Over the course of the next week, I would like to post 4 theses a day from the 28 Theses on Class Society published by the Friends of the Classless Society:
Pretty good so far.
I would only say that the section on Fascism ought to more clearly recognize that Fascism was not the counter-revolution as such, but the end of the counter-revolution which began already in 1918-19 with the Bolsheviks eliminating the factory committees and soviets and peasants' movement, and European Social Democracy playing the role (eventually with Communist Party help) of counter-revolutionary director.
Sorry it took so long, but I have a bad cold and haven't been able to get around to doing much. Here are Theses 9-12.
redtwister, you should share your critique with the Friends. In an introduction that they asked me to tack onto the first four theses (which I have still not gotten around to doing, because, as I said, I am ill), they explicitly note that the theses are intended to kick off a discussion process.
I know that the Friends organize regular discussions on theoretical artefacts of the dissident worker´s movement. For example a text by the council communist group GIK was used to elaborate the counter revolutionary impact of Bolshevism. Its called "Theses on Bolshevism". It can be found here...
and in German on their website as part of a reader.
In regard to fascism I would say that the politics of Stalinism and worse, those of Social Democracy in the 20s and 30s effectively linked the working class movement to the state and nationalist resentment as shown in the theses.
I agree that the text shows the linking of the workers' movement to the State, I was only indicating that the place of fascism at the end of the process of counter-revolution could have been made more clearly.
Unless I misread and The Friends disagree that fascism completed what Social Democracy and then Leninism began?
Should I post comments on that site where these are being put up?
I have plenty of comments re: thesis 12, which I find unclear at best.
The comments on Wertkritik be clear for Germans as a reference to Krisis and Exit!, but here I think that would be conflated with value-form analysis, which of course includes a broad range of people.
This is followed up by what seems to be an attack on the Open Marxism milieu's arguments that classes are not clearly defined containers into which one can pigeonhole people, nor are classes "objects" which are clearly defined, and articulated, and therefore 'mobilized', 'organized', 'won over', etc.
Attached is the refreshingly direct attack on the dialectical notion of critique as making concepts fluid, against the tendency by bourgeois thought to fix them, and through the fixing of concepts, to try and fix society into something static and unchanging. I think the argument that communist theory ought to let us objectively identify the class is nothing more than a request to identify who is and who isn't working class, a matter which leads back to the infinite and politically hopeless wrangling over whether so and so is or is a worker or a section of the working class, etc.
Also, to say that class is a relationship does not reduce the objectivity of the class relation, nor its universality, but it deprives us of a mechanism for pigeonholing or defining an object which the communists can then go and organize, of objectifying.
The next paragraph...
The class relationship is a relationship between capital and proletarians, between self-valorizing value and labor-power.
Automatically we have the reification of categories. Labor only exists as labor-power insofar as it is already defined by the value-form, as split between abstract and concrete. This begs the question of how it is that labor takes this form.
Capital is not an “automatic subject” to the extent that it cannot do anything by itself and therefore always requires beings equipped with a will and consciousness, up to now humans, who organize its valorization in their own interests.
I don't know what it means to say that capital "cannot do anything by itself." This could mean that capital is a relation between human beings, even though it only appears as autonomous, which is true if one does not hold the appearance to be mere illusion. But really it seems like little more than an attempt to say, "See, capital really is people." To which I have to say, no, capital really isn't people. Capital is the autonomization of dead labor over living labor. The capitalist or the manager or the state bureaucrat is merely a cipher for capital: either they continue valorisation (whether in their own interests or not is irrelevant, frankly) or they are expelled as failures. Whatever else they may do, they must promote valorisation.
All money is potentially capital, and becomes capital as soon as it is no longer squandered for the sake of consumption, but rather enters into production.
This is just peculiar. I understand the point, but it is put so moralistically. Consumption is not simply personal consumption. Consumption must happen in the production process as well. And of course money is not potentially capital. Money is one mode of existence of capital, but it is also the universal form of value, and therefore it must be used (why the moralistic "squandered"?) in all exchanges in order to allow exchange-values to be actualized. A capitalist who produces shoes does not consider money spent by consumers on shoes "squandered" since without that purchase the value of the shoes would be "squandered" and he would have no money to continue producing.
Clever entrepreneurs have arrived at the idea of partially compensating their work forces in the form of stocks, and not a small number of hedge funds dispose of the retirement savings of American proletarians, who “let their money work for them” (the fetishistic circumlocution of the fact that by means of this money, somewhere labor is being commanded). But this effectively undemocratic character of capital has as its precondition that which it is supposed to refute according to the world view of ideologues: the existence of proletarians, that is to say people who must carry themselves to the marketplace, in order to valorize capital through their labor and surplus-labor. If capitalist class society, as distinct from its predecessors, thrives on the – in principle – permeability of class boundaries, it is nonetheless the case that the situation for proletarian small shareholders is not better than that of most dishwashers.
"Clever entrepreneurs"? Seriously? This is policy for most major corporations in the U.S. at this point and has been. The auto unions were already bragging about how much stock they owned in the car companies in the early 1980's as proof of the workers' power.
And none of this show the undemocratic character of capitalism. Democracy commands, but it does so with the consensus of those commanded. The problem is the capitalist character of democracy.
As for the last sentence, I think that someone who owns their own home, a car or two, and has half a million dollars in the bank (not an unusual sum for older workers in the skilled trades or in highly-paid union jobs as in auto or steel) is very much not the same as making $6 and hour and having no savings.
What is not the different is that the cars and house and savings account do not mean that one was not exploited. The auto worker might even have been more exploited than the dishwasher.
All of which is a shame because I think that the last paragraph is largely excellent (except the part about managers, which is mistaken.)
Just got home after a long day, so I don't have time to give redtwister's substantive arguments the attention they deserve, but a technical point should be addressed:
This is just peculiar. I understand the point, but it is put so moralistically. Consumption is not simply personal consumption. Consumption must happen in the production process as well. And of course money is not potentially capital. Money is one mode of existence of capital, but it is also the universal form of value, and therefore it must be used (why the moralistic "squandered"?)
"Squandered" is my unsatisfactory translation of verprassen. "Gobbled up" or "guzzled up" would have probably been better ("dissipated" is another option, but has the same problem as "squandered"). I think I'll change it to "gobbled up". Thanks for pointing that out, I agree it sounds too moralistic.
I think you have a few good comments on thesis 12, but in regards to your anti-leninism I would like to showcase thesis 6 where the Friends write that:
The internationalist perspective of the Bolsheviks, above all during the First World War, anchored them to the revolutionary camp. And in the case of a proletarian revolution in Western Europe, they might have remained in the revolutionary camp. But the Bolshevik concept of the party, their distrust of the possibility of a communist attitude of the class emerging from the dynamic of class struggle, already indicated, even before the revolution, an authoritarian conception of communism. But a crude anti-Leninism that purports to locate the reason for the revolution’s failure in the Bolshevik Party itself forgets that in the case of the Bolsheviks, social existence determines consciousness. This crude anti-Leninism does not notice how much it itself remains trapped within the conception of an all-powerful leadership that can arbitrarily direct history’s course. Nobody can say what would have happened if social conflicts had taken another direction
additionally I would like to say that historic Leninism is anchored in its philosophy within the thoughts of european enlightment and has, taken the perspective of a straight line, nothing to do at all with national socialism in Germany which materialized its barbaric ideology alongside democratic mass support in industrially organized death camps.
Cheers for those they were ace..
Can't believe you wasted your time on this waffle about 'avant gardes' and 'proletariat.'
Kurz's recent article on 'a new ontology' is in desperate need of translating. We were lucky enough to have someone introduce the outline of his argument to us at a meeting last Friday in London. There are ideas in that small article that could blow away all the cobwebs round here
I can't believe you're wasting your time on propagating the work of Robert Kurz.
Go to the source: Hans-Georg Backhaus, Helmut Reichelt, state-derivation debate, I.I. Rubin, Evgeny Paschukanis.
Kurz is a fine publicist and journalist, but reading Robert Kurz as a "theorist" instead of the above-named is like reading Kautsky and Engels rather than reading Marx.
P.S. If you were able to read Robert Kurz's regular columns for the geriatric Stalinist daily Neues Deutschland, you'd see him cheerleading union strikes just like anybody else. Sorry to destroy whatever fantasy image in your head.
FYI: these links no longer seem to work. Is the translation located somewhere else?