[Marxism] To turn the mass into a class · LRB

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 26 09:32:46 MST 2019

‘The growing proletarianisation of modern man and the increasing 
formation of masses,’ Walter Benjamin wrote, ‘are two aspects of the 
same process.’ The ‘masses’, he explained, can be organised in two ways. 
One, which led to fascism in Benjamin’s time and is the forerunner of 
today’s right-wing populism, is characterised by an instinctive, 
reactive psychology, prone to xenophobia, demonisation and magical 
thinking. The other, which Benjamin called a class as opposed to a mass, 
is held together by solidarity, which makes conscious, purposeful action 
possible. The socialist project, according to Benjamin, is to turn the 
mass into a class. Socialism, then, in Benjamin’s view, is not primarily 
a way of organising the economy per se; rather it refers to the spirit 
or psychology that holds individuals together.


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