Analysis of Forces: Indispensable to Revolutionary Strategy
In every quantitative stage of development the ruling class creates its own opposition that serves as a means of controlling the working class. The ruling class attempts to corral and dissipate the inevitable upsurges, while at the same time using these upsurges to mobilize and shape these forces to achieve ruling class goals. Their success with this tactic was made possible by the expanding capitalist system and the super profits yielded by U.S. imperialism. The ruling class allowed a modicum of reforms in answer to the demands of the working class, and then was able to use these reforms to create a narrow stratum of bribed leaders, who could tie the entire class to the overall interests of the capitalist class. These reforms served to strengthen the capitalist system and to tighten its grip on the lives of the working class.
Today, the ruling class is faced with an irresolvable dilemma. On the one hand, it is doing what it has always done. It is creating its own opposition for the new situation, a magnet for discontent and a means to dissipate and channel that discontent. It is using these forces to assist in its efforts, not to better the lives of the American working class, but to impose a revolutionary fascist solution as a means of protecting private property in the face of qualitatively new conditions.
On the other hand, the movement the ruling class is confronting this time is qualitatively different than in the past. Qualitatively new means of production are destroying the capitalist economic system. These new means of production are creating a new class. This class cannot survive without overthrowing the system and instituting a cooperative society. This demand of this objective communist movement is challenging the methods of control of the ruling class. The general social movement that is getting underway from both the right and the left is shaped by, and must eventually align itself with, this reality.
Those who are and will be moving into social activity cannot achieve their demands for reform without revolution, and the objective conditions of their plight drives them into motion for the basic necessities of life. Yet, the ruling class has disarmed them by anti-communism and a host of anti-class ideologies, that impede their search to find the intellectual, political and organizational wherewithal to win their fight. Revolutionaries have an indispensable role in resolving this contradiction. If we do not, the aspirations of humanity will be routed, and the next stage of human development will be a fascist police State instead of a peaceful, cooperative society.
Reform to Revolution
As long as capitalism has existed, there has been a spontaneous movement for reform – an ongoing fight between capital and the workers over who will get what share of the pie. The capitalists granted reforms when it suited their interests, and withdrew them when it suited their interests. This struggle could not progress beyond a reform struggle so long as reform was possible within the existing property relations. The advent of labor-replacing technology sets the stage not only for the end of capitalism, but for the end of private property itself. None of the reforms the spontaneous movement seeks today can be had, except as a byproduct of a communist revolution. Thus today the spontaneous movement is objectively a movement for communism.
However, the goal of communism cannot be realized unless someone introduces class consciousness into the spontaneous movement. The ruling class understands this, and thus their agents are also on the battlefield, trying to confuse, divide and mislead the movement in various ways.
Given the lack of clarity among the working class, the ruling class may be successful in some cases in disorienting or crushing the organizations that the workers create, or they may succeed in pulling them under the leadership of organizations that are fronts for the ruling class. But revolutionaries can rely on the fact that the ruling class cannot overcome the underlying objective process.
There is very little truly “spontaneous” about the spontaneous movement. It is the activity of socially and politically conscious people, who are acting to design strategies, tactics and forms of organization to deal with the crisis they see. Some of these arise out of the struggle and reflect the demands of the class. Some of these organizations are formed by the bourgeoisie themselves in an effort to mislead the movement.
Let’s review the past period and see how things evolved to where they are today.
Post-World War II Period
The goal of the U.S. ruling class in the post-WWII war period was the expansion and domination of U.S. imperialism. Their immediate goals were the destruction of the direct colonial system (including integration and restructuring of the U.S. South) and the establishment of neocolonial regimes, whose markets, raw materials and enforced cheap costs of production would be open to exploitation by U.S. multinationals and international finance capital.
To accomplish this, the ruling class had to destroy those organizations, leaders and ideas which could not or would not facilitate this goal, and replace them with those that could. This process began in earnest after WWII with the destruction of whatever remained of any sense of class among the workers and their organizations. The communists were driven from the trade unions and replaced with a stratum of bribed, pro-capitalist leadership. The workers movement was suppressed with business unionism and the growing expansion of the U.S. economy and imperialism. The communists were driven from the various social organizations, thousands were blacklisted in every walk of life, and anti-communism became a key weapon (coupled with racial ideology) to block any form of social progress that did not benefit ruling class goals and interests.
In an effort to dismantle the direct colonial system and replace it with a neocolonial system friendly to U.S. imperialism, the U.S. formed a bloc with petit-bourgeois nationalist forces in the colonies. This gave the appearance that the U.S. ruling class was supportive of the struggle of oppressed peoples both at home and in the world. It was merely part of the overall strategy to create a system of neocolonies favorable to U.S. interests. Communists or anti-imperialist leaders who presented a threat to these goals were killed, debilitating the communist movement up to this day.
At home, the ruling class used the Blacks’ historical aspirations for freedom to break up the Jim Crow, segregationist legal and political system that blocked the further exploitation of the South. Their fight to shape the Freedom struggle as a “Black struggle” and reliance on the history of all-class white unity blocked any attempts to challenge the colonial exploitation of the South, or its status as an economic and political reserve for the ruling class. When the movement began to outrun the goals of the ruling class, the revolutionaries were killed off and leaders of all colors were promoted, who could tie the masses to the capitalist system, and to the evolving forms of syndicalism, now dubbed “identity politics.”
As the dust settled, a new world system had been created that was dominated by the U.S. The path had been cleared for the expansion of capitalism to a world system. Imperialism and the mechanisms of class oppression and exploitation had been kept in place, and racial ideology had been strengthened. The U.S. and Western Europe entered a period of unprecedented expansion based on this imperialism. This expansion provided the material foundation for the bribery of a stratum of workers in the U.S. and Europe, and helped form an upper stratum in the neocolonies.
In the U.S., the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s completed the process of the breaking up of the Blacks as a people, and opened the way for Blacks to enter their respective classes. A new stratum of leaders of all colors was promoted to tie the masses to the capitalist system. Racial ideology, that is the political and social ordering of people based on their “race,” became even more entrenched, expressed as identity politics on the left and white supremacy on the right. The left had been almost completely routed, foundering on the shoals of the transition from the struggles between capital and labor of the interwar period to the struggle between the national liberation struggles and imperialism of the post-World War II period. Revolutionaries who understood the contradictions regrouped and prepared their forces for the next round of struggles.
As the effects of labor-replacing technology spreads and capitalists compete for markets, national barriers are being torn down by international capital, dominated by speculative capital and the unfettered reign of the global corporations and their interests. A global ruling class of all colors has begun to emerge, in which are also included some of the wealthiest capitalists from the former neocolonies. In the U.S. there are rulers of all colors, from generals and police chiefs to state and national political leaders.
At the same time, the antagonism between the qualitatively new means of production and capitalist production relations has given rise to an objective communist movement. This objective communist movement, just beginning to show itself in the 1980s, and most starkly revealed in the fight over homelessness, cannot solve its problems within the bounds of the capitalist system. Labor-less production has heralded the end of the capitalist system, and society began to leave the era of reform and embark on an epoch of social revolution. Regardless of the form of its demands or its activities, the struggle of this class is for communism.
As the consequences of the new means of production were generalized through globalization, this movement became global in scope. And so became the attempt to control it. Government and private foundation money was poured into organizations throughout the world that were fighting against every aspect of the social ills produced by the spreading effects of electronic production. The rise of these kinds of organizations paralleled the decline of workers’ and social organizations decimated or destroyed by the ongoing economic crisis in cities and towns across America.
Organizations such as the World Social Forum and the US Social Forum have served as a magnet to forces eager to come together to solve the crisis. In the U.S., literally thousands of progressive-oriented organizations exist on the basis of foundation money. The ideological outlook cultivated by the ruling class, and in many instances the constraints of funding, limit these forces from moving beyond their critique of the results of the capitalist system to a unified and programmatic strategy to overturn the capitalist system.
The League has always united with, and where it does not deviate from our strategy and concentration, supported all organizations that fight for the demands of the new class. The point we are making is that the ruling class is tethering these organizations to their interests. These organizations limit the class from addressing systemic ills, regardless of the intentions of those who work with or for them, who are drawn to them, helped by them or organized by them. Increasingly, the fighters are coming to see the limitations placed on them by what some have called this “Non-profit industrial complex.” The League’s focus is to seek out, and become involved in, the organizations that are actually fighting for the demands of the new class.
As importantly, this period has seen the spread and consolidation of ideas that further disarmed the workers intellectually. Anti-communism and syndicalism have come to permeate the subjective side of the movement. Conceptions of class interests and class program have been dislodged and replaced by identity and coalition politics. Anti-leadership and anti-organizational philosophies have become dominant. The role of the State in preventing fundamental political change has been rendered almost invisible, replaced by a belief that political change can take place by building a bigger movement, or the belief that we can simply decide to live outside of capitalist relations. Much of the American left has become little more than a stew of reformist, anti-class theories promulgated and promoted by the bourgeoisie over the last 60-plus years.
There is no more telling example than that of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). It has so completely absorbed the outlook and program of the bourgeoisie that it is no longer identifiable as a communist party, or even an independent political entity. “A Radical Third Party. I agree!” written by the national chair of the CPUSA John Bachtell, and former CPUSA chairperson Sam Webb’s, “A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century,” both which advocate complete subservience to the Democratic Party, are two such examples.
The ruling class looks at the entire battlefield. It uses the forces of the right as well as of the left. The way the ruling class used the struggle over the end of Jim Crow and segregation to preserve the colonial exploitation of the South, to maintain divisions within the working class along racial lines, and to realign the two-party system to contain the new political necessities is only one example. For decades after, the rise of the religious right and the consolidation and spread of the “Southern program” was made possible with these forces. More recently, the increasingly extremist forces in the Republican Party have bestowed a growing legitimacy of fascist solutions to the problems faced by the American people. At the same time, various organizations scattered throughout the country, such as the small openly fascist parties, the anti-immigration organizations, the border militias, the various off-shoots of white supremacists, neo-confederates, sovereignty and secessionist groups etc., are allowed to function relatively freely, and are integrated into the police and State forces.
This vast, extended, and powerful network of control through organizations, money and ideas, is in turn, entangled in, tied to and controlled one way or another politically by the Democratic party on the “left,” and the Republican party on the “right.”
The ruling class sows disunity and confusion throughout the American working class, guaranteeing that it functions along the lines of its own class interests, establishes organizational structures that ensure a general unity of action, and, to achieve its aims, shows itself prepared to alter its views, strategies and tactics as conditions change.
Polarization is taking place throughout the apparatus of control the ruling class has constructed over the past 50 years. The emergence of a new class striving for the basic necessities of life threatens the ruling class strategy and formula of control. Its demands are already polarizing the thinking of those moving into activity regardless of color or ideology. It is clear that workers are beginning to discern the different class interests. Simply fighting back is no longer enough, and the workers are beginning to put forward programs in their interests. This means something fundamentally new for the revolution in America. These developments are of the utmost importance, as they define the League’s role as an organization of revolutionaries.
The class is beginning to shift from social awareness to an embryonic social consciousness. Social awareness is the realization that something is wrong in society. With social consciousness the workers come to understand that they are members of a class and that they need class solidarity. They come to understand that their class is exploited and that they must fight that exploitation as a class. We have seen flashes of this embryonic social consciousness in the growing response to the attacks on our class.
These flashes of social consciousness are embryonic, but direction is more important than velocity. We do not evaluate what the class is capable of simply by what it is now, or what it understands now. We understand there is always a lag between people’s understanding about what is actually changing in the real world – and its possibilities – and their subjective understanding of those changes. We rest on science. Social being determines consciousness. Change comes from a new quality being introduced from the outside. The entire history of the revolutionary movement, including that of the bourgeoisie, shows this. Dialectics tells us that objective development sets the stage for polarization, and intellectual development helps it come to fruition.
All forces struggle to align society to the new means of production. Greater polarization develops as one pole fights to create society based on private property without capitalism, and the other pole fights to create society based on the distribution of the social product according to need.
Revolutionaries’ role is to develop this polarization along the lines that set the conditions for communist revolution. Revolutionaries begin from uniting with these basic demands of the people – they must eat, they strive to live and to take care of their families. We do not begin from the color of their skin, or the sex of the combatants, or even, in a general sense, what they think – or think they know – now. We aim our propaganda at the point where the connection between them and the ruling class is being broken. We show them a different and realizable vision of the future, and a strategy to get there. Certainly, the ruling class understands this very well, and is spending billions in the current environment to win a section of the workers to their strategy.
It is the economic crisis that is pushing people into the streets to right what they perceive as wrong. But it is revolutionary propaganda that points out class interests, that unmasks the enemy, and that points the way forward with a vision of a new society that makes the difference. Revolutionary propaganda will be decisive in securing those flashes of consciousness as nodal points in the thinking of the American people. The greater the activity, coupled with the intellectual development of the combatants, the greater the polarity. That depends on the revolutionaries.
From Ideology to Objectivity
How do revolutionaries go about finding the means of dealing not with the ideologies of those who are being forced into motion, but their goals, what they are trying to accomplish?
First, what are they trying to accomplish? A decent life, a home, education for their children, a decent job, health care, and so forth. They have to fight for these things, even if they have different ideas about the source of the problem, and how to go about solving it.
For the first time the objective conditions exist for the unity of the class across historical divisions of color, presenting the possibility of breaking the historical form of capitalist class rule in America. Historically, racial ideology has been backed up by social privileges granted to white workers over Black workers. Unequally oppressed and exploited, they could not unite. The ruler’s goal is to stop the revolution from proceeding on a class basis. Their aim is to guarantee that the new class does not unite. They use every divisive ideology history has handed them. At the same time, the hitherto unknown breadth of equality of poverty is creating the basis for real class unity. Although it will be a long and difficult process, it is objectively possible today for a section of the class to unite around the program that is in its common interest – regardless of historical divisions – thereby making it possible for the class to lead society to communism.
Of course this is no simple thing. The divisions within the working class are very deep and can only be overcome through intellectual struggle, linked to daily practical experience. Yet once again we turn to science. Change in thinking takes place like any other change. It occurs as a leap. The leap is the destruction of the old mode of thought and the creation of the new. It starts with the introduction of an elementary stage of the new quality of thought and the quantitative struggle to destroy the old quality of thinking. Stage by stage, revolutionaries introduce and struggle to replace the old ideas with the new that will push forward the revolutionary process. Today, the overriding idea is of a class united around distribution based on need – which is, in fact, what the workers are already objectively fighting for.
Revolutionaries do not strive to direct the movement, to keep it under their wing, or try to pull it in a certain direction as was common with the struggle for reform. We develop the tactic of pushing it forward from the inside. That means recognizing that it does have an objective goal, accepting the actual struggle of the revolutionary section of the class as a basis for our program, and pushing for its accomplishment. Every revolutionary spontaneous activity, every struggle of the class within each stage of development, must be used to explain the quality of their activity. The only way to win them over to communism is to show them that they are communists and what they are doing is communism.
Examination of the real world shows the transition from communism as an ideological movement to communism as an objective, practical movement. As a result, revolutionaries must make the transition from a revolutionary outlook, activity and organization based on ideology, to a revolutionary outlook, activity and organization based on program.
The objective process of causality makes things possible, but it is human activity that makes things happen. Political and revolutionary organizations are how human beings have historically “made things happen.” Individuals play critical roles, but they do so in relation to the efforts of organizations. The League of Revolutionaries for a New America was organized to participate in, and make a contribution to, the process of transformation society is undergoing, based on the leap in the productive process.
This question of the objectivity of the communist movement today lies at the very core of what the League is trying to do. It is not simply what makes the League different from the ideologically-driven left in America, or the broader social movement. It is a proclamation of the radical break with the past period, and the call to play a part in the development of a new world communist movement, on the new foundation.
Political Report of the Central Body, LRNA, December 2015
January/February 2016. Vol26.Ed1
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011