The last fifty or so years have undoubtedly been some of the most discouraging for the working class. When the post-WWII boom came to an end in the 1970s, we entered the downward phase of the latest cycle of capital accumulation. The first attempts to make the working class pay for the decline in profitability provoked a massive response across many countries at that time. For a while, it seemed as though this struggle was leading to another major confrontation with capital, not unlike that of 1917-1921. However, unions’ successful containment of the struggle within the economic sphere and the dampening effect of mass unemployment ultimately led the movement to dissipate.
Since the 1980s, the working class has suffered from further capitalist attempts to raise profitability. The diversion of capital investment into speculation in the financial sector, the transferal of production to low-wage regions of the world, and the introduction of new labor-displacing technologies have attenuated capitalism’s profit shortfall, but have not solved it. Worse than that, they have led to a massive retreat of our class.
The dispersion of the proletariat brought on by its retreat — i.e., the dilution of its consciousness into a confused mass of social categories and “identities” — has led to the abandonment of class positions. The working class has not disappeared as a social entity, and neither has the class struggle. But the failures of the last fifty years loom large in its collective psyche, planting seeds of doubt in even its most militant members as to the potential of its struggle for emancipation. If it is to resume its fight and win its freedom, the proletariat must reappropriate its own class consciousness.
This publication is called Intransigence because that is the only word that accurately describes the position of those of us who continue to defend the doctrine of class struggle against all enemies, falsifiers, and skeptics. Though the enemies of the doctrine are forthright in their commitment to the perpetual servitude of our class, its falsifiers are no less dangerous. They wear many disguises, but in general they can be said to constitute the “leftwing” apparatus of capital. Knowingly or not, they serve the bourgeoisie by derailing workers from the terrain of open class struggle and recruiting them as cannon fodder in conflicts between different capitalist factions.
These falsifiers are the political descendants of the social democrats, who betrayed the working class on the eve of the first World War, as well as the Stalinists, who rose to power by extinguishing the last flames of proletarian revolution in Russia. The consequences of that defeat remain with us: both in the political fragmentation of the working class, and in the lie that state-capitalism in the USSR and other places was “communism.”
“Capital,” Marx said, came into the world “dripping from head to foot… with blood and dirt.” The prelude to capitalism involved the eviction of European serfs from their lands, the extermination of the indigenous population of the Americas, and the mass kidnapping and enslavement of peoples in Africa. Horrors such as these would later be extended to Europe, capitalism’s continent of origin, where it made ample use of child labor and subjected workers to conditions so abhorrent that it caused many of them to drop dead from physical exhaustion. However, in its ruthless extinction of past modes of production and the development of industry and manufacturing through the pursuit of profit, capitalism has created the basis for a global socialist commonwealth in which the conscious regulation of production and distribution by the freely-associated producers replaces cutthroat competition by capitalists. But this can only come about once capitalism has been overthrown. Its gravedigger is the proletariat: an international class of wage-earners which can only rid itself of its condition by abolishing private property.
Having created the basic preconditions for its own transcendence, capitalism has already more than fulfilled its historical mission. It is no longer capable of contributing to social development and any further growth or “expansion” of the system is not only redundant, but endangers the very survival of our species.
Previously, capitalist crises lowered labor and capital investment costs sufficiently to restore profit rates to a healthy level, allowing production to resume once more. Today, in its decadent epoch, the mass of reproducible capital and its expansion requirements have grown too large for crises to have any curative effect on their own, making the destruction of capital values on a scale that only an imperialist war can deliver necessary. As a result, the last century gave us two world wars and a succession of “smaller” armed conflicts that produced hundreds of millions of cadavers.
Such wars, along with the development of biochemical and nuclear weapons capable of exterminating the entirety of humanity within minutes; the rising severity of environmental catastrophes; capitalism’s inability to structurally accommodate meaningful reforms; and the gradual, but uninterrupted, decline in the living standards of the proletariat provide definitive proof of the decadence of capitalism and the urgent need for communist revolution on a global scale. In short, the decadence of capitalist civilization manifests itself in the structural incompatibility between its static relations of production and dynamic productive forces, which have by now more than acquired the capacity to free themselves from the social limits imposed on them by commodity exchange.
In light of our society’s advanced state of rot, and the urgency of the threat this poses, the primary task of all who consider themselves “militants” can only be to regroup around a set of core principles to constitute ourselves as a political organization capable of participating in the struggles of the class. Such an organization would also be tasked with preparing the material and organizational means of struggle, engaging in a theoretical appraisal of the system to better fight against it, and putting forward the interests of workers against those of their exploiters in every situation. It will take an uncompromising stance against every faction of the exploiting class, not excluding its “leftwing” foot-soldiers, exposing the way they collude with the enemy and sabotage the workers’ struggles. Though we are likely far removed from the formation of such a nucleus in the United States, it is still something those of us devoted to the final victory of our class must work towards.
This publication aspires to be nothing more or less than a link in the chain of the process that helps bring that about. If it takes us even a single step forward in that respect, then it will have achieved its intended purpose.