Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Relevant, Unsectarian, Tall, Tan, and Fly

It seems my comments on the ascendancy of Syriza to governmental power in Greece have rubbed some people the wrong way.  One VIB has classified me as an "irrelevant sectarian."

Let me address that immediately:  I would have to have many more readers, supporters, than I do now to be classified as an irrelevant sectarian.  It's something to be aspired to, given the current circumstances.

So that's one level of inaccuracy of the evaluation.  Another level is in the use of "sectarian."  Sectarian, in actual class struggle, applies to those groups that substitute their own needs for the needs of the class.  Class is the determining element in this assessment.  So, for example, if a group has an analysis that points out how incapable trade unions are of becoming vehicles for expanding class struggle, that's not sectarian.  If, however, when the headquarters of a trade union are being raided by government or non-government forces because the union is accused of protecting undocumented workers, and if that same group rejects participating in the defense of that union headquarters, in militant direct opposition to the government or non-government force, that is sectarianism. 

This being the material world where relations are expressed as things,  things can get  complicated.   Several years ago, after a particular vote on a particular piece of legislation, which I think had to to with affordable medical care in the US, an African-American Democratic congressman from Georgia, John Lewis, upon leaving the Capitol building was assaulted, spat upon, and threatened by those associated with the nut-job faction of  US capitalism (oh so suited to represent the capitalist class as a whole). 

John Lewis is the  former chairman of SNCC, organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, "Freedom Summer" in Mississippi, and the voting rights drive in Alabama; is a big D Democrat, "Senior Chief Deputy Whip" of the big D Democrats in the House of Representatives, and without a doubt the single bravest person I have ever met in my life.  As a matter of fact, I believe people like Lewis, afraid of nothing,  are in this world to balance off the people like me, afraid of everything.  But that's a different discussion

Regardless of his party affiliation as a big D Democrat, the refusal to defend John Lewis from assault by the koched up cracked heads of the Rand right would be, and is, sectarian, despite Mr. Lewis' position on the "other side" of the class line. 

Confusing?  OK, let's dig a little deeper.  We have to discern the determinants, the driving force,  of a conflict, a movement, a struggle.  We have to distinguish those determinants from the movement. We have to separate the movement from its momentary expressions in, by, as a particular organization.

Well, we know that the determinants of the "civil rights" movement were, and are, the oppression and exploitation of black labor, that the movement, the struggle for civil rights,  as determined by that condition of black labor, is itself a development in the struggle for the emancipation of that labor, and thus a condition itself for the emancipation of all labor. 

Now the Democratic Party is not and has never been an organization of that struggle; its origin is in the suppression of black labor, so no, we don't defend Democrats.  We don't urge anyone to vote for any Democrat, even John Lewis. But make no mistake, the assault on John Lewis is indissoluble from his role in the struggle for the emancipation of black labor.  There is no end to history; and there is no end, as yet, to oppression of black labor.  So physical defense of John Lewis in such circumstances is a minimal requirement.

Like I said, things get complicated with capitalism, but mostly because relations get expressed as things.

If we take this method of analysis-- determinants, movement, organization-- to Greece, we can clearly discern that the determinants are in the inability of capitalism to reproduce itself profitably enough.  The determinant is in the conflict between labor, as the social ability of humans to satisfy, and develop, the needs of other humans; and the condition of labor, labor-power expressed as wage-labor, so that that labor  is the private property of the class owning the machinery of production. The determinant is in the need of capital to drive the cost of the reproduction of labor-power below its value.

 The determinant then is the conflict between the means and relations of production.  And that conflict is what distinguishes the struggle as revolutionary. 

 The determinant is NOT in the "colonization of the European South;" not in the "struggle" between "finance global international capital" and "local, national" capital; not in "democracy;" not in "privatization" vs. "nationalization," not in any of that-- ever, anywhere, for a single second.

The movement of the workers and poor of Greece is driven forward by the determinant, but is not, and cannot yet be, the simultaneous full expression and abolition of that conflict.  To achieve that, to bring the determinants to resolution, the class has to install itself in its own organizations of class power, breaking up the state machinery of the old ruling class.  That's the task, and it is one that unequivocal and inescapable, and relentless, that is thrown upon the working class.

Syriza is not the movement of the entire class and should not be identified as such.  It might be a momentary expression of where the "majority" of class perceives its interests are but this is hardly a done deal. 

However precisely because Syriza, as presently constituted, deflects from the class recognition, apprehension, of the driving forces behind the class' own movement; precisely to the extent that Syriza empowers itself as an alternative to class' organization of  new bodies of power; Syriza develops itself as a condition in conflict with that ultimate, unequivocal, inescapable relentless task. 

Practically speaking, this means no support for the Syriza government.  It does not mean apathy to attacks on Syriza by the bourgeoisie and its agents.  The bourgeoisie don't make the distinction, between organization and class, remember.  It does mean developing and articulating a social program that can be executed by the working class precisely to the degree that it establishes its own governing bodies; its own mechanisms of defense; its own control of economics, which economics is nothing but the condition of labor. 

January 28, 2015

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