Friday, 13 January 2012

Spontaneity and organisation (four)

but we are workers, the class isn't some big other we sit around waiting to awake, but our co-workers, neighbours, friends, flatmates - and the way we organise ourselves as revolutionaries can influence them too [...] Yes our influence is often small and you cannot conjure class struggle out of nothing, however neither is it some external object to fetishise; we can play a part in collectivising grievances in our own workplaces... 

from an internet discussion
Whilst it is true that we are all proletarianised in our everyday lives, a theoretical incoherence develops in the claim for an identity between the abstract objective category of the proletariat and the concrete existence of defined individuals. 
In fact, the working class is, if we use the term loosely, ‘some big other’, it is the process of abstraction which we find as traits in our personal lives. The extent that we are manifested within anarcho-syndicalist discourse as co-workers, neighbours, friends, flatmates is the measure of our struggle against proletarianisation and not the source of an act of self-identification. 

The struggle in and through and against proletarianisation, i.e. Value abstraction, is the entirety of all of our lives already; it (the struggle of individuals to be individuals realised within lived relations) is a constant (if spontaneous) reaction to that force which would attempt to use them as formalised units within its process. The class struggle, if we are to call it that, that is the struggle on the one side to impose abstraction and on the other the struggle against abstraction, is a constant of the productive relation. There are no ‘downturns’ in class struggle... there are only passings of the subjective side of the struggle, at the level of working class demands, beyond the capacity of anarcho-syndicalist militants to articulate them.

The idea that the working class is comprised of ‘co-workers, neighbours, friends, flatmates’ is itself a projecting of the concrete individual existences of other people back into the mechanism of abstraction. In other words, their actual existence becomes a pretext for their being recruited into a formal organisation which requires a higher level of capitalised abstraction and quantification within the category of the working class than that which actually exists in individual proletarian lives. 

The organisationalist ideology is dependent on a high level of subjective abstraction and quantification, its apparent appeal to the actual lives of ‘co-workers, neighbours, friends, flatmates’ requires that they shed their actual lives and instead positively recognise themselves as members of an abstracted class, as a quantity of potential members of a proposed organisation in order that they may be strategically deployed by that organisation in its representation of class struggle. The organisationalists invite such individuals to experience their own lives at a higher rate of alienation than they currently do in order to facilitate the functioning of an organisation which is only able to represent them as the type of workers who identify themselves in this manner (a classical double bind). 

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