We have suggested a different approach, but we must be able to both assist and envelope in parallel the legacy ideas of socialism. Building socialism is hard enough, moving beyond capitalism altogether via some form of communism seems impossible but the times are converging on both the need and the inevitability of revolutionary change and we need to be ready for that.
At this point invoking the ‘working class’ fails to see (in the US) the way the working class has been the victim of psychological engineering from the right. We can’t expect to champion the working class as such because, as the recent election shows, it will move in a different direction. We have suggested thinking in terms of the ‘universal class’, as discussed in our ‘Manifesto’. If we appeal to all sectors of all classes able to respond to a message of socialism/communism we will get a lot more ‘working class’ response than conventional labor preachers can manage. That’s because the complexity of the subsets of the universal class is very great and a virtually untapped source. From the perspective of the universal class we can and must attempt to work with the subset of the universal class we call the ‘working class’ and to be ready with a very robust populist economic mix. And this could be a good basis for a new kind of union movement.
This approach is superior because it both focuses on the working class and yet stands back to embrace the immense field of subclasses never addressed by the left. One thinks of the hopeless confusion of the bolsheviks dealing with the Russian peasantry, a subclass never considered in the original marxist canon which went into a funk with the anomaly of Russia.
We need in this fashion a direct descendant of marxism that is completely revamped and which will stop betting, and losing, on the working class whose real center of gravity is long gone to exterior globalization zones. Our universal class immediately moves to a consideration of this larger global set of classes and defaults to the standard working class perspective in the case of the many ‘working classes’ that are directly tied from overseas zones to the ‘american’ economy, at this point a finesse of capital increasingly transnational.
This approach adopts what is the inevitable and in fact standard procedure for parties of any kind: appeals to the general population on the grounds for association. And that is a disparate mix from the universal class. And the best way to find the right members is to appeal directly on the grounds of radical activism as a form of allegiance and cooperation. The old fashioned working class cannot be assumed to respond in this way.. The traditional approach assumes a particular class should be dominant, the working class, and then attempts to appeal to that class to realize radical objectives. It worked up to a point during the era of industrial labor, and in the period when real starvation threatened crowds flooding into the streets, but now the obvious question arises, why deal in a reverse class bias? Why not appeal to all classes in the movement toward a common universal class.
The whole question of labor is entering a field of instability: we confront climate change, which forces us to look beyond growth economies, to automation, which invokes the need for a new kind of safety net, and to reality that the old working class along with the old factory economy is passing away. We may as well move from the focus on the working class to the larger question of the kind of postcapitalist society that can mediate the interactions of all subclasses of the universal class, and deal with the nature of society as such. We can’t really create a new society that deals only with a ‘working class’. It must address a far more complex question. This approach must by definition do everything working class socialism did for the working class and then some. And it would be no contradiction for the various sectors of the working class to independently align with our larger class to realize its own objectives. But the larger question of the nature of a social contract, national and transnational can’t be resolved by the old fashioned emphasis on the ‘labor guy and the factory’.