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What is revolutionary class globally?

What is revolutionary class globally?

1. Introduction, posing the problem

In the current announcement of “events” by “Jacobin”, one of the leading socialist magazines in the U.S. today, we have “Why do socialists talk so much about workers?”

Speaker: Vivek Chibber. Information about him: “Vivek Chibber is a professor of sociology at New York University. His latest book is "Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital". Not a worker, a professor…

Brief description of the lecture: “Most people know that socialists place the working class at the center of their political vision. But why exactly?

Because workers are not only a social group that is systematically exploited, they are also the group best positioned to enact real change.”

Picture attached explains the thesis: “workers run the society”.

Wishful thinking. If “workers” really ran the society, they would run it according to their own schedule, their own needs. But as it is, they are hands and brains of the class, or classes, which really run the society, capitalists.

The question of revolutionary class is raised in a publication from Kharkiv, Ukraine, called “Technocommunism”, The article is called “A Report on Revolutionary Subject at the Conference of the Club Impulse”, 4 Sept., 2016. The article starts:

“Многие левые движения в наше время ищут ответ на вопрос, где тот революционный класс и та низовая прослойка населения, на которую нужно опираться.”

  1. Different countries/regions are going through different stages of their revolutions. Thus, the former USSR is now in the Restoration stage of the revolution started in 1917, 100 years ago. This implies that most of the population is now in conservative mood, sliding back with the reaction sweeping the society. The few rare revolutionary individuals are like steam that is rising over frozen water in which there is a hole. What we need to do is to identify the stage of revolution, which is prevailing in each country/ region now. Together with this, we need to identify, empirically (not from our pre-conceptions, from our mind) the individuals who are leading revolutionary struggles now, in each country/region. It is through polemic with these individuals that we can hope to form a “revolutionary circle” on a global scale.
  2. Countries/ regions differ in the level of development of their material culture. This is obvious. The United States can’t be compared to for example to Afghanistan. While in the U.S. most of the young people are ready to vote for socialism (e.g. Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016), many young people in Afghanistan are following the lead of those who are leading the struggle against imperialism. And this is Taliban, which is headed by local landlords. These are conservative Islamists. So, in addition to different stages of revolution in each country – (U.S. – socialist revolution is on the rise; Afghanistan – Restoration after a socialist revolution of 1978) – there are different levels of material culture in different countries/regions of the world. These will dictate on who are the revolutionaries. We need to identify these levels.

The article in “Techno-communism” continues:

“теперь уже всем очевидно, что рабочий класс деградирует в мировом масштабе, автоматизация выбрасывает массы трудящихся на улицы, рабочий не чувствует себя востребованным, уверенность рабочего класса снижается, он цепляется за исчезающие рабочие места”.

This is obvious truth which Marxists, and anarchists, either don’t want to see, or deny. It’s not that production has shifted to China, and other places with cheap labor. Today, this cheap labor is more and more replaced by robots, and other automation. Proof of this later.

The article continues:

  • “Рабочий класс уменьшается в своем числе, из-за нарастающей автоматизации.
  • Уверенность рабочего в том, что он нужен капиталисту уходит, рабочий готов последовательно отказываться от своих прав ради сохранения исчезающих рабочих мест.
  • Исчезает понимание рабочего класса, что именно он является создателем мира вокруг него.
  • Престижность рабочих профессий падает, чувство собственной значимости у рабочих улетучивается.
  • Постепенно рабочие становятся более реакционным классом, нежели революционным. Как крестьянство в 19-20 веке.”

Workers are no longer the foremost revolutionary class they used to be once, say before World War II. If we look at recent events, such as “Occupy” we see them supporting, at best, but not leading these movements. Some workers chose to look askance at the movements, or even renounce them, for the fear of losing their jobs, or social position.

And it’s true: they have become like peasantry, in the XIX and XX centuries, mostly a stay of reactionary forces, while previously, say from late Middle Ages to XVIII century, in Europe, and XX century, in China, they were the primary revolutionary forces.

A revolutionary class changes together with development of the productive forces. This simple truth the Marxists and anarchists ignore. Either they don’t see the computer in front of their eyes, or they don’t understand that computer implies automation of intellectual labor, to start, and later physical as well.

The following is obvious:

“ для успешной социалистической революции необходим реальный революционный субъект, которому по силам её совершить. Который готов терпеть лишения ради революции и идти на жертвы”


“высказываются разные точки зрения на то, кто из существующих сейчас групп должен быть революционным субъектом. Разные левые и псевдолевые движения предлагают свои варианты, давайте приведем пример лишь нескольких из них:

  • Опора на уменьшающийся в числе рабочий класс.
  • Опора на “когнитариат”, особенный вид пролетариев умственного труда: ученых, инженеров, просвещенную интеллигенцию.
  • Опора на угнетаемые меньшинства: негров, геев, феминисток, трансвеститов, наркоманов, люмпенов, сектантов, и.т.п.
  • Опора на выброшенных с производства, маргинализировавшихся бывших рабочих.
  • Опора на мелкобуржуазные элементы: дальнобойщиков, лоточников, коммивояжеров, адептов сетевого маркетинга.”

In one of my conversations, just yesterday, my opponent proposed that real revolutionaries (in the U.S.) are “greens”, i.e. those involved in the ecological movement.

All these proposals are divorced from empirical data. People who make these suggestions cannot back them up with statistics.

Moreover, these people are not acquainted with the history, and present state of development of the productive forces, either in abstract, globally, or in their specific country/region.

“Иные левые движения, склоняющиеся к бланкизму, считают что революционным субъектом может стать сама партия. Она должна захватить власть в государстве и насадить коммунизм сверху вниз.”

This is also not a possibility, as revolution needs a massive support, involvement of the masses in making of their own destiny. If social change is brought about by a small group of individuals, they will take all the power and become a privileged caste themselves. This is what happened in many revolutions of XX century, beginning with the Russian revolution. Once the Bolshevik party took power, it relegated the All-Russian Soviet (of workers and peasants) to an advisory body, and reaction gradually set in.

So, here is a dilemma: workers and peasants couldn’t take power by their own organization (the Soviets). Once the power was taken in their name, it was denied to them.

“Мы считаем, что опора нужна на низовое движение, проистекающие из реальной ситуации, из экономического базиса.”

“Какой выход нам видится из ситуации? Самоорганизация. В век современных технологий производственные силы развиты на достаточно высоком уровне. Всем заинтересованным людям, в том числе угнетаемым рабочим, безработным, интеллигенции и всем остальным желающим необходимо объединяться. Основываясь на принципах самоорганизации, нужно выстраивать собственные рабочие коллективы, построенные снизу, горизонтально”.

Self-organization is a form of organization. But who is the subject to be organized? Who are "we"? For example, we can organize as "makers", or "polyamrists", etc. 

«Примером таких рабочих коллективов являются производственные кооперативы. При этом заниматься нужно как можно более высокотехнологичным производством, а всю прибавочную стоимость делить между товарищами, пускать на идейную борьбу, борьбу за свои интересы и интересы всего кооперативного движения.

Создавайте кооперативы, товарищи! Мы идем тем же путём.»

Hence, they advocate self-organization of workers’ cooperatives, especially in the high-tech industries.

First result:

So, it seems we’ve posited the problem. It is to understand “what is a revolutionary class today”. Who are the revolutionaries today? We intend to answer this question now from our heads, but empirically.

To do so, we need to:

  1. Outline tendencies in development of modern productive forces. What are these “modern productive forces”? What type of people bring them to life? What are the political views of these people?
  2. Examine regions of the world. What are modern social revolutionary movements? Who is leading them? What kind of theory do they subscribe to? Does this  theory make sense?
  3. What kind of protest movements do we observe in XXI century? What kind of people are behind them, leading and organizing? What are their social/political views? What is their music? What is their culture?

Continued here.

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