Saturday, August 06, 2016

Thinking Anew

Getting rid of national boundaries

Geographical boundaries are semi-permanent features of nature and are unlikely to alter to a great extent in the near future. National boundaries, on the other hand, do not exist as lines drawn on the globe. They are a relatively new human construct and subject to change. A classical case of this occurring was the setting up of the League of Nations after World War One when the winners carved up the world to suit their imperialist's ambitions.

National borders signify the existence of a nation state, the emergence of which coincided with the introduction of capitalism. The capitalist class are dependent on the nation state in order to defend their interests and to protect the rights of private property.

The state is essentially a coercive machine (police, judiciary, armed forces, schools, etc.) for conserving the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers in a geographical area. This puts socialists at odds with the views of the ‘pluralists’ who argue that power is (or should be) diffused throughout a plurality of institutions in society (trade unions, pressure groups, etc.) and that the state is neutral in relation to the class struggle. However, history shows how the state evolved:
‘The ancient state was, above all, the state of the slave owners for holding down the slaves, just as the feudal state was the organ of the nobility for holding down the peasant serfs and bondsmen, and the modern representative state is an instrument for exploiting wage labour by capital’ (Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, 1884).

Moreover, the state and its machinery of government will have no place in a socialist society:
 ‘The society that organises production anew on the basis of the free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machine where it will then belong: in the museum of antiquities side by side with the spinning wheel and the bronze axe’.

Hence, in order to get rid of national borders would also mean ridding society of the capitalist system and its social relationships and replacing it with socialism.

Towards a common mindset

The aim of socialists is to make more socialists. For the simple reason that without a majority who support the idea of socialism, the attainment and establishment of a socialist society are not going to come about. Currently, socialists find themselves in the seemingly impossible situation of being in the minority with the majority accepting or acquiescing to the status quo of class society and all that it entails within capitalism.

 Also, in capitalism, the social conditioning which takes place is subject to the prescriptions of the ruling capitalist class, who ensure their dominance by making laws which reinforce their political control and provide legitimacy. Further, by controlling education, the process of social conditioning becomes subject to capitalist conformity to provide a docile and relatively passive workforce who support waged labour.

When they are combined social conditioning and capitalist conformity represent, for socialists, a significant barrier to overcome. Nevertheless, there are several essential factors within the socialist armoury: social evolution; class struggle and the battle of ideas, of which the evidence tends to suggest that history and time are on their side.

This is not to imply that socialism is inevitable due to unknown mechanisms working behind the scenes relentlessly grinding away towards the goal of socialism. Indeed, if this was the case for social evolution, all we need to do is just wait for it to happen. Neither is it suggesting that socialism is a doctrine with each socialist determined to ‘convert’ another member of the working class as if on a quest for socialist purity. The process of gaining a (socialist) common mindset is much more complicated and bears no resemblance to a ‘political doctrine’ which implies a dogmatic adherence to a political belief which is cast in stone.

Socialism only becomes inevitable when a majority of workers have concluded that capitalism is not in their class interests. Unlike previous revolutionary processes, the socialist revolution will consist of a majority of the working class who, having gained class consciousness, will be determined and committed to challenging and condemning capitalism culturally, economically, politically and socially. The associated producers would then no longer constitute a class in itself but a class for itself.

 The question is when will this dramatic turn of events come about, and how will this socialist common mindset translate into common activity for socialism? The answer is it has already started. Capitalism requires a workforce with sufficient: comprehension, disposition, experience, powers of critical thinking, reasoning, rationality, a frame of mind, and intelligence in order to maximise profits. And in order to bring these requirements into operation means an educated workforce.

 Education is not a one-way process of indoctrination for the wage slaves, for education despite its class bias provides a valuable insight into understanding capitalism. Class-consciousness develops mainly out of the working class’s everyday experiences of the contradictions of capitalism (poverty amidst plenty, etc.) and their involvement in class struggle. These contradictions are, in turn, derived from the most basic contradiction of capitalism: the contradiction between social production and class ownership of the means of production. 
“The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their social being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” (Marx) 
In short, capitalism produces its own gravediggers through the education of the workforce.

 These developments in contradictions and technology are not going unnoticed amongst the global population. A glance through the social media on the internet illustrates how it has engendered a dramatic rise in social consciousness and more awareness on the similarities between peoples, with a corresponding increase in political challenges to the status quo. Granted, as yet a class conscious working class is still proportionally small in relation to the global population. Nevertheless, an increase in the questions on fundamental problems and issues concerned with capitalism can only mean that more and more people are questioning everything associated with the way we live.


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