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Kasama

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March 18, 2006

Comments

interbreeding

I certainly enjoyed the Sun-Herald's coverage:
http://smh.com.au/news/world/mass-protests-in-france-turn-ugly/2006/03/19/1142703201970.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

I find this post pretty incoherent JB. You seem like you might be against the protests, but I can't really tell. It certainly is strange to see such militancy in a country where the working class has relatively many privileges - but the point is that the working class in, say, the U.S. has been beaten by so many ideological and physical hammer blows that it's been defeated, whereas in France the working class has been uncontrollable for over two hundred years. In France, people don't hear words like 'communism' and 'socialism' as dirty words. While Americans pledge themselves to liberty, justice and God, Frenchmen pledge themselves to liberty, equality and fraternity.

the burningman

Two things: yes, it is incoherent. I was in the middle of three other things and felt obliged by the call of various minor blog dieties to post a notice, and 2) I am not remotely against the protests.

I'm excited as hell.

The post-war (WW2) consensus of Western Europe is entering its terminal phase -- and the proletarian ("immigrant") riots plus the surge of youth protest, plus the disaster of the last French elections mean something fundamentally new needs foundation in France and by extension the rest of Western Europe.

The social-democrats can't handle it, the old communists have been dead in the water (obviously) since 1968. That was a LONG time ago.

So here we are.

Anyway, here's some more coverage:

http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/1912?PHPSESSID=33c94de9a3cad2d41f4882acc8ed32b4

Video coverage

The Times has some video coverage on their online TV:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/03/19/international/protest.162.jpg

the ghost of leftist past

The french left,why on earth should any left be revived? Another pare of reforms and revolt managing like 68 again.

Why Is To Be Done?

Why left? Because some of us respect the people and think they should have a fighting force instead of just getting run over.

May/June 68 was a LEFTIST uprising, largely led by the same spectrum that currently makes up the radical left: generic radicals, Maoists, situo-anarchists and left Trots.

The PCF has been demonstrably dead since then, and no new formation has taken hold, to the detriment of all.

It's exactly the combination of proletarian (so-called "immigrant") rebellion and the end of the post-War welfare consensus that will bring something new.

The Ghost leftist future?

Yeeeeaaasss but I was aaabllle to manage that revolt and recuuuuperate it having capital simply reform and then have those reforms lost. I hope you rub my bottle again in times of revolt.

PS, Don't ever get the idea that revolutions are heterogenious and based on means alone, continue to reifiiiie, BYE BYE.

Repeater

Reports that after todays millions strong protest, the 2nd in a month, the Unions and the Government are negotiating.

Here comes the sellout.

In the meantime the PCMLM, a seemingly insignificant grouping of Maoists has been putting out interesting analysis:

France: Rebellion is justified! Statement by Communist
Party Of France [Marxist-Leninist-Maoist] - English translation

English translation:


The Anti-CPE Movement has passed under the control of the trade
unions

"Only one must not form the narrow-minded notion that the petty bourgeoisie, on principle, wishes to enforce an egoistic class interest. It believes, rather, that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within the frame of which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided. Nor
should one imagine that the democratic representatives are all shopkeepers or enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers. According to their education and their individual position they may be as far apart as heaven and earth. What makes them representatives of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get
beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems and solutions to which material interest and social position drive the
latter in practice. This is, in general, the relationship between the political and literary representatives of a class and the class they represent.

Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte

The anti-CPE movement could have joined the camp of the revolt
launched by popular youth in November 2005. But such was not the case.

The movement refused to regard the State as a tool of the dominant class; it decided to regard it as a neutral intermediary between the
government and itself.

In this process where the violence of the "casseurs", described by the cops as "2/3 leftists, 1/3 young people from the suburbs", was rejected, the door was opened wide with the trade unions, a central
element of the apparatus of State for relations between the
bourgeoisie and the popular masses.

Some considered that this demonstrated a "union" between the students and the workers, vain hypocrisy!

Because just as the students are the higher social layers of youth, the workers in the public services and teaching are the upper strata of the proletariat.

And the trade unions are precisely dominated by these social layers and their ideology.

These social layers are partisans of evolution, not revolution; they in general want social reforms, not to tackle the bourgeoisie in particular.

Their form of fight is the trade-union fight, dialogue with the
bosses, negotiation.

And these social layers do not want a political line, because for them the State is neutral and there is no need for a political line.

So by their function, by their bureaucratic apparatus, their
operation, their organisations, the trade unions are thus integrated into the process of negotiations with the dominant class.

As Lenin said:

"The cultivated bourgeoisie are completely willing" to concede "with the workmen the right to strike and of association, provided that the
workmen give up the `esprit of rebellion '."

However, the spirit of rebellion is now what we need.

However, nothing is more antiseptic than trade-union demonstrations. It is not for nothing that they take place at the weekend, the workers' days of rest, and if they pass by large urban arteries and by no means by the popular districts.

They are the expression of alleged "fights", which are in fact the more or less hard negotiations carried out by the leaders, not by the base in a popular movement of social criticism.

The anti-CPE popular movement is today taking this erroneous
direction.

One of the consequences of this submission to the traditional forms of "negotiations" was the targeting of the demonstrators themselves by hundreds of adolescents from the suburbs at the demonstration of March 23 in Paris, where on the Place des Invalides the violence was
freely given out or was made a pretext for simple bag snatchings.

A second consequence was the always greater oppression of the police, that has taken openly profited by the services of the trade union stewards, notably those of the CGT – of stewards armed with bludgeons, chasing after youth (as one was able to see and the very numerous witness statements and the photos testify).

It completely suffices to look at the numbers: if the demonstrations of March 23 were marked by 632 arrests, on March 28 there were some 787! In all that already makes 2,500 arrests since the beginning of the movement.

Some spoke much about the lack of conscience of many "suburban young people" and their violence going as far as targeting demonstrators, and this is said all the more to clear the trade unions in their new role.

But it is absurd to speak about non-existent conscience, when it is in all an impossibility of correctly expressing revolutionary rage within the framework of a policy of discussion with the State.

Anger shows, but only the revolutionary policy can give a right direction.

A proof of this rise of the revolutionary moment is also the
systematic aggression by these "young people of suburbs without political conscience" against journalists, who are very clearly perceived as objective allies of the dominant system and as the targets for anger.

The fact is that the anti-CPE movement must be guided by the masses, by the poorest, in its economic demands and its political direction, this is the only position that moves in the direction of unity and victory.

And that means to dare to assert revolutionary politics!

If that is not done, one objectively gives means to the police force and the RG to handle and launch the rage against the movement itself: it is the traditional tactics of the State to use the masses against the masses.

If that is not done one delegates the popular needs to the trade
unions, in favour of co administration and the "constructive dialogue".

If this logic of class is included/understood, how can one for example affirm, as does the CNT (document of March 24, 2006, CNT-RP) that:

"the revolt of the popular districts of last November and the current movement against the CPE testify to the same refusal of youth in the face of precariousness and misery"?

Nothing is more false than to put on the same plane an authentic
proletarian rebellion, aiming the State directly, and a peaceful
protest of students opposed to their proletarianisation.

That shows that the refusal of the CNT to make political demands
prevents it from taking an authentically popular direction, within the framework of the class struggle, where the working class must guide the popular elements of the petit bourgeoisie and not the other way around!

One finds in an exactly similar way such a juggling act with the LCR.

The LCR says:

"In ten months, the country will have undergone three social and
political crises: the "No" vote in the referendum [on the European Union constitution], the explosion of the suburbs and, today, this impressive mobilization against the CPE.

Youth, the sensitive veneer of all social contradictions, engulf the country. The majority of the population rejects the government
measure. The trade-union organizations call for a new strike day of action, and demonstration "

(édito of Red n°2151).

There too one passes from the rebellion of November (where the LCR was under the table) to the CPE, from the CPE to... the trade-union fight.

Throughout the extreme-left indebted to the petit bourgeoisie one finds this general spirit of capitulation as compared to the
political need to assert a proletarian ideology and a new,
authentically proletarian organization.

The Revolutionary Syndicalist Current, however initially very
critical compared to the trade unions, said in a completely
voluntarist delirium:

"the pupils, the high-school pupils and the young workers currently in struggle should not turn away from the trade unions. If today the class confederations (CGT, FO, Interdependent) stray it is because we let them stray for many years. We must take up our responsibilities - stick to these trade unions in order to restore to them an anti-
capitalist, collective and combative practice. "

CGT metalworkers of the left of the PCF say similarly:

"Most of the militant CGT basic metalworkers remain faithful to
these ideals, and are very attached to developing their unionism on anti capitalist class foundations but they are confronted by the reformist choices of certain leaders of the Federation of Metallurgy, that take a right wingline in the politics of the trade union confederation in order to preserve their seats at Montreuil
[the CGT centre] ...

At the political level, it is necessary to support the struggles by exacting the resignation of a minority, illegitimate government -
that makes the choice of violence and repression in order to enforce its measures.

CGT metalworkers of the PRCF [left of the PCF] leaflet

Along the same lines, Lutte Ouvrière:

"Of course, nothing guarantees us that the union confederation
leaderships will not be satisfied by making March 28th a last-ditch
struggle, leading to an agreement not changing anything a the bottom with the government.

They have accustomed us to sufficient days of action without a future, with enough manouvers to scatter the fights instead of making them converge, so that we have the right of being wary. But
precisely, the more the workers stop work on March 28 and take part in the demonstrations, the more it will be difficult for the leaders of the trade-union confederations to turn their back on the fight "

(édito Arlette Laguiller, 26/03/2006)

For all these people, the trade union would be at the bottom a form with which one could what one wants – of reformism, as the
revolution.

But their submission to the trade unions show well that for them
popular youth are the students and that for them the proletariat are the public services workers and teachers.

For this reason these political organizations do not make their
political presence felt at trade-union demonstrations, instead
letting their militants express themselves in the ranks of their
trade unions.

Such is not the position of the authentic Communists.

"We must start from the class criteria to resolve to what masses do we go. It is very important to make sure that the masses are organized according to the common interests of the classes they belong to. Chairman Gonzalo teaches us that this approach is essential to combat those who pretend to separate masses from classes with tales of "unity," betraying the true interests of the masses by
trafficking with their struggles. Also because it allows us to
understand that the masses are always an arena of struggle where the bourgeoisie and proletariat clash to lead them. However, only the Communist Party is capable of leading the masses because it is the only one that can represent them and struggle for their interests. Those who talk about "mass democracy" or who create open mass organisms as if they were a form of Power without violence are merely upholding bourgeois positions that negate the leadership of the proletariat and its dictatorship."

The Mass Line - Communist Party of Peru, 1988

For the PCMLM,

March 2006.

a comment

this report says: "Nothing is more false than to put on the same plane an authentic proletarian rebellion, aiming the State directly, and a peaceful
protest of students opposed to their proletarianisation."

This is economism, no matter how "left" its rhetoric.

This trend (which has more in common with the syndicalist wing of the Black Blocks) has little in common with MLM, but basically seeks to argue that with militancy and appeals to economist "workerist" sentiments communists can wrench leadership of reform struggles from the reformists.

It is true (and no one denies it) that there needs to be public struggle and debate over "which road will liberate the people" -- but the road of "left economism," red blockism, is a road of promoting mere militancy as a replacement for actual revolutionary politics.

dig deeper

i suspect your points, "a comment," are not clear even to most readers of this list.

I agree with your point: the line and content of this manifesto is sharply opposed to the approach we need to take. It is a view opposed to the strategic approach of United Front under proletarian leadership. It oozes hostility for students -- and does so at a time when the bourgeoisie is announcing that the proletarian youth in the streets were doing unprincipled attacks on student demonstrators. In that context, what is the line you quoted but an abdication of exactly the kind of struggle and consciousness raising that revolutionaries need to do among the oppressed?

If our approach is "we are proletarians, fuck everyone else" we would be rejecting the notion that "the proletariat can only emancipate itself by emancipating all of humanity." And the outcome of any revolutionary process led by that line would be "the second model" -- not Avakian's third model. In other words, a society we would not want to live in, and in which significant sections of the masses wouldn't either.

This is a country which (like France) has a huge middle class -- the way we train and lead oppressed people to view and relate to those middle classes (especially when they break into struggle like the French students did!) will have a huge impact on the future.

Everything in this manifesto smacks of revenge not liberation, of "we've been fucked now its our turn" not "unite all who can be united against the real enemy."

And tactically, we need to raise "the second mouthful sentence" against the whole approach of the french post.

a comment

criticism noted.

the mouthful sentence is here (from the essay "fighrers for one into fighters for all":

"We have to be good at doing this all in a way that, proceeding from the strategic interests of the proletariat, we draw the dividing lines so that we can unite the broadest numbers of people in a way that moves them--objectively and, to the maximum degree possible without rupturing that unity, subjectively--in accordance with and in the direction of the proletariat's strategic interests, and which advances those strategic interests overall. Now, that last sentence was a "mouthful," but this is an extremely important point.

"What I mean by "objectively and, to the maximum degree possible without rupturing that unity, subjectively" is that we draw the dividing line so that the way the battle is developing is objectively in accord with the interests of the proletariat, and we also try to win the maximum number of people within that to more consciously fighting in that way, without rupturing the unity that's correct for the particular struggle and the particular circumstances."

this is very different from the "class against class" approach advocated by syndicalism and other forms of economism.

Repeater

I think the Article is more complicated than either of your criticisms make it sound. For one it is clear that they desire a unity between the proletariat and the petit bourgeoisie:

"The anti-CPE movement could have joined the camp of the revolt launched by popular youth in November 2005. But such was not the case."

What they seem to be asking is that while unity is desired and necessary what kind of unity is it going to be? And they answer:

"That shows that the refusal of the CNT to make political demands prevents it from taking an authentically popular direction, within the framework of the class struggle, where the working class must guide the popular elements of the petit bourgeoisie and not the other way around!"

And further that this is not the case with this rebellion:

"In this process where the violence of the "casseurs", described by the cops as "2/3 leftists, 1/3 young people from the suburbs", was rejected, the door was opened wide with the trade unions, a central element of the apparatus of State for relations between the bourgeoisie and the popular masses.

Some considered that this demonstrated a "union" between the students and the workers, vain hypocrisy!"

What should class analysis look like? Is it economist one way or another to discuss classes as objective things that move in relation to other classes? Is it economist to describe political movements as being essentially of one class or another? Dogmatic perhaps?

We should certainly see the issue of unity and struggle as being of much importance, but without knowing who is united or not, i.e. what classes, what value is a correct orientation around the question of how to maintain unity and develop struggle. For who, for what? Against who, against what?

Are these questions quaint?

How would asking such questions affect our work in the United States? For instance on the Universities. Are they primarily petit bourgeois? What about Community colleges?

Would it be a revenge line to equate the "anti-war movement" in the U.S. with the petit-bourgeoisie, and the immigrant movement with the proletariat, and to say that one should lead the other and that class will effect whether and how any unity develops between these movements?

Are these the things that are bothering you? Is it the quotation of the PCP?

At least explain a little more what "left economism" is. Is it Hoxhaism? Or IWW? Is it the use of the concept class?


a comment

lemme start with what I mean by "left economism."

Basically, economism is a form of overestimating the role of spontaneity in the process of preparing revolution -- and in particular it involves a view that thinks revolutionary class consciousness developed more or less spontaneously from among the masses and their struggle.

This takes a "right" form -- as others have discussed -- where people influenced by economism think that the workers will develop class consciousness largely from the struggles they themselves initiate over the day-to-day conditions of life.

But it also takes a "left" and seemingly more "revolutionary" form -- where it is assumed that the oppressed sections of the working class more or less develop revolutionary consciousness from their conditions -- so that the spontaneous revolts of the most oppressed youth are overestimated, and their inherently revolutionary content is exaggerated. In this view, there is often a suggestion of some (often wooden, dogmatic, rhetorical) "communist" political and ideological work along side the uprisings of the people. But still, it overestimates the revolutionary character and consciousness of spontanity among the most oppressed and discontented.

One particular form that takes is tailing what the RCP has called the "Revenge Line" -- i.e. greatly overestimating the revolutionary character of the envy, anger, resentments, and even hatreds that oppressed people feel toward the more privileged (including the middle classes).

So what you get is a vision of revolution where the working class elbows all the privileged aside, and it gets "what's coming to it" and they "get what's coming to them."

While right economism tails the "lunch box workerism" so common among tradeunionism, left economism often glorifies the hatreds that proletarian or semi-lumpen youth have toward "yuppies" or college kids (and so on).

That was a description. Let me talk about class content:

This economist view is not a revolutionary communist one. And it is not a stand that corresponds with the class interests of the proletariat. It may use the "categories of class" (and even use them alot) but it is not a materialist dialectical class analysis of actual class interests and potentials.

As was said above: it tends to see the process of struggle as "class against class" (meaning working class against bourgeoisie) while being very ambiguous and even objectively hostile to the middle classes (their oppressions and aspirations).

This is directly opposed to the RCP's strategic approach of "United Front under the leadership of the proletariat."

If you "get up on the mountain" -- if you see the interests of the class struggle in sweeping and historical terms -- what stands out about the interests of the proletariat is that it can only liberate itself by liberating all of humanity, and it can do that by putting itself bringing into the process of revolution the many diverse and contradictory currents of discontent, rebellion, and resistance that erupt throughout class society -- including among non-proletarian classes (and even among some with some privilege.)

The economist view "we are coming for what's ours, now its our turn" actually does not lead to all the way revolution. Like all economism it confuses the spontaneous ideas that arise among the oppressed with actual class consciousness. It degrades the need for revolutionary political work, for the "radical rupture" in the realm of ideas (even among the most rebellious and oppressed).

So where do you end up if you overestimate the consciousness of the most oppressed? You get into an approach where what the people need is to be jolted into motion -- with the assumption that once in motion they will know what to do.

At its extreme you see notions of "excitative action" (as in the move V for vengence) where the ultra militant actions of a relative few supposedly "trigger" the action of the much broader masses. This can take the form of focusing work on organizing militant "red blocks" or overestimation of the "actions of the advanced" -- often isolated from, or acting in the place of the masses themselves (even if it often gives lip service to the idea of bringing the masses into motion through this excitative work.)

This is sharply opposed to the approach fought for by the RCP (CPOSP -- PMORFR http://rwor.org/margorp/a-create.htm )

And these views (in my opinion) came out sharply in the posting from france, especially in the sentence I pointed to in my first post:

"Nothing is more false than to put on the same plane an authentic proletarian rebellion, aiming the State directly, and a peaceful protest of students opposed to their proletarianisation."

Here in one stroke, the uprisings of proletarian youth are assigned an "authenticity" and a "aimed at the state directly" that actually overestimates the spontaneous consciousness and organization of those uprisings. (Note: promoting a notion of "authenticity" as opposed to genuine communist consciousness is an approach characteristic of identity politics.)

In fact the raw and powerful outbursts among proletarian youth in the French suburbs were mixed, they too (like the LA rebellion in 1992 in the U.S.) were highly contradictory, they too CRIED OUT FOR GENUINE COMMUNIST WORK (not just cheerleading).

And on the other side, the disparaging of the struggle of the students -- the assumption that it is merely not wanting to be proletarianized (i.e. that it reflects hostility toward the oppressed not toward the oppressors) is simply no justified or dialectical.

Take an example: Immigrant workers have no rights, live in semi-legal conditions offten getting paid shit, below minimum wage. lets say some other relatively-better-paid workers suddenly were told that they too would be paid minimum wages, and would have to work whenever the boss told them. If they fought this, should immigrant workers say "you assholes, you are refusing to live like us, you are rejecting proletarianization, your struggle is not just a defense of your relative privilge but is an expression of that privilege."

wouldn't that be bizarre (in that special sick MIMish way)?

The students are rejecting these laws that would push them into jobs with no protections or rights. They are fighting over conditions at the universities too.

Is that just privilege? Are these just a bunch of worthless, elitist kids? Or are their struggles part of how the masses in Europe are trying to deal with a whole package of assaults on the previous "social compact"?

Are their struggles something to sneer at (while spontaneously glorifying the fighting of the street proletrian youth as somehow "authentic" in an equally one-sided way)?

And what I was trying to do, was to put that criticism (which is not just of this or that sentence) in the context of a larger question of line. A tailing of spontaneity and degrading of the importance of revolutionary political work -- and an accompanying view of "political work" that both tails the masses and sees the role of communists in an "excitative" way.

None of this left economism will lead to revolution, and if it did, the society that emerged would be one where large sections of the people were treated like they were enemies, and where the most oppressed were organized as shocktroops (motivated by revenge and a view of "workers interest as narrow self interest") to keep the middle strata in line.

I don't think that approach will lead society through the complex struggle for communism.

you write: "Is it economist one way or another to discuss classes as objective things that move in relation to other classes? Is it economist to describe political movements as being essentially of one class or another? Dogmatic perhaps?"

clearly communists must make a class analysis of reality and society and all kinds of phenom. But not a mechanical materialist analysis.

Among the many valuable questions you raise is this one: "Would it be a revenge line to equate the "anti-war movement" in the U.S. with the petit-bourgeoisie, and the immigrant movement with the proletariat, and to say that one should lead the other and that class will effect whether and how any unity develops between these movements?"

This is exactly how some "left economists" have seen things in the past. And you can see they end up being both sectarian toward struggles that are rooted among middle strata, and they end up tailing the spontaneous sentiments and struggles of the most oppressed.

It is ultimately "left in form, but right in content" -- and (as I have said in a number of places) negates what we actually need to be doing and how we actually should be viewing the different currents of struggle that arise in society.

Jaroslav O.

[quick info service...]
[WPRM leaflet below; WPRM is not a maoist or communist movement per se. It was however initiated by RIM. Its level of unity is antiimperialism & support for resistance against imperialism, so Maoists as well as other revolutionaries are involved in it.]


Following is a leaflet written and distributed by the World People’s Resistance Movement-France ( MPRM_france@yahoo.fr and http://www.wprm.org )

Why have Chirac and de Villepin risked inflaming the whole country over the CPE (youth employment law)? Why do they refuse to listen to millions in the streets and the clear will of the majority of the population?

The CPE is the tip of the iceberg of major changes looming over French society. For several generations a kind of agreement has existed in France whereby the working class and the masses of people would accept the capitalist system in return for a certain degree of job security, educational opportunities and social benefits. But this model always excluded an important section on the bottom of the society, and in recent years this section has been growing larger and more desperate, as we saw last November when the working class suburbs erupted. Those who previously benefited from this social pact see the gains of the past being whittled away. For the educated youth the promise that a diploma would mean of social advancement and a secure future has been evaporating. The entire ruling class of France, the Socialist Party included, believes that the only answer to ensuring France’s competitiveness internationally and thus its future is to accelerate these tendencies; this means greater freedom for employers to fire at will, sharpening competition among the people for increasingly few crumbs, increasing inequality and intensifying exploitation. The only difference among the main ruling class parties and spokesmen is how to introduce a more savage and naked capitalism and who will preside over this process. And make no mistake: the rulers are united that this restructuring will require an even heavier boot of the police on the neck of today’s and tomorrow’s victims of the process.

While the current movement has begun as a battle to protect current labour laws, it cannot remain for long on that level. Besides, a return to the days of a more benevolent capitalism is not really possible: capitalism in today’s world means inequality, exploitation, wasted lives and broken dreams. It means immense riches for a handful and hardship or worse for most people. Capitalism is a system that has spread throughout the whole world, intensifying the gap between rich and poor in each country and between a handful of imperialist countries including France and the great majority of humanity. Clawing to the top of this basket of crabs is impossible for most and not the future we want to fight for.

The revolt of the youth began last November in the suburbs. Since February the bulk of secondary school and university students have powerfully rejected the future that they see diminishing before them. People are furious to discover that the government won’t listen to the cries of hundreds of thousands of youth in the streets and the millions more who support them. The real nature of French democracy – a dictatorship of the capitalist ruling class – is coming into sharper focus, with the help of the club-wielding cops and the scent of tear gas.

In times like these people’s thinking can somersault. All that was declared permanent and unchangeable yesterday must submit to a fresh examination by the new generation. It is no longer possible to “outlaw” the questioning of society’s rules and the way it is organised, along with capitalist cultural mottos blaring out to youth to “succeed or die trying”. Older people see their own spirits, buried under decades of “realism”, rekindled by the youth’s declaration of a “rêve général”. Still, the fight around the CPE poses choices for the road ahead: Will the youth return to their daily routines and uncertain futures, slapped down for having dared defy the ruling class? Or will the current upsurge prove to be just the prologue of new rounds of battle that will further shake the whole country and contribute to the fight to remake the world?

Jaroslav O.

[quick info service 2...]
[There have been articles about this in A World To Win News Service, below is the most recent, it comes out weekly & you can subscribe (free) here - http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/AWorldToWinNewsService/ ]


France: Youth revolt flares up again and spreads to every corner

3 April 2006. A World to Win News Service. Only a few months after the rage of French ghetto youth burst into flames, another wave of protests by millions of university and secondary school students has thrust the country’s rulers into even deeper trouble. The youth employment bill at its centre could not in and of itself explain the tenacity, breadth and increasingly confrontational character of the movement against it, nor the government’s determination to pass this law despite the mounting political cost.

Briefly put, France is witnessing a massive upheaval of the youth against the future their country offers them, of which the law is a centrepiece and symbol. The government has tried to make them back down in this contest of strength, wielding the president’s arbitrary authority, sending in the police and flaunting a state power that ultimately rests not on public opinion but armed force. After several weeks of posing as if above the political fray, on 31 March President Jacques Chirac announced his decision to enact the law with the promise that it will be modified later. Millions of youth and others consider this not a concession, but a sign that the government has no intention of listening to them and to the people more broadly. (Opposition to the law outweighs support by two to one, according to polls.) This dimension to the crisis puts the legitimacy of the government and even the system into question.

University students, mainly in the smaller cities at first, started this movement in mid January when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin proposed the First Job Contract (CPE). That law would mean that during their first two years at any job, people under 26 could be fired with little notice and without cause. Other measures in the so-called “Equal Opportunity” employment package adopted in the wake of last November’s revolt would allow children to leave school at 14 to become apprentices and work at night starting at 15. For children not in work, their families would be cut from welfare if they fail to attend class. The Prime Minister, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy (who was the target of the November revolt) and the government as a whole claimed this would encourage hiring and give a chance to prove themselves on the job to the kind of youth living in the country’s public housing complexes that were the focal point of the November events.

What outraged students was that this law would officialize and worsen conditions many of them already find unacceptable. Already they often spend many months working as ill-paid interns, supposedly being “trained” as they do the work formerly done by regular employees. Many spend years working on and off as temporary workers under various kinds of short-term contracts, usually with minimal benefits compared to their co-workers. The average age at which French young people now get their first long-term job is 32. Rather than “equalizing opportunity”, this law would further widen the gap between different categories of workers and employees. Graduates of elite schools and workers with desired skills would immediately set off on one job track, while most youth would face an even more uncertain future, and many find themselves on a track to nowhere. Landlords won’t rent to people without a permanent job contract, and banks won’t give them car loans. Young women would be further driven out of a labour market that already discriminates against them for being potential mothers.

As for providing more jobs for ghetto youth, one young woman put it this way: “This is adding insult to injury. First we find it almost impossible to get a job and spend years trying, and now, if we do find one, they’re telling us we’ll have to accept being treated second-class.” Another said, “They want to make us slaves who don’t dare talk back to the boss, instead of ordinary workers.”

Further, in middle-class areas and especially working-class neighbourhoods, youth tend to be better educated than their parents. They have given school more hours and years than their counterparts in some other rich countries. They don’t want the kinds of jobs that might be opened up by this law, doing unskilled labour at jobs nobody would take if they had a choice.

While this law threatens to create further inequality among youth and between youth and older workers, almost everyone sees it as part of a broader trend toward précarité, the elimination of relative job security (never absolute) and other minimal requirements of life such as health care and subsidized housing. Like every other European country, France is shredding the “European social model”, the social contract with which the capitalists in the Western European imperialist countries bought the acquiescence of much of the working class, no matter how difficult their lives have been anyway. In France, this model arose out of the social upheaval of the 1930s and developed through the three decades of economic growth following World War 2. At the same time, many workers, especially many Arab and later Black African immigrants, were excluded from better jobs, and, in recent years, from stable jobs and the way of life that goes with them.

France’s entire “political class” favours slashing back on this social model, differing only on how to go about it. They justify this by the need for French capital to compete successfully in the world. However, French capital’s ability to thrive internationally depends on many factors, most decisively France’s collusion and contention with the United States and other imperialist powers for control of vast areas of the Third World and the superprofits that generates. Many French people don’t want to pay the price for the survival of “their” capitalists. A great many suspect that the sacrifices being asked of them are not likely to solve French capitalism’s problems.

Over the past decades, there have been many successful struggles against such measures. For example, a full-scale month-long public workers strike in 1995 forced the withdrawal of pension cutbacks. Nevertheless, despite the battles won, the war is being lost by attrition. Précarité has come to characterize the situation for broadening ranks of working people. Nearly all of them see it as a sword hanging over their head, a threat not just to their living standards but to the way of life they have known and consider themselves entitled to.

This widespread sentiment is a big reason why the trade unions came to support the students, although at first they just went through the motions and went for negotiations the students rejected. In fact, commentators have pointed out that the unions play a dual role, supporting the students but also using their role as the government’s “social partners” to try to control the movement, just as some of the union-organized security squads seek to control events in the streets. On 28 March, the fourth national day of action (the fifth is set for 4 April), a total of more than two million people flooded the streets in dozens of cities. While these marches were very much marked by the multinational presence of union members of all ages, the general strike called by the union federations that day was far from whole-hearted.

As the daily Le Monde wrote, all of what it calls the “governmental parties”, not only those that make up the present government but the opposition parties that governed in the past and hope to again in the future, and the trade union leadership tied to them, fear above all else a “deterioration of the situation, a lassitude [on the part of the parties and the unions] and a radicalisation [on the part of the people in the streets] that would not benefit any of them.”

In his speech announcing his approval of the law, President Chirac made a special appeal to the trade union leadership to help find a way out of this political crisis. He clearly hopes that the unions will be divided and accept some compromise. Other political forces such as those represented by Le Monde (sympathetic to the opposition Socialist Party) are warning that if the unions break with the students, the students may go even more out of control. In other words, while there are pillars of the prevailing order on both sides of this conflict, the situation is very unfavourable to the French ruling class, because they have no clear good options. In fact, they have no real solution to the contradictions that have driven this crisis, and the polarization of society is very much against them.

The head of the biggest student union, long a breeding ground for future Socialist Party politicians, is usually viewed as the students’ official spokesman, but so far, the movement has had no real national leadership or even permanent local leadership. Decisions are taken at frequent general assemblies – sometimes daily – at particular universities and high schools, with occasional national meetings of delegates in a different provincial city each time. The main coordination comes from students who go to other schools to spread the strike and organize united actions. This leads to debates: Should school entrances be blocked if the majority hasn’t voted to strike? If someone doesn’t take advanced action, how will the more asleep elements be woken up?

Perhaps the movement’s greatest strength is its broadness in two senses. First, its ability to combine widespread support among much of French society with increasingly confrontational (and controversial) actions. Especially after Chirac’s decision, students began experimenting with forms of struggle designed to enforce their will on a government that won’t listen, like taking over train stations and blocking motorways and key intersections. Some schools have been occupied, cleared by the police and then occupied again.

Second, its ability to draw in youth of all sections of the working class as well as the middle classes. The potential militancy and radical consciousness of university students seems very far from exhausted. At the same time, the spectre of last November’s rebellion and the possible combination of that intense rage with the current broader youth upsurge haunts the whole “political class” and the entire establishment, even (or perhaps especially) the “leftist” parties that “support” the movement. In the last few weeks secondary school youth have become at least as numerous and active as university students, making the movement remarkably varied in social composition and ethnic mix. Girls are as prominent in the actions and leadership at secondary schools as young women in the universities. At some proletarian schools the majority of activists are girls, partly because more boys drop out. This is a big contrast with the almost exclusively male November events. Many of the youth taking part now come from the same background as those who burned cars and fought the police in November. There is clearly an overlap between the two movements, although it is hard to say exactly how much.

The unfolding of events at the end of the 28 March demonstration in Paris was very instructive in this regard. School contingents were put at the head of the march, which drew people from the suburbs and other cities. They walked slowly in relatively disciplined ranks, often with a ring of people holding hands around a particular contingent. Other youth, with sweatshirt hoods over their heads, baggy athletic pants and very serious faces, moved quickly in small groups alongside and through the crowd, followed by squads of undercover police. Ahead of the march, hundreds of youth gathered at the destination, Place de la République. The majority were of African origin, with a very large number of girls among them, along with a few youth of other nationalities. At first there were fights between youth from different neighbourhoods. The Ministry of the Interior, police and union security forces had met to plan how to control the demonstration against these and other uncontrollable youth. The security forces of the CGT (a union led by the revisionist Communist Party of France, another “governmental” party), moved against the youth first, trying to keep them away from store windows, often taunted by these youth and sometimes assaulting them without provocation. There were some incidents of youth grabbing cell phones or cameras from demonstrators. Arguments and occasionally blows broke out between youth as some tried to prevent this kind of thing. (Police provocateurs also seem to have been involved, but there was more to it than that.)

Gradually, fighting began to focus more against the police, in a confusing swirl of clashes between youth, broad phalanxes of riot police in heavy body armour and smaller “snatch squads” of well-disguised undercover cops (often wearing leftist stickers and other political movement paraphernalia) who darted through the crowd after the youth. The fighters would taunt the Robocops, and then disperse into the multitude when the police attacked. Everyone in the crowd would chant and yell at the police. Then, the youth would regroup and attack whatever cops were left dispersed and vulnerable, and so on for hours. At one point, a large number of university students staged a sit-in between a flank of riot police and the crowd, blocking their ability to charge. While the fighting youth were a minority, no one was obligated to be in that square (the trade union security forces urged them to go home). The fighters could not have attacked the police without the large crowd to retreat into. The size of the non-fighting crowd ebbed and flowed as new contingents of marchers arrived and others left. Toward the end of the evening, hundreds (1,500 according to the police) of white and other youth dressed to fight came and joined the action. Finally the police used water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to clear the square.

All this and similar scenes were debated as they happened and long after. A veteran political activist argued with her friends that they could have and should have intervened physically and forcefully to rescue the youth seized by the “snatch squads”. This, she said, would have really helped in building a sense of solidarity against the common enemy. Most people were angry about the youth-on-youth violence, and many middle-class and working-class youth were more generally unhappy with the casseurs, those who had come solely to fight. But youth are also trying to not let themselves be divided, and to get over some real divisions. The often-repeated slogan “All together!” has content. At a secondary school general assembly reviewing the demonstration a few days later, a youth of Algerian origin who identified himself as a “moderate” argued, “They (the hard-core fighters from other neighbourhoods) are out in the streets with us; they aren’t like the kids from our school who’ve stayed away. We are all part of one single youth with different ways of expressing ourselves.” Everyone cheered when he continued, “And it’s we youth who will decide the future of this country, not the government!” The meeting voted to criticize the CGT and demand that they stop acting like cops. At a Paris university, students put up a banner: “We are all casseurs.”

Many youth sense that there are two currents among them, and the relationship between the two is a hot issue. Some see it as a question of relative privilege within sections of the working class, others as also a question of the split between teenagers 15-16 years old or less and older youth, and still others as mainly a question of different points of view. Several young women of African origin at the Place de la République action and others in an animated debate after a secondary school general assembly in a working-class suburb near Paris said essentially the same thing: We’re all from the same area, but some kids see consider themselves more politicised, while others have a more hopeless outlook and don’t expect any good to result from political action. Some of these youth usually reject demonstrations as “a hippy thing”, far too soft to interest them, but lots of them come to the meetings and actions anyway. They are part of the movement; they influence it and it influences them.

It was also instructive to see the more predominantly white and mainly middle-class secondary school students who gathered at the Bastille square in Paris in the hours before Chirac’s speech, attempting to block traffic. Though they were relatively non-violent, riot police backed them into a building while undercover cops prowled through the crowd to grab people one by one and roughly haul them off. They listened to the speech together, joined by university students, and then set off on a wild march across much of Paris, covering 26 kilometres and lasting six hours. Some 5,000 sought to take their action to presidential and parliamentary buildings, detouring through Montmartre, the hill where the 1871 revolutionary Paris Commune made its final stand, where they sang the Internationale. They skirmished with police until 3 am. Reportedly 700 youth were detained that night, and several were badly beaten in custody.

It is impossible to tell how many youth would be satisfied if they were offered the same kind of social contract as their parents, but most feel that is not on offer now. That provokes thinking, but they find it hard to figure out what could satisfy them. They tirelessly argue about different possibilities and how the world could be different on a countrywide and sometimes global scale. On 28 March thousands of secondary school students sported a sticker saying Rêve général (“General Dream”, a play on words with the term Greve générale, general strike). The May 1968 slogan “Be realistic, demand the impossible” also pops up. Many will tell you that this is not the revolution, some sadly and some to defend the movement. One of the most popular slogans is simply, “Res-is-tance!”

In general, the youth have believed they can force the government to give in to their demands. In fact, one of the driving forces of the movement is outrage that the government has refused to yield to the express wishes of the majority of the people. They consider this tyranny, and in fact many, and perhaps most, have been surprised by it. There is a generally unchallenged belief that if some magic number of people – more than the millions so far – take to the streets, the government will have to listen.

But if the youth have had illusions about easy victory, the government’s intransigence has not made them back down, at least so far. Many hope a new, leftist government would be “less worse”, even while criticizing the politics of the “governmental parties” as they arise in the movement. Others have little hope of an acceptable place for themselves in this system and few illusions that any electoral outcome would bring about the fundamental change they need, even though some of them also have confused and often wrong ideas about who their friends and enemies are.

No revolution is conceivable without the youth from the bottom of the working class at its core, combining their deep hatred for the way things are with a broad vision of what real social change would mean and require. Revolution is also not possible unless those with the least to lose can break through the social isolation that surrounds them in ordinary times and unite against the common enemy more broadly with many of those who have found the system more tolerable in the past. These are times when such things no longer look impossible.

Jaroslav O.

[quick info service 3...]

The Maoist Communist Party Italy, which is a RIM participant, has been saying a lot about the uprisings in France. Their page is here - http://www.prolcom.org

Also an unofficial page with statements by them (more English than on the official page) is here - http://pcmi-doc.blogspot.com

They along with French Maoist journal "Le Drapeau Rouge" -- NOT affiliated with the PCF(MLM) mentioned above -- are having a conference called "From the Riot of the Banlieues To the Proletarian Revolution" taking place in Paris 29-30 April (more details on the two websites mentioned above).

Repeater

I don't understand the preoccupation with "youth" as a category of analysis. How does this not also engage in a form of identity politics? One thing that happens with this is that the class differences are blurred in favor of a strongly desired unity. So strong that one wonders whether perhaps this desire colors the analysis of the reality. That there should be unity and that there is are two different things.

This is certainly the case with the WPRM piece, and I think remains the case with the AWTW articles. It is not a rebellion of a class or many classes, but a rebellion of youth according to these analyses.

It is a matter of emphasis, which perhaps betrays a more fundamental problem.

Another thought I've had with regards to "a comment's" posts, is a question of how the proletariat is represented in struggle or how it leads in a united front. It seems clear that proletarian leadership, from your perspective, can only happen with a vanguard. So if the PCFMLM is not a vanguard and there is no vanguard in France, then the actions of proletarians in this struggle necessarilly follow the leadership of the petit bourgeoisie, or bourgeoisie. But to decry such is left economism. So at what point does the situation change to unity under proletarian leadership and how would that change occur in a situation like that of France?

Maz

I think the WPRM and AWTW statements emphasize that it is a rebellion of youth and not of a certain class because that's what it is. This isn't blurring the analysis -- it's describing the contradictory nature of things as they currently exist.

There are many different classes of youth involved in the protests. And the AWTW piece especially explained this quite well, as well as some of the emerging pulls among the youth.

Repeater

I have a basic problem with the AWTW piece. The blurring of the various classes involved into one grouping of "youth" is anti-scientific and directly folds into the pressures of post-modernist political philosophy.

The article, seemingly in passing, also refers to "multitude". This foregoing of class analysis, the shining reporting of spontaneous actions and the particularities of race and nationality within that, which is raised to the level of generality and confused with class, all point to an utter lack of marxism and an embracing of popular (in the most vulgar sense) political and philosophical stands of classes, which perhaps are not against the proletariat and can even be won to them, but are nonetheless not the proletariat.

All of this put together makes one wonder whether the authors don't in fact support in some odd way the analysis of Horowitz that, "race, gender, or sexuality substitute for 'class'".

In other words the category of "multitudes".

Re: Maz's statement: All I can say is "forest for the trees."

john

If you read the AWTW piece, it even starts by mentioning (as it should) the different class bases of the two major youth outbreaks of the last few months (one being rooted in immigrant project youth, and the other being based on campuses where the youth are often more middle class). It's not like the article denies the existance of class, or even "blurs it."

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I suppect your criticism is, repeater, that class is not everywhere considered a category of analysis that is always more determinant than other social divisions and groupings (i.e. youth, or gender, or nationality).

But making a materialist class analysis does not mean, always and everywhere, treating the class of people as the functioning determinant and dividing line of events (or of your analysis). To do so is exactly what is called mechanical materialism (or more recently, reductionism).

You have to look at real world divisions -- and look at them dialectically. The point of analysis is to understand and describe what is actually going on, not "cut the toes to fit the shoes" and act like we live in some "class only" world.

Example: the euroimperialists are tearing up their long-standing social contracts, and in particular have done this in ways that specifically focus on denying the previous social contracts to the youth who are coming up. Youth unemployment is intense (and this is true for both proletarian and middle class youth in France). And in various ways, they have been mobilizing their state to enforce these conditions and to demand that everyone accept a worsening of conditions. Project youth face brutal police. And youth generally (including college youth) were targetted by this outrageous law that would deny them WIDELY ACCEPTED AND LONG STANDING job rights (even while, for now, continuing to maintain those rights for older workers).

So, under those conditions, is it wrong to point out that there have been two outbreaks in France among the youth over the nature of the future? (Evenwhile you necessarily point out that there are different classes and programs in motion here, and real challenges for forging a unified and revolutionary current out of this struggle)?

Was the revolutin in china just a matter of "classes" -- where it would be wrong and blurring to speak (as Mao did) of the struggle of the Chinese people? Is there no national question?

Or another question: aren't women oppressed as women (in addition to the oppression and mistreatment they may experience as members of oppressed classes and nations)? Isn't there a struggle for the emancipation of women (or is it true here too that sociological "class" is really the only category that matters.)

Another matter: class interests, class outlook, and membership in specific classes.... these are all elements of a materialist analsysis, but they are not the same thing.

What is the stand of the proletariat (meaning the class conscious proletariat and its political representatives, the communists) toward the masses of people (of all classes and sections of society) when they break into struggle? It is to apply Mao's insight "it is right to rebell against reactionaries."

Communists support ALL outbreaks of rebellion and resistance. And that is not the same as TAILING THE SPONTANEITY of those same rebellions and resistance.

We stand with the masses of people when they rise up. That is the point of Mao's essay on the peasant rebellion in Hunan (which it is worth rereading in light of this discussion.)

Supporting those struggles, standing with our feet firmly rooted on the side of the oppressed and the masses (even when they are not proletarian) -- that is a starting point for communist work.

So yes, i don't think there is anything wrong with "shining reporting of spontaneous actions" nor do I see anything wrong with detailed and materialist reporting on "the particularities of race and nationality within that."

And then summing up the context and solution to the problems raised -- from the communist standpoint.

To put it another way: class consciousness is not "i'm conscious of class." You don't make working class youth class conscious mainly by teaching them to walk around saying "the issues I face are tied to the fact that i'm a worker." That isn't class consciousness. And you don't make proletrian youth class conscious by training them to focus on their own oppression (as proletarian youth) and disparaging the struggle and contradictions of youth from other strata. They become class conscious (as lenin said) when they start to appreciate the oppression and political potential of other class from a communist standpoint.

Society is in the grip of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism -- between socialized production and individual appropriation. One of the manifestations of that contradictions is the historic struggle of the working class to overthrow the bourgeoisie and transform all of society along new revolutionary lines toward communism. And akey part of that struggle of the proletariat is to understand other class strata in society, to join with them and lead them, in unity and struggle for this protracted struggle.

Repeater

I think you've misunderstood my position.

It is not a question of ignoring other categories of social division, but a question of which category is it that moves history. Human history is not the history of generational conflict strictly speaking, or gender conflict. These are different ideologies. When these particularities overwhelm the question of class, not in a reductionist sense, but in the sense of large human groupings which act in a historic context, then you don't have communist ideology.

"Perhaps I'm wrong, but I suppect your criticism is, repeater, that class is not everywhere considered a category of analysis that is always more determinant than other social divisions and groupings (i.e. youth, or gender, or nationality).

But making a materialist class analysis does not mean, always and everywhere, treating the class of people as the functioning determinant and dividing line of events (or of your analysis). To do so is exactly what is called mechanical materialism (or more recently, reductionism)."

If you ditch the always and everywhere in the first paragraph then you'd have my position. Furthermore the second paragraph does not follow logically from the first. To say that class is determinate of history, is simply true. There is no necessity to be mechanical about this realization. It is not necessary to practice bloodline categorization of people, and more fundamentally it is not about categorizing people as this class or that, but of understanding the motions of class objectively.

I would add that no matter what nationality, gender or generation one is dealing with they're all split into classes. Thus on the national question you get internationalism, and once again the preeminence of class in communist ideology.

As to Mao's dealing with the national question, would you suggest this was actually somehow seperate from the class question? That the class question didn't construct the realm in which the national situation had developed. Imperialism is a class system primarily, a national system only in relation to that. If anything you've only illucidated the roots of Mao's incorrect nationalism, the consequences of which have been criticized by Avakian.

The AWTW articles clearly present the category of "youth" as the primary and structuring category of the events in France. Only by staying at the surface could one be led to believe it is so simple. Clearly you would have to go a little deeper past nationality, and generation to find the class contradictions and illucidate the concrete and objective motion of the historic events.

But the AWTW piece does not do this. It stays primarily at the level of "youth". And thus it is merely a "report" in place of an analysis. This is where you get the various conflations of youth, and nationality with class, as well as the particular with the general.

Let me put it this way, women are certainly oppressed as women, but where does this oppression come from? Did people just one day decide to oppress women, or does it come from class society? Now which is more determinant? The class situation lays the foundations of oppression. Simply because class society is so adept at creating new categories of oppression to mask the main underlying oppression, or to enhance and secure it, does not mean that these further elaborations are primary in a historic sense.

Not making this distinction clear and not being firmly based in it is a mistake at best.

"To put it another way: class consciousness is not "i'm conscious of class." You don't make working class youth class conscious mainly by teaching them to walk around saying "the issues I face are tied to the fact that i'm a worker." That isn't class consciousness. And you don't make proletrian youth class conscious by training them to focus on their own oppression (as proletarian youth) and disparaging the struggle and contradictions of youth from other strata. They become class conscious (as lenin said) when they start to appreciate the oppression and political potential of other class from a communist standpoint."

I think this perfectly displays the instrumentalism in the piece and in your line. I would sum it up as "The reason we have to talk about youth or emphasize it, is in order to teach the youth to be class conscious". I'm certainly not arguing against a particular investigation, but I am against tailing identity in order to "teach class consciousness". This is a recipe for the exact opposite.

One last thing about "youth" if this was such a dialectical analysis what is the opposing force in this situation? The old? The middle aged? The generational category is clearly a tailing of identity in order to slip under the rug a little "class consciousness". I put quotations around that phrase not because I have a problem with the concept, but because this method does not produce class consciousness.

"So yes, i don't think there is anything wrong with "shining reporting of spontaneous actions" nor do I see anything wrong with detailed and materialist reporting on "the particularities of race and nationality within that."

I have no problem with this piece as a report, it's its claims to analysis which are a problem. And if you look at where you got this second quotation you will see I am not arguing against a reporting of the particularities of race and nationality, but rather a confusion of that, or a raising up of that to the general in order to create reality more than to really analyze and illucidate the truth.

As to your comments about Mao and Hunan, where has it been suggested that we not stand with rebellion?

I certainly haven't suggested it, and as far as the PCFMLM article which I don't endorse, I don't believe it offers a position of not standing with the rebellion, but rather questions what the rebellion is, its character, where it's going to lead etc.

If the PCFMLM is remaining aloof from the struggle in France then they're certainly not worth shit. But I think some are a little to quick to put a name on this grouping. I think there is some prooftexting. I have already pointed out several sections who's logic do not follow the characterizations of the article's positions.

While it may be odd to make a big deal out of the word "multitude" I have to do it. It immediately struck me. I don't think I have ever seen that word used in a AWTW article before. It is suspiscious that it would be used in an article about France, given its importance in contemporary French political philosophy. I can think of only two reasons it was used, either an artless translation (which I doubt since AWTW is based in London), or a replicating of the instrumentalism of the category youth by taking up this popular term. If people think this is ridiculous on my part they could simply google "multitude" and see what comes up.

Last:

"What is the stand of the proletariat (meaning the class conscious proletariat and its political representatives, the communists)"

Make this concrete, and situate it in the context of France. What does this mean?

This is another way of stating my previous question:

"Another thought I've had with regards to "a comment's" posts, is a question of how the proletariat is represented in struggle or how it leads in a united front. It seems clear that proletarian leadership, from your perspective, can only happen with a vanguard. So if the PCFMLM is not a vanguard and there is no vanguard in France, then the actions of proletarians in this struggle necessarilly follow the leadership of the petit bourgeoisie, or bourgeoisie. But to decry such is left economism. So at what point does the situation change to unity under proletarian leadership and how would that change occur in a situation like that of France?"

I would add the question of what of the non-class-conscious proletariat? What of a situation without a vanguard? Does this mean the proletariat doesn't exist as such? Can it not act as the proletariat without the leadership of its vanguard? And is it completely impossible for the proletariat to lead other classes without a vanguard? What are the consequences of this?


Logan

"all point to an utter lack of marxism and an embracing of popular (in the most vulgar sense) political and philosophical stands of classes, which perhaps are not against the proletariat and can even be won to them, but are nonetheless not the proletariat."

GASP! A lack of Marxism. Heaven knows not even Marx called himself a marxist. Ever considered giving up the ideology all together.

And class consiousness, it's amazing that some people still believe in a homogenous reality.

Logan

http://www.riff-raff.se/en/furtherreading/on_org.php

Repeater

"Ignorant men raise questions that wise men answered a thousand years ago." - Goethe

And it is not at all surprising that so many believe as you do.

Samo

"And it is not at all surprising that so many believe as you do."

Speaking of belief . . . Repeater, do you believe that civil war is imminent in the US? Or was that just a passing Marxist fad from '05? I seem to recall a "scientific" prediction that revolution or World War was the only way to resolve the contradictions of the 1980's.

http://rwor.org/a/1274/avakian-civil-war-repolarization.htm

Are you all ready for it, or do you just not believe?

leftclick

samo: you're raising a debate that's already gone on in other threads on this blog. RCP was wrong about how contradictions would play out in the 80's and have already talked about this: http://rwor.org/a/special_postings/poleco_e.htm.

Also, the article does not say 'imminent' but 'coming'. The latter phrase is more open-ended and allows for the role of consciousness. Even with a scientific approach one can make mistakes [also debated in other threads]. Anyone wanting an error-free approach to social theory is in for a lifetime of disappointment.

If anything, the more appropriate reference point here is the German SDLP in the 1930's [who had way more influence than any left group in the US today] who insisted that the Nazis would never really be able to do what they eventually did - that the system was self-correcting for such extreme tendencies. As part of this, they only mobilized the masses within the confines of the liberal bourgeois system.

Samo, if a civil war comes, don't expect an e-mail notification 8 weeks in advance. If your strategy is to wait for things to happen, then react with shock and moral outrage, you haven't learned anything from history.

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