Wednesday, November 21, 2007
One of the irritating habits of the more Marxist-inclined anarchists (a group of which I am a member) is the ability to reduce all problems to problems of class. Clearly, this approach is outdated as other reductionist approaches, like petite-bourgeois anarchism (the State is the bad guy!) or jingoist workerism (the Foreigners are the bad guy!)
Noticing the development of the capitalist system, Marxist critics have far outweighed their anarchist comrades in their consideration of the system as scientific. The work of Negri, Tronti, and the autonomists has been particularly enlightening. But this is not enough.
Other thinkers, some of them Marxist, some of them not, have noticed that the oppressions present in capitalist society exist in non-capitalist society. The kneejerk reaction, that capitalism has imperialized its prejudices and internal contradictions, is simply not true. Non-capitalist societies are not paradises, they too have their problems (with gender in particular). Anthropology has been particularly helpful my understanding of the universalism of oppression.
So class reductionism is not enough. Clearly, as the autonomists have pointed out, the traditional role of women in capitalist society has functioned to reproduce labor. Likewise, as the Johnson-Forrest Tendency folks and their successors have indicated, the working class of color is the most revolutionary class in America. But these problems do not simply disappear when capitalism ends.
To build an authentically anti-capitalist movement of the working class, we cannot simply eschew personal and social racism, sexism, and heteronormativity as "liberal identity politics". To do so not only further oppresses already oppressed people, but discourages the development of people as people. If we seek to build an anarchist future, we must model the social relations we seek to create in our communities.
Nor can we fall into the trap of the liberals, who focus solely on personal and social oppression. But that is not my concern with class reductionists. They already know this part, but can't understand that the movement for workers' liberation must be lead by oppressed peoples, as they have the most to gain. Simply waiting for the OBU to organize them, or events to radicalize them, denies agency and is also poor strategy.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
“The student struggle has now been left behind…The outcome of the present crisis is in the hands of the workers themselves, if they succeed in accomplishing in their factory occupations the goals that the university occupation was only able to hint at..”
- COUNCIL FOR MAINTAINING THE OCCUPATIONS
Wind howls and echoes eerily through the empty shell of the new athletic facility, half built. The whole south side of campus is always singing this screechy, unearthly tune. It is the first snow of the year, just a couple of days after Halloween. My bike is cold to the touch, my gloves are busted through and don’t help much. I swear that I can see my breath in front of me. The
Thesis 5: Alienation from school is related, but not identical to, alienation from work. Whereas worker alienation stems from the extraction of surplus and the commodification of all activities in capitalism, student alienation stems from the production of valueless commodities and the disconnect between presumed class identity and reality, past and future.