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R48G: Why is socialism defined in terms of the working class? //Labour Party Marxists — Communist Party of Great Britain

April 24th, 2017 · No Comments

This is an interesting website on the left but it is a softball pitch for the question: why is socialism defined in terms of the working class? Socialism/communism are about postcapitalism and this is not instrinsically connected to the working class.

The idea springs from the era of the period of early revolutionary divisions over class and the way in which the bourgeoisie in fighting feudalism was a ‘revolutionary’ class, with or without the participation of the proletariat of that era. But our situation is different now. The working class is shifting into the middle class, in the US (it is certainly very real on a global level), and a set of questions arise here: why favor any class over another? Why would the class interests of the working class represent the overall needs of a socialist economy? We have suggested that in fact the working class is not the industrial proletariat but the set complement of the bourgeoisie and that includes a whole range of class-combinations. We have advocated thinking in terms of the Universal Class, quite possibly with the working class (or classes) as a spearhead but including the whole spectrum of class formations that make up a social whole. A good example of the difficulty is that the class interests of the working class tend to be indifferent to the issue of climate change and would oppose a no-growth economy that might mediate the issue of climate catastrophe. There is also the strange bias to the lumpenproletariat in Marx, a ‘class’ no doubt described well by him, up to a point, but in the era we are entering this ‘class’ is already becoming very extensive, including elements of the working class who are chronically unemployed, displaced by automation, etc…There are all sorts of class combinations that should equally be called ‘working class’: don’t petit bourgeois shopkeepers work? Etc… Strange to say, it would be unfair to define socialism in terms of working class interests. And history has shown that the working class was usurped by the crypto-bourgeoisie of the revolutionary cadre that took power and became a new version of the bourgeoisie.
How do we resolve this? The answer is fairly straightforward: we define socialism, or else our neo-communism, in terms of principles, not classes. We define a political movement in terms of those members of the Universal Class who agree to those principles and work in concert with other class elements in that movement. Instead of equality defined in terms of class, it is defined as a principle of constitutional foundationalism, and in terms of both legal and economic rights in the context of a shared economy, and a rough and transitional equalization of external classes entering the Universal Class. Equality is also defined in terms of the communist expropriation of the bourgeoisie in the creation of a Commons in which all participate (and we should include the external environment as a member with ‘rights’) as common owners. The Bolshevik muddle produced a vanguard of the intelligentsia next to various working class Soviets and ended up creating a new bourgeoisie based on state capitalism ruling in the name of the working class who lost all their rights as workers to unionize.
Clearly a wholly different approach is needed. We have suggested that a remorphed version of a democratic revolution could be the model or vehicle to general equality, social ownership, and the transition to post-capitalism. A vanguard can create a system of equality by fiat, as in the case of most democratic revolution. But here, by fiat, a communist system with democratic wrapper would mediate economic and political equality. The control of economic resources would be beyond the control of a revolutionary class and default to a range of economic courts adjunct to economic planning bodies, themselves adjunct to a ‘market’ sector differing from the capitalist in the way it would be run by a formerly ‘bourgeois’ group of entrepreneurs or managers with relative autonomy, but not ownership. Such enterprises would license resources from the Commons and while they might generate transient inequalities in their action, these would in the final analysis revert to the general pool.

This kind of situation is far from perfect and is still at risk of bureaucratic neo-classism (a problem that is not solved by anarchist fantasies), but it is experimental on the way to incremental improvements, and it could be highly effective where these types of combinations (there are a number of versions) evade the charge of utopianism because the are remorphed versions in finite transformations of systems we know are viable, e.g. the format of modern liberal system. This mix would thus constitute a form of liberalism in a new communist constitutional context. In fact, it is current capitalism that is utopian and this resolution could save modern industrial economy for itself in a system that can still tolerate a system of postcapitalist markets.

Socialism is the rule of the working class over the global economy created by capitalism

Source: Labour Party Marxists — Communist Party of Great Britain

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