The historic aim of world society is the ending of private property and the creation of a cooperative communal society. Today, this lies within humanity's reach. Qualitatively new means of production are laying the foundation for the abundance of society to be made available to all. A vast social revolution is underway. Destruction and polarization are tearing down the old and opening the way for the new. But the reign of private property and the class that defends it stands in the way.
From the flux and instability of these changes is emerging the social force that can challenge not only the rule of the capitalist class, but can also put an end to the entire epoch of private property. Cast adrift as capitalism crumbles, uncoupled from all they know, they have no choice but to fight for their survival. The demands of this new impoverished class for food, housing, education, health care, and an opportunity to contribute to society are summed up as the demand for a co-operative society. Such a society must be based on the public ownership of the socially necessary means of production and the distribution of the social product according to need.
The new class must have political power to achieve these goals. To accomplish this, the class must move from its scattered economic struggles against the corporations to its united political struggles against the state.
The objective conditions create the social force that can overturn the system. But the "path to power" of the class depends upon that class forming itself subjectively, that is, understanding itself as a class for itself, as it is formed objectively within the epochal leap underway. It must come to understand that its program alone can resolve humanity's plight, and prepare itself politically, intellectually, and ideologically for the challenges it will face in its fight to assert its will.
Understanding the line of march of the revolutionary process and mapping out what must be done in each stage to forge the path to class power is the historic role of the organization of revolutionaries. Working within the developing social motion, the revolutionaries prepare the class ideologically and politically as social destruction proceeds, polarizes society, and forces the battle for social transformation.
Line of March
What do we mean by the terms, "line of march" and "path to power"? The line of march is the general progression of revolutionary development and transformation. The line of march is not at all linear progression. It is a dialectic whose stages are interconnected, that interpenetrate. It is the dialectic of change in objective conditions and the subjective response of the masses; and conversely, how the result of the mass response immobilizes or frees up the objective conditions for further motion. The line of march shapes the map revolutionaries draft to achieve the goals of the revolution in each stage of development – the path to class power.
In its most general outline, the line of march of the revolutionary process is as follows. The introduction of qualitatively new means of production begins to invade and break up the existing productive relations. This economic revolution gives rise to social revolution, a process of destruction of the old order and reconstruction of the new.
As polarization tears society apart, all connections are broken, setting loose social forces that had once been tied together, opening the search for new forms of connection, new relations. As society polarizes, the factions turn against one another, a process of destruction of the old order takes place and a new process emerges from this struggle and destruction. Social revolution compels political revolution, as these warring factions cannot achieve their aims without the political power to do so.
Once polarization begins, revolutionaries do not attempt to hold it back, but work in such a way as to throw their blow at the middle. In this way, they assist in breaking the process free of its confines, making transformation possible.
New class: revolutionary force
A social force capable of such a change must be outside capitalist society and antagonistic to it. True to the dialectic, electronics itself is creating this force. As more and more production is taken over by electronics, the displaced workers are forced into lower and lower paying jobs and many of them end up in the growing mass of permanently unemployed. Today over a third of the work force are contingency, part-time, or temporary workers. A huge section works at or below minimum wage. They are not simply unemployed or poor, but dispossessed, a new class that has few or no ties to capital.
The new class is revolutionary because it is increasingly outside of and hostile to the wages system. It is revolutionary because it cannot fight the individual employer – it must fight the state. It is revolutionary because robotics makes it impossible for them to co-exist with private property. The only way for this class to prevent the gigantic means of production from crushing them is to make them public property.
As the destruction and polarization of the economy and society forms this class objectively, how is this class to be formed subjectively, as a class-for-itself? The objective barriers to the unity of the class are being torn down. The national groups are being broken up into their respective classes. The black bourgeoisie has been fully integrated into the ruling class, and no longer has any objective connection to the black masses. The ruling class has discarded the social bribery they extended to the white workers, and, along with it, the foundation of the all-white class unity that underwrote the politics of the past. But the class is scattered and ideologically divided, unprepared to assume its historic mission.
To take the next step forward, the breaking of the connection between the workers and the capitalists – already a reality in the objective economic sphere – must be mirrored in the ideological, and ultimately, the political sphere.
Dispossessed: Decisive section of new class
Yet this class is counted in millions. Where to begin? What is the strategic section of this class, the one that can pull all others forward?
The greatest concentration of this section lies in the grand region of the industrial heartland, what is now termed the Rust Belt. It was once the greatest concentration of giant industry, the center of production that raised the US economy to a world power, and that boasted the greatest concentration of industrial workers in the world. Forced into competition with global labor, devastated by robotics, and forced from any possible means of finding work, this section has been separated from all that they have known and relied upon. They are the dispossessed.
Yet it is not simply their vast numbers. It is also their continuity in the communities of the region – generations in the plants, and in the unions – and their collective class experience of their battles for a better life raising up the living standards for all. It is their skills, their knowledge of organization, and the deep sense of their right to a future for themselves and their family. It is their ties, by a million different threads, to the same stratum of the class throughout the country.
Regardless of color, they have been the bulwark of capitalist support for decades, and have little understanding of what is facing them, or how they can be used to further the capitalists' agenda.
Yet conscious of their class interests, and armed with a battle plan to achieve their immediate needs, they can be turned toward revolution, and can bring the rest of the class with them.
This decisive section is already moving into activity, and the ruling class is already waging a fight for not simply their organizational leadership, but to shape their minds and vision of what's possible. If this bid is left unchallenged, not only the workers of the Rust Belt, but all of society will fall prey to the fascist forces coalescing to restructure society around the fascist corporate state.
Fight for political direction
The direction of social motion depends on the intellectual development of the section of society making the change. As society is torn apart in the process of transformation, everything is called into question. This extends far beyond opinion or idea about this or that, but begins to penetrate and challenge prevailing attitudes and values, even the broader psychology of a people.
We can see this in our own history. No matter how poor the black southern sharecroppers might have been, they were always essentially petty producers and could not form an independent political pole. As they were thrown off the land, moved to cities, and began to resolve the problems of their new situation, their psychology began to change along with their circumstances. It led, not only, to the victory of the civil rights movement and the end of segregation, but to a vast social response that is still being felt.
To a certain extent, this process is a natural expression of the objective changes people experience – the growing uncertainty, the declining standard of living, the attack on their sense of right and wrong. The masses begin to look for and eventually find a political expression. It arises on and is part of a vast groundswell of moral and ethical activity.
Yet this does not mean that political expression automatically reflects their interests. Although the program of the new class is objective, it must be fought for; it is something the class must learn. Dialectics tells us it must be introduced from the outside. The art of politics lies in working within the spontaneous struggle for the immediate needs of the class to achieve the subjective goals of revolution within each stage of the revolutionary process.
The strategy of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America is to politicize the masses, and to supply the emerging revolutionaries who are fighting around the practical demands of the class with the political propaganda and education that will round out their fight. Tens of thousands of socially conscious people declare themselves revolutionaries in opposition to the degenerating social and economic conditions. The League's mission is to unite these scattered revolutionaries on the basis of the demands of the new class, and to educate and win them over to the cooperative communist solution of the problem.
From Scattered economic struggles
to united political struggles
We don't fight just any battle. We fight along the line of march. The laws of capitalism make it inevitable that the means of production will reach a point where they can no longer be managed by private concerns alone. At a certain point, the partial recognition of the socialized character of the productive forces is forced upon the capitalists themselves. The bourgeoisie is forced to nationalize in its efforts to protect the capitalist system, while at the same time it must lay the foundation for a new social order based on private property without capitalism. They too, like all ruling classes before them, must remold themselves to the emerging economy. They are fighting over how to accomplish the magnitude of all the tasks before them, but they cannot escape that these tasks must be done.
For the developing new class, the only way to prevent being crushed is to force the government to take over the full range of services and make them public property in the interests of the people. This means nationalizing health care and education, and making these massive means of production public property. This reality places them on a collision course with the rising corporate fascist state.
Nationalization alone is not the goal, but it is a bridge, an intermediate step between what people understand and are beginning to fight for today, and the larger understanding that the struggle to build a communal economy is the ultimate solution. In the battle to form the class "for itself,” the battle over nationalization moves the workers from their scattered economic struggles against the corporations to united political struggles against the state. It challenges and aims to defeat the rising fascist state.
Nothing can move forward until a broad section of the class breaks with the interests of the capitalists and organizes itself politically in accordance with its class interests. The clearest political expression of this will be the formation of a workers party. Such a party would provide an organizational mechanism to advance the class from what comes naturally – their scattered, narrow, defensive reaction to problems – and develop them into a politically cohesive force, united around common demands and perspective.
In the struggle to transfer capitalist property in order to feed, clothe, house, and care for itself, the class moves from simply confronting elements of the state to recognizing the state as an arm of the capitalist class. In the fight for its demands, the class comes to realize it cannot achieve those demands within the capitalist system, and that it must battle and defeat a state that interferes with the circulation of the necessities of life.
Tasks of the League
In the midst of the great battles of the nineteenth century between the capitalists and the working class, Karl Marx reminded the workers that the battles they fought and had yet to fight had significance far beyond changing their immediate conditions.These battles were necessary, "not only in order to change existing conditions,” he told the workers, "but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power." History creates the objective conditions as does new machinery, conquest, and revolution. But the subjective response to the conditions depends entirely upon the thinking of the people. If they do not respond correctly, the cause is lost.
In spite of worsening economic conditions, nothing can be accomplished until the American people hold a vision of where they want to go and what they want to be. Creating and imbuing them with such vision is the overriding task of revolutionaries and the foundation of our organization.
We have identified that new social force as the growing new class, and in particular the section that can pull forward all the rest. The next step of our fight is to engage in the battle over nationalization as part of the growing battle against the corporations. This fight teaches the class lessons about the state and, in the process, the necessity to form itself politically and to put forward its own programs; and, as the fight develops, to present the necessity of a workers party to represent those interests of the developing new class.
Whether this fight is completed or battle is declined, depends on not simply the objective environment, but the subjective development of the class. That depends on revolutionaries playing their role.
The League has to make an all out effort to achieve victory along the line of march of this stage of the revolution. No forward motion is possible until our class rejects the politics and the ideology of its class enemy and becomes conscious of its interests as a class. No step forward is possible unless it speaks to the interests of the growing new class. Consciously breaking with the ideas, interests, and organizations of the class enemy, and fighting for the solution to the problems of those who have the least – this is the first step on the path to power.
This article is the first of the "Path to Power" series from the LRNA Standing Committee.
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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