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The review. L.B. Some Preliminary Thoughts About Modern Class Structure by Alexander Gachikus

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The review. L.B. Some Preliminary Thoughts About Modern Class Structure

Party Ideas,Current Affairs
The review

L.B. Some Preliminary Thoughts About Modern Class Structure. 11.12.99. On my view the article represents “fresh spirit” in Marxism. Author, apparently, is Afro-American or Mexico immigrant in USA – anyhow, he (she) is closely acquainted with the life of these sections. However, it is necessary to mention shortcomings of the article, which are rather considerable sometimes. 1. Author rightly acknowledges that modern “communists” apply Marxism not dialectically, that they not take into account the changes in class structure that occurred in last decades. But author said nothing (or next to nothing) about the point, that opportunism of modern “communists” consists not only in non-dialectically applying of Marxism, not only in blind repeating of old formulas, but in disregarding of nuts and bolts (fundamental) of Marxism too. Thus, author criticizes only right-wing deviation that arouses suspicion, that author himself is subjected to left-wing deviation. 2. Author rightly acknowledges that class distinctions often take place within family too on the basis of sex (gender) (English social-reformist sociologist Antony Giddens wrote about this 25 years ago, see Antony Giddens. Sociology. Stratification and Class Structure). Author rightly acknowledges that gender division and class division into proletariat and labor aristocracy often overlap. But L. B. said nothing about other side of women’s living conditions, besides their oppressed position, namely their limitation by household chores, paltry domestic concerns and the like, that tear women away from class struggle of proletariat. In this sense one may probably compares women with peasantry in some respects: peasant may be more poor, than urban poor person, but limitation of peasant by the village bounds, lack of the numerous possibilities of business and culture links, intercourse, that town gives, make the peasant’s psychology backward, petty-bourgeois. It is similar in regard to women – the more so as women’s limitation by the “hearth” is “sanctifies” by prevailing in society patriarchal-bourgeois moral, which condemns a woman, who penetrates into areas, entry into which is “allowed” only for men. Naturally, I say about this not in order to urge Marxists to refuse to deal with proletarian women, but in order to take into account this fact in dealing with them. Furthermore, L. B., who acknowledges stratification within oppressed nations and races and the emergence of middle class even among them, says almost nothing about stratification within women, about the emergence of a new women’s middle class during last decades – those women, who “rise in the world” not as a passive appendage of a husband, but at the expense of their talents in various areas (naturally, including luring (captivating) of bourgeois males). In this point Antony Giddens’ study was more detailed. L. B., who give little attention to this fact, by that objectively acts in favor of female middle class. On the other hand, new women’s proletariat also emerges along with emergence of new women’s middle class during last decades. Social activity and non-vision of own vocation in limitation by “kitchen, bedroom and nursery” make similar new women’s proletariat to new women’s middle class, but the difference between them – that new women’s proletariat in contrast to new women’s middle class have no illusions about possibility of breaking out of oppressed condition within the limits of capitalism. Just as it is time for communists to discard out of date view on oppressed nations as savages, it is time to discard out of date view on women as narrow-minded (philistine) tale-bearers (gossips) one and all. In this sense L. B. is undoubtedly right. 3. Author rightly acknowledges increasing of middle classes, labor aristocracy not only in rich nations, but even in poor ones. However, L. B. cover up the fact that middle classes in poor nations (in the sense “urban middle classes”, I don’t mean peasantry of the poor nations, which have petty-bourgeois psychology in spite of their misery), firstly, constitute significantly smaller part of population, than middle classes in rich nations (some times, 10, 100 and even more times smaller), secondly, they are on the significantly lower level of living conditions than middle classes in rich nations. For instance, I have showed in my work “On the issue “What is to be done?” again” (5th December 2007) in terms of statistical data, that proportion of large-scale enterprise workers (which may be considered as labor aristocracy) in Indonesia (not the most backward nation among poor nations) by order of magnitude smaller than in China (not the most advanced nation among rich nations). But for L. B. it turns out that there is no difference between Los-Angeles and Afghanistan, as if labor aristocracy exists anywhere equally. From this one may concludes, that contradiction between oppressive nations and oppressed ones have disappeared at all. In fact, middle classes in poor nations emerge only so far, as these nations are on the threshold of bourgeois-democratic revolutions, which open up possibilities for economic development and promote entry of these nations into imperialist stage. In other words, so far, as these nations are on the threshold of entry into imperialist stage (although, it is clear, that they are far from entering into this), they show the presence of middle classes “in embryo” (in their infancy). Apparently, L. B. confronts the example of Mexico and other Latin American countries, which are relatively developed among oppressed nations, and many of them already show imperialistic features (Brazil already have entered into imperialist stage at all). But to transfer conclusions, which have derived from these nations, to the all oppressed nations, is wrong. 4. The assertion of L. B., that middle classes are needed for imperialist bourgeoisie in addition still as vast stratum of consumers to saving from overproduction, is mistake. It is old populist (“narodnik”) mistake, which was refuted already by Lenin in his early works; to put it more precisely, it is old mistake in a new version. 5. L. B. rightly criticizes “communists” who consider low strata of proletariat as lumpen-proletariat. But, on the other hand, L. B. characterizes lumpen-proletariat, probably, rather vaguely, covering up its splitting, actual belonging of its top (upper strata) to the middle class and even to bourgeoisie (gangsters, bandits, who privileged by physical strength, prostitutes, who privileged by beautiful exterior, children of rich parents etc.), and its bottom (lower strata) – to the proletariat. It is clear, that it should be exclude dependents, which live at the expense of the state or of the relatives (disabled persons, mentally diseased persons, uncommunicative introverts etc.) from the latter group: their poverty makes them related to the proletariat, but their nonparticipation in the economic process, their parasitism make them alienated from the proletariat. If one speaks about lumpen-proletariat as declassed elements, i.e. belonging to no class, not participating in commodity-money relations, one should mean just such persons by that. L. B. acknowledges in one place, that lumpens often in fact play the role of supervisors over proletariat, i.e. they are in fact labor aristocrats, in other places L. B. names them broken proletarians, who stand lower than proletariat in contrast to labor aristocracy, which stands higher than proletariat. This point has viewed vaguely, i.e. L. B. partly repeats here the mistake of many “communists”, who don’t distinguish between a pauper (or even simply proletarian), on the one hand, and a gangster, on the other hand. L. B. says nothing about physical strength as a privilege of street bandits. It is also seems to be not exactly, that lumpen-proletariat is mainly male class. If “lumpen-proletariat” means paupers, i.e. dying, ruining themselves by drinking representatives of proletariat and partly middle class, then, evidently, the number of women here no less than the number of men. If “lumpen-proletariat” means criminals, then, probably, the number of women here less than the number of men, however, it can hardly be said that “lumpen-proletariat is mainly male class” here too. It is clear, that there are only a few women in that “professions” among crime ones, which needs physical strength (bandits, robbers), but there are not a few women in other crime “professions” (theft, drug trade, prostitution etc.) 6. Perhaps, the most serious mistake in this article is reckoning Taliban among “warlordism”. Obviously, the author is weakly familiar with this matter. On the contrary, it is rightly to name North Alliance (former fighters against Soviet occupation, then puppets of Russia, India and Iran) “warlordism”, rather than Taliban, which comes to power through the struggle against North Alliance. This mistake suggests that the author is inclined to consider every dictatorship, even proletarian, revolutionary-democratic one as reactionary one, i.e. it causes a suspicion him of left-wing deviation, anarchism. It is necessary to emphasize, that the article was written by L. B. at 1999, that is before beginning of “global war against terrorism”, i.e. this matter was not yet made clear. National-liberation movements of the old type – Nasser in Egypt, Kaddafi in Libya, Baath in Iraq, Islamists in Sudan, which came to power at 1989, and the like were in fact “warlordism”. All of them have subsequently turned into puppets of imperialists, particularly Russian and Chinese ones. But Taliban, which is the movement of the lower classes (= proletariat and poorest peasantry), not of army officers and clergy (= middle classes), have “opened a new page” in national-liberation movement. Bourgeois science acknowledges the following: “…Another distinctive feature of the Taliban revolution is the nature of the Taliban leadership itself which differs significantly from most, if not all, experiences of governance in the Islamic World. While most revolutionary upheavals in the Middle East were led by military officials (Egypt, Syria, Iraq … etc.), or urban-based senior religious figures (Iran), the Taliban primarily consisted of talibs (students of madrasah – A. G.) or mullahs who originally graduated from religious schools or local seminaries in the rural areas of Afghanistan. Other Taliban recruits were refugees in Pakistan and had originally left the country at a very young age during the anti-Soviet uprising… … the Taliban movement originates from a social background that contrasts sharply to former revolutionary Islamic movements. Across the Middle East, Islamists usually recruit among the intelligentsia… In contrast, the Taliban movement is the only contemporary Islamic movement whose basis is a network of traditional rural madrassas…” (Dr. Kareem Kamel. Conceptualizing Revolutionary Outcomes: The Taliban Movement and the International System). 7. In my opinion, L. B.’s views on national question are insufficiently precise in general. It is the same with regard to “4 periods in national question”. Firstly, one could say about period of transition from feudalism to capitalism and formation of national states as about the first period only with respect to “West” (to West Europe, and also to USA and Russia). For “eastern” countries – former colonies and semi-colonies – this period is the third period too at the same time; for many “eastern” countries (for modern neo-colonies) this period still not came to the end. Secondly, it is erroneous to confine inter-imperialist rivalry within the second period, because this rivalry not stopped since then (although it not went into “hot” (violent) phases, as at the first half of 20th century). Thirdly, it is correct only in part to name the third period “the blade of proletarian revolution”: first, because it was the transition from feudalism to capitalism in many respects, as I said above; second, because colonialism is changed into neo-colonialism, i.e. formation of national states is far from ending in fact (with the exception of India, China, Brazil, which have entered into imperialist stage, and, in some degree, Iran). Third period is just the bourgeois revolution as distinct from the proletarian one in relation to modern period of national-liberation movement (so-called “International terrorism”). Fourthly, L. B. wrote, that now, at fourth period, “national and race borders are weakened”, that “imperialists have “multicultural”, transnational strategy”. It’s right only in following senses: 1) imperialists promote certain persons or clans from oppressed nations, but promote one of several tens or even of several hundreds, according to the level of economic development of given nation, according to the level of its national-liberation struggle (illustrative example of this – former rioters or even simply bandits from among Chechens and Dagestans, like Beslan Gantamirov and the like). It is as distinct from essentially more broad, massive (with respect to the coverage of population) bribery within own, imperialist, nations. 2) At more advanced oppressed nations, as they already enter into imperialist stage and are not oppressed in many respects, their own middle class emerges. 3) Certain part, though not large, nevertheless far from zero, of representatives of oppressed nations and races, who have assimilated into superpowers, turn out members of middle class or even bourgeoisie. But this claim of L. B. is erroneous, if one interprets it in the sense, that the gap between oppressed nations and oppressive ones is reduced. We see that L. B. confuses correct understanding that old colonialism was changed by neocolonialism (with all the ensuing consequences) with erroneous opinion, that national oppression is weakened. Dialectic applying of Marxism is mixed with old petty-bourgeois nihilism in national question. Apparently, L. B. confronts the example of Afro-Americans in USA, the example of Mexico, and transfers those examples on all oppressed nations. From this his phrases follow, which could be interpreted both as dissociating from nationalism of Afro-American labor aristocracy (Maoists and the like) and as the refusal to support movements of wide proletarian and near-proletarian masses in the 3rd world, Taliban and the like. However, despite this, I consider that advantages of this article probably outweigh its disadvantages. Its main advantages: 1) Rather exact answer to the question: “What is proletariat today?”, correct views on proletariat and labor aristocracy in superpowers – views, which coincide with my views in general. 2) Correct view on the ownership under modern capitalism, recognizing the fact that collective ownership of class (or group) of capitalists (not only stock ownership, but also “public” ownership as in former USSR and in China) is in fact the same capitalist ownership. A. Gachikus February 23, 2009

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