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