[Marxism] Marxism in America and what Marx wrote (correction)

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Tue Jun 8 05:37:40 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 Americans.   

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 
American proletariat. 

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 
volumes. 

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 
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. Not 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 political basis. 

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 
the bounce. Anyone with the strength of courage will see this immediately in our 
history. 

The working class does not overthrow capitalism . . . that is not the process 
Marx describes. 

Melvin P. 




More information about the Marxism mailing list