What is Class Struggle Anarchism?
Part I: Why the Working Class
Recently an activist friend, who has been influenced by Michael Albert’s Parecon program, wrote to me. He asked, “Why should we call ourselves class struggle anarchists instead of feminist-antiracist-green-class struggle anarchists?” In other words, why single out the struggle of the working class? At least his approach includes class conflict as one of the aspects of social struggle. There are many, liberals and radicals, who completely reject class struggle. Many denounce unions (from the right). Hardt and Negri have been influential in replacing the working class theoretically with a concept of the “multitude.”
Among anarchists, a great many reject any major role for class struggle by workers. This is true of those who say they reject civilization and industry altogether. Although otherwise disagreeing with such primitivists, it was also true of Murray Bookchin. In his “Listen Marxist!” essay, for example (in Post-Scarcity Anarchism, 1986, Montreal: Black Rose Books), he denounced “The Myth of the Proletariat.” “The working class [has been] neutralized as ‘the agent of revolutionary change’....The class struggle [has been] co-opted into capitalism.” (p. 202) He denied the revolutionary potential of workers, instead focusing on “youth,” the “people,” or “citizens,” who would change society for solely moral reasons.
Rejection of the working class is the real position of almost all Marxist-Leninists (including Communist Parties, Maoists, and orthodox Trotskyists). The Marxist-Leninists pay lip service to Marx’s belief in the centrality of working class struggle. Actually they believe that there can be “socialist“ revolutions without the working class (as in Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, and Cuba). And that there can be “socialist” (“post-capitalist” or whatever) societies without working class participation, and, in fact, with the workers being brutally oppressed (as in the Soviet Union, China, etc.). In nonrevolutionary conditions, these views lead them toward class collaboration (reformism). Since socialism does not require rousing the workers, in their view, their parties might as well form alliances with capitalists.
Why then do we revolutionary anarchists call ourselves class struggle anarchists? My friend offered a partial explanation: It is not controversial on the left to call ourselves feminists or antiracists. Even liberals do. Some sort of ecological thinking or environmentalism is accepted by almost everyone but the far right. But a belief in a class-against-class perspective is held by only a minority. To be sure, there are many people who are for unions. Right now John Edwards is running for U.S. president on a program of supporting unions and fighting poverty. Yet his program is the opposite of class struggle. It is to get the workers to support his capitalist party.
Similarly, Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (and far from the worst of union officials), makes coalitions with business. He has written, “Employees and employers need organizations that solve problems, not create them.” This is not the same as, “The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working class themselves” (the first clause of the Rules of the First International, written by Marx and loved by revolutionary anarchists). By calling ourselves class struggle anarchists, we make a point about who we are for....and who we are against.
Class struggle anarchism continues the tradtions of communist anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism, and overlaps with libertarian (autonomist) Marxism, such as council communism. In his overview of current British anarchism, Benjamin Franks writes, “The organizations identified under the heading of ‘class struggle anarchism’ include those that identify themselves as such, as well as those from autonomist marxist and situationist-inspired traditions.” (Rebel Alliances, 2006, Edinburgh: AK Press & Dark Star, p. 12) I do not claim to speak for all such organizations, nor am I an official spokesperson for my own federation. Yet I think my views are consistent with the mainstream of class struggle anarchism. I am not going to review all aspects of class struggle anarchism (such as our goal of decentralized, self-managed, socialism). Instead, I will focus on the importance of a working class, class-against-class, approach.
Class Struggle is Central to Capitalism
Let us look at the “economic” system of capitalism — without yet considering how it relates to other systems of oppression, such as race or gender (these will be discussed in Part 2). I make no claim that individual workers are better, nobler, or nicer than individual capitalists, or farmers, or college presidents. Individually, workers can be just as mean as anyone else. The issue is the potential social role of the working class.
Workers, as a collectivity, have a special relation to the means of production. The means of production (and distribution, and social services) are owned by a minority, the capitalist class, who are driven to accumulate capital. We workers, lacking land or machines, must sell ourselves to the capitalists, or rather, must sell our ability to work for a time (the commodity labor power). We work until we have produced enough commodities to equal the value of our wages (or salaries). Then we continue to work, to produce more commodities, creating extra — surplus — value, which is the basis of the bosses’ profits. That is, we are exploited. We are exploited, not only as individuals, but as a collectivity, a whole cooperating mass of people, who are required to work together at the workplace and in society as a whole in order to keep the system going.
Looking at tables of employment, Michael Zweig defines 62 percent of the U.S. labor force as working class (in The Working Class Majority, 2000, Ithica, NY: ILR/Cornell Univ. Press). The U.S. Department of Labor, he also notes, classifies 82 percent of private sector, nonfarm, employees as nonsupervisory employees. “That is why I say, we live in a country with a working class majority.” (p. 30) The workers include blue collar and white collar workers, workers “by hand and brain” (and pink collar workers, as much of women’s work is called).
The working class, as a CLASS, is broader than immediately employed wage workers. It includes unemployed workers and retired workers. Besides employed women, it includes women homemakers married to male workers, and their children. It is a whole class, counterposed to another class.
(There is also what is usually called the “middle class.” This is typically regarded as including better-off workers — white collar and skilled workers — independent professionals, small businesspeople, and the lower levels of management. These middle layers are not really an independent class. Mostly they are part of the two main classes, capitalist and working class, and they usually orient toward one or the other.)
Traditionally, anarchism, like all varieties of socialism, opposed class exploitation, the alienated work which goes with it, and the poverty it creates. Anarchists and Marxists alike aimed at a classless society. Who would create such a society? Morally it is in the interest of all humanity. But surely those who are immediately exploited have a special interest in ending their exploitation. Their experience makes it easier for them to take a moral view. It is wrong to elevate “the people” or “citizens” over the workers in their direct need to end exploitation. This view would mean that those who are not immediately exploited by capitalism have as much reason to fight against exploitation as those who are forced into alienated labor. It regards the capitalist, the police officer, and the manager as just as likely to oppose capitalist exploitation as those who are “under the lash” as they work. This opinion is convenient for those who want to deny the need for a revolution.
In her brilliant defense of a working class perspective, The Retreat from Class (1998, London: Verso), Ellen Meiksens Wood criticizes various “post-Marxists” (but could just as well be criticizing Bookchin): “The implication [of their nonclass views — WP] is that the workers are no more affected by capitalist exploitation than are any other human beings who are not themselves the direct objects of exploitation. This also implies that capitalists derive no fundamental advantage from the exploitation of workers, that the workers derive no fundamental disadvantage from their exploitation by capital, that workers would derive no fundamental advantage from ceasing to be exploited, that the condition of being exploited does not entail an ‘interest’ in the cessation of class exploitation, that the relations between capital and labor have no fundamental consequences for the whole structure of social and political power, and that the conflicting interests between capital and labor are all in the eye of the beholder....This makes nonsense out of...the whole history of working class struggles against capital.” (p. 61)
It is not inevitable that the workers will become revolutionary (although Marx and Engels can be read as implying this). Better-off workers can be bought-off. Worse-off workers can be demoralized and beaten down. Bookchin argued that the hierarchical nature of the capitalist workplace teaches the workers to accept subordination. Be this as it may, those who are oppressed will resist. It is in the interest of the workers to resist their exploitation. In fact, there is dissatisfaction and constant (if low-level) struggle going on in every workplace. This conflict has resulted in revolutionary consciousness for at least a minority. Since the workers (unlike, say, peasants) do not have land or machines of our own, we tend to be collectivist and cooperative in our organizing and our programs. And, having our hands on the means of production, transportation, distribution, communication, and service, our class has an enormous (potential) power, which could shake all of society. Again, these are tendencies and potentialities, not inevitabilities.
The Negative Stereotype of the Working Class
It should not be surprising that most of the left — anarchist and nonanarchist — should have antiworking class views. The left is dominated by people from the middle class. Some, such as college students, may be more easily radicalized than most workers, because students do not have the immediate responsibilities of earning a living or supporting a family. But their relative privileges make them more likely to have class prejudices against workers. They may have unconscious elitist assumptions about their “right” to rule. Liberals look to bettering society by rising within the existing centers of power. The more radical are attracted to visions of bureaucratic class rule, with nationalization and centralized planning, as existed under the state capitalism of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Castro’s Cuba. Others imagine that they can create a better world by only living in bohemian personal freedom (which is not bad in itself but is not an alternative to building popular movements).
Middle class enemies of the working class argue that U.S. workers are ignorant, racist, sexist, superpatriotic, religiously superstitious, anti-immigrant, and politically passive. This is the negative stereotype. Like most stereotypes, it contains both truth and falsehood. It ignores the fact that the working class includes most People of Color, immigrants, women, etc. It leaves out that workers are generally for universal health care and for other social services, against the Iraqi war, suspicious of big business and politicians, pro-union, antifascist, and pro-democracy. To the extent that the negative stereotype is true, it is true of all classes. Workers are not more politically ignorant, racist, etc. than U.S. middle or upper classes.
What is certainly true is that workers (in the U.S. and everywhere else) are not revolutionary anarchists. But this is another way of saying that the population of the U.S. and elsewhere, regardless of class, is not for anarchist revolution. While some parts of the population may be more radical than others, overall we are very, very, far from a pre-revolutionary period in which most people want a big social change.
Unfortunately, there is all too much truth to the negative stereotype of the working class. It is not enough that the workers are no worse than the middle or upper classes. The working class needs to be better than the other classes if we are to create a self-managed society. How will the working class transcend its weaknesses? Only by fighting. In the course of struggle — from shop floor and community issues to revolution — our class learns and improves. Through struggle we educate ourselves. We become capable of a true democracy. There is no other way.
Right now, the minority which is in favor of anarchist revolution should be thinking about long-term strategy: who has an interest in ending capitalist exploitation? who has the potential power to stop all society and change the system? who has a history of fighting against capitalist exploitation? The answers to these strategic questions will lead us to a working class perspective.
Part II: The Relation Between the Working Class and Nonclass Oppressions
Why do we call ourselves class struggle anarchists instead of feminist- antiracist-Gay liberationist-green-class struggle anarchists? What is the relationship among class and nonclass forms of oppression, such as gender and race? Instead of the base/superstructure metaphor, we should have a model of an overlapping network of oppressions, of which class is at the center. This leads to strategic conclusions.
As I argued in Part 1, the working class is central to the fight against capitalism. But what is its relation to other sections of the population and their systems of oppression? How does class relate to women and patriarchy; to African-Americans and white supremacy; to “Third World” nations and neocolonialism; to immigrants and nativism; and to other oppressions, too numerous to name? How does class relate to apparently nonclass issues such as war or global warming? I am not discussing the morality of oppression, let alone whether one form of oppression is worse than another (such as anti-Semitism vs. discrimination against the Deaf). All oppression is evil and should be opposed. I want to discuss an analysis of the relations among oppressions and the strategic conclusions which can be drawn from this.
The Base/Superstructure Model
Marxists have traditionally used a model of a base and a superstructure. The base is supposed to be the process of production as it is organized in any particular society, particularly the relations among the classes. The superstructure is everything else: the state, culture, gender and racial relations, etc. The advantage of this metaphor is that it points to the enormous influence of class relations upon every aspect of society; this is the strength of historical materialism. But there are difficulties with this model. For example, if the state is essential to the maintenance of capitalism, then why is it in the superstructure and not the base? Strategically, this image can lead to regarding every nonclass issue as only derivative. It may be taken to mean that revolutionaries should only focus on class issues, because nonclass oppressions will automatically be resolved once a classless society is reached. In this view, nonclass issues are irrelevant distractions from the real issue. They are not quite real. Once the workers seize power, it may be felt, nonclass oppressions, just like the state, will “wither away”, without any special effort to deal with them.
Sophisticated Marxists have a subtler, more dialectical, interpretation, but the model lends itself to this mechanistic politics. Consider the statement by the libertarian Class War Federation (U.K.) that the middle class functions “to promote ideas that keep us divided like racism and sexism.... to divert our energy into harmless activity that is called reformism, e.g. Greenpeace, CND [Committee for Nuclear Disarmament], feminism, unions....” (Unfinished Business..., 1992, Stirling, Scotland: AK Press; p. 57) The book has a cartoon in which rich people are dancing on a platform which is being supported by people who are foolishly thinking ( in balloons), “Ecology; No Nukes; No Meat; Feminism; Third World; Save the....” (p. 8) At least in this statement and cartoon, movements for ecological balance, women’s liberation, national liberation, and opposition to nuclear war are not seen as possible allies of “ class war” but only as middle class diversions. Racism and sexism are seen as problems only because they divide the working class, rather than as issues in themselves.
On the other hand, the Marxist historian, Ellen Meiksins Wood, concluded, “The base/superstructure metaphor has always been more trouble than it is worth...It has been made to bear a theoretical weight far beyond its limited capacities....” (Democracy Against Capitalism, 1995, Cambridge, Britain: Cambridge Univ. Press; p. 49–50) (As I stated in Part 1, class struggle anarchism overlaps to a great extent with libertarian Marxism; I regard myself as a Marxist-informed anarchist.)
There is an alternate metaphor which I also reject, that of a strict pluralism. The different oppressions of society are seen as parallel to each other, each by itself, standing on its own. Women’s oppression is seen as real but distinct from racism, which is separate from the oppression of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transexuals, and they are all parallel to something called “classism.” While this view accepts the reality of distinct oppressions, it leads to a reformist view: that it is all right for the women’s struggle, for example, to ignore class and race (and therefore be dominated by white middle class women who accept capitalism), just as the parallel workers’ movement can ignore sexism and racism, since these are distinct oppressions. Instead, I would emphasize that all oppressions are intertwined and overlapping, leaning on and supporting each other. I like the metaphor of a pile of pickup sticks, all leaning on each other, although some may be more central in the pile than others.
Many treat oppressions as distinct populations, as though workers were over here, women over there, and African-Americans in another area. This is misleading. The U.S. population, for example, can be analyzed in terms of class: capitalists, workers, and middle sections. It can also be analyzed in terms of race and nationality/ethnicity: European-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and others. It can be analyzed in terms of gender: male and female. It can be analyzed in terms of sexual orientation: heterosexual, GLBT people. Etc., etc. But these remain the same humans. These analyses are abstractions: we abstract (take out) certain features in order to understand them better. The analyses of systems of oppression are true, that is, they are useful for understanding how people behave and how they identify themselves. But this is still the same population. The systems overlap and interact. For example, an African-American working woman is not oppressed part of the time as Black, and then part of the time as a woman, and then oppressed/exploited part of the time as a worker (considering that even her non-working hours are dependent on her income earned as a worker). We could analyze her that way, but in fact her life is a totality.
Consider white supremacy. Africans were first kidnapped and brought to North and South America for clearly economic reasons: to be a kind of laborers, namely slaves. They produced commodities (tobacco, cotton, etc.) which were sold on the world market. Today African-Americans are overwhelmingly in the working class, most being in the poorest sections. Their oppression serves two class purposes: it creates a pool of workers who can be super-exploited at low wages, and it weakens the overall working class, due to racial divisions and the white workers’ belief in their superiority. While ethnocentrism is as old as the human species, racism as an ideology was first invented during slavery to justify slavery and the robbery of Native Americans. It was elaborated in the era of imperialism to build support for colonialism.
But this analysis does not mean that white supremacy is only a matter of economics. There are, after all, some rich African-Americans, who may still be arrested for Driving While Black. Whatever its origins, racial oppression is real. In their struggle against it, African-Americans created themselves as a people, with their own culture and consciousness — a people which still fights for its freedom. As a set of opinions, racism is near-universal among whites, ranging from the liberal “blindspots” which even we antiracists have, to the moderate prejudices of most whites, to the virulent race hatred of fascists. Racism affects not only the economy but also the politics and the culture of society. This will not go away just through reasonable arguments; it requires mass struggles — struggles by Black people as Black people, in alliance with white antiracists.
The struggles of African-Americans overlap with all other struggles. In the fifties and sixties, the rebellion of African-Americans played a key role in shaking up all of society, inspiring the antiwar movement, the women’s movement, the Gay movement, as well as working class struggles (M.L. King was shot while in Memphis to support a mostly-Black sanitation workers’ strike). Great progress was made in limiting white supremacy — namely the end of legal (Jim Crow) segregation. But the various mechanisms of racist-capitalist society have kept African-Americans on the bottom of society. It will take a total revolution to change that.
Patriarchy — male supremacy — also interacts with all other aspects of our oppressive, authoritarian, society. Women’s lives are directly affected by their race and by their class. Approximately half of adult women are employed workers. Even nonemployed homemakers depend on the incomes of their husbands, which depends on their class, and is influenced by their race.
More fundamentally, women’s lives are determined by their role in the family, which is shaped by the kind of society it is in. The nuclear family of late capitalism is a center of consumption of commodities. It is where the labor power commodity of workers (male and female, adult and children) is created and re-created. It is where the social psychology of our society is passed on to the next generation. The relations between the family and capitalism is subtle and complex but very real. The image of women is directly related to their role in the family (and before capitalism, in the families of feudal, slave, etc., class societies).
Interestingly, Engels included the role of women as being as much in the “base” of society as was the production of goods. “According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance [Note — WP], the production and reproduction of immediate life. This, again, is of a twofold character: ...the production of the means of existence...; on the other side, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species.... The social organization...is determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labor on the one hand and of the family on the other. “ (Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, 1972, NY: International Publishers; p. 71–72) He speculated that the oppression of women predated class society and was its origin.
Without accepting Engels’ base/superstructure model (note his highly qualifying “in the final instance”; do we ever reach the “final instance”?), I agree that “the production and reproduction of immediate life” strongly influences all other social processes. I also agree that the oppression of women goes way back in prehistory and is very deep in the structures of our society. It directly affects, and is affected by, the class structure and all other aspects of our politics and culture. This too will take a total revolution to end.
I could go on to cite many other forms of oppression and to relate them to each other and to the class structure. For example, national oppression is directly related to imperialism, rooted in capitalist class relations. Ecological destruction is related to the drive of capitalism to constantly accumulate capital, treating the natural world as a mine. Homophobia is directly related to the social definitions of gender, rooted in the capitalist family structure and its social psychology. And so on, in complex forms of interaction. The point is that each oppression supports all the others; they all support capitalist exploitation and are supported by it. The fight against each requires a fight against all; the ending of each requires the ending of all. There will be no classless society unless there is also a society with the liberation of women, People of Color, etc.
In his study of trends in anarchism, Benjamin Franks summarizes the view raised here: It “regards capital relations to be dominant in most contexts, but not the sole organizing force....Capitalism interacts with other forms of oppressive practices that may not be wholly reducible to economic activity. Here different subjugated identities are formed.... However, as capitalism is still a significant factor, economic liberation must also be a necessary feature.” (Rebel Alliances, 2006, Edinburgh: AK Press; p. 181)
The Special Role of Class
Each form of oppression must be analyzed in its concreteness. For example, the oppression of women does not work the same way as the oppression/exploitation of the working class. Looking at the class system, there are specific aspects which distinguish it from other forms of systemic oppression.
First, is the goal. The goal of women’s liberation is not the destruction of men but the reorganization of relations between women and men (although the definition of what men and women are is likely to change over time). The goal of Black liberation is not the destruction of white people but the reorganization of relations between European-Americans and African-Americans (although, in the long run, the races may dissolve as separate groups). But the goal of a working class revolution is the total overturning of the capitalist class, its destruction as a class, and replacing it with the stateless rule of the working class (moving toward a classless society).
Second is the power of the rulers. As a collectivity, men dominate women. But that does not mean that men — all men — run society. There are no meetings of men to make decisions on how to run the government. (If there are, I have not been invited.) Most men are in the working class and have little power. Given their choice, they would probably prefer child care programs and an end to job discrimination against women (who include their wives and daughters). Similarly white people, as a collectivity, dominate People of Color. But white people do not have special meetings where they decide on domestic or foreign policies. Again, most European-Americans are in the working class and are really powerless (whatever they imagine).
However, the capitalist class really does run society! This is why it is called the ruling class. (Of course, most businesspeople are white and male.) The capitalists own their businesses and run them (directly or through hired managers). Although only 1 to 5 percent of the population, they control the production of goods and services by which we all live. They determine employment and unemployment for the workers. By their wealth and influence, they control the two political parties. They own and run the mass media, which are the main outlets for news and which shape popular culture. They dominate the government at all levels. Their class rule must be completely overturned if there is to be a better world.
Third is the potential power of the oppressed. As already stated, the struggles of African-Americans in the fifties and sixties shook up all aspects of U.S. life. I should also point to the influence of the Vietnamese, an oppressed nation which resisted U.S. imperialism. Their struggle for national liberation greatly added to this period’s shake up of the U.S. (and the world). The women’s liberation movement also affected all our culture and politics. The Gay movement was more marginal in size, but its impact was quite large in causing reconsideration of sexual stereotypes. (Women’s rights and Gay rights are still major issues in U.S. politics.)
However, the working class is unique among oppressed groups in its possible power. As I said in Part 1, only the workers (as workers) can actually stop this society altogether. And only the working class can start it up again on a new basis. Our class produces the goods; we transport them; we distribute them; we serve the people’s needs. We have an enormous potential power. Anyone who has been in a city during a major strike knows how true this is. One successful general strike in a major city would transform U.S. politics. Almost the whole of capitalist politics exists to prevent the working class from being aware of this power and using it.
From the above analysis, I draw conclusions on a strategic (not a moral-only) level. The first is that we are right to call ourselves class struggle anarchists. We are right to put class struggle specifically at the center of our politics. Strategically, the key enemy is the capitalist ruling class and its allies. We seek to mobilize the enormous, unique, power of the working class majority against them.
Second, we revolutionaries should support each and every struggle against oppression, no matter how big or small, whether obviously connected to class or not (although all such issues overlap with class). Besides having its own sources, each system of oppression supports capitalism, and is supported by capitalism. Which is to say that fighting against each oppression undermines capitalism, as fighting against capitalism undermines each oppression.
This system is very powerful and complex. It will take everything we have to overthrow it. We must point to every evil in this society to open people’s eyes to the need for revolution. We need every issue which might mobilize people to fight on their own behalf . In practice, a revolutionary group needs to prioritize its limited energies, but in principle we must oppose every evil effect of this society, and to be on the side of everyone willing to fight for a better world.
These two strategic conclusions do not contradict each other. It is at the intersection of exploitation and nonclass oppressions that we find the greatest potential for revolutionary passion — among working class immigrants or working class women, for example. In every workers’ struggle, we should look for its effects on women, African-Americans, immigrants, youth, etc. We should use such connections to strengthen the struggle — otherwise they may become sources of splits and weakness. On the other hand, in every nonclass movement, we should be looking for the class conflicts. We should oppose the middle class, pro-capitalist, leadership of the women’s movement, African-American movement, peace movement, etc. — and also of the unions! Instead, we raise a program which is in the interests of working class women, African-American workers, etc., and which exposes the capitalist causes of war. Capitalism is at the center of the authoritarian network of oppressions. They all must be abolished.
The Communist Manifesto states (and class struggle anarchists would agree), “All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent, movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air.” Alternate translation: “The proletariat...cannot stand erect without bursting asunder the whole superstructure of strata that make up official society.” (in H. Draper, The Adventures of the Communist Manifesto, 1998, Berkeley CA: Center for Socialist Studies; p. 133)
In other words, the rebellion of the working class, especially those on the very bottom, shakes up everything, raising evey issue of every section of capitalist society. However, Marx and Engels knew that, even in Britain at the time, wage-workers were not a majority, let alone in other countries. (Even today, when we have a working class majority in many countries, the core of the proletariat, industrial workers, remains a minority — if a large one.) They saw the working class as winning allies among the oppressed (even if they did not have a full understanding of all oppressions). Twenty years later, Engels wrote, “The class exclusively dependent on wages all its life is still far from being a majority of the German people. It is, therefore, also compelled to seek allies.” (in Draper, 1998; p. 232)
A working class-led revolution is not going to be a seizure of state power by an elite but the conscious self-liberation of the “immense majority”: all the oppressed, at the center of which is the proletariat. And it is only the proletariat — the multi-national, multi-racial, multicultured, (etc.,) working class — which can hold together all these rebellious forces, and channel them into a revolution. The existence of a majoritarian proletarian movement is not to be found but must be created through revolutionary practice.
For approximately two centuries our class has fought. It has achieved victories and suffered terrible defeats. This working class of capitalism has been ground down, bought off, massacred, lied to, had its worst prejudices appealed to, denied all rights, granted limited democratic rights, sent off in wars, had its unions and parties turned against it, been slandered and counted out by middle class theorists. Yet in this brief time, it has fought more than any other exploited class ever did over millenia. It has built mass organizations, had major and minor strikes, forced the capitalists to grant it democratic rights, and made world-shaking revolutionary uprisings. Is there some guarantee that our class, with its allies among all the oppressed, will destroy capitalism and all oppressions? Will we — “inevitably” — overturn capitalism before capitalism destroys the world with nuclear wars and/or environmental disasters? No, there is no guarantee. This is an issue to be decided in struggle! But neither is there some fatal flaw which guarantees that our class will never triumph. History is far from over.