Simon wrote:
> Didn't realise it was mainstream. I've had to fight tooth and nail
> for it

I don't think I said it was mainstream, as classical (or orthodox)
Marxism is hardly mainstream on the left. I just meant that it was 
quite close in many part to what Marx and Engels were fighting tooth 
and nail for 150 years ago. 

>  I was  suggesting that the "disparate collection of  individuals" 
> idea is a reaction to the collapse of a particular
> cultural group which were seen as the whole of the working class,
> but negated by the fact that for socialists the working class is
> properly defined by its relation to capital.

Now here is where you loose me. Whose is the 'disparate collection of
individuals idea' ? Are you referring to a new political argument or
just another rehashing of liberalism? What exactly is the 'particular
cultural group' which has collapsed? Where has it collapsed? In
Britain or globally?

> Even though certain people are seen as middle class and many workers hold shares and
>have bank accounts, the economic facts of existence predominate. 
> leaving a working class with no particular differences (e.g.racism 
> etc.) and a revolutionary party. Hope that doesn't sound too starry eyed.

Yes I think at present this is starry eyed. It is on this point that I
DO disagree quite strongly. Priviledged workers - with shares and 
large savings with numerous cars in the drive of some large house 
taking lots of foreign holidays - do have some economic interest in 
capitalism. Revolution would inevitably threaten these priviledges. 
They are not capitalists, they are not peti-Bourgeois, but they do 
have privileges over other blue collar or non-collar workers and the 
unemployed and as you say economic facts of existence predominate.
Now, this could lead to quite a pessimistic position, depending on 
how one calculates the size of this proportion. Clearly globally it 
is very small but they form the backbone of social democracy and 
reformist socialism in the wealthier nations. The optimistic point is 
that even in these countries they have a more immediate threat to 
their priviledge than revolution, and that is the fact that 
capitalism (or more correctly imperialism) cannot sustain their 
position indefinitely. They did well in Britain in the age of Empire 
(as Engels notes); they saw a revival in the post-war boom & 
continued profits from the third world; and they have had a reprieve 
with the opening up of markets in Eastern Europe, Russia and China. 
The inevitable crisis in capitalism and the inherent fall in the rate 
of profit has to threaten the high living standards of priviledged 

As to the peti-bourgeoisie I think you are wrong if you dismiss them
out of hand when trying to define the working class. I am thinking of
shopkeepers who own their premises and stock, black cab drivers who
own their cars, market traders who own their barrow and goods, etc.
Why is it that there is a predominance of reaction amongst this
section? Why do they tend to back capitalism when it come to the
crunch? It is because they do own the means of production (if only on
a small scale) and hence do have more to lose than their chains.

A rosey-eyed view of the battle between capital and labour does not
explain why people are not all revolutionary, and more important why
they actually work against the progressive forces or divert them into

> the lumpen is a dangerous grouping - mainly in the question of
> defaulting on their class

Just a final point. Their class is not necessarily the working class -
they can be poor aristocrats (one is reminded of Prince Kropotkin),
wandering beggars who do not enter into the labour process but rely on
the generosity of the wealthy, wounded military men, bankrupted
capitalists, sections of the peti-bourgeoisie who are not making
enough money. Some times they will come down on the side of the
revolutionaries but perhaps more often the will side with the
Bourgeoisie. Perhaps they no longer exist any more?

Oh dear just a wordy!


     --- from list [EMAIL PROTECTED] ---
  • M-T... George Pennefather

Reply via email to