The ABCs of Class Struggle

By Aduku Addae

Scientific Socialism is now just two dirty words. One dare not mention these words in polite circles. And, that is a grave pity, for, the organizations of the working class are in disarray and the struggle for social equity has stagnated because workers have foolishly abandoned five centuries of working peoples' history. Discarded along with this history are a unique anti-philosophy, a system of critical thought, a methodology of struggle, and the tools for analyzing the contemporary social drama. Assuredly, the worker's instinct will direct him/her to the rediscovery of Scientific Socialism. Working people have been so directed at other times in history. I am, however, impatient of the laborers' natural inclination to return to studying history and shaping human destiny through self-conscious action. So, at the risk of being impolite, perhaps to the extent of being unpopular, I would like to initiate a discussion about Scientific Socialism and the working class struggle in the age of "global" Capitalism. I am not proposing here to revive some tedious debate over "Marxist" minutiae. I am talking about getting back to basics.

Soviet tactical exigencies gave birth to a miserable doctrine that posited the nationalist struggle as essentially anti-capitalist and a necessary antecedent to the working class revolution. This doctrine which held currency for the better part of a century showed itself to be hopelessly and definitively bankrupt in and through the implosion and fragmentation of the Soviet Union into nation states within the borders of which the worst robber baron capitalism has taken root. This, to say the least, is the essence of irony, for, it is towards the preservation of this Stalinist monstrosity (the Soviet Union), perceived by millions as the Mecca of socialism, that the doctrine was aimed. But of course people get what they work for, and the socialists of the world worked for world capitalism, from 1917 to 1991 under the cold direction of pragmatic Russian politicians.

One would expect that the demise of the Soviet experiment would have signaled the beginning of a critical assessment of the history of the Fourth International with a view to laying a foundation for formulating a practical program of struggle for the fifth international under 21st century conditions. It seems, however, that the Reagan-Gorbachev onslaught not only destroyed the crumbling edifice of the Russian Gulag, under which the working people of Eastern Europe stood, but it sapped the intellectual energy and destroyed the imagination of the socialists worldwide. The silencing of the working class and the decade-old replacement of informed socialist discourse with the half-wit sound bites of liberalism in the world-sociopolitical debate is a natural consequence of generations of adherence to the "political line" which preached the gospel of "United Democratic Fronts" against "Imperialism." This doctrine, as we have seen in practice, is capitalist ideology in essence, all nationalist struggles being ultimately directed at fortifying the capitalist order of society. It has yielded the most repressive and corrupt regimes in Angola, The Congo, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Somalia - - the list goes on ad infinitum.

The most notable effect of this doctrine is that it sapped the energy of the working class in imaginary battles against a so-called imperialistic enemy. These were battles, however, which were in reality against the working class itself.

This misguided doctrine of "anti-imperialist struggle" is at the foundation of historic errors made by the socialist worldwide. In Jamaica, for example, the workers movement with its strong grass-roots (genuinely proletarian) trade unionist structure was delivered over to the quasi-nationalist-brown-man-parties of Norman W. Manley and Alexander Bustamante. The genuine working class leaders such as G. S. Coombs were consigned to oblivion and a life of hardship and destitution. Socialist intellectuals Richard Hart and the Hill brothers were later expelled from the People's National Party (circa 1951). Thus the workers' unions came to be placed at the beck and call of generations of 'gangster' politicians in the fractious parliamentary politics which essentially reinforced and preserved the capitalist order of things. (That this took place at a time when the workers were in a superb position to gain ascendancy is, of course, unbelievable). The same thing happened in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and the rest of the Caribbean region. Ultimately this gave rise to the tragicomedy that was unveiled in little Grenada and which ultimately led to an invasion by US forces in October of 1983 under the pretext of 'saving' a group of American medical students who were never in any danger.

Lenin's formulation that "Imperialism" was the highest stage of capitalism is of course what started the trouble. This misperception emanated as much from Lenin's myopic preoccupation with Czarist Russia as from his long exilic isolation from the Russian working class and the broader struggle in Europe. (The European struggle of itself was an experience in isolation. The European working class having lost the universal perspective of the French revolutionaries, and imbibing all the bad habits of its racist imperialists masters, overlooked the history and experience of the most durable example of successful struggle against 'global' capitalism manifested in the Haitian revolution). The record should long have been set straight on this score. So, I am going to ask the old doctrinaire socialist and the new anti-imperialists, especially the Pan-Africanists among them, to repeat after me thus: Capitalism is the bane of both Feudalism and Imperialism. Capitalism used Imperialism for 500 years and then discarded it. (The emergence of the USA as a world power after World War II, in place of Imperialistic Britain, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany, is a good indication of this. And now the imminent decline of the USA - as it yields to the final imperialistic and reactionary impulses of Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the Confederate South - is even this moment in the making.) Capitalism is the highest stage of Capitalism - no less, no more.

The most enlightening thing that can be said about Capitalism is that it concentrates property in the hands of a few individuals - Capital runs to monopoly Capital - on a worldwide scale. Practical experience has shown that capital accumulation produces a global capitalist class united in its purpose, disdainful of national borders and its attendant politics, and scornful of the vestiges of nobility and religious convictions. (Thus as the world watches we are witnessing the death of the UN an organization rendered anachronistic by capital's development). The very embodiment of alienated labor, capitalists are not connected to the rest of society by filial, religious, tribal, cultural, or, as it turns out shockingly, legal bonds. The substantial nexus is profit. One could say, in Lenin's reckless manner, that the highest stage of Capitalism is Monopoly Capitalism on a global scale - Globalism. (This, however, is not a particularly useful point of view since it is, in essence, 'historical reductionism,' which opens up to a repeat of Lenin's error). In this state, globalism, capital stands over against human society as a morbid and alien force threatening the very existence of the planet. It becomes the enemy of humanity.

Marx, by the way, had already delineated the course of Capital's development, identifying its monopolistic (globalistic) nature long before Lenin began to labor under his fateful misconceptions.

Lenin's error cost the workers' movement eight decades in the last century and is threatening to cost another two, or, three decades, in this the 21st century, if the movement does not unlearn these deeply entrenched Leninist teachings. Working people have been misled by this Bolshevism (a characteristic Russian misnomer) into abandoning the class struggle in the interest of the illusion of "democratic fronts" with petty capitalists throughout the world. (One of course can see why Lenin would advocate such a rapprochement with the most reprobate element in society. His perception is clearly regressive but from the confines of feudalistic Russia, the petit Bourgeoisie was a progressive class. Lenin himself, as a member of the so-called "Intelligentsia," was a member of the petit Bourgeoisie). The workers' movement must reawaken and urgently reassign itself a particular class agendum consistent with its interest.

Throughout the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Central and South America, the working people were induced by 'socialist' wise men to render the working class agenda ancillary to that of varied groups of small time nationalists. The consequence of this is that while the capitalists are organized and united under the aegis of their new capitalists' union - global capitalism - working people are unorganized, dis-united, and fragmented into clans supporting dysfunctional national groups of capitalist. (American workers are slaughtering Iraqi workers (men, women and children) in the interest of Bechtel, Halliburton, and the myriad oil companies, i.e., in the interest of the American Nation).

Workers have the additional burden, aside from their 'patriotic' duty to kill each other as citizens of nations, of supporting some of the most odious characters as leaders based on racial (skin color) affinity in the throes of a sisyphean racial struggle. While workers are distracted in this manner the black leaders have closed ranks with their white counterparts in oppressing workers on the worldwide scale.

We can break this down into more particular terms by selecting a few examples.

In Jamaica the "black man government" of the P. J. Patterson and the Peoples National Party has maintained a program of austerity under the direction of the IMF and the World Bank. This program of austerity has produced the worst consequences for the welfare of the population of black working people. These consequences include: 65% unemployment (this being an unofficial, realistic, estimate put forward by sober Jamaican commentators); repeated draconian cuts in social services; and continually shrinking education and public health budgets in a society that has never, ever, adequately provided for these things. Meanwhile Dr. Omar Davies, minister of finance, the guru of Jamaican 'trickonomics,' uses public money to buy out failed private ventures, in essence taking from the poor to give to the rich.

In South Africa the ANC and the emergent black elite have joined the assault against the black workers at the bidding of the local Boers of apartheid infamy and the global capitalist (concealed under the veil of the IMF and World Bank). The black government of South Africa has, over a decade of its rule, continued to dispossess an already excruciatingly brutalized and exploited people to an unprecedented degree in the service of global capitalism. And, yet, the black working people align themselves with these black leaders in a fictive struggle against the "white supremacist." Astounding!

In the USA black workers lend unconditional support to black pimps who keep them chasing the boogie man of "racism" while these so-called leaders ingratiate themselves with the practicing racist in Washington, and on Wall Street, betraying the interest of their black 'constituents' for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. In the meantime US workers view each other as enemies across "black" and "white" barricades.

The plot repeats itself in nations across the world.

As capital develops in its global dimensions and the "bottom line" asserts itself "white labor" is becoming as dispensable as "black labor." Perhaps even the unthinkable is emerging as truth: Colored labor, being cheaper, and every bit as skilled, and therefore more in harmony with the profit motive, is becoming more desirable than white labor. So, "white collar jobs" are reported by the media to be leaving (white) America for countries with very large "colored" populations. Now, who would have 'thunk' it!

The lesson here, banal as it is, is that capital does not give a hoot about race except to the extent that it keeps the working class divided.

Working people have a duty to reassert the primacy of the working class struggle over all others. The working class has no allies among the capitalist of any country irrespective of what their race, or, religion might be. The battle lines may not be clearly demarcated in this era of sound bites and systematic dis-information about "national security," "democratic values," and "war on terrorism" but there is no question that the real struggle is between capital and labor. Whatever the diversionary route taken society shall finally come face to face with this reality. That is the bottom line. It is time to return to basics

Michael Manley (1924-1997) was Jamaica's fifth Prime Minister. He served two terms -- 1972-1980; 1989-1992. He became leader of the People's National Party (PNP) in 1969 at the death of his father. Considered a man of the people, he often mingled among the people in causal dress. Though white, he maintained an amiable relationship with Jamaica's black majority. A socialist, he was a friend of Fidel Castro. His economic programs had mixed success. Manley is also credited with initiating a culture of political violence by his party funding street gangs during elections to ensure support and political success. The 1980s election was considered extremely corrupt.

Edward Seaga, leader of Jamaica's Labour Party, became the next prime Minister. The 1980 campaign left a 1,000 Jamaicans dead. Seaga also supported with troops Ronald Reagan's invasion of Grenada. Manley was returned to Prime Minister 1989, but retired in 1992 because of reasons of health. Percival James Patterson, then Deputy Prime Minister, succeeds Michael Manley as party leader and prime minister.

P. J. Patterson, born 1935 at St Andrew, Jamaica, was elected to a fourth term in October 2002 as prime Minister of Jamaica. His father was a farmer and his mother a teacher. He studied University College of the West Indies and London School of Economics.

Patterson is also a lawyer by training. He became an active member of the People's National Party in the 1950s, nominated to the Senate when he was 32 and joined the House of Representatives in 1970. During 1972-80 he served in a number of portfolios, including minister of finance and deputy prime minister.

Paul Bogle, commemorated in song by Bob Marley, was born a free man circa 1822 in the parish of St Thomas, during the height of Jamaican slavery.He was an ordained Baptist deacon who sought reforms on behalf of the black poor, believing that better governmental polices could improve social and economic conditions.

On 11 October 1865 Bogle organized a peaceful march that turned violent -- later called the Morant Bay Rebellion. It resulted in the execution of over five hundred persons and harsh punishment for countless others, including Bogle, who was hanged on October 24, 1865.

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