So, it’s February 12th…and this is the first post for the Pinko Rag in quite a while…Yup. Following the U.S. election, some of us, and that includes moi, elected to put their heads in figurative sand, with the help of booze, pointless television shows and a steady stream of sports.
But, thankfully, many, many progressives haven’t gone that route, and have been busy resisting; fighting for a socially just and environmentally sustainable future. In recent weeks, there’s also been a lot of discussion, debate and even hostility within the left, in respect to how we go about doing this.
Since Donnie took the American throne, there’s been no shortage of talk about 1) how that happened and 2) if the left has been focusing on too many issues, or just the wrong issues.
Well, recently Jacobin Magazine posted an essay by Vivek Chibber, which immediately sparked my leftist fire (the essay originally appeared in The ABCs of Socialism). In it, Chibber outlines why the working class is the focal point of socialist theory. The essay outlines in a very concise and compelling manner, why real, substantive change will only come from organizing the working class. Here is an excerpt:
So, in a society in which most people don’t have job security, or have jobs but can’t pay their bills, in which they have to submit to other people’s control, in which they don’t have a voice in how laws and regulations are made — it’s impossible to achieve social justice.
Capitalism is an economic system that depends on depriving the vast majority of people of these essential preconditions for a decent life. Workers show up for work every day knowing that they have little job security; they are paid what employers feel is consistent with their main priority, which is making profits, not the well-being of employees; they work at a pace and duration that is set by their bosses; and they submit to these conditions, not because they want to, but because for most of them, the alternative to accepting these conditions is not having a job at all. This is not some incidental or marginal aspect of capitalism. It is the defining feature of the system.
Economic and political power is in the hands of capitalists, whose only goal is to maximize profits, which means that the condition of workers is, at best, a secondary concern to them. And that means that the system is, at its very core, unjust.
A left that focuses on fundamentally changing the economic and political structures of power, through communal efforts and worker unity, isn’t dismissing gender issues, racial discrimination, environmental degradation etc. Rather, it understands that real, substantive change will only occur by empowering the masses and creating a society where capital accumulation isn’t paramount to everything else.
It’s certainly not a new idea for the left, but it’s one that unfortunately, has consistently been punted from so-called ‘leftist’ parties in the preceding decades. Funny how that happens when ‘progressive’ candidates are taking money from oligarchic interests.
Anyhoo, the essay mentioned above is definitely a must read, particularly at times like this.