[Marxism] A party of the left and historical materialism
anthony.boynton at gmail.com
Thu Feb 6 18:01:27 MST 2020
(In response to John Reiman's comments)
Historical materialism, in my view, means studying the real material
movement and development of human society, and continuous abstracting out
of that study the essential movement of society. This is the opposite of
taking a dead abstraction from some book, even some great books by some
great writers, and trying to impose it as a schema on living, breathing,
I think Marx's abstraction from history that the working class is the
revolutionary class in capitalist society remains valid today, but the
working class of the United States is fragmented by race, gender, region,
citizenship status, and a dozen other major impediments to uniting itself.
The vast majority of workers in the United States are not organized, not
even into unions. The really existing working class is not a class for
itself, and it is not even conscious that it is a class.
How can it achieve class consciousness? Well, part of that answer is
through the class struggle, even through the fragments of that struggle
like what we have seen in Black Lives Matter, Me-Too, the immigrant rights
movement, the various anti-war movements, and even the trade union
movement. All of these are fragmented parts of the working class struggle,
even when they are initiated and led by petty bourgeois individuals. The
student movement, which is showing some signs of life again in the United
States, is today also basically a working class movement (even if they are
mostly working class youth who would like to exit their own class.)
The other part of that answer lies in the activity of people on this list,
and others, who are part of the vanguard of human social consciousness.
True, we are not organized into anything that could or should be called a
"vanguard party" (although some of us are members of hopelessly and
ridiculously deluded self-important sects), but we are nevertheless part of
Historically, working class parties, and all revolutionary parties, start
out as parties of the conscious minority...the vanguard. Right now, most of
the people likely to be part of the vanguard of the next five to ten years
are out campaigning for Bernie Sanders.
Should we join them?
No. We should warn them about the wall they are going to hit, and offer
them another course of action for the time they pick themselves up, dust
themselves off, and start looking for a better way to fight.
That is historical materialism in my book, and I am pretty sure Marx,
Engels and the revolutionaries who followed after them would agree with me.
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