The Rising Movement Today
The leap in the economy, from industrial production to electronic production, is forcing millions of workers out of jobs, destroying the standard of living they thought was guaranteed to them. The capitalist system is untenable. America’s workers are abandoned and are pushed into struggles to obtain adequate housing, healthcare, education, water, and every other human necessity, hoping to get back what they once had. But these refugees from the dying capitalist system actually belong to a new class developing outside the old relations of production. As the robot destroys the economic order, the new class will destroy the social order. Its historic role will be to pull the various aspects of the overall struggle into a class movement, to liberate society from the ruling class and its private ownership of the necessities of life.
Leaders of the ruling class understand that the social effects of the destruction of capitalism will spur huge mass struggles. Their operatives in both political parties are implementing new forms of fascist control, to protect private ownership of the economy at all costs. That’s what was behind the arming of police with military weapons, as seen in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere. Fascist restructuring is also behind the new network of privately-owned prisons for immigrants, a threat to the freedom of anyone who the ruling class sees as dangerous to themselves.
Democrat and Republican leaders may argue publicly over how to best redesign the presidency, the FBI, or the police, but their basic unity to impose fascism has been revealed more starkly over recent years. The new class has nothing to gain in the debate between Donald Trump versus Robert Mueller. That will not provide solutions to the growing poverty, violence and ecological destruction.
Struggle for Necessities Revolutionary
The struggle for necessities must resist being pulled under the control of one or another section of the ruling class, as they continue to mobilize ever-escalating pressure on the government to provide for the people. Private ownership of today’s means of production prevents the government from meeting this responsibility. Therefore, in the electronic era the struggles for necessities are revolutionary. The new property-less class cannot stop fighting for what it needs, but it cannot win the fight within the confines of the current economic system. The struggle of the new class is objectively moving toward creating a new type of communist system, one able to utilize technology for the good of society.
The multiplying demands for health care, for decent housing, and for clean water and air are all part of this overall historic struggle, which is against the ruling class continuing its private ownership of the society’s means of production, and for the distribution of what people need. Protests and mobilizations play an important role in bringing masses into the struggle on their own behalf. But people’s consciousness still lags behind the objective changes and the new possibilities wrought by the electronic revolution. Without new revolutionary ideas, many of the combatants will be vulnerable to the ruling class idea, that their progress can only be guaranteed at the expense of other workers.
For example, in recent years the struggle of immigrant workers, to feed their families without a constant threat of ICE raids at their jobs and homes, has expanded to include the fight against their children being stolen by the government and tossed into “baby prisons,” or across the border. Millions of citizens have declared their opposition to this atrocity carried out in their name, including many who identify as “conservatives.” But, even among those opposing this form of fascism, many still think that jobs should go to citizens instead of immigrants; they are at risk of being won over to other aspects of the fascist agenda. They are in desperate need of new, revolutionary ideas, showing the possibility of pulling the struggles of both native-born and immigrant workers into a united fight against the ruling class.
Build Unity on Class Interests
As people are forced to discard their old beliefs about the fight for jobs and the economic security that capitalism seemed to promise, many are beginning to abandon old political beliefs about race and class. Those old beliefs prevented them from seeing themselves as part of the new class being created by the electronic revolution. Many struggles originated in communities or industries mainly made up of one color or ethnicity of people, a consequence of America’s long history of separation and segregation of working-class people. So, when struggles over basic necessities also include battles against discrimination and demands for social equality, the ruling class portrays these demands as “racial movements” to make it appear as if these struggles have nothing to do with the struggles of the rest of the class.
An understanding about the new class will not spontaneously grow out of the different struggles, even though the fighters actually do belong to it. Class consciousness must be introduced into those struggles by revolutionaries who fight alongside of them. Even how the word “movement” is used puts limits on our thinking. For example, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “an organized effort to promote or attain an end – [example] the civil rights movement.” What’s developing in America today is not limited to separate movements trying to improve conditions for separate groups based on color, gender, or immigration status. The class developing outside of the old property relations is an objectively communist class, whose interests lie in uniting into one class movement to eliminate private control of everything it needs.
Eliminating the causes of the growing misery of the new class will require it to unite its scattered struggles into one, fighting to revolutionize the whole society. For a long time that didn’t seem true. As capitalism established itself through conquests, slavery, and vicious exploitation, the ruling class was able to maintain the loyalty of many workers by granting limited concessions, and even major reforms like civil rights, legalization of unions, and rights for women. But the electronic revolution has not only sounded the death knell of the old industrial capitalism, it has polarized the economy to the point, when today just three Americans own as much wealth as the poorest half of the population.
Bring Vision of a New Society
The rising movement faces both new opportunities and new dangers. The opportunity is that a formerly secure sector of the industrial working class and a section of the intelligentsia, whose influence has always been used to bind the masses to the capitalist class, is increasingly being torn loose from their jobs, homes, and living standards. The destruction of this middle sector is important because it destroys the idea that the workers and capitalists have the same interests. This sector has some history of organizing to fight for particular demands within the system. If that history of organization can be united with a sense that they belong to a class that can only move forward on the basis of breaking free of the confines of the past, a new unity based on real class interests can be fought for.
But that’s also where the danger lies. Revolutionaries may refuse to interact with those, whose thinking includes scrambled bits of ruling class ideology such as anti-communism and ignorance about race and class, to name only two. But, then this middle sector will become easy prey for political operatives of the ruling class, eager to win them into the mass base for fascism, using propaganda blaming other sections of the new class for their worsening conditions.
This sector is not politically cohesive, having a long history of being pitted against one another along color, ethnic, gender and religious lines. Their previous economic security led many of them to accept socially and economically conservative ideas. Unless they are reached with revolutionary ideas explaining their plight, that history can push them toward the fascist mass base that is now playing a divisive and increasingly violent role in America.
Therefore, for both the revolutionaries and the fascists, the “center of gravity” of the rising class movement is this newly dispossessed section of the new class. If the ruling class can keep them locked into obsolete ideas, their influence can be used to keep social struggles uselessly trying to recreate the past. Some may follow leaders who claim their outdated policies will “make America great again.” Others may follow leaders who claim to support each stream of spontaneous struggle, but only to steer it away from progressing towards unity with the struggle of the whole class. Either way, this key sector would then be diverted from influencing others towards a real solution to the problems they face.
If the fighters grasp a vision of the society of abundance made possible by electronic production and digital tools, they can begin to fight in the direction of their own class interest. That direction and its program is the elimination of private ownership of the economy by the capitalist class. As they become clear and conscious about the crisis society now faces, members of the dispossessed middle will use their political experience and connections to help the emerging leaders of the new class focus their struggle in that direction. Today, the program of all revolutionaries must be to fight for this program of the new class, and their point of concentration must become the newly dispossessed.
November.December 2018 Vol28.Ed6
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