ON EMANCIPATORY CLASS - V.VIJAYAKUMAR
Firstly, I have to consider the metaphysical element in the prediction of proletarian class as emancipatory, capable of emancipating the world from capitalist exploitation and cruelties. The usual arguments in favor of such a prediction are not clear causes or clear proofs that will lead to select the industrial working class as emancipatory. What are the main arguments that usually arise in favor of selecting working class, as the class for emancipation? It is a class that is completely free from all the feudal relations of the middle ages. It is a class that emerged along with scientific and technological revolutions. The industrial working class is the one that interferes with the most modern machines and technology. It is the class capable of self transformation with the most rapid and advanced changes that taking place in the field of science and technology. Thus, it is the most advanced class, working in the most advanced system of production by interfering with the most advanced tools of production. Again, it is the class that constantly interferes with the civil society and scientific knowledge. The proletarian class is historically progressive in character and is capable of full motion. It was the historically progressive nature of the working class that leads Marx to suggest it as the emancipatory class capable of liberating the whole humanity from the exploiting system of capitalism. All these arguments are true. But, none of it is capable of explaining and circumventing the metaphysical elements within the prediction. Under such circumstances, the prediction remains the one just like the Jesus as the emancipator of the world, as suggested by Christianity. The elements of religiosity and the very deterministic and essentialist nature of the prediction are against the true spirits of Marxism.
The prediction of emancipatory working class presupposed an essential nature. It is the basic illusion of the metaphysical thought that shown here. It is unaware of the historicity of the being. Historicity is against all essentialist notions. Whether Marx was not aware of the metaphysical element in the suggestion, is an important question to be addressed. For Marx, that suggestion was the one to be evaluated by history, not an absolute suggestion to be implemented at all places, for all time. Marx was against reductionist single line essentialist approach, as could be seen in many of his writings. The lesson from Paris Commune is an example. After the failure of Paris Commune, Marx was not sticking on his earlier positions. This attitude could be seen in the reply letter to Vera Zasulich also. For Vera, then a Narodhnik, wants to know about the future of Russia. Whether Russia, then an underdeveloped country, would suffer all the atrocities of capitalism before going into socialist stage. To answer this question Marx abandoned the single line five phase theory from primitive communism to socialism. Later, Jenny wrote that Marx considered the question arose by Vera as a serious one. He was aware of the role played by history, which is not static, a continuously changing one. Marx was well aware of essentialist notions and was against it. But, in the concept of emancipatory class, it is the contemporary historical situations that made more visible the essential nature of Marxist prediction. The trend of contemporary thought to keep away from essentialism also helps in revealing the essential nature in the concept of dictatorship of working class. The Marxist thought has been a persistent effort to distance itself from essentialism. Call of the day is to elaborate it. The assertion in the concept of historicity shows the pure human nature of truth. The world is entirely a social construction of human beings which is not grounded of any metaphysical necessities, neither to God, nor to essential laws of history, nor to essential emancipatory agent. The greatest contribution of Marxist theory is that it illuminates the fundamental tendencies in the development of capitalism and the antagonisms it generates. But the contemporary trends were not foreseen by Marx. It is our duty to extend it in a variety of directions with a true Marxian spirit.
It was in the Second International (also known as Yellow International) absolute tendencies were emerged in the Communist movement. There were severe attempts to create an order within Marxist concepts. The essential laws of society in the development from primitive communism to capitalism, approach to base and superstructure, scientificity... were put forward as primary concepts while political struggles were expelled as a secondary concept. It was at this juncture; the essentialist tendencies and pragmatic approaches of those who knew about tomorrow’s situations very well, get inaugurated. Political struggles get reduced to mere problems related to superstructure. The importance of Lenin’s theoretical interfere could be seen in this regard. Lenin’s words on the primacy of political struggle are very important in our discussion. Lenin overcame the approach that sees production relations as the only factor that determines the state of a social system. The great proletarian leader took strong positions against the absolutist approaches of the Second International. The Marxist vision of working class revolution that takes place at the highest stage of capitalism was now gets replaced by possibilities of proletarian revolutions that break the weaker imperialist links of world capitalist system. Lenin walked in a different path against absolutist tendencies. The concept of history that moves with an essential purpose towards a predetermined point was abandoned. Now, in the observations of Lenin, revolution is not the one that takes place at a predetermined point. By seeing capitalism as the chain of imperialism, Lenin affirms the connections between colonialism and capitalism.
If the class contradictions and the relations between different social sections are not the result of production relations or economic relations, if it is over-determined by the linkages between each country and the global capitalist system, it cannot be said that there are fundamental principles that will tend to solve these problems. We are reaching a point that will see the primacy of politics in all fields. Lenin’s position could be well differentiated from the approach of Mensheviks, as he recognized the primacy and importance of political struggles. When Lenin says about the concrete analysis of concrete situations, he focuses mainly on the political relations between classes. The analysis and understanding of political relations lead to political struggles. It was these positions that recognized the importance of political struggles that gave Lenin sufficient strength to say about the path of revolution in colonial countries, through the colonial thesis. Although the working class was seen as the leadership of revolution, even after putting forward the concept of People’s democratic revolution, it was the Leninist position that helps in the formation of united front in the period of anti Fascist struggle and in forming a new approach that lead Mao to see the farmers and other exploited sections of the society as the moving force of Chinese revolution.
Even though Lenin’s positions were important, it had its own severe limitations. It was ambiguous. Although it states about the primacy of political struggles, that idea had not been included in the theoretical project of Marxism. Now, Leninism reduced as a theory of revolution and failed to become a theory of society. Lenin failed to emphasize on the fact that there is no essence of social system other than political relations between different classes. The approach of seeing working class as the selected one for emancipation was not discarded. Because of the limitations of the positions of the Comintern, economic determinism established upper hand on several occasions. By the time of Stalinism, through a mechanical materialistic approach, Marxism was established as a system of eternal truths. It was Stalinism that led Marxism to a static state. Stalinism transforms Marxism in to a religion. The positions of Stalinism still appeared under the banner of Marxism, in disguise. Now, the duty of all real Marxists is to emancipate and protect Marxism from the Stalinist static state.
The limitations of Comintern were well revealed in the years of struggle against Fascism, in the period of Stalin itself. It was the period of united front formed against Fascism. The resolution of Dimitrov, presented at the seventh Comintern congress, on the role of communist party in growing struggles against Fascism for democratic rights, created certain suspicions. It sees the formation of united front against fascism, only at a tactical level. The united front formed for struggles against Fascism was not a front of class mass organizations. People from all the fields of activity united in this front against Fascism. This shows that there are tendencies within Classical Marxism that moves to the abandonment of essentialism and new political logics started to replace it. If this process could not go further, it was largely due to political conditions that repressed all intellectual creativity. It was an occasion which clearly establishes that the political categories to be addressed by the communist movement are not only class based organizations. We have to address multifaceted social contradictions that arose in the society under the leadership of several social sections. The Comintern failed to recognize it. It was Antonio Gramsci who upholds this line of thought.
Antonio Gramsci’s thought was a continuation and a break, at the same time, of Leninism. Lenin’s insight of history, that sees its motion not in simple logic, could be seen in Gramsci. But, contrary to Lenin, Gramsci sees the primacy of political struggles not only in the moments of revolution, but he created a theory that states the primacy of political struggles that correlates all social situations unambiguously. But he kept the concept of a selected class for the emancipation of humanity. To secure political hegemony, the Communist Party should withdraw all narrow economic interests and visions by securing intellectual and cultural hegemony. For this, it should make combines and alliances with different social sections of the society. Gramsci called it as a historical friendship. Such an upper structure is necessary for keeping and breaking the bonds and linkages with the base. Gramsci says that, to overcome the static cultural states created by religion in the society, Marxism should be able to serve the spiritual needs of people. Gramsci sees over and above the establishment of political power by Communist Party.
If we are able to recognize the metaphysical elements in the theorization of an emancipatory class and also aware of the present concrete situations, it will led as to withdraw the concept of proletarian dictatorship. Now, the communist movement should be changed into a great friendship of different social categories. Communist Party should transform into a friendship and uniting force that mutually collects the independent workings of different social groups that having their own independent motion. This unity is not the one that is to be conceptually formed, but the one to be constructed through mutual understandings and working in the society. The different social organizations are not the well known frontal organizations or the class mass organizations. The different social groups will undertake the works in their own specialized fields. Here, the social working in the field of women, dalits, environment...is not an appendix of working in the economic field. But, these social groups are not those ones that involved in their identity only. They are not negligent about their social positions or commitment to society. Communist party is a friendship of all those social groups capable of independent motion.
But, the determination of the Party not to fall into economic reductionism is not a way to avoid the imperialist system of exploitation or the relative importance of economic situations. Social contradictions are not of absolute nature, we can see inherent uncertainties in it. We have to see the importance of class contradictions in the society; the exploitation unleashed by the capitalist system and the very important fact that the capitalism is not capable of circumventing the contradictions between capital and working force. But, along with this, we should always remember the fact that there are moments in history at which the reproduction relations, caste problem or environmental problems are more important than production relations. There are many points of antagonism between capitalism and various sections of the population and this means that we will have a variety of anti-capitalist struggles. The essentialist approach that Capitalist expansion will essentially lead to socialism must be abandoned. On the contrary, our experiences have already been clearly showed that the capitalist expansion is now leading to environmental degradation and to the deterioration of earth and the civilization. Like any other field, that of economic relations is also a field of political struggles. But it is impossible to explain the motion in economic field using simple, essentialist laws. Communist Party should interfere in all fields along with the field of economic relations and should acquire intellectual and cultural hegemony in the civil society. Capturing the state power is not the only aim of the communist party. Civil society is its main working centre. As Gramsci pointed out, the main duty of the communist party is to reduce and shorten the political sphere that contain state power, the oppressive tools like police, court...and to enhance the growth of self reliant common sphere in the civil society. The reduction of political sphere may lead to the possibility of withering away of state power. We are locating socialism in a wider field of democratic revolution that founded on the plurality of social agents and their struggles. The field of social conflicts extended, not reduced to a privileged class. This indicates that democratic struggles have no final point of arrival, there will always be contradictions, and there will always be history. Fukuyama’s concept of end of history abandoned, here.