Logics of Social Understanding, the scientific work of revolutionaries
There is no doubt that ideology directly affects how we organize, and for what purposes. However, we must also critically analyse the logical structure it is based on, and whether it reflects accurately the objective conditions we live under. Marxist analysis has traditionally been based on Hegel’s concept of dialectic, with capitalists and workers who struggle against each other for material conditions. It was already clear, at least since Lenin, that this was an insufficient analysis, and Lenin did the important and essential work of adding the peasantry at least as a matter of action. The peasantry was an essential component in Russia and continues to be important to the anti-colonial tradition, like in the Chinese revolution.
Today, in the United States, we are faced with the task of constructing a logical analysis that talks not only of class, but also of race and gender and other systems of oppression. We believe that this is essential work that still needs to be done, starting from the foundations laid down by Du Bois in Black Reconstruction when he spoke of the black worker, white worker and white planter.
Currently, we see two main trends in the left. The first is regressing back to the dialectical logic of twos that comes from European marxism. This ignoring of race and gender dynamics, or their treatment in shallow ways like representation and language leads to ineffective strategies. Often, organizing efforts may even echo oppressive systems, like when predominantly white left groups try to ‘organize’ black communities. The second trend is the one in which race, gender and other complexities are put on the same plane of importance as capitalist exploitation. This reduces the exploitation of global power structures to a mere ‘ism’. This can be seen in the latest wave of identity politics, which holds working class people responsible for racism, sexism and xenophobia, who themselves are poor, and suffering at the hands of neoliberalism.
To develop an effective theory of resistance, we need an in depth analysis of the capitalist system, and the different complexities that define our society. We need to think about the crucial role of racism in setting up global flows of resources. Capitalism could not sustain itself in a world without imperial structures, and as Malcolm X said, “You cannot have capitalism without racism”. We may even go a step further to assert that capitalism is inherently linked to whiteness, and that the surplus value that was generated by the black, brown, yellow masses of the world was never theorized. We must also think about how capitalism uses gender to create and sustain private property, through the concepts of inheritance and family. The logical structure of such an analysis has metaphors and analogies, and power structures go from the scale of individuals to the world. Our analysis should not try and find the ‘intersection’ of all of these, it must see how they fit into a bigger whole so we can guide ‘interaction’. This is the great scientific task of revolutionaries ahead.