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Why Is It That Communism Has Not Become A Revolutionary Movement?

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | opinion/analysis author Thursday August 02, 2012 17:48author by Paddy Hackettauthor email rasherrs at eircom dot net Report this post to the editors

Why Does The Working Class Support Capitalism In The West?

Generally in the West individuals, in a quailfied way, are free to express their views independently of how subversive those views may be. They are even, in a sense, free to organise themselves against the government. Marxists even become professors in bourgeois universities. Given that capitalist society is defined by Marx as inherently oppressive it appears as an inexplicable contradiction that it should have this free and just character in the West while still retaining its inherently exploitative and oppressive character

It took two world wars involving the deaths of over 60 million people, millions of injured and the massive destruction of houses, factories and other buildings to create the postwar conditions that were to prevail in the West. These conditions entailed a most peculiar contradictory development of capitalism. These are one's in which exploitation of the working class itself together with oppression persisted alongside economic protection by the state and eventually by emerging unprecedented social liberalism in the West. This peculiar state of affairs reflects the fragile balance that has persisted for all these years and which is now coming to an end because of the emerging constraints imposed by growing objective limitations. What made this epoch so peculiar was this strategic aspect involving the apparently 'magnanimous' character of Western capitalism. Now capitalism has no choice. It cannot pursue this strategy any longer. Growing costs can no longer allow it. This means that the only choice is capitalism minus these socio-economic frills or world social revolution. Given these conditions this determined that this strategy could not be indefinitely sustained. It was merely a provisional strategy.

Modern western capitalism today presents itself in socially liberal and social welfare forms giving off the appearance that it solves working class problems. Since World War Two the growing affluence of the Western working class has been extending itself so much so that much of this working class has increasingly lacked any working class identity. Consequently, notwithstanding its negative character, capitalism has been giving off the appearance of itself as a free, just and democratic society invested with diversity and even colour. We are presented with a capitalism that has plausibly realized Gay rights, black rights, travaller rights, children rights and many other forms of civil and social rights. In a sense this liberalism is an illusion designed to fool the masses that they live in a free, just and democratic society capable of capable further expanding its horizons in those directions

Generally in the West individuals, in a quailfied way, are free to express their views independently of how subversive those views may be. They are even, in a sense, free to organise themselves against the government. Marxists even become professors in bourgeois universities. Given that capitalist society is defined by Marx as inherently oppressive it appears as an inexplicable contradiction that it should have this free and just character in the West while still retaining its inherently exploitative and oppressive character. Capitalism's inherent nature contradicts its plausible appearance. Given these extraordinary contradictory conditions the present capitalist period has been a most peculiar one. Modern Western capitalism has largely provided much of what the Left has sought through the ostensibly ultimate destruction of capitalism --social revolution.

Communism has been effectively undermined by this strategy of capitalism's. This is why communism, as a politics and even theory, is virtually non-existent. Communism can never be successful while this strategy of capitalism's is both sustained and sustainable. Western Capitalism, in a sense, has stolen radical socialism's clothes. As a result it has succeeded in the virtual dissipation of potentially dangerous oppositional forces while achieving the (relative) pacification of the working class. But the bourgeoisie have paid a big price for this unique, even fragile, balance of class forces. It is a balance too that has "artificially" tended to give reformism an extended lease of life. This in turn tends to obstruct the emergence of a communist movement. Instead its role is replaced, in the main, by a plethora of reformist political groups, many of which are disguised as revolutionary (revisionist).

The bourgeoisie by providing a public sphere within which radical leftism, in its diverse forms, can exist and even burgeon induces 'the more conscious' elements within the working class to mistakenly experience capitalism as an acceptably progressive system merely in need of reforms rather than replacement. The growing integration of leftist elements into the mass media, academia and the institutions of the bourgeois state tends to further domesticate their putative subversive politics. Consequently false consciousness crystallises into a universal reified ideological formation within the working class. This, in effect, leads to revisonism/reformism as the key ideology and politics of the working class.

Complementing social liberalism is welfarism in the form of social protection and the many other benefits that are dispensed to the lumpenproletariat and to, perhaps, a lesser degree the low income strata of the working class. The economic protection of the lumpenproletariat and the working class appear to protect the masses from the harsher realities of life. The upshot of this is the insulation of the masses from class politics and thereby the insulation of capitalism from communist revolution. Elements within the bourgeoisie benefit from what is described as “corporate dole” and other forms of support. This helps keep otherwise disgruntled sections of the bourgeoisie quiet. The farming bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie receive financial and other support too. This undertaking by the state helps maintain the cohesiveness of the bourgeoisie. In a contradictory way capitalist society is emancipated from class struggle and thereby revolution. Social reality is turned upside down.

Because of the way in which social welfare is organised and distributed what is, in a sense, a single comprehensive issue, the issue of communist revolution, is split into a diverse number of issues. Generally these issues are experienced as having no necessary connection with each other. Consequently the immediate conditions for a unified class struggle are conspicuously absent. These conditions tend to encourge a plethora of single issue campaigns that have no inner relationship to each other. By splitting the class struggle into a myriad of atomised single issues its inherent subversiveness suffers. The result is identity politics and the marginalisation of class struggle. Single issue campaigners tend to be of the view that individual issues can be realised within the framework of capitalism. They tend to be indifferent to other issues, other than their own, even to the point of not envisaging any relationship between the issues. The splittting of the class struggle into a multiplicity of issues eviscerates it thereby rendering it ineffectual. This leads to the political atomization of the working class. It also renders it easier for the bourgeoisie to confront this atomized working class in a variety of ways that involves playing one element off against the other.

Formerly opposition to capitalism had a more challenging and subversive character. Eventually capital adjusted itself so that it now met much of what this movement was demanding in a superficially emasculated way. It eviscerated the demands of "the anti-capitalist" movement by integrating them into capitalist society. However along with the economic benefits of the social welfarism they proved enough to pacify the bulk of popular opposition. This happened time and time again as if it bore law like qualities. This absorption (defeat) of proletarian opposition assumed a variety of forms. Sections of its leadership turned into the very "thing" against which it had been mounting opposition –the bourgeoisie. Another form was the meeting of its demands in an eviscerated form --expurgated of their substance. The countercultural movement that began in the 1960s is a classic example of this. There were, and are, others such as women’s' rights, black civil rights and gay rights movements. The counterculture involved opposition to many contemporary aspects of capitalism including U.S. military engagement in Vietnam. Eventually capitalism managed to undermine this and other movements by conceding to many of its demands superficially.

Western Capitalism has assumed its current form as a means of preventing popular opposition from mounting an effective challenge against it. This was achieved by the transformation of sections of working class leadership into bourgeois institutional forms while superficially meeting the popular opposition's demands in a formal way. Initially the opposition appeared to have a more authentically subversive form. Its social welfare policy is a device to keep the working class down while posing as an emancipatory agent. Capitalism in presenting itself as the pioneer of freedom, reason and justice is, essentially, it’s very opposite. This renders it increasingly more difficult to convincingly expose the system and mobilise popular support for communism.

However given the acutely contradictory character of this strategy it has been increasingly bumping up against capitalism's objective limits --the growing tendency of the general rate of profit to fall. The financial and economic crash in 2008 is an acute expression of this growing tendency. Its aftermath has led to inroads having to be made on living standards and conditions of the working class. As the contradictions and objective limits of this historic strategy become increasingly acute social protective measures will have to be atrophied if chaos or social revolution are not to ensue. This socio-economic liberal strategy has become, let me say, too costly. Conditions have been reaching the stage whereby all round cutbacks are becoming increasingly necessary if capitalism is to sustain itself. Capitalism now faces a structural as opposed to a conjunctural crisis. However there is no guarantee that the capitalist class can successfully free itself from its social welfare character in order to avoid revolution.

Under modern capitalism human needs are met in a trivial, unbalanced formal way. These needs are presented as a common popular good conveying the impression that all people are essentially the same and desire the same thing --the market as abstract equaliser. It is, in one form or another, believed to be the sole form by which human needs today can be satisfied. Our behaviour then is conceived as identical for every member of the human species. Behaviour "can be recorded on some central data base." Consequently all humans "have to do to understand how they should behave is to log onto this data base. Given this, human individuals have no hope "of experiencing individual needs, creativity, adventure and innovation." It is this that constitutes the qualitative and significant gap obtaining between any form of capitalism and communist society. It is this gap that cannot be filled no matter what social appearances capitalism throws up. It is intended as a device to deceive and prevent the abolition of capitalism. It is an illusion that envelopes the Western masses. Whereas individual needs are an end in themselves. It is this that only communist society can fulfill. Capitalist success in creating popular satisfaction with such an arrangement is a clear indication that the masses have been pacified and thereby turned into a subject populace. Under such conditions it can never mount a challenge to capitalism. Consequently under these conditions a communist movement can never exist.

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