Why it is Possible and Imperative to Teach Revolution-and how!
(Emeritus professor of social studies at San Diego State and lecturer at Southwest College in US History)
Not terribly sophisticated 5th Graders can grasp the two- century old tale: The Spider and the Fly.
This is the text:
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.”
“I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”
“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day.”
The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing!
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour — but she ne'er came out again!
And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.
~By Mary Howitt, 1829
It is unfortunately clear that the crux of the story eludes most of the world's people today.
The core issue of our times is the rise of color-coded inequality and the real promise of perpetual war met by the potential of mass class-conscious organized resistance for the clarion call that has driven social movements for centuries: Equality! Revolutionary Equality! In the absence of a social movement, education remains snared by capital and empire, as we shall see, and resistance merely recreates ignorance and despair in slightly new ways.
This is not a utopian scheme that aims at a far distant tomorrow and refuses to address the necessity to win some kind of reforms, or to even defend what is minimally left to poor and working people today. It is, instead, to insist that unionism as it is–and most of the counterfeit ‘left’– cannot win even short term reforms and, moreover; to split the needs of today from the requisite need to transcend capitalism is to lose both.
Or, perhaps more abstractly, to abandon both the theory and practice of revolution is to deny science (quantity into quality and leaps in, for example, evolution), philosophy (dialectics into materialism), history (revolution on revolution) and passion itself–a cornerstone of any movement for change.
To give up on, at least, the theory of revolution is to guarantee the spiders will feed on our great-grandchildren. Using works of Marx, Chalmers Johnson, Lenin, Lukacs, and Luxemburg, it’s possible to teach revolution in theory and practice. In practice, the Rouge Forum is the only education based organization in North America that has, for fifteen years and more, seen class struggle as central to school and society. We are not a revolutionary organization. There may be members from groups who say they are–and perhaps they are. We have not, however, run from the term–revolution. Indeed, we have investigated its aspects with care.
Given the role of de-industrialization, school is one of the centripetal organizing points of daily US life. There are about 3.9 million school workers organized into the two US unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. If schools are missions for capitalism and empire; the vast majority of school workers-who are not professionals but workers and more so ever year-are their missionaries.
There are less than 4500 "members" on the Rouge Forum email list-with no dues, nor a line. But we have held up a beacon for school workers, veterans, parents, students, and others-world-wide-shining on the reality of class struggle. Even as important, we have been a community of friends.
Clearly, we are not enough-yet. In the absence of a revolutionary movement for equality and justice: barbarism.
If you seek barbarized continents, nations, regions, cities, or tribes, look around you: El Salvador, Guatemala, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sahara, or Detroit inside the heart of darkness itself. What produced this reality is part of the investigation into why things are as they are-and what to do-as we are responsible for our own histories.
Nearly all of what is in fact the bogus world "left" has abandoned revolution-except in its most fallacious forms: the Arab Spring; the reactionary farces in Egypt and Syria, the Orange (and other CIA sponsored colors-now the Ukraine) revolutions, and earlier-the tragedies that came of Russia and the long revolution in China, etc.
In the Arab world, and elsewhere, it is reasonably clear that masses of people reject, on one hand, US imperialism (if not necessarily the draw of US consumerism and culture-not you Taliban), and the obvious failures of Soviet and Chinese "socialism," really capitalism with a purportedly benevolent party at the top.
They have turned, alternately to Al Queda, the Taliban, barbarism, or the fascist nationalism of the Ukraine phony rebel leadership.
In the US, the fake left on one hand hides its politics, perhaps believing people must be led to revolution by baby steps: first a union, then a caucus, then a book club, then the party (which keeps revolution a secret-meaning the party is useless to the people while the police are fully aware of the party and its `real' politics). There is no proof people learn like this, and a great deal of evidence to the contrary.
On the other hand, the sectarian left stands with bullhorns shouting revolution-but refusing to detail the sacrifices and real devastation that any revolution must first create and yet transcend.
Ghost Dancing Against Capitalism and Empire
In the late 1880's and 1890's, despairing Indian tribes, under assault from all angles, took leadership from a “Weather doctor,” Wokova, who promised that the Ghost Dance, a circle dance, would restore peace and prosperity for the various tribes. Some enthusiasts apparently believed that the Ghost Dance was a protection against bullets and death.
Over time, the Ghost Dance spread to the Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The US sent federal troops to stop them, against the advice of a former Indian agent who complained that other religious services, similar services, were not prohibited nor threatened.
Federal troops, on December 15, 1890, opened fire, killing the famous chief, Sitting Bull. Two weeks later, troops killed more than 150 Indians. The Ghost Dance lost its appeal.
The Ghost Dance misread why things were as they were, urged a mystical series of tactics disconnected from any reasonable strategy, and a mystical Grand Strategy, popular yet failed for centuries–heaven will wait. They lost, were crushed, by force.
There have been at least five easily recognized Ghost Dances around the world in the last 14 years–and it is more than 100 years later.
1. The first were, at base, two sides of the same coin: the outpouring for war after the billionaire terrorists’ attack of September 11, 2001—and the subsequent idiot invasion of Afghanistan–a war in response to a crime.
The flip side of that coin were the mass US demonstrations against the war on Iraq–carefully steered by the Communist Party USA and its front, United for Peace and Justice, away from any analysis of capitalism, imperialism and the rise of the corporate state: fascism.
Today, those who so favored the wars are exhausted by war and unwilling to fully probe into Syria or the Ukraine, even knowing their over-stretched empire evaporates beneath their feet. The anti-war side now barely exists. It has no notable numbers, and thanks to the CPUSA and UFPJ, few learned anything of import from their opportunist activities.
The CPUSA illustrates the kind opportunism that sacrifices the needs and goals of our real friends and allies for petty advantages about second tier issues. It’s to build on sand. The CPUSA is the leafletting wing of the Democratic Party.
Opportunists may arrive with numbers of people in their base—who know nothing truly important. Those people will be fickle at heart. Lots of people over time becomes few people, most of them vapid.
Sectarians, on the other hand, arrive with no people. Sectarians and opportunists produce, at base, very similar results.
This marriage of opportunism and sectarianism added up to a form of liberalism that paves the way for fascism, the current corporate state. Liberals seek to empower a government that is not an ally, nor potential ally, but an enemy; the executive committee and armed weapon of the rich.
Rather than a bad social system–capitalism in decay–they identify bad people and ratify evil by choosing its lessers time and again.
There are no significant differences between Republicans and Democrats on the most fundamental issues in the US: war and the militarizaton of all life; bailouts (finalizing the move to fascism); deportations; racist segregation; and greater regimentation of schooling.
Sectarianism and opportunism combine to form the fatalistic belief that the world, matter, will surely change in ways we desire. Both finally limit or deny the significance of fully reflective human agency–grasping and changing–upending– the world at its political and economic roots.
We have seen these mis-estimations quickly turn into the opposites of their civic claims far too often. For left Hegelianism, sectarianism, and right Hegelianism, opportunism, change happens along a line of accumulated, predictable, nearly inevitable, ingredients or change happens because we wish it so. Both reality and/or change are constructs of the mind, usually the Mind in charge. Meet the new tyrant, same as the old tyrant.
The resolution of this is a deep probe into the intersections of mind and matter, in the construction of everyday life, in using critical–marxist–theory to make the reproductive veils of capital transparent, and to grasp what useful elements of the future are built into the present–and to look into the future.
2. The second Ghost Dance, the massive outpouring for immigrant rights that involved more than a million people marching on Mayday, 2006-perhaps the biggest one day strike in US history-was quickly demolished by flag waving nationalism, religion, Democrats, and unionites and later, the demagogue Obama.
3. The third was Occupy Wall Street, a mindless adventure that claimed no Grand Strategy (distant goals like a world of sharing and freedom), no strategy-meaning the strategy became the dumbest low denominator of whoever shouted loudest in the “people’s” mike-and no leaders when the leaders were easily spotted by the police, and pretended that it occupied something when it was always swept away with ease. OWS was destroyed by unionites, Dems (hand in hand) and some carrots (ballots) and Obama led violence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61lQUaLknPc
4. The fourth Ghost Dance, was the anti-tuition fights led by students–segregated by, mainly, class– mostly in California and NY state, but all over (note that with minor variations, each Ghost Dance grows smaller). That was again destroyed by unionites, Dems, and a little state violence.
The key error of this Dance was the student leaders’ failure to recognize the fact that capitalist education has never been public. Their demand, duplicated before and after their actions, “Defend Public Education,” was a demand to defend the systematically segregated, stupifying, mis-education of what is now a corporate state. A similar error is made by the demand to “Stop Privatization.”
Following this common-place unionite logic: let us return to the halcyon days of truly public education–which never existed. From the other angle, it again means “Defend the Corporate State,” the merger of business, the military, and government (that’s how the money moves)–in creating schools as illusion mills and human munition factories–capitalist education.
A secondary anti-tuition hike error was the failure to merge the leadership from segregated systems like the University of California (the “race horse system” per a former Chancellor, Charlie Reed,) and the “work horse system” of the California State Universities, and the “Holding pens” of the Community Colleges. It was easy to see who was doing most of the “leading,” and talking, in the coordinating meetings–UC students, who had the least to lose.
5. And now, the fifth and most recent Ghost Dance as the resistance decays even more, we see the spurious “test resistance” movement led by the likes of the vacillating reactionary (and probably police agent) Diane Ravitch, a god-blessing patriot in her own words, and now the unionite tops who helped write the NCLB, RaTT, and Common Core, like the $465,000 a year NEA boss Dennis van Roekel, who wants the CC and tests repaired, and all those liberal grouplets (Fairtest comes to mind) who refuse to critique the source of the necessity of greater regimentation of the curriculum (always regimented by textbooks)-the source being capitalism in crisis and an empire evaporating– who want less testing (finally caught on to merit pay-the most grotesque opportunism) and who also insist they want to “defend public schools,” which really means– “save my job-I already proved I will conduct child abuse to keep it”– when (again) capitalist schooling has never been public but always segregated by class and race.
That second-tier demand, worshiping an apparition, also ignores the unpleasant fact that the education agenda is a war agenda–class war and empires’ wars. It’s a reality that Rouge Forum members pointed to even before 2001. In 1999 we wrote, “If you are teaching middle school children, you are teaching the soldiers in the next oil war.” We had no crystal ball, just an understanding of the necessary relationship of imperialism and war. Better than “Defend Public Education” is “Rescue Education from the Ruling Classes.”
What will come of this last and smallest Ghost Dance so far? They will lose, just like their predecessors (and the 19th century tragedy that gave rise to the term) and the people they misled will learn nothing significant about grand strategy, strategy, tactics, nor even the most rudimentary methods of doing criticism. Here is the last half-wit to lead the test resistance crowd, part of which is now claiming the “Patriotic” banner and calling the Common Core “socialistic” (not National Socialism). http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/the-problem-with-the-common-co...
While many honest and relatively innocent people involved themselves in these Ghost Dances, it remains that each has been led by people in leftist groups who deliberately reject the notion of simply telling people about the easily seen reality of class war. The ruling classes see it and worry about the relationship of inequality and uprisings. See their writing at, for example, the Council on Foreign Relations. http://www.cfr.org/united-states/income-inequality-debate/p29052
At base, the imitation left lies to people in order to trick them into revolution. The lies come from two poles–hiding the reality of capitalism’s failures and at the other end, the fact that any kind of social change will cause a great deal of suffering and destruction. Things will not get better fast. Indeed, for some time they will get worse.
The phony left did all it could to prevent the rise of a mass, class conscious movement. Hence, the importance of ideas–and the ideological battle.
On one hand, what defeats men with guns? On the other hand, what holds together a movement that must suffer to win a better world? Ideas.
The core idea? Equality–true in science and society. Settling Scores
What does the fake left dodge?
*The reality of the domination of capitalism and imperialism.
Per Rosa Luxemburg".capital in its struggle against societies with a natural economy pursues the following ends: 1. To gain immediate possession of important sources of productive forces such as land, game in primeval forests, minerals, precious stones and ores, products of exotic flora such as rubber, etc. 2. To `liberate' labour power and to coerce it into service. 3. To introduce a commodity economy. 4. To separate trade and agriculture.”
Everywhere in the world now, children of the poor kill other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands.
Today, finance capital dominates industrial capital in the US. It has for 100 years. Now, however, that domination is full-blown and especially poisonous. Evidence: Finance capital won $12.9 trillion in the 2008-09 bailouts while industrial capital only stole abot $700 billion. One implication of this overwhelming rule of finance capital was witnessed by the billionnairess Lady Astor who said (paraphrasing) “We the wealthy once looked ahead 50, even 100 years. We built industry, commerce, productive fields. We worried about the poor. Today, the newly rich just run higgidly piggidly after the nearest dollar.” Or, “after me, the deluge.”
*The relationship of the above to irrationalism, consumerism, racism and sexism. “In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character. To the narrow-minded sociologist who lacks the courage to recognize the enormous role played by the irrational in human history, the fascist race theory appears as nothing but an imperialistic interest or even a mere “prejudice.” The violence and the ubiquity of these “race prejudices” show their origin from the irrational part of the human character. The race theory is not a creation of fascism. No: fascism is a creation of race hatred and its politically organized expression. Correspondingly, there is a German, Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, Jewish and Arabian fascism.” (Wilhem Reich, Mass Psychology of Fascism).
*The rise of corporate states, fascism, in varying forms worldwide.
R. Palme Dutt: “Fascism is an inevitable result of capitalism and its decay if the social revolution is delayed.. "Fascism is the logical result of the fact that the form of private ownership of the means of production can progress no further and must create violent crises, stagnation, and decay. Only the social organization of production can sanely organize production, and this can only come through social revolution. "The world available for capitalist exploitation now contracts. Fascism is a further stage of capital in crisis. A massive world army of unemployed people grows, and as this world crisis grows, so does the need of bosses to lower the costs of production. There are but two alternatives, social revolution or destruction. The class struggle now intensifies. .” (paraphrased from “Fascism and Social Revolution).
Here, we will need to enter into an expansion of precisely what fascism is, where it originates, who it serves, its backers, and hence, how to fight it and why.
*The Quisling role of the “labor movement,” and the unified parties of capital, that is, the war parties.
*The powerful remnants of mysticism (42% of Americans are creationists, others believe God created evolution). The pretend-left is as afraid to say, “People make gods, gods don’t make people. Believe that and you will believe anything. You have fairies dancing in your head,” as the US is unwilling to say the same thing to the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qada, and Opus Dei. No gods/no masters is the only possible response to religious barbarism. Otherwise, it is “My God can beat up your god,” and endless religious wars.
*Nationalism, the curse of the last 2 1/2 centuries. A geographical accident of births unites the slaves with the masters, often in the name of freedom. “You’re not a slave! You’re free! Your problem is the slaves of the Master over there! Kill them!”
*The necessity of revolution and *the suffering that any revolution will create, victorious or not, for some time. The failure to take on the "whole" of society, described in brief above, means movements typically lack grand strategy (an equitable just society of free people living in harmony), strategy (revolution taking place in different forms in different times in different areas), and tactics (strikes, demonstrations, propaganda, etc).
This means movements flail at shifting effects of capitalism, effects frequently manipulated by elites (Occupy Wall Street, union elections, educational testing opt-outs, etc). As they leap from second tier mission to second tier mission, they also adopt utopian solutions ("save `our' schools and let them return to the pristine days of the past) with no inkling of how to get from the compartmentalized and partial here, to there.
Who are the fake left's personifications?
*The various farcical political parties of the US, tracking back to the CPUSA (Code Pink, UFPJ, etc), and the Trotskyist (International Socialists-Chicago Teachers Union, Labor Notes, Monthly Review, etc) and the police infested parties like the Democratic Socialists of America (Billy Ayers, Deborah Meir, etc).
Meier and Ayers (once a liberal terrorist who sought to replace class consciousness with a bomb, now a grant sucking liberal) joined to forge the farcical "Small School" movement which pretended that shrinking schools would solve key educational problems (Note that few if any rich suburban schools shrank). The effort has, today, failed, proving Jean Anyon's mantra: "Doing school reform without social and economic reform in communities is like washing the air on one side of a screen door. It won't work." It didn't work for the schools but it did help make Ayers and Meier rich. Whether they are stupid or dishonest is left to the reader.
Those mis-leaders of Rethinking Schools who promote bogus reforms, deliberately quashing radical critique, toady to union bosses like Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the union which helped organize the decay of urban education (and player in the CIA sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, Meany Center, and others-and NEA's Van Roekel. The Rethinkers spiraled down after Rethinking Columbus and, wittingly, describe their denial of class war, capitalism, fascism, and empire, as, in their leaders' words, "strategic positioning."
*Freire Iconicizers–the little publishing industry around the work of a self declared “Catholic Marxist.” Freire rarely missed a mass. Preposterous. Freire worked for the National Council of Churcbes, in Geneva. Not bad. Yet he complained and complained of exile. He plagiarized much of his key work (note Critical Consciousness is not class consciousness) from the leader of Catholic base communities, Dom Halder Camara (see Paul Taylor’s work). He begged, far too much, not to be praised, while deluged with praise. He was a revolutionary wherever he wasn’t, and a liberal reformer wherever he was. He worked, at the end, for his hero, Lula, of Brazil, while Lula rushed forward all the forces of capital.
* Post-postmodernists ( Religion with an angry cloak which sought to demolish history by disconnecting the past, present, and future as well as to deny, or obscure, the labor theory of value with unintelligible language-pretending language alone is life)- The pomo trajectory is perhaps best personified by Henry Giroux who began a career as a Marxist with thin analysis, became a self-declared postmodernist, and is now fronting for the Democratic Party's voice-Truthout.
*Messianics like Chris Hedges. Hedges, a divinity school grad who never overcame his training, thinks he alone can trumpet the end of the advance of fascism. Let us not forget nor forgive his repeated acts of plagiarism (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/pj-gladnick/2014/06/12/former-nyt-reporter-...)
*Outright police agents–Diane Ravitch, all the former presidents of the NEA and AFT, now working for the CIA backed Education International, the inheritor of the old cold war western empires’ unions
*”Save ‘Our’ Schools” and related anti-testing groups, often funded by the unions, the Democratic Party, the police sponsored National Endowment for Democracy (Fairtest, etc.) *Unionites (for a full examination of the wreckage of what was once the most powerful union in the USA, see here http://clogic.eserver.org/2006/gibson.html)
*Dems/Cops who pretend that capitalist democracy can be democracy.
*Those anarchists who give up on Grand Strategy–Chomsky who wants a world of small, marginally connected communities–clever but not wise. This session seeks to challenge participants to describe a revolution, how and why it might happen, to locate strategic objectives (personnel, geo-strategy, etc) and tactics that educators of all levels might adopt to transcend both the opportunist and sectarian errors of the past, and present. What is it that might solve the mystery of creating a class conscious international social movement?
What is a revolution?
There are two words in Chinese that describe "revolution."
One is Fanshen (see William Hinton's brilliant book by that title. Fanshen meansto dig into and turn over the soil. What is on top is new, but what is below is still there.
The other word means "to withdraw the mandate from heaven." That's a legitimacy crisis: when the people realize the emperor is a mere mortal, no better than others,, has no honor from God, and is indeed, worse, because the ruler has mis-served the people-theft, nepotism, etc.
Chalmers Johnson (author of the "Nemesis Trilogy") was a CIA asset whose work on Revolution is a benchmark for all similar modern studies. Of course, at the time of the writing, Johnson was seeking to oppose revolutions, but he wrote a cookbook.
"Revolutionary violence must attack the central seat of power. Decentralized violence often leads to reform. Societies are rooted in coercion, forms of violence, applied inequitably in inequitable societies. When hope vanishes, and people are just scavenging for food, revo may be at hand.
"The most important value system in a society is to legitimize the use of force." Johnson: sources of change:
1. External: world wide communications system, foreign travelers returning, international communist parties, external warfare, etc.
2. Internal: changes of values brought about by intellectual activity, scientific discovery, acceptance of innovations that are not incorporated into "normal" society.
Ideology, an alternative value system, plus much more, is key to revolution. In this sense, ideology would mean a program of values, a coherent or at least understandable method of analysis and plans of action: Grand Strategy, strategy, and tactics.
Such an ideology will "supply intellectually and emotionally satisfying explanations of what is wrong with the social system," why, who personifies the prevention of change, promises some methods of suggesting that success of change is possible, some view of a better way to live. Revolutionary ideologies, thus, offer a method of thinking, apply it to criticism of things as they are (the existing social order), produce a culture that shows how things can change, long term goals, and, during a revolutions, these ideologies often shift in order to explain deficiencies within them as social practice tests them.
Revolutionary ideologies are, typically, imminent. That is, they do not argue for postponing change but seek to hasten it. High degrees of generality, or correctness in terms of explanation and practice, means that revolutionary ideologies can spread between and among dissident groups: solidarity grows.
Causes: *power deflation, dependence on more and more force. *loss of authority, use of force seen as illegitimate-lost foreign wars. * accelerators: events that make armies mutiny, revolutionary leaders decide to move, etc. In order to retain power, elites must do two things: recognize disequilibrium and move, convincingly, to act on it.
One common method to retain power is to coopt opposition leadership. http://richgibson.com/johnsonquotes.htm
Revolution is an academic field that gets far too little attention.
Class Consciousness to Connect Reason to Power
What, after all, is class consciousness?
Class consciousness is the awareness that one is, “part of a social group that, through common work activity at the same time reproduces a social system and others in it who do not have the same interests regarding that system, and who do not participate in it in the same manner…it is an orientation toward political action…an awareness of others, of those who are similar and those who are different with regard to their long-term interests, and an awareness of the social structure that makes their differences real .” (Eyerman).
Class consciousness implies anti-racism, anti-capitalism, as well as a vision of a better future against which today’s actions can be examined. This is not to simply reduce every question of race, sex, religion, or ethnicity immediately to greed, profits, but it is to say that the war for surplus value has, at the end of the day, decisive influence in setting up all the social relations of capital.
Capital’s schools, racism, nationalism, sexism, and religion all disguise social problems, problems of class, as problems of individual people, competing races/crafts/industries/nations, or fate. That is, capital’s schools and US forms of unionism are designed, above all, to create a veneer of limited knowledge, but to wipe out class consciousness. To date, this is succeeding.
Class consciousness has been seen as:
(1) a logical and necessary result of the advance of productive forces, that is, when the world is industrialized, people will become class conscious (Kautsky, Stalin),
(2) an awareness of the whole picture of capital, through the daily bitter experiences that capital must offer the working class- and the intervention of an advanced party (Lukacs),
(3) an offering to working people from organized intellectuals and dedicated activists, especially as crises arise (Lenin),
(4) as workers' spontaneous response to their collective, persistent, problems, as work is always alienating (Marty Glaberman: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~rgibson/workersreality.htm ),
And (5) class consciousness has been seen as the natural product of intellectuals produced by the working class itself, organic intellectuals, whose ideas can be more easily accepted, grasped (Gramsci, Freire). None of these formulas has worked well.
Class consciousness, then, is a pedagogical and practical problem that has not been resolved, that plagues the working classes of the world as crises of capital-inequality, imperialist war, rising irrationalism, international bankruptcies, militarism, etc.-make the current situation especially menacing, urgent. The crux of the pedagogical issue goes beyond transcending racist alienation and defeating exploitation.
At the heart of the question is the view that people can overcome the Master/Slave relationship, consciously, yet not recreate it at a new level; to forge a new society, a caring community, from the wreckage of the old, to forge reason from unreason.
Justice does demand organization. Organization requires discipline.
Class consciousness must be dialectically pressed on organizers, and from organizers back and forth to masses of people. Organization must be moral, ethical, to win the trust of the masses, and to set a standard against which opportunism can be judged.
But the crux of education, of organization, and of pedagogy itself, is the fact that we can understand and transform the world. We make our own histories, are subjects who can create change, or continuity (Lukacs, 1968, p3, p42) .
The path to a loving society, a community where people can live creatively, consciously, collectively, and not merely democratically, is probably only possible through great suffering. We should not despair in that, because that is the home of hope.
People who have suffered and struggled, in that process, they define themselves and achieve a standing that is unavailable to others. People who have suffered can transcend fear, the host of hate, because they will have had to truly move in understanding from what appears to be, to what is, to what can be-because the processes of their suffering gives them a better understanding of what is essentially a Master- Slave relationship than the Masters can ever attain, and because their daily lives serve as proof to the Masters lies- and in doing that they may be able to fashion a society that lives by the idea, which will require a massive international change of mind (and a calling off of the massive scientific industrialized slaughter), an idea whose time has come: From each according to their commitment, to each according to their need.
This stands in clear opposition to what the zenith of capitalism today, summed up by Conrad in Heart of Darkness as the ultimate declaration of imperialism: Exterminate all the brutes.
Yes, of course there is a gap between today, class consciousness, and a revolution (which is no more inevitable than the temporary victory of fascism).
Between here and there is a fight.
It would be unwise to offer a prescription that could be applied to every community, detailing the old "what is to be done," question.
But direct action (control of workplaces and communities at key choke points), relentless agitation for class consciousness, and, importantly, close personal ties across all the barriers that capital creates seem key.
It is fair to ask: What has the Rouge Forum done?
We led the initial test resistance with boycotts, direct action in the “professional organizations” and unions–always pointing to the war agenda that drives capitalist schooling.
We were involved at all levels in the Detroit teachers’ wildcat strike. http://clogic.eserver.org/2-2/gibson.html
We help fight the RaTT and Common Core–always placing them in their social context.
We engage the battle for ideas.
We hope these ideas will defeat men with guns who fight on behalf of a tiny minority of the world’s people.
Capital has nothing left to offer anyone. Even before the NASDAQ collapse, people with three SUV’s began to notice that such good luck was just not fulfilling.
Capital has inverted science, consider the huge scientific advances in weaponry and gas-masking, while 25% of the kids in parts of New York City are cursed with environmental asthma.
Capital is attacking all that is beautiful, from rationality to aesthetics—the drooling fundamentalist snake-handling top office-holders who cloak the breasts on statues. But overcoming the processes of capital is going to require a massive change of mind-an urgent change if we are going to go beyond industrialized slaughter.
Changing minds is the daily life of every school worker.
What we do counts, more than ever. We will win. That will not happen by simple reasoning. The Masters will not adopt the ethics of the slaves.
We will win by resisting, with a plan to overcome, and by learning from our resistance-outfoxing the destruction of reason and wisdom.
The core issue of our times is the rise of color-coded inequality and the real promise of perpetual war met by the potential of mass class-conscious resistance for the clarion call that has driven social movements for centuries:
Equality! Revolutionary Equality!
We will not be fed willingly, witlessly, to the Spider.
Death to the Fascists and…
Up the Rebels!
Good luck to our side.