Me, Proletarian? (GCI-ICG)

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August of this year marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Internationalist Communist Group (GCI-ICG). Here is an english translation of an often referenced article that appeared in issue n.57 of their spanish language journal Comunismo which attempts to clarify the definition of the proletariat. The original article first appeared in 2008 but today it remains more relevant than ever.

The plaintext version follows:

Me, Proletarian?

A contribution to the definition of the proletariat [1]

Part One:

Class domination and negation of the proletariat

Bourgeois domination is maintained because the proletariat doesn’t destroy it. If until now it wasn’t capable of doing that, it’s because this social class still hasn’t been constituted into a sufficiently compact and potent force in order to do so.

Having said that, in order to constitute a force of abolition of the social system,it is required that the struggle for life becomes crystallized into a voluntary and conscious revolutionary activity. The historical consciousness of the necessity of being constituted in a force, in a party, is determined at the same time by material conditions, by exploitation and the struggle against exploitation, by the increasingly more explosive contradiction between the possibilities which humanity has, depending on the development of productive forces, [2] and the miserable reality in which the most part of the human species is maintained.

The revolutionaries have confirmed more than once that this general historical determination towards the social revolution isn’t linear, isn’t immediate and can be delayed, conditioned, and diverted by many factors of order; political, ideological, religious, cultural, etc. For that reason, in stunningly catastrophic material conditions, like the current ones, the protest against the aforementioned contradictions is not assumed directly, as we would like, as organized and centralized action for the destruction of capitalism [3] .

In these conditions there are different types of social movements of the proletariat, from the simple protests, strikes or street demonstrations which respond to this or that act of a boss, a minister or the government, to the more general and violent movements that attack all of the parties and forces of capitalism present and that in deeds are showing a much more general tendency to attack the bourgeois order. But even in these cases the consciousness which the protagonists have of belonging to one same class which struggles in all the countries of the world, the necessity of organizing and centralizing on a worldwide scale, the consciousness of the necessity of the destruction of bourgeois society, is not at all comparable to that which characterized the worldwide proletariat in the years 1917-23, nor with that which developed in 1968-73. In many of our works we try to trace the general lines which determine and characterize the current period of struggle and contradiction between the force with which the international proletariat reappears here and there, and its utterly low level of permanent international organization, of associationism, of class consciousness.

In our different texts we analyze the firmaments of bourgeois domination,democracy, its different subterfuges for disarming, disorienting and crushing all types of proletarian revolt that don’t know, in a given moment, to pass on to the offensive and display themselves as a compact and determined centralized force struggling for their dictatorship against the mercantile society.

It’s no coincidence that the tools of the power of capital are always the same. The repolarization of society into different bourgeois alternatives, in the style of right against left, [4] antifascists against fascists, liberals against anti-neoliberals, nationalists against imperialists, popular-frontists against nationalists, dictators against democrats, militarists against pacifists, islamists against christians, republicans against monarchists, isn’t one form among others of reorganizing the bourgeois domination which is in danger, but the general method which the society has (since many centuries ago!) to transform the social rage against the society into rage to the interior of the society, the social war into inter-bourgeois war, the proletarian ruckus into delegations and negotiations to the interior of the state, the questioning of the whole society into questioning of a particular form of domination, the struggle against capitalism into struggle against one bourgeois fraction in favor of another.

If the secret of the revolution is the autonomy of the proletariat and its constitution as class and therefore as a party, the key of the counterrevolution is the atomization of the proletariat and its channeling into the society at the service of the struggle of one fraction against another. If the major triumphs of the worldwide revolution are always linked to the conquest of class autonomy, of the transformation of the imperialist war into revolutionary social war, like for example the process which led to the insurrection of 1917 in Russia or in Ukraine a bit later, the greatest triumphs of the counterrevolution are all linked to a liquidation of the proletariat as an autonomous force and its repolarization within the bourgeois forces, like for example the process that went from the insurrection in Asturias in 1934 and July of 1936 in Barcelona to its international alignment in fascism and anti-fascism and the beginning of the “second” world war.

This general form of action of the counterrevolution is articulated with an array of fundamental elements of democracy, like the terrorism of the State, parliamentary promises, death squads, nationalist guerrillas, street gangs of bosses and/or unions, the calls to elections, the mobilizations to defend the rule of law, …all elements which flow together to disarm and liquidate the proletariat. Our works about the current situation contain hundreds of references and concrete explanations of how this or that party or this or that country utilize the electoral flag, the nationalist flag, the flag of the rights of man … to confuse the proletariat in the decisive moment, to deviate it from its own objectives, to make divisions at the same moment in which other fractions, (or the same ones!) organize the massacre and the imprisonment of its most decided elements. These elements we could designate here, only for the purpose of being more clear, as the political elements of democratic domination.

In other works we have described the normal functioning of the current bourgeois society, the general process of everyday atomization, of citizenization,of generalized imbecilization which has made of man a well trained animalwhose central activity consists of being a spectator (and not only of the television!). All of the medias of information contribute to the aforementioned work [5] , that which is called art and culture, school, science, the churches and sects,the alternative structures, the means of communication and fabrication of ideas,urbanization, chemical products, drugs and psychopharmaceuticals, games, social security, medicine, psychology, the circus and other organized distractions,…Only in order to make this exposition as clear as possible we will denominate them as social elements of democratic domination.

It is indispensable to understand clearly that both types of elements, while they are different faces of the same reality, are at at the same time determined by that which is the essence of the democratic domination, the mercantile economy, the production and reproduction of the society as a confluence of free sellers and buyers of commodities, as a meeting of individuals confined within their own being, as a clash of reciprocal egoisms, as the expression of the struggle of all against all, as the free opposition of wills and private interests. In this respect it mustn’t be forgotten that the much touted human rights are nothing more than the juridical formalization of this reciprocal opposition between individuals, that “none of the so-called rights of man go therefore much further than the egoistic man, the man as a member of the bourgeois society, meaning the individual preoccupied with himself, his private interest and his will, private and dissociated from the community” (Marx: “The Jewish Question”).

It is very far from us to pretend to separate or divide bourgeois domination in its economic, political, ideological and social aspects in the way the structuralists do as if these aspects could be treated like separate entities (which the theory later articulates!); our whole conception conceives of the totality as a quality different from the sum of its parts.

Furthermore it is sufficient to isolate an element in order to prove that in it is found the totality, that the social, for example, is at the same time economic, ideological and political [6] .

There’s no doubt then that it’s not a question of different realities or structures but only of aspects, of angles of perception, of one same reality, as it occurs for example with concepts like that of capital, bourgeoisie, and bourgeois State on one hand, and class and proletarian party on the other.

What we do is utilize a relatively arbitrary classification of the different elements in order to better place democracy as a globality in evidence and the analysis which we can undertake separately from the aspects of this totality only has validity among us in the measure in which it contributes to perceiving the globality of bourgeois domination (or that it permits us to more easily discuss it) and is conceived of as part of an action against this globality. As the reader can substantiate, the majority of our works with respect to this denounce the totality of bourgeois domination and are conceived as weapons of struggle against it. And that includes when we deal with only one aspect of the totality, in the measure in which we always place in evidence the effective linkage that this aspect has with the international and historical struggle against bourgeois society in its totality.

It is with these premises that we define the specific object of this small contribution. We try to analyze a basic and fundamental element which is today decisive in the reproduction of the totality, in the persistence of the counterrevolution. As we shall see in this article, the primary element, which characterizes bourgeois domination and permits the present coherence of the economic, political and social elements of democracy, is the unconsciousness of class, the mythology which permits the proletarian today to consider themself as anything but a proletarian. Primary, basic, because it’s upon this non-consciousness of belonging to one same class that all domination is founded.

We will then place into evidence that the key to bourgeois domination currently is that of having spread the historical negation of the proletariat as a class , after the defeats of the most major revolutionary waves in history [7] , to a level so generalized that the proletariat itself reproduces this negation, because in its everyday life, it disregards itself as a class, because its practice isn’t really classist practice. Needless to say, this negation of the proletariat as a class, basis of all this society of exploitation, misery and destruction without end, although it finds its expression in consciousness, is not a mere theoretical question and much less a simple question of ideas, but an eminently practical problem and one which will only find its historical solution in revolutionary practice.

Class Unconsciousness

In effect, television and football, elections and unions, “drugs” and “music”, the playstation and the consolation devices (mobile phones, chats…) the politics of the left and right, the different national flags, the corruption and the “crisis”,(neo?)liberalism and its opposition, the vigilante and union gangs, the nationalist and islamic guerrilla, the alternativism and its self-managed workshops, the popular governments and the anti-terrorist campaigns, … function perfectly as mechanisms of falsification, of divergence, of channeling, of repolarization [8] , of destruction of the efforts of the proletariat to become organized, because the proletariat doesn’t recognize itself as a class and because it disregards its historical strength and its program.

Or, to formulate it in another manner: If today it’s so easy for the bourgeoisie to respond to a proletarian struggle in whatever part of the globe, this is due without a doubt to the proletariat of the rest of the world not recognizing itself in that struggle, it is due to an array of mechanisms of control (and even of fabrication) of the information, of history… capitalism manages to make the proletarians of the world believe that what happens in another part doesn’t have anything to do with what happens “here”, due to the fact that the absence of association, of discussion, of internationalist proletarian press… crystallizes in a total unconsciousness in terms of the reality, leading to a total dispersion of the worldwide proletarian strength which is left reduced to a collection of spectators that imagine that in “Albania the people protest against a giant fraud”, in “Algeria they want to impose islamism”, in “The United States those that protest are the blacks or the latinos… in any case there’s no poverty there”, that in “Argentina or Brazil there’s sackings because there’s hunger provoked by the corruption”, that in “Iraq the struggle is between the masses led by the nationalists and the central State” or worse “between different islamic fractions”, that in “Africa they struggle between this or that tribe or ethnic group”, that in “Mexico the alternative is Subcomandante Marcos”… [9] and/or that the contradiction is between a Chavez and a Bush.

This feeling that what happens in another region is different, is evidently a key to the negation of the proletariat as a class. All of the ideological mechanisms contribute to it. The general lack of class solidarity is sustained by each person making himself believe that he will not be affected by what is happening in the world, that his salvation is in local improvement (of the village or city), that he would be safe thanks to the union or the improvement of the national economy. All of the structures of capital will tell him that struggle is not his own and when they don’t manage to convince him they will organize a humanitarian campaign to destroy the class solidarity and confront the direct action of the proletariat in struggle. It would be absurd to have a discussion which would try to determine if the destruction of the proletariat by the counterrevolution (after the different revolutionary waves of 1917/23 and in a lesser measure of 1967/73) is what “explains” that general disregard that the proletariat has about itself as a class and consequently the current success in the current mechanisms of democracy; or if on the contrary it’s the normal functioning of these mechanisms which, for their effectiveness in the generalized idiotization (also in the original sense of disregard, disinterest for “politics”), make it possible that the proletariat disregards itself, that it totally ignores what is happening in the world today and what occurred before when effectively the proletariat was opposed as a conscious worldwide force [10] to all established order. It’s a fact that both processes have contributed and contribute to this unawareness of class which today characterizes the proletariat.

It is much more interesting to analyze (analytically and practically) bourgeois domination by studying the different levels of this unawareness of the proletariat towards its own being, of this negative self-negation of the proletariat as an international class: negation of its own life, its own struggle, a negation which reproduces the bourgeois domination.

We understand “negative negation of the proletariat” as that which is achieved by the development of capital itself, its reaffirmation, its increased reproduction, because in it the proletariat is not a subject but simply an object: negation of its force, civil atomization, reduction to simply a part of capital reproducing itself (variable capital). The supreme example of this negation is the generalized massacre in the imperialist war, where like rams with their respective little national flags, men kill each other, so constituting an indispensable part of the cycle of capital reproducing itself (crisis, war, reconstruction, expansion, crisis…): here, the proletariat is no more than cannon fodder. In opposition to this, as we will see in this text, we understand as positive negation of the proletariat its constitution as a force, as a dominant class, to abolish wage labor and capital and therefore all social classes, like so negating itself positively as a class. In both cases the proletariat negates itself, but while in the negative negation the active subject is capital, in the last one, which is furthermore a definitive negation and infinitely more rich in determinations, the subject is the proletariat itself and it’s in this sense that it can (and must) conceive of the communist revolution as the self-negation of the proletariat.

It’s precisely this which we want to address in this text as a small contribution to the inversion of the praxis which will conclude with the reaffirmation of the proletariat, its constitution as a class and therefore as a party, for its true positive self-negation: the constitution as a dominant class in order to abolish itself as a class and to abolish forever all classes, all exploitation and all the secular domination of classes, and to constitute itself as a true worldwide human community.

Individual and collective, sociological and political

sentiments of not belonging to the proletariat

The non-recognition of the proletariat as a class, of which the maximum expression is found on the social and political levels, when the majority of the worldwide proletariat disregards as its own the struggle in any other part, can assume innumerable forms or aspects, from the most particular and individual to aspects much more general and ideological.

Cause and/or consequence, it becomes clear that today the proletariat doesn’t feel the proletarian struggle in another part of the world as its own, in the same sense that it doesn’t feel proletarian in the most elemental meaning of the word.

One is made to believe that they are not proletarian because they are employed, the other believes that they are not because they are unemployed, those from further off feel themselves to be farmers in opposition to the workers, another believes themself to be a merchant because they are a street vendor, many others feel too young or too old to be proletarians, there will be those also, who because they are women feel less concerned by the question of their class or feel racial oppression to be more determinant than that of class and instead of feeling like a black proletarian, latino proletarian or asian proletarian, they feel black, latino, or asian… and for those who overcome these most elemental forms of immediate negation of the proletarian reality there will be other forms more politico- ideological of this same negation such as that of feeling “anti-imperialist”, “anti- neoliberal”, “palestinian”, “jewish”, “cuban”, “leftist”, “french”, “yankee”, “aymara”, “kurdish”, “croatian”, “first-world worker”, “feminist”, “anti-racist”, etc. It’s exactly these negations of the proletariat itself which are what consolidate the bourgeois ideology of the “true proletarian” which as it is known is an industrial worker, man, national, who looks in disdain upon the lumpen, the student, the looter, the immigrant, the woman, and “all those blacks”.

A comrade from our group that works in the automobile industry as a worker was called upon one day and told that he would have his status changed, that he would be promoted, that from then on he wouldn’t be a worker anymore but an employee. It was a total surprise to realize the next week that he only gained a half of a percent more and that his work continued being the same, but that of course he had been endowed with a status for which now he shouldn’t feel that he was equal to the workers that worked together with him, and as such he was invited to participate in the illusion of distinguishing himself from his longtime companions. Another comrade, who was a farmer and lived working to pay the banks that had given him a loan to buy the farm, the capitalist vendors of seeds and fertilizers, and those that sold the few machines which he bought in installments… (in many cases it’s a case of one single company that secures all these functions as a capitalist), noted that nobody in the region that lived like him considered themselves as part of the proletariat, that it was very difficult to propose common activities because almost all of them believed themselves to be proprietors. A magazine vendor in the subway and bus station also told us that in that profession the majority believed themselves to be free, merchants… and weren’t conscious that they were in practice selling their life, their vital force in exchange for some crumbs that that allowed them to subsist.

Among those that are denominated “white collar” the class unconsciousness, meaning the illusion of not belonging to the proletariat, is even worse. The fact that the production is objectified under more abstract forms coupled with the ideology of distinguishing oneself from the manual worker increases the illusion. There is the office worker convinced that not only is their work less tiring and destructive than that of the factory worker or miner and that fucking up one’s eyesight (and much more!) at the computer 8 hours a day is not comparable with the miserable reality of a miner, but rather on this basis they consider themselves very superior and different from the other and they don’t even slightly take note that the essence of their life is exactly the same: the sale of themselves in order to be able to subsist. It is the schoolteacher, that because they shape brains instead of other mercantile materials believes that they are less proletarian or the employee of the state to whom is promised lifelong employment and for that reason believes themselves to have their future assured, as opposed to the rest of their class that live under the permanent threat of unemployment, a security which situates them totally outside of the proletariat.

The scholars, the students or in general the sectors that aren’t in this moment selling their labor force and “being directly exploited” [11] believe themselves in general to be floating between the classes and much less proletarians than the worker that lives next door or even in their own home!.. All which is designated socially by education and culture is destined to produce workers with the consciousness of citizens, proletarians with the ideology of “free men”, producers with the ideology of “consumers”. The children of proletarians, who go to primary, secondary school and/or university, that furthermore receive a good daily dose of television and like so go on to be shaped as a work force of capital (all technical scientific education is this and nothing more than this!), are taught free will (in the same manner that Christianity was imposed on them in the middle ages!) with respect to their lives, it is hidden from them that they are part of a class reproducing itself like a slave. The more free the proletarian believes themself to be (“I’m free to decide”) [12] the more docile and submissive they will be with respect to their exploitation, the more of a useful idiot they will be throughout their whole life. Like so, at the same time that they have imposed on them, from kindergarten or the first years of school, the indispensable elements for later accepting the discipline of the office, the factory or the supermarket (discipline and school order, work hours, recreation as a short pause between two work hours, return home to reproduce their energies in order to withstand… more school and later more work), they are made to believe that they are studying in order to decide what they will later be, in order to later be “free”. Like so the apprentice slave repeats the phrase which their oppressor imposes on them and which enchains them: “I study in order to be able to work at the job that I want”. That which the wage slave believes is their freedom is in reality the laws of the market of manpower which offers itself to the highest bidder to be exploited. This belief allows for the offer of labor power to adapt to the future necessities of capital which are expressed in the demand for wage slaves. Its class function, reproducing itself as exploited manpower, will be better assumed in the same measure in which its components believe themselves to be realizing their freedom; these slaves, preparing and affirming their own wage slavery will be as much better in the same measure in which they believe themselves to not belong to the exploited class. Even when the students from proletarian homes join the struggle and they don’t break from all this ideology, or don’t don’t do so in a sufficiently radical way, this class unconsciousness is crystallized in the pretension of being a separate movement, “the student movement” without mentioning here the force of the marxist-leninist ideologies or others that will speak of a “petty bourgeois movement” and repeat in chorus with the whole counterrevolution that “the students want this thing or demand that thing”, that “the student movement aspires to…” As if they could have their own interests! As if there existed between Capital and the proletariat a third sector in the middle of the classes with interests different to both of them! All the ideologies about the originality of the “student movement” express the interests of the dominant class, its desire that there exist, between it and the threatening proletariat, a category without classes which serves as a buffer, as a social cushion. As if in an epoch of life the human beings could reproduce themselves without belonging to any of the classes! As if for the deed of going to the lyceum or the university the belonging to a social class would be diluted!

The same occurs with other poly-classist categories like that of the farmer, which means only to be a rural habitant (just as citizen originally and evidently means habitant of the city!) and which invariably serves to confuse and subject the agrarian proletariat. To put the farm worker in the same bag as the agrarian capitalist and the gentry, they are isolated from their proletarian kin of the city and of other countries. And upon this slippery slope later rain the discourses about the misery of the country folk, about the isolation of those without land and the poverty of the farmer, … The so touted weakness of the farmer is nothing other than this ideological process of separation and isolation which the bourgeoisie of all colors reproduce through all the means in their reach. When there are furthermore racial or economic characteristics that allow to even further increase this separation, they are insisted upon, like marxism-leninism historically did to increase the exploitation and develop Capital, as is reproduced in propaganda of the stalinist and maoist organizations or even in latin american leftist cinema. Like so they speak of farmers, of the indigenous, of the self- employed, of poor and middle class country folk, even ignoring the real unity of the proletarian movement in struggle against capital and the state.

Miserabilism and isolation of those that struggle

Little do we pause to reflect on the thousands of mechanisms, more subtle or more coarse, with which capitalism hides the immediate reality of the proletariat from its historical enemy, denying it as such and making of it, in that way, its victim. Even the “innocent” description of absolute misery, of the extreme misery, accompanied by all types of charitable alternatives forms a part of this negation of the proletariat as a class: the insistence until tiredness in the “objective” side of the misery (as they do for example with “the indians of Chiapas” or those condemned to hunger in Africa) impedes seeing the dynamically subversive aspect of it and has the objective of liquidating the revolutionary solidarity in the name of poverty.

So, when those “poor”, assuming practically all their proletarian determinations, enter into open revolt against capital and the state, the sleeping proletarians of the rest of the world, if by chance they hear about it, see no more in it than a protest of “the poor”. On this basis it’s very easy for the state to organize the total isolation of these proletarians in struggle: to the “poor indians”, to the “poor blacks”, is sent a few kilos of rice with the condition being clear that they abandon their fight. The NGO, the humanitarianists of the left and right, the churches, parties and unions use this generalized class unconsciousness so that the proletarians of the whole world are left with a tranquil conscience for having done a little charity, while in reality they transform into objective participants of the liquidation of the proletarian revolt.

The state or quasi-governmental propaganda has as its essential function, in all parts, the division of the proletariat. Every re-emergence of the proletariat as a class goes accompanied by a voluntary and conscious disqualification of the sectors of the proletarian vanguard, of the sectors which carry the opposition to private property onto the terrain of direct action. In absolutely all of the proletarian revolts this disqualification is directed, first of all, towards causing the proletarians of that same region or country to feel unconcerned, and if possible causing them to be opposed to the revolts, and second of all, to isolate that revolt from the proletarians of other regions and countries.

Like so the proletarian struggle was disqualified as a peasant revolution in Mexico, Russia and Spain in the first half of the 20th century and in all cases different objectives were attributed to the struggle than the struggle of the international proletariat. First the proletarian character of the revolution in Mexico was denied with the participation of the great majority of the anarchists and so-called socialist parties which proclaimed that, in that country, the proletariat had the interest of first developing capitalism and that the government of this and that place was, in addition to progressive, anti-imperialist. After, to the revolution in Russia were attributed only democratic-bourgeois objectives and that of the development of capitalism, like so isolating itself from the proletarians that, in the countryside and in the cities of this country, had proclaimed the social revolution against capital. A few decades later against the struggle of the proletariat in spain a wall of anti-fascist falsification was created, negating, with the republican and stalinist terror and the international antifascist propaganda, the true struggle of the proletarians in this country. And those are only three examples, evidently very important ones, of this wave of struggle which shook all of the continents.

Years later, in the international revolutionary wave of 1968/73, different objectives were attributed for every country, which served very well for the ideological division of the world into three (from the first to the third world!) and when in whole countries and regions the proletariat put bourgeois power into question, taking up arms, the complicit left organizations took the responsibility of isolating these revolts saying that they were movements of the third world, that they were only students, or that they were the labor aristocracy [13] .

Closer to us, the insurgent proletariat in Iran (end of the seventies), or years later in Iraq (beginnings of the 90’s), was disqualified as islamist. And in recent years all of the bourgeois propaganda was used to say that the argentine piqueteros were no more than unemployed and lumpens, that the youth of the french banlieus (suburbs) didn’t belong to the proletariat, that the revolts in any region are only “hunger revolts”…

The bourgeois propaganda for this disqualification (from the government, from the opposition and even those that proclaim themselves to be revolutionaries) is always coarse, elementary, racist, workerist, imperialist, eurocentrist… The arguments don’t even matter, “they’re young”, “they’re lumpen”, “they’re of a different color”, “they don’t have principles and burn the cars of the workers”, “they are immigrants”, “they are muslims”… what’s important is to proclaim that the struggle is different, that their skin color is not the same, that their culture explains this “irrational act”. What is crucial is that the proletariat of this country doesn’t feel solidarity, that the proletarians from other places consider this revolt to be foreign to their own life, to their own existential condition, to their own fight.

This type of falsification is essential for bourgeois domination. It functions because the proletariat can’t go into struggle as a worldwide totality, but that necessarily the struggles are unequal on sectoral, regional levels… Although in its content the proletarian struggle in any region contains the interests of the global class and the entirety of humanity, it is necessarily manifest in a certain place, and it’s precisely in this contradiction between the global and the particular where the counterrevolution acts, so that in the particular the global is not assumed, so that the proletarians of other parts don’t feel the struggle of the proletarians in whatever other region as their own. This falsification is the very fuel of this system and of class domination, it’s much more than a problem of ideas, it’s the practical negation of the proletariat as a worldwide class and that which allows capital to confront the proletariat pocket by pocket.

Thus, the paradox that capital, which contains in itself all the divisions, all the competition, all the wars and imperialist massacres, acts as a unit in the face of all proletarian action in whatever place; while the proletariat, which contains human unification, the human community arising in opposition to capitalism everywhere, which in any local struggle is expressing the communist prospect through its content, acts separated and disjointed in the face of the global capitalist monster. Like so the general domination of capital is reproduced and the proletariat is negated in its very life as a class, as a force, as a perspective and revolutionary program.

The development of the negation: towards imperialist war

The effective negation of the proletariat as a force, based on this workerist, racist,elitist, imperialist propaganda, is what allows the isolation of the sectors in struggle, but it’s furthermore what consolidates the citizenization of the proletarians, the principal ideology for making the proletarians accomplices of their own bourgeoisie, what allows sending the battalions of workers to the battlefield against the revolution, what ultimately allows for all the repressive and imperialist wars to be possible.

The negation of the proletariat as a class is what creates the possibility, for example, that the bourgeoisie in Mexico, in full-on proletarian revolution and thanks to the services of the socialist and libertarian Casa del Obrero Mundial and its “anti-imperialist” discourse, managed to recruit repressive battalions by saying that those in revolt are only peasants. This negation of the proletarian character of the social revolution in Mexico, allowed the isolation of the proletariat of that country in full-on struggle from its class kin around the world: the international press speaks of peasant revolt. “Socialist” and “libertarian” organizations from other parts of the world say that it’s no more than a political struggle to impose this or that leader [14] . It’s not a matter of just an example, a particularly important one because it was like so that the first great proletarian revolution of the 20th century was liquidated, but it’s the general method which the bourgeoisie employs in order to negate the proletarian movement, isolate it and practically destroy it.

There doesn’t exist battalions of bourgeoisie and generals to suppress! As in Mexico back then, there always were and always will be proletarians under the tutelage of democracy who will shoot at the insurgent proletarians. The extended reproduction of the bourgeois society in its ensemble depends on this indispensable massacre of the proletarians in struggle by other proletarians acting as shock troops of capitalism.

The maximum expression of this negation of the proletariat is the imperialist war, meaning when the proletariat, on the basis of different pretexts (peace, democracy, the fatherland…), is placed into the service of its own bourgeoisie and is enlisted into the service of “its own” state. The maximal celebration of capital is the inter-imperialist war, meaning that supreme negative negation of the proletariat in which the proletarians defending their respective “homelands” (in reality the interests of capitalism) mutually massacre themselves. The disappearance of the proletariat as a class reaches its maximum expression when the people only act to tear themselves apart, the homelands confronting each other. The destruction of beings, the mutilation, the liquidation of the means of survival necessary to the human being, confirm this horrendous negation of the proletariat brought to its climax.

More globally, in the whole history of capitalism it can be confirmed that the imperialist powers develop as oppressors and international gendarmes of the repression of all proletarian revolt, precisely by the submission of “their own”proletariat to the functions of that imperialist power: by furnishing the men that make that international repression, by contributing to it with their labor, with their votes, their passivity… The international repressive actions against the movement of the proletariat are possible because, within the powers that make this repression, the negation of the proletariat as a class is sufficiently consolidated in order for the state to continue recruiting for these massacres and/or for the passive contribution towards them, and finally because the opposition to that imperialist policy is no more than a mere opposition of opinion and/or pacifistic and doesn’t manage to crystallize as a real proletarian,revolutionary opposition which would impede these wars and massacres.

Without this negation of the proletariat, which acts in service of capital, its wars, its massacres, it would be impossible for this society to continue existing. That’s what makes the affirmation of the proletariat as a class so important, or better said, to affirm the process by which the proletariat, against all ideological falsifications, defines itself practically as a class, as a force and as a revolutionary project. This is what we will try to outline in the second part of this text which we will publish next.

Notes

1. “Definition” not in the sense which science and the bourgeoisie give it, not in the merely ideological, conceptual sense, but in the sense of the historical definition, of practical determination, as we shall see throughout the length of this contribution. The same is applicable to the term negation.

2. All of the current productive forces are evidently productive forces of capital conceived and determined by profit, and at the same time, it’s from these productive forces that the revolution will be made, which in turn will revolutionize them, as it will revolutionize the human needs.

3. Understand well that we don’t say, like the social-democrat would, that this struggle is not a historical one but immediate, that neither do we say that it’s an only economic struggle, etc., but we highlight that although it is essentially a struggle of opposition to capital and the state it does not assume itself as such. For us it’s not a case of introducing consciousness, nor the final and historical character of struggle against capitalism because in the measure in which the progress of capitalism goes on developing all of its barbarity, any struggle which bases itself on human needs is opposed to the profitability of capital and in its most general sense is an essentially revolutionary struggle. But what we’re saying is that in periods like the current one of scarcely any classist associationism, an almost zero knowledge of the revolutionary program, etc., these struggles don’t assume what they really bear in their heart, they don’t develop the power that they contain, they don’t appropriate their own revolutionary content, which manifests in the non-assumption of the inherent tendencies towards generalization, organization, centralization… In this sense it’s much more correct to say “it doesn’t assume itself as centralized revolutionary action” instead of “doesn’t transform itself into” although that construction is very little used because it is much heavier.

4. We don’t forget that the reality of these inter-bourgeois categories is relative, as the revolutionaries have always affirmed. It’s not a case of different socioeconomic programs but of different discourses of framework and of domination. There’s no right-wing which is really different from the left-wing. The fascism which is now considered right-wing comes from the left and extracted its program from the italian socialist left. Nazism or franquism on their part have realized essential parts of the program of what was then self-proclaimed socialism, and of popular-frontism itself. In the end all nationalism is inherently imperialism, the best of democracies is unquestionably a dictatorship and the cruelest of dictatorships are made by democracy…

5. It would be impossible to make an exhaustive enumeration of these elements, due to their extension as much as due to their heterogeneity, and because necessarily among them they can be classified and reclassified and some can be included in others and viceversa. It shouldn’t be forgotten that all of them, although they assume the forms of complex structures or of institutions, produce commodities and above all contribute to the fabrication of the principal of them: the labor force always lent to accept the exploitation and domination.

6. This is even more clear if we go further towards the particular and we take any important element, we will see it reappear in all spheres and in the most varied forms. For example science is, as it is classically said, a productive force of capital when it puts itself in the service of production (an increase of the technical composition of capital) and exploitation (control of times and movements, management of the personal,…) and it could be classified in the economic. But immediately it appears that it is used in order to organize the cities according to the necessities of circulation of the commodities and against the possible proletarian uprisings (and it’s called urbanization), or to tame the masses on the basis of chemical products of all types, or to falsify the foods, or to suppress demonstrations, or for the war or to hide the origin of the immunological deficiency in paths of generalization and attribute it to a virus, or for any other campaign of physical and/or ideological intoxication… And it would be easy to prove that with this analysis it would be possible to make an enormous voyage to the infinitely small.

7. As we said in the note about the “definition” of the proletariat, we talk of negation in the practical sense, as a physical defeat, political/ideological and as historical reproduction of it. See further.

8. We don’t forget that work itself turns vital activity into an alienated activity, that the entire reproduction of life under capital is the reproduction of alienation, that producing the proletarian reproduces the power of their enemy at the same time and their own human alienation. That all the ideological mechanisms mentioned are maintained by the reproduction of alienation.

9. See in Comunismo no. 45 the highlight titled “AMÉRICA ¡Arriba los que luchan contra el capital y el estado! ” where we verified that the important struggles which developed in a cluster of countries in America were pigeon-holed and falsified by the whole dominant system of information presenting what happened in each country as something totally different, when in reality the subject was the same everywhere, the international proletariat: “peasants and indigenous” in Paraguay, “indigenous” in Ecuador, “peasants” without land in Brazil, “families of the disappeared” in Argentina, “miners” in Chile, “demonstrators” and “lumpens” in Costa Rica, “students” in Mexico.

10. For us “conscious” never means largely conscious, and it doesn’t mean intellectually conscious either. There will be more than one who tells us that the majority was not conscious in 1917/19 either and/or that there’s no documents to affirm the conscious element in the sense of the totality of the revolutionary program. In effect they will be observing evident weaknesses present even in the most important revolutionary wave which humanity has known. We say “conscious” in relative and historical terms because in these times the proletariat came to exist as an international force which was recognized as such: millions of proletarians around the whole world recognized the proletarian struggle in other countries as their struggle, as the same historical struggle of humanity against the capitalist society.

It was a conscious international force and acting independently of the limits of this consciousness, independent of the majorities or minorities in the different regions, independently from that consciousness not having arrived to its full force of expression on an intellectual level. In the end “conscious” in terms relative to the whole history of our class.

11. It’s vital to clarify three things which, in reality, can only be comprehended in their whole meaning by taking into account the totality of the critique of the economy and bourgeois society realized by the communists since the beginning and in particular the body of our publications around the historical delineation of our class. Firstly, to consider that they are not producers of value is the point of view of capital whose utopia is without a doubt that all of humanity be perpetually producing value immediately, but in reality these reproductive sectors of the labor force are indispensable in the global valorization of capital. More, this point of view reflects perennial difficulties of capital to conceive of itself as total capital because it is nothing other than a sum of individual capitals, hence it considers all of those sectors as unproductive. Secondly, even in the cases in which the individual capitalist doesn’t profit directly at their expense (like in the cases where schooling itself is a particular business), said sectors contribute to the creation of value (labor force valorizing itself) and form a part of the collective worker who reproduces the total capital. Socially they are no more than a labor force developing itself according to the necessities of capital. Thirdly, our class position implies situating ourselves in the antipodes of that point of view. As we don’t start out from value reproducing itself (and much less from individual capital), but from humanity subjected to the dictatorship of this value in progress, we don’t at all derive the criteria of class from the discussion around the immediate production of value or from the absurd immediatism which hopes to classify every individual into a social class. As we will explain in this text and in general in our contributions, the classes are determined by their interests, by their struggle, by their opposition.

12. See Comunismo no. 43, “De la libertad”, “La libertad es la esclavitud asalariada”.

13. This qualification (like that of lumpens) was used by the entire bourgeois left in order to disavow the proletarian character of an innumerable amount of proletarian revolts vanguarded by radical sectors of the proletariat, like for example the miners against the governments of the bourgeois left.

14. Ricardo Flores Magon and other revolutionary militants from Mexico and the whole world denounced, against the current, this sinister falsification, this hiding of the social and communist character of the struggle in that country.