Everyone’s after the “half classes” …

In the mystifying and mystified world of bourgeois politics, a series of recent events, which at first seem quite distinct from one another but do, in fact, converge, helps us to understand how, on an ideological level, the ruling class attempts to react to an economic crisis that is progressing day by day, accumulating increasingly explosive material in its depths.

In what is now the greatest declining imperialist power, the United States of America, right from his election President Obama has stood as one of the required reference points for those we have referred to as “the geese” – a species that is widespread all over the planet and runs no risk of extinction.  In his post-re-election Inaugural Speech, after having taken a theatrical vow on the Bibles belonging to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King (two of the country’s icons), he – or rather his ghostwriter – launched the typical series of rhetorical commonplaces that delights this species, addressing in particular the main “categories at risk” in US society (blacks, immigrants, women and gays) and promising them a rosy future, their just acknowledgement, a position to be finally respected.  As a first step in this direction, whilst negotiating with the various different lobbies over the “arms issue” (or better, as we have already seen, … “assault weapons”), he promised to commit himself to new reforms on immigration (“new” because for over a century they have followed one upon the other and each has a specific significance).  These concepts were repeated in his subsequent Speech on the State of the Union centring on a series of “projects for reform” truly worthy of “Smurfland”.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the French President Hollande, whilst not possessing the same physique du rôle as his US equivalent (but, as we all know, the USA is the country of “super heroes”) has made a great effort over the past few months, both at home and abroad, to claim a leading role for a Nation experiencing a crisis, by means of an aggressive leadership with constant references to traditionalgrandeur: he has crossed swords with the “rich”, he flew to Algeria to say how sorry France was for the nastiness in her colonial past (will it be the turn of the countries of Indochina next?), he has promised “civil rights” left right and centre, and then he sent a few thousand troops to the heart of Africa to demolish the threatening Islamic ranks (which melted away like snow in the desert sun) and to confirm French presence in loco – as his predecessor, the hated Sarkozy, had already done in Libya… Lastly, between January and February, he sent the cops to wield their truncheons on the Arcelor-Mittal and Goodyear workers who had come to Paris to protest against the planned lay-offs.

At this stage we could mention Great Britain under the conservative Cameron who, to the amazement of the “geese”, played a waiting game, stealing the scene from Labour on some “progressive” issues.  Or the ever-present Mrs. Merkel, who maintains the same stern front towards most of Europe.  Or the “resistential” Napolitano who, in the priestly way typical of the Italian bourgeoisie, manages to make everything look nice by using the famous “constitution-democracy” rhetoric (leaving aside the rest of the putrid Italian political panorama!).  But the previous two examples will suffice.

What stands behind this bulimia of fine sentiments is a serious worry and Obama voiced it explicitly by the repeated use, almost as obsessive as his appeal to the American Constitution, of the noun “people” (a very generic “people”, in fact – something very similar to old-time music show “Up with the People!”, with its rancid credo of “love, honesty, purity, and altruism”), and with his reference, right in the middle of the speech (clever, his ghostwriter!) to the “middle class”, another term that merits examination under the X-rays.  Here are his actual words: “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

Gallons of vinegar to rinse away the molasses, and let’s proceed.

What we are interested in is that particular reference to the “middle class”:  a “middle class” (or more modestly, “the social stratum in the middle”: “class” is dirty word in decent social circles), which in fact does not exist as a “class in itself” alongside the two main ones (bourgeoisie and proletariat) but only as an undifferentiated mish-mash into which the less noble giblets of the social body precipitate.  On the one hand, a petit-bourgeoisie tending more and more towards free fall and losing status day by day, terrorized by the progressive proletarianization and, on the other hand, a working-class aristocracy that barely manages to keep its head out of the swamp, whilst seeing the path towards the longed-for and illusory bourgeois paradise increasingly precluded.  “Half classes” in our scientific and materialist language, which sees social phenomena as dynamic and not static: thus shreds of classes, lacking their own identity, terrorized by obscure and recurrent threats (often skilfully constructed), tossed here and there on the tempestuous sea of the economy and incapable of understanding the whys and wherefores of what is going on (now even the Pope is joining in!), grasping at slippery rock faces, destined to crash and be massacred, eternally under the illusion that they count for something, that they have reached some sort of stability, and each time jeered at and slapped back by the crisis. They are the ones – the reservoir of votes and the masses to be ideologically and materially manoeuvred – that all the Obamas and Hollandes of the bourgeois world are addressing:  the “half classes” that the economic crisis is tormenting and will not cease to torment are to be reassured and kept close to the State.  In an expression that we use on purpose, because it explains this process well, linking it to the reality of bourgeois rule, the “half classes” are to be bound together in a bundle – like those emblems Fascism loved so much and spread all over Italian buildings. Not by chance in all these speeches, as is the habit of any government (right, centre, “left” etc.), they are addressed in terms of “corporations”: in fact, the blacks, the immigrants, women, gays – or young people, cultural workers, the creative professions, the precarious, consumers, citizens and so on, re-proposing the infinite categories that actually correspond to the shreds, keeping well away from and keeping at a distance (for heaven’s sake!) from any temptation to see in them any possible class fracture.

Instead, this exists and will increasingly make its weight felt.  Just to give an American example, the rhetorical investment of fine sentiments on the “eleven million immigrants who are to be given regular status by a new reform” on the one hand conceals the plan to reassure the famous “middle class” about a threat (the clandestine! the illegal! the invisible! the hidden! the he or she that moves in the shadows!) and on the other hand clouds the fact that within the “eleven million”different interests ferment and clash, interests for which any reform will use very different weights and measures:  the agricultural worker who crosses the border by night bled penniless by the coyote (the “mediator” who makes sure he is richly paid) and hunted by the migra (the border police) is one thing, quite another is the immigrant who at the beginning perhaps doesn’t have all his papers in order but who has made money (a lot or a little) over time, has a good job, his own social status, perhaps attends (or his children attend) university… and is thus a good candidate to become part of the petite bourgeoisie (multi-ethnic but still the petit bourgeoisie), a little like what happened to the black petite bourgeoisie from the 1960s onwards.

The ruling class – we were saying – needs these “half classes” as a mass to be materially or ideologically manoeuvred: further confirmation, yet again, of what we have always argued with regard to the fascist essence of democracy arising out of the second world war.  We communists, instead, have no need of these “half classes”: we know that they are disloyal, undecided, unreliable, always ready to betray and change sides, to chase after one mirage or another (an individual, a “philosophy”, an object) and allow themselves to be fooled by the latest technological gadget, or the latest “thought master”… We have no programme for them.  What we have is the programme of the proletarian revolution and the way to achieve it and move on:towards the dictatorship of the people, a classless society, communism.  This is our north.  If, at times of clear social polarization, any of these shreds perceive the need to turn in the direction of this north, to follow the discipline of this programme, all well and good, they will come with us:  they will be defectors from the “half classes” (if not, indeed, from the ruling class).  However, these shreds will mostly be our enemies, all the more aggressive and all the nastier, the more they are deprived of their rank illusions.  The proletariat must be on its guard against their “thinkers”, their myths and their illusions, because it is these that that the bourgeoisie uses to spread its deadly viruses – of individualism, of competition, of localism and nationalism.

 International Communist Party


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