Labor and Aristocracy
dmschanoes at earthlink.net
Mon Feb 10 16:01:06 MST 2003
2nd post: Quiet rush hour.
In contemplating the continuing interesting posts from comrades on this
thread, I have wondered, well, what exactly is Marx's thesis as to why the
working class will carry out a revolution ? Is it because they are
? impoverished ? oppressed ? alienated ? bodily mortified, soulfully
depressed ? the more any of these , the more inclined to revolt ?
This is more than a good question, it's the question for the structure of
Marxism, it's own historical materialism.
At the risk of sounding idealistic, Hegelian even, let me suggest that for
Marx the issue of revolution and why the working class would could make one,
was an issue of 1. logical structure 2. historical necessity.
For Marx, the trigger for revolution was the conflict between the growth of
the productive apparatus and the social relations of production that fed,
sustained, maintained that apparatus. Marx makes this analysis, by the way,
without the sort of awe for capitalist growth that some others after Marx
expressed. It's not a system to be praised or envied, it's an historical
development. Now when capital confronts the limits to its growth, it is
confronting itself. It is confronting its own need for profit to maintain
reproduction and its own inability to generate a sufficent ratio of profit
sufficiently quickly to maintain the circulation of commodities.
The necessity is introduced in that when capital confronts its own limits,
it is confronting itself in its reflected identity, its organization of
itself as wage-labor. Simultaneously capital organizes itself as capital,
as private property and its negation wage-labor, social collective
For Marx, taking over Hegel, necessity is history, is the expression of the
potentials of a system through its course of development.
Now, what does all this mean practically? It means it is not simply
oppression, exploitation, misery that propels the revolution. For one
thing, workers may not be the most miserable, oppressed segments of society
(but if they don't articulate the liberation of those segments, the workers
do not supercede the conditions of their own exploitation). For another,
revolts frequently occur at moment when the capital economy seems to be
improving, or as a result of that improvement. I would offer as examples of
this;the US black liberation sturggles in the 60s; the reanimation of the
Irish rebellion in the north after the movement of large scale industry
(particularly petrochemicals) to the area in response to the subsidies and
tax breaks offered by the government; we might even refer to the upsurge in
the great strikes of the founding of the CIO, Toledo, Flint, Twin Cities at
the moments when US capital appeared to be climbing out of the worst moments
of the depression. What links these moments is the need to shatter the
property relations that prevent the more efficient, more engaging, less
restrictive, more human use of labor.
Anyway, it's a historical moment based on the logical structure of capital
when production runs up the inside of a cage of its own making-- the
property relations. Then another class, creating in its own activity a
basis for the rational reorganization, control, and direction of production
is forced, required, needed to press forward.
Sounds poetic, doesn't it?
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