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What happened to the proletariat?

December 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

One problem I have (see article below), even as I begin to suggest a ‘new communism’, with the older marxist brand is its complacency about the working class. Nothing really shows that that class is going to lead a proletarian revolution. We have simply not seen any signs of that happening. Quite apart from anything else the ‘working class’ is disappearing into both a global dispersion, and an attrition due to the process of automation. The working class thus cannot form a majority anymore. And the psychology of the working class that Marx was counting on has shifted. Nor does unionized labor look at all radical in the classic sense of Marx’s proletarian revolutionary. I, for one, have only rarely met a working class radical, and certainly not recently.
The crux of the problem appeared with the Nixonian era and the onset of the neo-liberal restoration, which based its success on rightwing populism. As far as that goes, I wouldn’t reject therefore the contributing efforts of a feminist vanguard, and more generally a movement that, as before, gives a focus to the working class, but which makes its field of action much broader. The current situation shows a huge number of people who are simply outsiders, with no place in society, and with no prospects a shifting economy will even recognize them.
I think the current focus on the 99% is right, and this can be the larger dimension behind a focus on the working class.
In any case the idea of a ‘new communism’ need not use the marxist framework: we can see communism as a movement for the 99% to acheive a postcapitism beyond the tyranny of industrial capital as private property.

WHILE ALL women may suffer the effects of oppression under capitalism, though to varying extents, the working class, made up of men and women, is the only force capable of winning an end to that oppression. The working class has the power to bring capitalist production to a halt, upend the old society and build a new one with all workers’ interests at its heart.

During that process, workers shed backward ideas that divide and cripple them, like sexism. But struggle alone doesn’t guarantee women’s liberation. Struggles can ebb and flow. A totally different society has to be fought for, one where the material conditions for a world free of oppression can flourish.

This means locating the roots of women’s oppression. A key is the family, an institution that depends largely on women’s unpaid labor in order to survive, and that allows capitalism to get for free what a saner system would have to provide.

In a society based on profit, where every penny is squeezed from the working class, the nuclear family makes complete sense, even though it creates a double burden on women that includes unpaid labor in the home. But under socialism, a society in which the priority is providing for human need, the privatized family makes no sense at all.

http://enpassant.com.au/2012/12/02/womens-liberation-and-socialism/

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