The left vs. the working class

Flickr image. elhamalawy

Red Star Times has a thoughtful rant about how the left too often shoots itself in the foot when not backstabbing the working class it claims to champion.

In England, a country that is sometimes facetiously described as having a Trotskyist under ever rock, the trade unions and the Labour Party are considered sacrosanct leaders of the working class. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Exactly. The idea that such unions are bulwarks of IWW-style solidarity and the true leaders of the working class is laughable and Marxist wishful thinking and delusion.

Thousands, probably millions if we include people with faith in “leftists” such as Noam Chomsky and “progressives” like Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader, have faith in the left to solve the world’s problems. But they won’t. History shows that figures such as these will stab any kind of militant working class movement on the move in the back at a very crucial movement. The left is not a big, happy family where everyone can come together and gripe about what they hate about the right wing. Or rather, it’s exactly that and that’s why I distance myself from it. They don’t want to build a fighting movement capable of taking power. They want to complain to one another in the leftist echo chamber.

Most Marxist parties use their front groups primarily to build the party, not to work on the issue at hand. Thus, they force moderates out and can never create a broad-based movement because they are self-limiting in size and ideology.

In the US, the working class is amorphous. What is it? Where is it?

Marxists and leftists too often show contempt for the white working class, especially if they are southern. Read Joe Bageant’s “Deer Hunting with Jesus” for more on this. He grew up redneck, became a hard left journalist, then moved back to the little town he grew up in and wrote about it and the stupidity of the left in spitting in the face of the white working class, a mistake Republicans do not make.

The left is not interested in building an independent, fighting working class movement. It is interested only in building itself. Regardless of the class makeup of the organization, the international left is largely oriented toward the trade union bureaucracy, the left wing of pro-capitalist parties, “radical” organizations, Black Nationalism and feminism. The working class is used either as an afterthought, for the purposes of exploiting its militant history or both. Breaking with the left and the organizations towards which it orients is one of the first major tasks of building a mass socialist movement.

In this huge crisis of capitalism we are in, the left has been virtually comatose, a failure of huge magnitude. Instead of focusing on the crisis, they’ve been pointedly fixating on other issues or just asleep and apparently not caring much about the plight of millions of workers who are getting screwed.

The left needs to reinvent itself, toss a bunch of dated ideology out the window, and reacquaint itself with actual workers rather than just theorizing about them.