The most productive class

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Wed Jul 30 17:17:22 MDT 2003


Paul wrote:

"The revolutionary classes, hell yes, have the greatest productive power,
but getting that power focussed on the real problems of sustainable survival
is a tough one, especially when many in the class that stands to benefit the
most have bought into capitalist productivism and the consumer society. The
reality is, no-one seems clear on how to actually get there from here. The
real issues are rarely addressed, and guess what - I don't claim to have the
answers either."

Philosophically, I don't really think this is quite true. You imply that
people are already aware of the problems, but following Marx, that must also
mean that in reality the solutions exist already, technically, socially,
culturally, economically and politically. Humanity sets itself only such
problems as it can solve - this doesn't mean that any individual will set
himself only such problem as it can solve, but humankind does. It also does
not mean that humanity will solve those problems, because even if the
solutions are to hand, they may not be implemented.  Because it is generally
neurologically impossible for a human being to become conscious of a
problem, without various alternative solutions being there already, at least
in outline. Of course, death is an unsolvable problem, even so, many means
exist for the extension of life. The young Marx, influenced by Hegel, also
notes, that if you want to solve a problem, you must express it correctly,
in the correct terms, and that a lack of solutions is normally an artifact
of wrongly posing the problem, you have to reframe it.

>From from all this, it follows that only the masses can solve these
problems, not geniuses, geniuses can at best provide means to do it. It is
not that solutions do not exist, it is rather that those solutions have to
be organised to be implemented effectively, taking account of human
interests, material interests. A principle of socialist organisational
theory is that no one individual has all the answers, and that therefore the
task of the socialists is to provide organisation, so that solutions can be
correctly formulated and implemented collectively, on the basis of correct
sharing and exchange of experiences, with common goals. One prerequisite for
that, is the formation of a socialist party, a socialist political movement.
Once that exists, the solutions which already exist can be implemented. But
if we cannot frame the problem of organisation correctly, then even if
solutions are to hand, then it will not be possible to implement them. So
the key to end all despair, is to tackle the organisation problem.

Postmodernists have attacked Marx and Engels as propounding a falsely
optimistic modernist doctrine, leading to grave errors, and operating with a
false concept of history in terms of steady "human progress". It could be
demonstrated very easily that this is a scholarly error of the most vulgar
kind, because Marx and Engels say nothing of the sort. They noted the
phenomenon of social decay and social stagnation, which sometimes took
centuries, and were aware that a class (or tribal) conflict might end in the
mutual ruin of the contending classes (or tribes). In reality, the whole
postmodernist discourse about "progress" is largely a projection of the
intellectual nihilism and moral relativism of the bourgeoisie, which
ultimately can no longer justify its class existence other than by claiming
an inability to know things for one reason or another (even though they will
quite happily organise the invasion Iraq on the basis of lies), and cannot
see any other way forward other than through piecemeal social engineering.
But the very assertion of the inability to know things, is itself an
artifact of the bourgeois mode of thought and bourgeois private property
relations.

Michael Perelman has highlighted the enormous significance of intellectual
parasitism and confiscation by means of "intellectual property rights". Of
course we cannot solve problems, if we are prevented from so doing by
property relations, which deny access to the solutions to the problem !!!
But this makes the problems of the bourgeoisie even worse, because the
privatisation of information means, that it may not even be possible anymore
in future to formulate problems correctly, problems may be formulated only
for the purpose of augmenting private profits. This means that science and
research in many instances becomes a brake, a fetter on human progress,
purely because of false, narrow or one-sided formulation of the problems, as
in a Neil Young popsong about "the pearly gates being slashed by the aimless
blade of science". In New Zealand, various policy makers toyed with the idea
of privatising libraries, they had no concept or theory of public goods,
never mind the meaning of a library (for all their postmodernist erudition).
Ironically, in this interesting privatisation idea, the policy makers went
further than the Hayekian, Platonist Karl Popper, who, while denying the
sociality of human beings, argued in his theory of the "three worlds" in one
of his armchair thought experiments that, if all the knowledge human beings
had was wiped out, but we still had libraries, then those knowledges and a
ruined world could be reconstituted (see his book "Objective Knowledge'').

If the working class is understood as the most productive class, this must
be understood dialectically, because in a capitalist world in which the
maximum extraction of profit forces the worker to work longer and harder all
the time, while unemployment grows, and a reduction of the average working
week for all is difficult to achieve because of competition processes, it
means that workingclass creativity is to a large extent denied. That is, the
potential productivity of the worker is in fact much higher than it really
is, because that productivity is denied by the phenomena of capitalism. The
bourgeois ideologues contantly praise the powers of capitalist competition
and private property for stimulating innovation, but if we look at the most
basic world problems that humanity has to solve in order to sustain itself
the next few hundred years, where the bloody hell is it ? Looking for a job
in Holland some years ago, I went to a vocational consultant who had
considerable personal experience with factory work, and we ended up in
social/political discussion, in which he admitted, if the market is supposed
to generate all these richly-developed individuals, then where are they,
besides television ?

I wanted to cite here something from the 1844 Paris Manuscripts by Marx, but
unfortunately vol. 3 of the Collected Works has mysteriously disappeared.
Well, better get organised then.

Jurriaan

- note: Marx's mature analysis is that the concept of the productive forces
under capitalism is mainly captured by the organic composition of capital,
except for some faux frais (incidental expenses) of production. The variable
portion of capital maps onto living labour power in motion, the constant
portion of capital maps onto the means of production (or "means of labour").
In capitalist society therefore, the productive forces constitute capital,
and cannot be thought of other than as capital. However, Marx also notes in
various places, that the co-ordinated organisation of workers itself
constitutes a distinct productive force, in other words, that organisational
efficiency increases productivity, and naturally therefore, organisational
experts tend to be subsumed under variable capital under capitalism, in
order to effect organisational variability positively, so that greater
productivity results. But capitalist productivity is of course also narrowly
defined in terms of maximum extraction of privately appropriated
surplus-value, within a given period of time.









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