Catastrophism and apocalyptic politics

May 2024 Forums General discussion Catastrophism and apocalyptic politics

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    Leaflet sent to Head Office by Chronos Publications which gives the views of Robert Kurz on why the class struggle is irrelevant and on the need to call for the abolition of work.Yes the present hour is very severe at leastDear Comrades of Aulnay,Your leaflet* moved me, I have thus kept it, you were distributing it on a cold March morning at the Gare du Nord, whilst I was coming off a train to go to work I am responding to it today in order to launch a debate on the goals and the means of struggle.In my firm as in yours, wage-earners are faced with redundancies. Of course, the circumstances are not altogether identical: you are blue-collar workers, my colleagues and I are white-collar workers; 11,000 are threatened at PSA (Peugeot-Citroen), a little fewer than 100 (out of 700) in the firm where I work. However, the same problem arises here and there. In the Capitalist society to work, to have a wage, conditions survival. So how can you live when you no longer have any work? This is the very question and you ask it bluntly. But it seems to me that you ask the question in an incomplete manner.Dear Comrades of Aulnay,I do not have any miraculous solution to put forward; I only wish to tackle the problem in more real term than yours. You denounce "the firms which makes some redundant in order to increase the productivity of others, thus [increase the] profits of [the bosses]". The threats which weigh upon wage-earners you analyse solely in terms of exploitation and you demand jobs. But in speaking the language, you have mistaken the epoch. The historical drama which is being acted out at present is of a different nature than the one of the old class struggles.In the first place, you forget that the struggle far work has never been the bearer of emancipation. In fact, work is not only a means of survival it is also above all the central element of the Capitalist domination. Then, you go on as if one could today create jobs at will Certainly, capital is based on the expenditure of human work, and the more it consumes it, the better it is. Except that, at the same time, it must increase the productivity of work, (capital must produce always more capital), which takes place by the replacement of human work by machines. Today, a great part of production is automated. The social problem which imposes itself upon us is the one of the end of work.Dear Comrades of Aulnay,If in the past the class struggles could appear as revolutionary, it is because the victories of the proletariat contributed to the humanisation of Capitalism (workers have become subjects with rights and have improved the conditions of "life"). But nowadays, Capitalism can no longer expand and thereby the possibilities for reforming it are vanishing. The disappearance of work makes class struggle appear in its truth: class struggle is not a form of action which allows one to get out of Capitalism, but is an element which is an integral part of the Capitalist dynamic. It is not a struggle between a dominant class and a revolutionary class, but between different interests (although differently powerful) within capitalism. In the present conditions of the crisis, a "victorious“ class struggle can only be only be partial and provisional (jobs that have been salvaged for a little while, the salary increases that engender hikes in the cost of "living"). The class struggle, which was already not revolutionary, can no longer even be reformist.Dear Comrades of Aulnay,When one fights back simply against exploiters, as you do, one has mistaken the target. Certainly capitalists make decisions (and what decisions!), but they make those that are dictated by capital and its logic of accumulation. The real target is capital itself. And in this difficult fight where the enemy is impersonal, we also have a chance. The automation of production which makes more human beings "superfluous" is also what could liberate humanity from work and could permit the uncoupling of production from the imperatives of capital, that is to say to institute production that no longer determines false needs, but which, on the contrary, is determined by human needs.At present Capitalism puts before us the following alternatives: either a more and more precarious survival within a moribund Capitalism (bringing about the erosion of the social state), or else the exit from capitalism: the replacement of work by free human activity. In this context, the simple struggle for employment cannot mobilise on a long-term basis; on the contrary it tends to disarm us. To enlarge the perspective, you must at the same time struggle for the means of survival and to assert that work has been made obsolete and that the means of emancipation are already there. To break with Capitalism, one must link the demand for simple means of survival (for example, to demand a better income for the unemployed or the upholding of a quality health system for all), to the supersession of work. Only such a project will be able to bring together and radicalise the different forms of struggle against the management of crisis. Only such a project will open a field of possibilities for the future.Fraternally, a wage-earner from the Groupe Express-Roulanta, Paris, 1st May 2013.May Day for the abolition of workTranslated from the French on the 1st of May 2013 in London.*Footnotes1.   This leaflet is an answer to one written by the striking PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) workers. (The strike began in January 2013 against the destruction of 11,000 workplaces before 2014).2.   Aulnay (or Aulnay-sous-Bois) is a suburb of Paris. Aulnay is one of PSA's the vehicle production sites and is due to be closed before 2014.

    #92072
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Socialist Party Head Office wrote:
    Leaflet sent to Head Office by Chronos Publications which gives the views of Robert Kurz on why the class struggle is irrelevant and on the need to call for the abolition of work. To break with Capitalism, one must link the demand for simple means of survival (for example, to demand a better income for the unemployed or the upholding of a quality health system for all), to the supersession of work. Only such a project will be able to bring together and radicalise the different forms of struggle against the management of crisis. Only such a project will open a field of possibilities for the future.

    I don't know about that. While it is obvious that the trade union struggle is a struggle to try to survive better (or, these days, less worse) within the capitalist system, so would  struggling  for "a better income for the unemployed" and for "upholding a quality (!) health system for all". What they are suggesting here would seem to be aiming rather at a different way to try to survive under capitalism. True, they say that this should be combined with a "call for the abolition of work" (by which they presumably mean the abolition of paid work) which of course won't be possible under capitalism and so implies struggling for a non-capitalist society. But this is no different from what reformists everywhere started out to do: to combine the struggle to survive within capitalism with the struggle to end capitalism, the result of which has always been  to concentrate on the former while relegating the latter to some distant future. If their proposal was followed it would lead to getting support from people who wanted higher unemployment pay and to defend the health service rather than (to them) airy-fairy ideas about "abolishing work".The best way to struggle against capitalism, surely, is to struggle directly for socialism (which would mean the end of the wages system) while recognising that non-socialist workers can, should and will struggle to survive within the system. In other words, to keep the two struggles separate.

    #92073
    ZJW
    Participant

    There is a new book from Kurzians (a group apparently unconnected to Chronos Publications) titled Marxism and the Critique of Value. It is freely downloadable here: http://www.mcmprime.com , where a blurb for it can first be read. I am only starting the introduction and have already laughed several times (at things not intended to be funny). Clever name for the publisher, though — " MCM' Publishing ".

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