Beyond Capital

Polemics, Critique and Analysis

For the consciousness that would make generals redundant!

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Working class revolutionism, but beyond sectism

The trade unions and political parties cannot be reformed, ‘captured’, or converted into instruments of working class emancipation. We don’t call however for the proclamation of new unions, which in the conditions of today would suffer a similar fate to the old ones. Nor do we call for militants to tear up their union cards. Our aims are simply that the workers themselves should decide on the objectives of their struggles and that the control and organisation of these struggles should remain firmly in their own hands. The forms which this self-activity of the working class may take will vary considerably from country to country and from industry to industry (PC – from time to time). Its basic content will not.

Emphasis mine

For the consciousness that would make generals redundant

A crisis of values and an increased questioning of authority relations are, however, developing features of contemporary society. The growth of these crises is one of the preconditions for socialist revolution. Socialism will only be possible when the majority of people understand the need for -social change, become aware of their ability to transform society, decide to exert their collective power to this end, and know with what they want to replace the present system. IT FOLLOWS that we reject analyses … who define the main crisis of modern society as a ‘crisis of leadership’. They [the party leaders] are all generals in search of an army, for whom recruitment figures are the main yardstick of success. For us revolutionary change is a question of consciousness: the consciousness that would make generals redundant.

Emphasis mine

“They [the party leaders] are all generals in search of an army, for whom recruitment figures are the main yardstick of success”. This one line explains so much about the reality within the left formations in India – with their sectism and membership ((re)conversion!) drives.

Obviously, there is much to appreciate in Solidarity (UK)’s document – As We See It / Don’t See It (Maurice Brinton) quoted above. However evident at least in tenor is also (like a major section of autonomist and anarchist comrades) their refusal to apply their own understanding in AS WE SEE IT to deconstruct the existing working class organisations/parties and struggles within them (including their generation and degeneration) as representations of class self-activity “at different levels of awareness and consciousness” . Rejectionism dominating in AS WE DON’T SEE IT in effect produces a dehistoricised conception of working class consciousness and activity – a maximalist revolutionary idealism, especially when they talk about the past and existing organisations/parties and their degeneration. However, this is not to imply that they are not aware of the dynamic logic behind the generation and degeneration of party forms, as the document succinctly concludes:

we hold that organisations whose mechanisms (and their implications) are understood by all can alone provide the framework for democratic decision-making. There are no institutional guarantees against the bureaucratisation of revolutionary groups, The only guarantee is the perpetual awareness and self- mobilisation of their members. We are aware, however, of the danger of revolutionary groups becoming ‘ends in themselves’. In the past, loyalties to groups have often superseded loyalties to ideas. Our prime commitment is to the social revolution – not to any particular political group…

However it seems the document does not ground party dynamics in the class processes and inter/intra class struggles.

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Written by Pratyush Chandra

March 22, 2008 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Labour, Marxism, Party, Politics

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