Last Posts - Understanding the "conjuncture" was Re: Anarchism; morepopular than marxism?

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Fri Dec 10 21:40:10 MST 1999

Gary MacLennan wrote:

> >
>  This apolitical aggression
> transmits to the middle class and we have the 60s. This is fundamentally a
> rejection of authority, but because the working class is still apolitical
> and will not or cannot give leadership the radicalness of the middle class
> is marked by excess and political naivety.

Gary, I don't know how to translate this because I *really* never know
what any given person means by "middle class." Actually, I think that
it can't be defined in Marxist terms so as to mutually intelligible to all
marxists, because there is no way to express it in terms of relations of
production. As a result, it seems to me that no two users of the term
have the same actual people in mind.

But also, this contrdicts my own experiences of the 1960s and 1970s. The
most visible figures in the student movement (or at least those made most
visible by the bourgeois media) were mostly (not wholly) those from
professional families or actual petty producers (small to middle size
retailers, independent craftsmen, etc.). But the vast bulk of those I actually
encountered and worked with were working class by any definition of
working class I could come up with. And of course almost all the popular
support within the black community for the civil rights movement was
working class. And finally (as I believe someone recently pointed out
on this list) the blow that finally forced the U.S. out of Vietnam was the
virtual mutiny of the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

In any case, I personally at least, have real trouble in understanding analyses
which use the term middle class in descriptions of the 1960s (or the 1990s).
I cannot escape the suspicion that lurking behind that term is a tendency
to define class by whatever consciousness people express at a given
moment -- and so objectively what "middle class" is apt to name is
"working class men and women with a bourgeois consicousness." If that
is the case, then the term obscures from us our task of changing that


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