Is the Class Struggle Dead?
Well, that’s certainly what I’ve been told many times, by both pro-bourgeois and self-professed “socialist” people. I think any Marxist organization must deal with this, and the result will either be that a truly revolutionary working class organization will emerge or it will be left in the pile with other reformist, social-democratic, half-baked anarchist or reactionary parties. The question of reformism and class struggle is the absolute issue, and comes down to a simple question: are the interests of capital and labor reconcilable? This is the main question facing the class struggle: reform or revolution.
Indeed, Marx in the third section of the Manifesto dealt with the other socialist literature and movements, and in turns refutes them as reactionary in some way. But for this piece I will not go further into that.
What is Reformism?
In short, it can be a conscious belief or indeed a tendency, whereby contradiction can be resolved amicably and without either side gaining the upper hand. As Marxists we understand that such a reconciliation between classes is impossible, that history has always consisted of one material group exploiting the other in order to keep that material advantage.
The undeveloped state of the class struggle, as well as their own surroundings, cause Utopian socialists to consider themselves far superior to all class antagonisms. They want to improve the condition of every member of society, even that of the most favored. Hence, they habitually appeal to society at large without the distinction of class; nay, by preference, to the ruling class. For how can people, when they understand their system, fail to see in it the best possible plan of the best possible state of society?
Utopianism, or idealism, is one of the main causes of reformism. Through their abstract liberal concepts of ‘rights,’ ‘freedom’ and other buzzwords, the new breeds of bourgeois socialists reject class struggle. They view Marxists as ‘just warming the seat for the next oppressor,’ indeed the frequent rallying cries of this group is that ‘Marx is not the be-all and end-all of communism,’ and thus they revert to more primitive and earlier socialist writings. Objectively and within a historical context these writings represent the undeveloped form of bourgeois property and thus class relations. In that way Utopianism results of ignorance-the only difference is that old Utopianism was from objective ignorance and the modern is self-imposed ignorance. This is mostly from popular and often crude misrepresentations of history which these Utopians believe proves the ‘failure’ of socialism.
As with Utopians of the far-left, so too does the moderate left-wing, social-democrats, represent the rejection of Marxism from a different angle. It is a conscious belief (rather than ignorance and misconception of Utopianism) that bourgeois property is a permanent property relation, and one that is fair as long as it is regulated (presumably by the bourgeois state itself). This view rejects Marxism because it takes bourgeois property out of historical context, and thus replaces it with a ‘here and now’ abstract view on property relations.
The ‘Here and Now’ Mentality
Objectively this mentality is opportunism, and although it’s most seen examples are of politicians, it can be seen in many Utopian and social-democratic circles. At varying degrees it is a capitulation to bourgeois standards and bourgeois views on history, it allows the bourgeois to set the initiative and the standards for debate and views. In politics within the bourgeois state this capitulation to these standards is a de facto requirement for election, as the media and rhetoric set the standard. So in that case the motivation is usually personal power. But even in these political circles a rejection of class struggle is also a de facto standard for peer acceptance of political views, even in general terms and in public debate this standard exists.
Fascism as a Stage of Capitalism
It proclaimed the German nation to be the model nation, and the German petty-Philistine to be the typical man. To every villainous meanness of this model man, it gave a hidden, higher, socialistic interpretation, the exact contrary of its real character. It went to the extreme length of directly opposing the “brutally destructive” tendency of Communism, and of proclaiming its supreme and impartial contempt of all class struggles. With very few exceptions, all the so-called Socialist and Communist publications that now circulate in Germany belong to the domain of this foul and enervating literature.
This is a word I wouldn’t normally use, but when I do I think it’s important to define it. Objectively it exists as a phase of capitalism (bourgeois property) as the most radical phase of welfare capitalism, in historical terms it’s a “turning point” in the class struggle, from where struggle goes from placation to repression. Fascism is capitalism in decay, when all the presences and trivialities of class oppression (as seen here in the West in terms of “rule of law,” “civil liberties” etc.) have been stripped away and all that is left is raw, naked, brutal class exploitation.
The Nazi regime itself was infamous because of it’s use of completely unregulated slave labor, which itself could be seen as a throwback even to the darkest days of feudalism. The most important part to remember about fascism is that it represents a stage within bourgeois property, whereby the bourgeois must utilize the whole repressive apparatus of the state is order to preserve their dictatorship. Where as these days “civil rights,” “liberty,” “human rights” and other bourgeois creations are used as justification for class rule.
Reformism is class collaboration, and it’s the fundamental litmus test for a revolutionary proletarian organization.