A brief statement concerning the relation between consciousness, collective struggle, emancipation and the attainment of “a democratic, free and egalitarian world society”, from the French group, Démocratie Communiste (Luxemburgiste).
Self-emancipation and Consciousness – Démocratie Communiste (Luxemburgiste)
“… the understanding by the mass of its tasks and instruments is an indispensable condition for socialist revolutionary action – just as formerly the ignorance of the mass was an indispensable condition for the revolutionary action of the ruling classes.” 1
The capitalist system is a form of organizing production and our lives that is based on three foundations: money, commodities, and wage labor. Capitalism thus entails in its own principles inequality and coercion, which inevitably engender—to various degrees—egoism and violence.
The social class that is by far the most numerous, the class of wage workers, is the class that suffers the most under this system, because, in order to survive, the individuals who comprise this class must regularly obtain money, as they are forced to acquire resources by working at a job for which they are paid wages, a job that is therefore nothing but forced labor. Capitalist relations preserve a division between “winners” and “losers”, and the latter are always the most numerous, whether during “economic crises” or “booms”, regardless of the prevailing form of capitalism.
This situation causes the wage workers to constitute, according to Karl Marx, “a class which forms the majority of all members of society, and from which emanates the consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution, the communist consciousness, which may, of course, arise among the other classes too through the contemplation of the situation of this class”.2
The consciousness of the need to abolish the capitalist system, to replace it with a worldwide human community (communism), is derived from the struggle; and it is also by means of the struggle that the movement for the abolition of capitalism will be able to emerge and develop as a united, democratic and worldwide struggle, the starting point for the elaboration of a new organization of society.
In order to attain emancipation, we will have to pass through a revolutionary process directed by the immense majority of the population. This self-emancipation requires the collective struggle, and a clear understanding of the reality of the world system: the dictatorship of forced labor, in the form of the system of wage labor. These ruling principles establish permanent competition as the norm: society is based on compulsory competition between human beings, instead of on freely chosen, playful relations.
We have the opportunity to emancipate ourselves by way of our collective action. This means abolishing the competition between human beings, abolishing the barriers constituted by social classes and “nationalities”, and replacing competition with cooperation, and money by generalized free distribution of goods and services.
We shall thus be able to bring about “the unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences between men”.3 The people of the world can create a democratic, free and egalitarian world society, freed from capitalism and its borders.
Démocratie Communiste (Luxemburgiste)
Translated in December 2013 from the Spanish text available online at: http://democom.perso.neuf.fr/autoemancipacion.htm
- 1 Rosa Luxemburg, “Leaders and the Led”, International Review, New York, September-October 1936; English translation of extracts from an article that was originally published under the title, “Deceived Hopes” in Die Neue Zeit, Vol. XII, no. 2 (1903-1904). The English translation is available (December 2013) online at the website of Battaille Socialiste: http://bataillesocialiste.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/leaders-and-the-led-rosa-luxemburg-1903/.
- 2 Karl Marx, The German Ideology, Part I (“Feuerbach: Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook”)—Section D (“Proletarians and Communism”)—“The Necessity of the Communist Revolution”.
- 3 Karl Marx, Letter to Ludwig Feuerbach dated August 11, 1844.