Socialism must be democracy

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Wed Mar 29 08:54:59 PST 2000

>>> Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> 03/28/00 01:54PM >>>
Charles Brown wrote:

>What I said was that Marx and Engels conceived of democracy as the
>working class as the ruling class.

You seem to assume the working class is a unitary thing with self-identical interests, and that once "it" takes power, all internal contradictions are resolved. But the working class - the one existing in the world, not the one playing the hero role in the heads of revolutionaries - is complex and divided, and likely to remain so (and many members of the working class would oppose your revolution). I used to think Foucault was unfair when he said Marxism dreamt of an end to history; now I'm pretty convinced he was right.


CB: Since I am quoting Engels and Marx , you should have said

"Engels and Marx seem to assume the working class is a unitary thing with self-identical interests, and that once "it" takes power, all internal contradictions are resolved. "

But to take one line from Engels and Marx and react to it as if it portrays the great complexity their awareness of the differences within the working class of their day , and as they assumed would be the working class of our day is to do exactly what I just said to you: take a little snippet of Engels and Marx and trying to build a refutation of them based on that fractional reading.

Engels and Marx understood quite well that the working class had lots of differences and contradictions within it -like everything else they treated "it" dialectically, that is as a a unity and struggle of opposites, a unity in diversity, e pluribus unum and all that . Foucault doesn't seem to understand materialist dialectics. He can't see how all unitary "things" are unities and struggles of opposites, unities in diversitities, e pluribus unum , as on the American money i.e. contradictions.

However, the working class does have a unitary , objective interest in overthrowing the bourgeoisie. This is the fundamental basis of its unity within its diversity.

So, Engels and Marx's famous slogan was "Workers of the World , Unite !" , that is exactly because they knew that the working class was divided in many ways, into different nations, regions, different races, female/male, skilled worker and average worker, poor and "middle class", etc. Also, in The Manifesto, they said one of the main jobs of Communist in particular is to look at the interests of the working class movement as a whole, always trying to unite all the diverse sectors of the class. That unity is key for victory against the bourgeoisie.

And contrary wise, divide and conquer is key strategy for the bourgeoisie. Racism and national chauvinism are key for bourgeois rule because it is a main way that the bourgeosie divide the working class against their objectively common interests vis-a-vis the interests of the bourgeoisie. Obscuring and denying the unity of objective interests and focussing on the subjective, superficial differences of interests of the working class, as you do above, is one of the main propaganda tactics of the bourgeoisie. They would fall tomorrow if they did not daily , weekly, monthly and yearly press to divide the working class.

And yes a highly unified working class , in the U.S. and worldwide, IS a critical goal for making a socialist revolution, which revolution will resolve more permanently many of the problems and divisions within the working class. Socialism and communism will have new problems to solve, but they will resolve the main problems of capitalism.

Actually, on history, what Engels and Marx said was something like that communism would be the beginning of history, real human history. History up until now has been a quasi natural history, as if we were things instead of people, a fetishism of commodities , etc. So, Foucault got it wrong again. Communists dream of the beginning of history. Foucaultism seems still like a Fools' Cult.

Workers of the world, unite.


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