Becoming Aware, was Re: [L-I: IN 20

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sat Aug 21 13:30:04 MDT 1999

Andrew Wayne Austin wrote:

> the obvious fact
> that workers everywhere are generally ignorant of their class interests
> and this is completely understandable since they have never been trained
> as scientific historiographers.

Global facts are never quite that obvious, but let that pass. I am a
bit more concerned about the implications that lack of awareness
of class interests is rooted in not being "trained as scientific
historiographers," which seems to suggest that achievement of
such an awareness is a purely intellectual task. On the other hand,
it seems equally obvious to me that usually actual movement
precedes coming to understand or even agree with the principles
that justify the movement. There is simply no escaping the priority
of action to thought.

And given that perspective, one could understand the way in
which both workers and even petty producers or small capitalists,
becoming involved for whatever reason (including wanting to
socialize with a pleasant neighbor who is in it) in a struggle against
imperialism would find him/herself pushed to a higher level of
consciousness of what that activity ultimately demanded. We
simply cannot specify in advance or in the abstract the ways in
which *individuals* become radicalized. Too many contingencies
are involved in each case.


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