The working class and differences between dead Russians

Lenin’s Mausoleum

George Galloway speaking at a Respect conference in London

Looking at the economic situation he remarked that the capitalist system as we know it has failed and that some of the businesses which are now receiving big dollops of public money should be taken into state control

Are most working class people interested in arguments about the differences between dead Russians? “No” was George’s answer. It’s a source of deep regret to me but he is probably right. In our public activity and press we have to use language that makes sense in working class communities. It’s a radical idea but it might be worth giving it a spin.

Absolutely. The Left, especially Marxists, too often believe they must justify political stances and ideas by consulting the sacred texts to determine what Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, or some other communist luminary said. Then, since disagreement can always be found in the sacred texts, they can spend days, weeks, months, years, arguing about it, maybe even going so far as to form (yet another) splinter group. Yeah, that’ll really have capitalism quaking in its boots, won’t it?

Galloway is right. The language Marxists use is bewildering and confusing to outsiders. New words and concepts are needed. My suggestion. Toss “bourgeoise” and “working class” out the window. Even socialists use them in contradictory ways. Here in the States, the general public has no idea what they mean. Plus, while the concept of class might have been easy to define in Marx’s day, it is much more malleable now, especially in the US. It needs redefinition.

And what is it with the Marxist insistence that revolutions must be led by the working class? Look at history. Virtually every revolution has been led by the upper middle class, if not the upper class itself. Castro and Che both came from well-off families and not from the most oppressed.

There are so many good ideas in Marxism that it’s a shame that they get buried by impenetrable jargon and a determined resolve to never re-examine core concepts in the light of current history. Capitalism constantly re-invents itself (like it is doing right now!) yet Marxism has never really done so. It needs to. Then it would almost certainly find a wider audience.