PLURALISM AND IDENTITIES – ITAIA

In this month’s post we are going to talk about the main currents of the lef­tist move­ment. The sub­ject mat­ter will be the poli­ti­cal pro­po­sal deve­lo­ped from the deca­de of the ‘60 – 70s until nowa­days. We will outli­ne our view on the­se poli­ti­cal trends and offer, more spe­ci­fi­cally, our cri­ti­que of iden­tity poli­tics, of plu­ra­lism and of radi­cal demo­cracy.

Within the lef­tist move­ment, the­re are diver­se stand­points when defi­ning social clas­ses and iden­tif­ying the natu­re of their com­po­si­tion. Nowa­days, howe­ver, the­re are two poli­ti­cal mains­tream that pre­do­mi­na­te amongst such con­cep­tions: wor­ke­rism, which clings to the tra­di­tio­nal form of wor­ker and the new left, which res­ponds to the mul­ti­ple forms of subor­di­na­tion with the con­cepts of iden­tity and plu­ra­lism. Even though both view­points or poli­ti­cal pro­po­sals dif­fer at first glan­ce, they deri­ve from the same defi­ni­tion of the wor­king class. They equa­te the poli­ti­cal sub­jec­ti­vity of the wor­king class with the models of iden­tity, orga­ni­za­tion and mobi­li­sa­tion that recrea­te the tra­di­tio­nal ima­gi­nary of the indus­trial wor­ker. This defi­ni­tion dis­torts the com­plex com­po­si­tion of the wor­king class and offers a limi­ted unders­tan­ding of the eco­nomy. They redu­ce the eco­nomy to quan­ti­ta­ti­ve data and unders­tand it by means of busi­ness analy­ses, rather than pre­sen­ting its social dimen­sion, that is, the natu­re of the bour­geo­is power. Howe­ver, having an eco­no­mis­tic con­cep­tion of the eco­nomy cau­ses detri­men­tal theo­re­ti­cal and poli­ti­cal con­se­quen­ces; among them to igno­re the current cha­rac­te­ris­tics of the pro­le­ta­riat.

As sta­ted abo­ve, we iden­tify two poli­ti­cal currents as being the main amongst tho­se that deal with the issue of the wor­king class. The first one, wor­ke­rism, would aim at defen­ding the poli­ti­cal pro­mi­nen­ce of the stra­ta that have usually been iden­ti­fied as “tra­di­tio­nal wor­king class”. Neverthe­less, the way wor­ke­rists con­duct poli­tics does not dif­fer from that of other left-wing par­ties: they work within the sta­te appa­ra­tus, they under­ta­ke the pro­tec­tion and the defen­se of the tra­di­tio­nal form of wor­ker in the dis­cour­ses and they direct their poli­ti­cal prac­ti­se to the admi­nis­tra­ti­ve mana­ge­ment and to ope­ra­te in the tra­di­tio­nal tra­de unions.

We have named the second poli­ti­cal mains­tream the new left. They defend the exis­ten­ce of various sub­jec­ti­vi­ties, that is, based on the analy­sis of the mul­ti­ple oppres­sions, their poli­ti­cal pro­po­sal aims at inte­gra­ting all tho­se diver­se view­points. In an inter­view by the maga­zi­ne Erria with Jule Goi­koetxea and with Iña­ki Soto, Goi­koetxea (2019:29) sta­tes we will gra­dually unders­tand that all the­se wrongs are struc­tu­red in dif­fe­rent subor­di­na­tion sys­tems. This poli­ti­cal current under­li­nes the diver­sity of social rela­tions and prac­ti­ces, of which the eco­no­mic oppres­sion, the lack of eco­no­mic equa­lity, would only be one part.

When den­ying the com­mon root of all forms of oppres­sion, they deny the need for a joint stra­tegy to tac­kle all of them (Wood 2000). That is, if the sco­pe of the influen­ce of the bour­geo­is eco­nomy is limi­ted to wage labour, and if we equa­te class oppres­sion with all the other forms of subor­di­na­tion, we reject the stra­tegy for the cons­truc­tion of the class­less society from the begin­ning. Thus, rather than socia­list uni­ver­sa­lity and the com­prehen­si­ve poli­tics of the fight against class exploi­ta­tion, the poli­ti­cal pro­gram­me of the new left offers dis­con­nec­ted indi­vi­dual strug­gles (Wood 2000). The­re­fo­re, if ins­tead of cha­rac­te­ri­zing the capi­ta­list sys­tem as a spe­ci­fic power struc­tu­re and fun­ctio­ning logic, we cha­rac­te­ri­ze it as a diver­se and inde­fi­ni­te struc­tu­re, we indi­ca­te that all oppres­sions have a dif­fe­rent basis or root, with implies a dif­fe­rent oppres­sed sub­ject, a dif­fe­rent fight stra­tegy, a dif­fe­rent oppres­sor, etc. regar­ding each oppres­sion.

The new left sup­ports diver­sity in a frag­men­tary sen­se-unders­tood as struc­tu­ral inabi­lity for unity‑, what Goi­koetxea (2019:37) des­cri­bes as unity in diver­sity. To unders­tand this, three con­cepts are neces­sary: iden­tity, dif­fe­ren­ce and plu­ra­lity. On the one hand, accor­ding to iden­tity poli­tics, the indi­vi­dual will deve­lop its poli­ti­cal view­point depen­ding on its per­so­nal expe­rien­ces. Rather than lea­ving indi­vi­dua­lis­tic inter­ests asi­de, deba­ting accor­ding to com­pe­lling reasons and res­pon­ding to a his­to­ri­cal and collec­ti­ve inter­est-to fight for tho­se who suf­fer the worst living conditions‑, the poli­ti­cal prac­ti­ce of the indi­vi­dual will res­pond to a per­so­nal and spon­ta­neo­us choi­ce. On the other hand, the issue of plu­ra­lism is cha­rac­te­ri­zed by: the gro­wing frag­men­ta­tion, the diver­si­fi­ca­tion of social rela­tions and of expe­rien­ces, the diver­sity of lifesty­les, the increa­se of per­so­nal iden­ti­ties. Thus, through plu­ra­lism, the new left denies the sys­te­ma­tic unity of capi­ta­lism; accor­ding to Wood (2000), they have denied the social fun­ction of capi­ta­lism and have tur­ned it into a plu­ra­lity without struc­tu­re and frag­men­ted into dif­fe­rent iden­ti­ties.

The poli­ti­cal move­ments that work through iden­tity poli­tics insert their stra­te­gic pro­po­sal within bour­geo­is demo­cracy, and unders­tand demo­cracy itself as the poli­ti­cal orga­ni­sa­tio­nal form that lea­ves the class strug­gle pers­pec­ti­ve asi­de, mea­ning it denies class anta­go­nism as pre­mi­se, and the­re­fo­re analy­ses all the oppres­sions in the same way. The demo­cra­tic pers­pec­ti­ve sug­ges­ted by the new left adhe­res to the bour­geo­is-par­lia­men­tary demo­cracy, sin­ce it wishes to imple­ment a stra­tegy that incor­po­ra­tes social move­ments within the fra­me­work of libe­ral demo­cra­cies. But to defend equa­lity and coexis­ten­ce among all per­so­nal iden­ti­ties through demo­cracy turns impos­si­ble if we analy­se class anta­go­nism. For class cha­rac­ter is not deter­mi­ned by one iden­tity or another, but by the sys­te­ma­tic fun­ction that each one ful­fils. Pla­cing both main clas­ses from the bour­geo­is order at the same level will the­re­fo­re be impos­si­ble, sin­ce they per­form a struc­tu­ral fun­ction that is oppo­si­te and incom­pa­ti­ble from the begin­ning.

In the con­text of that poli­ti­cal pro­gram­me, we can dis­tin­guish two types of lines of action. The first one, the one that is con­duc­ted outsi­de the ins­ti­tu­tions (even if only for­mally), would be the prac­ti­ce carried out by the social move­ments in the streets, the neigh­bourhoods, the schools, the fac­to­ries or other areas. In this case, they sug­gest demands orien­ted towards obtai­ning for­mal equa­lity (that dif­fe­rent sub­jec­ti­vi­ties may have the same living con­di­tions, but kee­ping the current struc­tu­re) and carry out com­mu­ni­ca­tion and prac­ti­cal pro­po­sals to socia­li­se them-see­mingly radi­cal, acti­vist and based on mul­ti­tu­di­nous mobi­li­sa­tions-. Yet, all the­se actions do not corres­pond to a real strug­gle, but rather seek for the ins­ti­tu­tions to meet the­se demands and are in char­ge of gene­ra­ting a pro­gres­si­ve left-lea­ning opi­nion to gua­ran­tee it.

All tho­se social move­ments show the need for poli­ti­cal par­ties that will give an ins­ti­tu­tio­nal res­pon­se to their demands. On the other hand, for tho­se ins­ti­tu­tio­nal par­ties that pro­fit from the initia­ti­ve of the popu­lar move­ments, the­se beco­me an impor­tant asset in order to gain more votes. The­re­fo­re, they obtain grea­ter social sup­port for their poli­ti­cal agen­da, capi­ta­li­sing that social bac­king in the elec­tions.

As men­tio­ned befo­re, the­se poli­ti­cal mains­tream exclu­de a basic pre­mi­se: that capi­ta­lism lies in the exploi­ta­tion of the wor­king class. Thus, they igno­re that the bour­geo­is power defi­nes and deter­mi­nes the enti­rety of our lives mer­ci­lessly.

We, on the con­trary, under­li­ne that, sin­ce the wor­king class is the exploi­ted class, the real bene­fit for it, or its real libe­ra­tion, will only come with the end of such exploi­ta­tion. That being said, it is our obli­ga­tion to address this his­to­ri­cal duty: to make a poli­ti­cal pro­gram­me in line with the class axis a reality through the poli­ti­cal inde­pen­den­ce of the pro­le­ta­riat.

To this effect, we must know and analy­se the new expres­sions of the wor­king class first. We can­not equa­te the cha­rac­te­ri­sa­tion of the current pro­le­ta­riat with the one half a cen­tury ago (for ins­tan­ce, the era of the pre­do­mi­nan­ce of the labour aris­to­cracy); for in the­se times of chan­ge in eco­no­mic and social con­di­tions, the com­po­si­tion, the cha­rac­te­ris­tics and the views on life of the wor­king class chan­ge too.

Neverthe­less, we must analy­se the pro­le­ta­riat with a cri­ti­cal eye. Us com­mu­nists can­not turn a blind eye on reality nor advo­ca­te novelty and spon­ta­neo­us forms. To give an exam­ple and in rela­tion to our habi­tual occu­pa­tion, we must spe­cify how the wor­king woman under­goes gen­der oppres­sion; defi­ne the ori­gin and the spe­ci­fic role of the con­cre­te pro­blems she suf­fers at work, con­cer­ning hou­sehold cho­res, the con­di­tions when beco­ming a parent, etc. within the eco­no­mic struc­tu­re.

So which will be the direc­tion and the natu­re of the strug­gle? We ought to focus on the inter­ests of the pro­le­ta­riat, as we must res­pond to all the spe­ci­fic pro­blems it endu­res. This will be achie­ved through the socia­list stra­tegy, that is, through the stra­tegy of the wor­king class to take the power.
We must fight for every­body to have the same living con­di­tions, so that we trans­form the capa­ci­ties today con­tro­lled by the bour­geo­is power into a uni­ver­sal capa­city tomo­rrow.
Biblio­graphy:
Sako­nean. (2019). Erria, 14- 37.
Wood, E. M. (2000). Demo­cra­cia con­tra capi­ta­lis­mo. Méxi­co: Siglo vein­tiuno.

Jato­rria /​Ori­gen

Artikulua gustoko al duzu? / ¿Te ha gustado este artículo?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *