Saturday, 14 August 2010

Proletarian Strategy - Part 8

No Sectarian Schemas

One of the basic elements of Marxist analysis is that we do not set up any sectarian principles of our own, but that we develop our tactics and strategy on two things. Firstly, our understanding of the fundamental laws that govern Capitalist society, an understanding that workers themselves cannot, at first understand, because those laws are hidden from their view. Secondly, we base ourselves upon the actions of the working-class itself in the way it responds to the situation, in which it finds itself. It will sometimes choose a course of action, or a form of organisation that is wrong, and that will fail – for example, Luddism. But, as it develops means of struggle, forms of organisation, and solutions to its problems that can resolve its problems, that can enhance its position, then the task of Marxists is to codify that experience, to seek to generalise it, and to develop it with all the means at their disposal. For all of the reasons set out by Marx and Engels, and Lenin and others, Trade Union struggle, Economism, whether it be at the sectional level of industrial struggle at the enterprise or industry level, or at the political level seeking reforms from Capital within the confines of the existing system, can never provide workers with a solution. Nor, for the reasons I have set out above is it even likely that the working-class will suddenly rise up in revolt against Capital, with the clear intention of establishing Socialism. But, the last 100 years has given us ample evidence in pretty much every country of the world, that workers spontaneously gravitate towards a solution to their problems based upon the establishment of Co-operatives. The number of Co-ops continues to grow, and the number of people employed in Co-ops along with it. Yet, by and large the orthodox left, including those who call themselves Marxist, have failed to analyse this development, and far from attempting to identify what works within that experience, far from generalising the lessons, remedying the defects etc. the orthodox left continues instead to insist on putting forward its own sectarian schemas in place of the solutions devised by the workers themselves. As a consequence, the development of the Workers Co-ops is held back, the deficiencies that the Marxists have uncovered remain uncorrected, and the likelihood, therefore, of their failure is enhanced, thereby confirming the sectarian prejudices of those whose actions contributed to that failure. The closest parallel I can think of is the attitude of those sectarians who from the beginning decried the Bolshevik Revolution, who proclaimed that “Socialism was not possible in a backward country”, who on the basis of the idea that Socialism in One Country was impossible, decried even making the first step on that path etc., and who on that basis contributed to the isolation of the USSR, and its subsequent failure, thereby confirming their own prognosis.

Of course, the lesson of Stalinism and of the Theory of Socialism In One Country, as well as Marx's criticisms of the reactionary, Utopian Socialists, who believed in building isolated Little Icara, also illustrate the need to avoid the opposite danger. Workers who having established their own piece of property, limit themselves to a strategy based on trying to isolate themselves, and to only further their own particular interests, rather than seeing that those interests can only be furthered by attempting to build an alliance with workers outside their own enclave, by attempting to generalise their own experience, will ultimately fail whether that is workers in a Co-op, or in a Workers State. But, in order to generalise, it is first necessary to particularise. There will not be an international revolution without national revolutions occurring first. There will not be a National Co-operative economy, without individual Workers Co-operatives being established first. In both the developing economies, where the prospect exists for workers in developing new, dynamic Labour movements, to establish such Worker Co-operatives as part of the rapidly developing economy, and so in conditions where such ventures have a considerable chance of success, and in the developed economies, now facing the problem of lack of competitiveness in a global market place, and where, even more than in the past, the tactic of “more militancy” can offer workers no solution to the increasing attacks on their living standards, there is a pressing need to develop such a strategy. Not a strategy based on the idea that the development of worker co-ops is without difficulties, or is a linear progression, but a strategy that recognises it is not. A strategy that requires an understanding, therefore, of the need for class struggle, but a class struggle that seeks to place ever greater degrees of the economy and of society under the ownership of the working-class, and takes it out of the hands of private and State capital. That was the strategy of Marx, it is just as applicable today.

Back To Part 7

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