[Marxism] Marxism in America and what Marx wrote
Waistline2 at aol.com
Waistline2 at aol.com
Tue Jun 8 04:51:10 MDT 2004
Marx understood the distinction between the working class and the real
proletariat. We are challenged to overthrow virtually all the concepts originating
within the Marxists movement in America and reconstitute Marxism from the stand
point of the real proletariat. Nor can we return to the doctrine of Lenin. We
are dealing with a qualitatively different configuration of history.
Here is what Marx states in the Communist Manifesto:
"We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working
class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the
battle of democracy.
"The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all
capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the
hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class;
and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible."
This is basically what happened in the Soviet Union during its seventy years
of existence. We can squabble over this leader and that leader but they
constructed an industrial society without the bourgeois property relations. Bottom
line. People got hurt but not as many as in the construction of the industrial
system in America (hopefully we do not have to do yet another body count).
Today we are not faced with the task of centralizing all instruments of
production. The previous generations of Marxists call the task described by Marx
"socialism." The battle for democracy Marx speaks of in 1848 refers to political
feudalism's superstructure and its defeat.
If Marx draws a real division between the working class and pinpoints the
lowest stratum of society as the proletariat, why should we not do the same?
For reason of our actual history the revolutionary heart of the proletariat
in the Northern part of the American Union - the lowest stratum of society,
according to Marx, has always been black and female. It has never been different.
The bounce between Populism and anarcho-syndicalism deserves serious
unraveling, because it contains the key to our history and the various 3rd Party
movements and between the major roots of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its
various offshots go back to this period. Here is the primary reason Populism
remained on the left decades after its objective conditions vanished.
Populism was a turn of the century non-class mass movement of the small
farmers, the craftsmen and the small business person against the encroachments of
monopoly. During the 1880s and the beginning of the 1900s it played a generally
progressive role - I very reluctantly concede, but not from the standpoint of
the lowest section of society. We forget at our own peril the facts of our
history and along with the progressive aspects of the Populist Movement was the
Ku Klux Klan and other fascist gangs the supposedly spoke for the small
businessman, against the radicals, big business and especially against the African
What arose in opposition to this populism was the militant
anarcho-syndicalist movement. It matter little if they called themselves "democratic socialists"
(more populism), Trotskyites, Stalinists, etc. they all threw their strategic
blow into the trade union movement, not the lowest section of the working
class called the proletariat by Marx - with the momentary except of the CPUSA.
This was the period of the heroic Scottsbouro Brothers case.
This was hardly a purely subjective question but expressed the curve of
development of the industrial system and the mechanic of the formation of our
working class and proletariat. The first impulse signaling a shift in the social
struggle was Birmingham 1963 and the first crack was Watts 1965. Here was the
stirring of not the working class but the proletariat. Detroit 1967 took matters
to an extreme level and Los Angeles 1992 saw the emergence of the new
This point of view runs counter to basically every group on the left and
every Marxists in America and on Marxmail is called unreconstructed Stalinism,
although it was Marx who coined the term proletariat and I can recall nothing in
Stalin about the bounce between Populism and anarcho - syndicalism in his 13
The first theory blow against the anarcho syndicalists in the post 1965 era
was in the early 1970s and published as an article called Syndicalism Disarms
the Proletariat. The article was actually written for us in Detroit demanding
repudiation of syndicalism and adherence to the revolutionary line of march
described in the Communist Manifesto. Our entire group repudiated syndicalism but
I remain one in my heart for many years to come, along with several other
comrades second generation autoworkers and trade union leaders.
In the context of the development of the Marxists and communist movement in
real time America, all the talk about the "working class" as an abstraction is
no more than bouncing between Populism and syndicalism. Our entire society is
virtually all working class. What of the proletariat:-)
Does the working class overthrow capitalism is really a syndicalist
formulation in America and poses the question incorrectly. The basic classes of a
system of production can never overthrow the system of which it constitutes. No
because they do not want to but because they can't . . . it is outside the realm
of possibility. Some else takes place and Marx calls it the advance of
industry or in standard American English the technological revolution that
qualitatively reconfigures the mode of production and compels society to leap to a new
Syndicalism does in fact disarm the proletariat and I found out the hard way
as usual. See, my historical error was a drift into ideological white
chauvinism and I am very clear about why and how I got there. I do not repudiate
American history but unravel it and make the correction beginning with myself.
Not social democracy and Stalinism but Populism and anarcho-syndicalism is th
e bounce. Anyone with the strength of courage will see this immediately in our
The working class does not overthrow capitalism . . . that is not the process
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