Both the Republican and Democratic conventions are now over. It is time for some additional reflections. First, as per the period of McGovern, the rainbow coalition, Jesse Jackson’s attempt to run and now Bernie Sanders, the reformist and populist left is left holding an empty balloon, deflated by promises to build a movement or a political revolution. These promises are nothing other than demagoguery. Some of these people will hibernate till the next election, hoping that we forget this election experience. Some will hop on the bandwagon of other insignificant candidates, still pushing their opportunist/populist political line.
by Jan Makandal
October 24, 2015
The left’s coup de grace certainly did not originate with Sanders. Its degeneration is the result of persistent and long-term opportunism and populism. Bernie Sanders is simply one additional element accelerating the debacle of today’s petit bourgeois radical left, a pertinent effect pushing it into an abyss of its own creation.
This radical petit bourgeois left is expert at quoting dead proletarian revolutionaries, tuning their valuable contributions into verses frozen in time. But they are totally inept at using these quotations as a guide for the future.
They refuse to acknowledge or use proletarian theory (Marxism at its core) as a science. Marxism can’t stand still in time, but is in a constant mode of rectification and consolidation. The insistence of using quotes, making others speak for them, is not a sign of political unity with these previous revolutionaries, but is instead an exemption freeing them from elevating the quotes to a theory which can eventually guide them in their own practice.
For proletarian militants, practice is a validation of theory, whether it proves a theory is incorrect (indicating the need to rectify the theory) or correct (from which follows the need to consolidate). But we can observe that even when these petit bourgeois radical leftists cite quotes, their content is far apart, very far apart from their own political practices. In other words, for them there is no dialectical relation between theory and practice. Instead, these quotes become ossified and inevitably contribute to the stagnation of proletarian theory.
September 24, 2015
The concept of “democratic socialism” is a metaphysical “system creation,” or capitalist upgrade with a bit of Marxist flavor. To be more blunt, it is an attempt to strip Marxism of its proletarian content by ignoring the antagonistic relation between capital and labor. It serves the interest of the petite bourgeoisie, who want more equality, but ultimately will not break with the capitalist class. “Democratic socialism” doesn’t challenge or overturn capitalism, and is therefore not socialist. It is in fact in the interests of capitalists. At best, it is a slightly reformed capitalism with a few “socialistic tendencies.”
Marx and Engels first demarcated from these kind of utopian schemes by clarifying that proletarian science is not political economy. This was a warning that it would be totally impossible and undesirable for proletarian science to fix capitalism or make it work better. The sole purpose of proletarian science, which is based on historical and dialectical materialism, is to analyze all the different forms of capital accumulation for the defeat of capital, by realizing the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is Scientific Socialism.
Scientific Socialism is the general foundational concept of the proletariat to defeat capital and capitalism. It is the only socialism that exists. It is the application of the science of the proletariat, in any specific social formation, to destroy all forms of concentration of capital and, in the process, construct a higher form of societal organization: Communism.
The working class, the proletariat, is the only class in society that can achieve this goal, by leading an alliance of other dominated classes. Other dominated classes cannot, by their struggle for emancipation, lead society to socialism. Slavery transitioned [not mechanically] either to feudalism or capitalism, other exploitative forms of societal organization. Feudalism transitioned to another exploitative type and form of societal organization under the leadership of the capitalist class, even if it was an objective advancement.
Today, the only class within capitalism that can end that vicious cycle of transitioning to new types and forms of exploitative systems is the proletariat. The proletariat is the only class that produces the foundation for all forms of concentration of capital: surplus value. The surplus value extracted from the labor power of workers in the production process is what allows capital to reproduce.
Since that extraction is in a relation of antagonism, the proletariat has no interest in its reproduction, but rather seeks its abolition. By achieving this, the proletariat will achieve the most historically advanced form of society, making possible the breakdown and elimination of all class divisions, along with their many wretched consequences.
by Gerye Proletari
(March 9, 2015)
A political line is what separates organizations (revolutionary and progressive) from a collection of activists. When organizations don’t have a proletarian political line, the dominant tendency is to become swept up in reformism. Pragmatism, populism, economism, activism, nationalism and unionism (at this stage in most countries, unions have become integrated capitalist organizations) are all prevalent in many organizations. Indicators of disconnection from a proletarian political line (which would be informed by and inform theory and political practice), many of these tendencies end up turning organizations reformist and opportunist. They are pushed by NGOs, unions, and other structures of capital which try to co-opt and integrate people and movements.
These organizations, which are the main organs of capital recuperation in the streets, DO have their own political lines. The activists who join and or work with them however usually are not part of the construction of the lines. Even organizations which are themselves autonomous from Capital, without a political line, end up objectively being foot soldiers of these other Capitalist organizations; typically, they end up pragmatists, working on whatever is the current “campaign” or “hot button issue” of the day.
Dogmatism is a manifestation of theoretical and/or ideological deficiencies, such as idealism (metaphysics), sectarianism, elitism or followership. It’s a significant obstacle to working class emancipation, which we must identify and comprehend in order to combat it. There are several variants and expressions, including:
A) The practice of conflating our concepts with reality (for example, arguing that the concept of democracy is the power of the people, and really existed in ancient Greece even though that was a slave society).
B) The attempt to make a concept become reality (for the dogmatist, God exists not as a concept but as reality).
C) The belief that a concept can create reality (utopian schemes).
D) The attempt to fit a concept into a reality (for example, the idea that we can shape our social relations to fit concepts like direct democracy or horizontalism, which have never existed historically except as concepts).
E) The belief in dogma: “unchangeable, immutable truths” that are to be taken for granted, unquestioningly, and that are not founded in reality. (Like quoting from some historically acclaimed figure to prove one’s point in a debate, as if that quote itself is enough to “prove” one’s point of view, as if historical conditions have not changed…)
By Jan Makandal
The Crisis of Capitalism: A Particular Conjuncture
Capitalism is going through a period of deep crisis in the reproduction of capital. Two types of contradictions are actually affecting capital, compelling it to desperately seek a remedy for this crisis, which is a result of how capital is currently producing surplus value, and how capital is being circulated.
Intra-Class Contradiction: Structural Adjustment
The first type of contradiction is within the dominant classes, specifically within the capitalist class. This type of intra-ruling class contradiction is universal to all social formations, but the particulars are specific to each social formation, because of the historical structure of class struggle. In the US social formation, with which we are mainly focused at present, the internal contradiction of capital is advancing in a very complex reality.
By Jan Makandal
(November 28, 2009; last edited 3/30/2013)
There is no story telling in the realm of theory. The effect of theory in class struggles is determined by the effect of class struggle on theory. Nowadays, our biggest problem is that history and class struggles are advancing and proletarian theory is at an ebb.
Our whole philosophical problematic, the scientific objectivity of our theory depends, historically, and practically, on the determined class position that is being realized through the practices guided by that theory. In order for proletarian theory to develop, we must have the freedom of discussion, and the freedom of constructive criticism in the unity of the proletarian organization and the proletarian mass movement. (more…)
There are many ways that the system defeats popular movements and struggles. One of them is populism. When people are discontent and want to act, populism is often used to mobilize us in ways that will leave us, in the end, without transformative change.
Through history, powerful movements for social and economic liberation have been co-opted and diverted by populism with very reactionary, repressive results, such as the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the election of the imperialist puppet Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) in Haiti, and the ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood within the struggle against Mubarak in Egypt. (more…)
By Stephanie McMillan
(July 2012; last edited 3/30/2013)
Individualism is the ideology of competition, of capitalism. It consists of prioritizing one’s perceived immediate personal interests above collective interests, and being blind to the fact that one’s long-term personal interests actually correspond to the interests of the whole. This leads people to behave in ways that are detrimental to the collective, and ultimately to each individual as well.
Under capitalism, society does not meet the needs of the people, and we are structurally prevented from meeting our needs collectively. Capitalism’s engine is competition. There is competition between classes as well as within classes. Within the working class, the capitalist system pits each person (or family) against all others in a struggle for survival.