History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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R48G: universal versus working class: elitist formations?

March 9th, 2017 · No Comments

Our distinction of the universal and the working class, as noted in a post today on a counterpunch article, would seem to negate one of the core principles of the marxist legacy. One should be aware of the catch-22 in any idea here, even that of the working class. There need be no contradiction. The universal class is almost the same as the working class in any case, the 99% and not just an industrial proletariat… The distinction is a theoretical tool to try and understand how to deal with the working class, a concept that has changed its context. There is every possibility of considering the universal class as a platform to invoke the working class so there is no problem. In fact, the concept of the working class is limited. It is at best a disguised possibility for a leadership role, devolving to the inspiration from another confusing elite concept.

The more general concept of the universal class can be a useful way to harmonize many different class sectors as a single movement, feminists for example. Or middle class activists, etc… There needs to be an interplay of the working class and the various sectors of the universal class, nor can we entirely do away with elitist leadership. We are at a moment of such crisis that we need a general movement of movements that deals with multiple cascading issues: from climate change, to economic equality, to political re-foundation, to ecological stewardship, etc…A movement of general membership might well have a problem with elitism but that was actually already the case with the flawed and misleading concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. At this point any group that can provide a rescue vehicle gets the job. The idea of the universal class can devolve into an elitist concept although by definition that is not the case. We are indulging in several puns, perhaps. The idea is a tool to clarify the complexity of a movement of (revolutionary/evolutionary) social transformation, no more no less. All concepts here have suffered confusions, not least that of the working class, which has often induced expectations not born out in reality, the classic case being the working class parties voting war credits at the start of the first world war, an infamous moment. We can more generally failsafe the issues with a useful range of concepts and distinctions. And we should note that marx/engels were not working class figures but members of the bourgeoisie who moved into the universal class…

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