them to fight for say, "land, peace and bread" (Russian
Revolution), or "land and freedom" (Maybe Cuban and Nicaraguan), instead of
calling for "dictatorship of the proletariat" as the immediate aim. I myself
don't care what it is called, I want justice, peace, freedom and
self-fulfillment for humanity. I'm convinced that this can come through
socialism. For many, "socialism" will be the result of what they want now,
not an ends in itself.

I'll call in an old distinction between propaganda and agitation here.
Propaganda is telling a small group of people a lot of things. Agitation is
telling a lot of people a few things. Obviously complementary, but distinct
practices.

An example. When the Kurdish Revolutionary movement started in Turkey,
initially, all the founders (a handful in fact) were Marxist-Leninist of
some shade. For them, the liberation of Kurdistan was inseparably linked
with the emancipation of the working class of Turkey and Kurdistan. Then
grew another circle of supporters and militants, for whom the movement was
basically the Kurdish poor, landless people against the Turkish State. But,
the defining point was more the fact of being Kurdish. They also thought
that in free Kurdistan, they would have land and prosperity. Then, there is
a wider circle, who want the assaults of the Turkish Army against them to
end. For them, it is the Kurdish Revolutionaries who can do this. Then, at
the edge are those that don't want their sons and daughters and friends and
family to die anymore.

All these people see a different thing in the same movement, which is let
alone being a problem, how things always are. The movement should always be
aware of the need for advancing each circle closer to the middle, but this
is a process which will never end.

Now, back to the original question. *Class feeling* is not just being a
member of that class. Repeat the quote of Hugh;

>A party membership imbued with class *feeling* will make it difficult for any
>intellectuals or non-workers who're in the leadership to pull the wrong
>deals with the wrong people.

If the party leadership has not advanced the working class members of the
movement, I think the workers will be more inclined to pull the wrong deals
with the wrong people. The system has not taught them to think right, and if
the movement accepts them as is, and worse glorifies them as is, we're in
trouble. History shows, I think, very often it is the revolutionaries from
more intellectual backgrounds who refuse to compromise, sometimes rightly,
sometimes wrongly.

It is through the interaction of the intellectuals with the working class,
through which we may hope to produce workers who can clearly base their
class feelings on a theoretical and long-term understanding as well. Burn
down the Parliament, fine, I'd like to. But when? This requires very
sophisticated reasoning as well as gut feeling.

Yes, we need more workers, hopefully all workers in the leadership -but
transformed workers.

Also, the movement should be aware of each circle it exists in, how it
exists in them, and how to transform them.

Now, the angry youth in Turkey. Through their raw anger, they may die for
the revolution. But we need them to learn to lead the revolution as well.
Thousands have died here already, here every day is an anniversary. But, we
are fighting an enemy, against which we need organisation, strategy, theory
as well as our anger and passion. Unless these can complement the anger,
we'll go back to square one every decade or so.

I think up till now, the revolutionary movement, especially in advanced
countries, failed miserably in how to go about its interaction with the
working class. I think this issue deserves thinking about, and it should be
a substantial part of the revolutionary theory as a whole, just as say the
nature of the capitalist state, or the political economy of capitalism is.

An end-note. I don't regard intellectuals very highly either.
"Intellectuals" per se are useful only as an intermediary form -a homo
erectus, if you will-, if the process goes as it should. Some may transcend
themselves and become something else, but most don't and probably because
they can't. That is why, we need to pay more attention to ensure the "real
leadership" of the revolution does arise. Best done by understanding the
distinctions, and not blurring them.

Your humble intermediary form,
Zeynep



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