Some reflections on Argentina, gender and everything else

Fri Dec 21 08:30:59 MST 2001

Argentina, Gender, Sex, Nationality and the women question

The social explosion in Argentina is instructive. One post suggested that the
Argentina autoworkers have joined the growing protest and this relatively
higher paid section of the working class, with its superior social and union
organizations cannot but further manifest the antagonism between labor and

The demand for food by the Argentina masses and the political demand for the
abolition of debt contain the logic of the demand for the abolition of
private property relations. Does this means that questions of sex and gender
- or for that matter color and nationality, are unimportant? Of course not,
however Argentina provides a context for examination of the social conditions
surrounding the development of political consciousness in North America for
the past fifty years and the growth of "sector" logic among our citizens.

Sector logic can be understood in connection with the demand for food, i.e.,
bread! Marxist are correct to subordinate every question in the working class
to the demands that embrace the forward moving sections of the class in its
pursuit for culture - life itself, or food, shelter, clothing, etc. This does
not mean that subordinate questions disappear and specialized fields of study
are not longer important. Rather, events in Argentina compels advanced
thinkers in North America to consider the context of our own developmental
processes with an eye on the web of capitalist relations as this web begins
to unravel in front of our eyes.

The last reform movement in North America was the Civil Rights movement. This
reform movement was a reform because it was a movement that realigned class
relationships. Prior to the Civil Rights movement the old Roosevelt Coalition
realigned - reformed, social relations based on industrial unionism or rather
the needs of financial-industrial capital.

The Civil Rights movement opened the door - so to speak, for the emergence of
sector movements, each seeking its "rightful place" in economic and political
America. The Chicano movement, the Indian (Native American) movement, the
Women Movement, the Puerto-Rican Movement, the Gay Liberation Movement, the
Handicap Movement, the Elderly Citizens Movement, and so on. The impetus for
reform within capital was tightly linked with transitions in the structure of
industrial society, specifically the further mechanization of agriculture and
the needs of financial-industrial capital in the post World War 2 era.
Million of blacks were tractored off the land, setting in play one of the
largest mass migration movements in modern history.

The form of the social movement adapted to the character of the Civil Rights
movement for decades. This movement was and remains noble, decent and worth
fighting for, but it is a sector movement within the working class. No sector
of the working class can liberate itself as the basis for the liberation of
the laboring classes. Rather, the proletarian social revolution is a social
revolution because it must liberate all of society from private property
relations as a basis for its own liberation. Yet, many times it seem that we
continue to perceive the world from the standpoint of sector logic, without
an understanding of polarity and antagonism in contradiction.  Yet this is
our history and legacy.

Life is strange, complex and cannot be pigeon hold into a nice clean formula.
The demand for fair treatment on the part of the African American masses
existed before the realignment in capital that brought to the fore the
question of political rights as an immediate issue necessary for the
continued functioning - demand for maximum profits, of private property
relations. During the era of the Civil Rights movement and its conclusion as
a movement that in fact reformed political relations within and between
classes, the proletarian sector of the movement asserted itself. Many
revolutionaries called this proletarian sector the black proletariat,
including myself, although what distinguished this sector was its proletarian
character and not its "blackness."

Argentina raises some profound questions concerning the new qualitative
feature of capital.  The financial sector of capital, which long ago stopped
being driven on the basis of the political agenda of the industrial sector
(production of commodities) is now drive by speculation. This speculative
sector of capital, which is increasingly divorced from the productive process
- but riveted to capitalist commodity production, engenders its polar
opposite, which is not yellow, black, brown, white, male or female. This
means the polar opposite of speculative capital cannot be distinguished on
the basis of color or gender as the primary feature.

The polar opposite of capital increasingly divorced from production is a
sector of the working class that is increasingly divorced from production.
Here is where the place of antagonism in contradiction is hurled from the
mountain of lofty theory to a practical program of the social revolution.

Capitalist divorced from production creates proletarians divorced from
production. Antagonism in real life becomes visible and what appeared as
unity within a polarity now appears as relatively external entities, with the
previously subordinate pole driven by the logic of movement to abolish the
conditions of its subordination.  The proletarians increasingly divorced from
production cannot move forward in their demand for bread - food, without
challenging and overcoming the institutional relationship that denies it

 This class of proletarians increasingly divorced from the production
process, lacking the means of exchange is probably overwhelmingly female and
children. They cannot be organized on the basis of being female and children
because their immediate need is for food. This sector of the proletariat
increasingly divorced from the production process is heterosexual and
homosexual but cannot be organized on that basis because the demand that
drives it forward and into combat with the state authorities, has nothing to
do with sexual preference. Food and peace is once again emerging on a
planetary scale as the demand of the social revolution.

A complexity of factors and contradictions embrace the totality of the
contradiction manifest as labor and capital. Antagonism in contradiction
identifies a contradiction as being unable to move beyond partial resolution
without the abolition of a previous unity - dominant pole. Synthesis -
qualitative development, cannot take place simply on the basis of
transforming the previously dominant pole - abolition is called forth. As the
process of movement unfolds in a contradiction characterized as antagonism, a
series of interactions play themselves out.

The working class as a class that must sell it labor power to exist is
birthed in antagonism, but the sharpest expression of the externalization of
the polarity manifests itself on the basis of the principle features driving
capital. We are witnessing the face of this externalization in the demand for
the abolition of debt, peace and food - which is dear to the most destitute
sector of the proletariat. Sectors of "small" capital want debt abolished but
when this is combined with bread - food, and peace, the social revolution of
the proletariat is voicing its demands. This destitute sector of the working
class - increasingly divorced from the production process, is in fact the
initial formation of a new class. The word "initial" is emphasized.

Just as the peasants under the feudal system could not overthrow feudalism,
neither can the working class overthrow the power of capital as such. The
dialectic of development - which we owe to Marx and Engels, is that a class
or rather sector of society, must begin development that has no interest -
way to live, based on existing relations of production, and by this logic is
compelled to construct a new social order to exist and ripen. I am aware that
the word "new class" is hard to swallow. This so-called "new class" is the
emergence of a communist sector in its objective conditions of life. I do not
mean ideological communism or scientific socialism, which because it is a
science must be studied. What is meant is the objective existence of a social
force more or less outside market relations or unable to benefit by existing
market relations.

A billion people on earth cannot sell their labor for an amount of values
that will allow them to live. Either these people are condemned to death or
destitution or society is reorganized to feed them properly and ensure their

Again, antagonism is a specific contradiction. Here are some examples of what
is not an antagonism. The African American people as a people, did not and do
not exist in a relationship of antagonism with capital because they are
composed of different classes. Women do not exist in an antagonistic
relationship to capital because gender is composed of classes. Sexual
preference is not a category of the class struggle as an antagonistic
expression of social development. In real life antagonism wears the various
faces of these social conditions of existence, and these conditions - not a
good word, become frameworks in which life is played out.

It is correct for Marxist and a party of the working class to subordinate
every sector demand to the logic of development of the "new class" of rather
adjust oneself to the "process of externalization" of the development of the
class struggle. The genius of Marx and Engels is unfolding process
development, despite their limitations as men and human beings. The
standpoint of Marx and Engels is the science of societal development, not the
science of nationality or gender, although they wrote on these question
within the context of the social conditions of their time. Life itself
subordinates elements of social life to the dynamics of polarization and
externalization in contradictions.

Argentina and the demand for bread and liquidation of debt strikes at the
heart of speculative-financial capital. At every stage in the development of
capital a sector writes the agenda for capital as a class and this process is
mirrored in its polar opposite, the working class. Yet, if we write the
agenda of the working class on the basis of the wrong sector demands our
destruction is assured. Women are not a class or sector of a class, although
classes contain women. Nationality and color of people is not a class or
sector of a class, although classes are composed of people with nationality
and color. The sector demand that must lead the working class is bread -
although I am not personally hungry at this time or in the conceivable
immediate future; peace and the demand for government to be responsible for
the happiness of its citizens or get out of office and surrender political
authority to those with the working class agenda.

Such is the place of antagonism in contradiction and why Marxists are correct
to subordinate all sector demands based on the actual development of polarity
in the class struggle. This does not belittle the women question - I have
four daughters and want this question illuminated and solved for the most
personal reasons, but eating - and more babies are on the way, is more
important. I am African American and not infrequently sink to ignorance and
nonsensical utterances in the face of discrimination, but if I fight things
out on the basis of the wrong polarity, I'm fucked twice. Not the abolition
of sector demands but strategy in the class struggle. Yes, practical work
must be increased, but mastering science and theory is paramount. Without
intensifying our grasp of theory we are going to end up in another blind
alley. I am not a very good Marxist but a heck of a master of blind alley
theory. I have traveled down them repeatedly.

Look at Argentina!

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