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Gorz’ dated but cogent Farewell to the Working Class

July 30th, 2016 · No Comments

Groz’ Farewell to the Working Class
Although it wasn’t connected to my approach to the Universal Class in Last and First Men, Gorz’ point is well taken, and it is also the case that it seems less radically alarming than it did at the time. The book is dated now. So what if the working class has disappeared, in the US. First, it hasn’t really, and it still is very much of a global phenomenon, far beyond the organizing capacity of the various radical activists in action.

The point here is simple and less alarming than the verdict of Gorz seemed at the time. The Universal Class, a superset of the working class, can be the alternate/subsequent focus of a socialism/communist movement. It might even be better off done this way, for a simple reason: instead of an activist trying to activate the working class all he has to do is activate himself and carry on the business of social change/revolution. Unless he is a member of the bourgeoisie and owns capital and a factory he is by definition a member of the Universal/Working Class. The tradition emphasis on a proletariat was more appropriate to the era of the smokestack juggernaut. Almost better is a nimble cadre of the Universal Class with an socialist/revolutionary objective and a program to bring that about in the era of climate change. That group can internationalize and help to organize the disparate working class formations in the era of dispersed globalization. But in the final analysis a transition to socialism/communism can occur because a revolutionary group acting on ‘core principles’ rather than working class membership can probably do as well or better than the original projected proletarian version which suffered difficulties throughout (the classic case being the failure of the ‘working class’ at the start of WWI). Going back to the old fashioned method: people join movements on the basis of agreement with basic tenets and proceed to create equality and economic liberation based on ‘core principles’ rather than working class allegiance. Either method is clearly subject to elite cooptation so the issue remains in either case of the democratic principle. But a communist revolution based on a remorphed version of the American Revolution seems more than possible, and this can also be a reminder that the problem still unsolved is to create democracy, and to do this via a postcapitalist economic foundation.

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