All Roads Lead to Communism, or None Do: Theses on Marxism & Intersectionality

(The following is my response to the “Exiting the Vampire Castle” controversy on The North Star webzine about tensions between Marxism, intersectionality, and left politics.)

1) Communism is the goal of ending human domination, exploitation, oppression, and repression in a world of abundance, justice, and harmony among all living beings. Therefore, the practical subject for revolutionary analyses are the social systems that perpetuate and extend systemic suffering for living beings. It is proposed based on careful study of social science and left-wing political theory that the basic categories of human social systems are eightfold:

Economics

Politics

Gender

Race/Culture

Ecology

Martial Systems (institutional use of coercion)

Sexuality

Religion/Irreligion

2) No single one of the above social systems is independent or dominant over all others.

3) Revolutionary analysis identifies institutional structures that perpetuate systemic suffering and propose political collective mobilizations to overturn these structures and replace them with emancipatory new systems and institutions.

4) Revolutionary analysis considers the objective collective systems to be the primary focus of activist mobilization and engagement. It is also engaged with collective cultural aspects of these institutional systems. It considers interpersonal and personal subjective behaviors and attitudes of subordinate importance, though not entirely unimportant.

5) By identifying eight interdependent social systems, an adequate revolutionary analysis cannot advance communist goals by minimizing the objective importance of any of the social systems. A “revolutionary” change in one or a few aspects of these social systems without attempting broad changes in all of them will leave the new institutions vulnerable to counter-revolutionary mobilization from one of the unrevolutionized social systems.

For example, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 did indeed radically change the political, religious, and economic character of Russia, but it at best merely reformed systems of cultural, gender, martial, ecological, and ethnic domination and oppression, which formed the basis for the counter-revolutions against communism from within Russia and the Soviet Union.

6) There are important aspects of Marxism, feminism, anti-racism, radical democracy, pacifism, sex radicalism, progressive religion/irreligion, and environmentalism that must be applied to revolutionary analysis to better equip radicals to overturn the systems that dominate our world. Posing irreconcilable oppositions between feminism and Marxism or any of these important approaches to social criticism is to betray the revolutionary movement from the very start.

About these ads

About radicalprogress

Libertarian Eco-Socialist Anti-Racist pro-Feminist Quaker

Posted on December 6, 2013, in Marxism, Philosophy and Politics, Social science, Socialism. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am going to take the opportunity to hijack this comment box with my own thoughts on this subject. First, I am a bit amused if not entirely surprised that this article became such a big deal. A certain species of ultraorthodox Trot ( I am thinking Sparts and SEP) have been pushing this anti-sectoralist politics for years. It’s only when one of our “sane” people says something about it that it becomes an issue.Well people took the bait, probably because they had little else to talk about. To go ad rem, certain (non-minority) leftists think that they are being edgy or clear-headed when they assert class over identity politics. Seriously, they’re not. We’ve been there and done that millions of times. “But seriously. Class. Class over race / gender / sexual orientation.” Every time it comes up, it’s like this white straight leftist pundit reinvented the wheel. Well, it ain’t necessarily so. Identity politics was birthed out of legitimate grievances, and no, comrade, they have not been resolved, even a little bit. What is more, while a “class analysis” has basically gotten zilch in the last thirty years, identity politics rolls on to victory after victory. You could have recourse to “the capitalist Illuminati under my bathroom sink want it that way” explanation for the victory of identity politics, but that doesn’t explain why people who argue like this can’t help but channel a version of Archie Bunker who knows a bit of Lenin.

    The other problem is that people seem to think a “class analysis” is somehow more scientific in that it has some relationship with the means of production. But in no case does capitalist production take place along a strict bourgeois / proletarian binary. This is the real origin of identity politics, as discovered in the work of Silvia Federici, Noel Ignatiev, and J. Sakai. In other words, economic production is always associated with gender, racial, and national hierarchy, and you cannot unwind these from class as one can separate compounds in a Petri dish. I am very skeptical that a “pure class analysis” or even “class analysis” period has any more explanatory power than any other given social category. Then again, I am skeptical that one can have any scientific knowledge of social phenomena to begin with.

    But a class analysis in particular does not take into account that people do indeed buy into “extra-economic” explanations of reality that, ironically, profoundly affect economic realities. In the United States, for example, it is evident that, throughout history, the status of the black person has been used as an extra buffer protecting capital from any real challenges to its dominance. More specifically, any economic concern on the part of the white working class is assuaged by showing that they at least don’t have it as bad as the black worker. Sometimes not being as screwed as the other person is an important psychological concession. Female labor is always assumed under class struggle, and is far more primordial to societal hierarchy than anything else. And the labor aristocracy does exist, and it is entirely too real, both at the national and international level. If a “class emphasis” ever is successful in uniting “the masses” in a successful movement, it has to be because it could unite all of the militant forces behind identity politics without negating any of their concerns. If it can’t do that, it’s probably because the movement was doomed from the get-go. But none of this, “let’s table / mute your concerns until we win”. That line of reasoning just gets social movements stuck in a vicious circle of silencing and division, and you won’t win that way whatever happens.

  1. Pingback: Reblog: All Roads Lead to Communism, or None Do: Theses on Marxism & Intersectionality · the RAD LOVE Project // Transformation: Social, Relational, Spiritual

  2. Pingback: All Roads Lead to Communism, Redux: Against Marxist Obtuseness | RADICAL PROGRESS

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,416 other followers

%d bloggers like this: