Revolutionary Organisations and
Class Consciousness
(Part 3)

2.2 Class consciousness would have to be injected into the working class

This view declares that working classes can only be achieved to the class identity by its class struggle. Class consciousness develops outside class and thereafter transfers to the working classes. It needs be pointed out that Lenin did not clarified which resulted some ambiguity on this issue that he had inherited from Second International, but later he provided more explanation. Lenin in his work”What is to be done?" unlike the economists, defended the idea that class consciousness would have to be injected into working class. The economists preached that the working classes shall not interfere in the politics and their task is to participate in economic struggle. Economists left political struggle to the bourgeoisie’s intellectuals. Lenin made an evolution about the class consciousness by developing his works such as "Revolution and state" and "April theses".

The formulation of an idea that that to inject class consciousness into working class is completely wrong conclusion from an absolutely logicalthinking and interpreting. What is right and what is the wrong. That class consciousness is not a direct consequence of a class struggle and should be developed in a dynamic process in a historical perspective by the revolutionary organization, is absolutely correct.

The idea and concept that the revolutionary organisations and the party is necessary element for the development of the class consciousness and, therefore, constitute an important factor for revolution victory is absolutely correct.

The wrong conclusion is that this view does not consider the revolutionary organization as part of the working class and, as a result, class consciousness should be injected into the working class by the revolutionary organization. This view has problem to see revolutionaries’ activity as a product and an active part of the proletariats’ struggle. What determines a political party’s class nature is not the sociological background of the individual member of the party, or the leadership of party, but its political program and activity.

The revolutionary organizations and its revolutionaries are part of the working class and their struggle. This view confuses class origin with the class belongs. We are not stating that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg and other revolutionaries were workers; however, they devoted their lives to the working class’ struggle. Let’s continue with an example of the ICC. The ICC describes that:

“Thus, when revolutionary organizations arise within the working class, they arise on the same basis, and out of the same necessity which forces the proletariat to organise itself in councils. Revolutionaries are, then, a spontaneous and voluntary product of their class. Spontaneous, because their existence is a product of the struggle and is enriched by the practical experience of their class. Voluntary, because they come from the historic necessity of the class struggle and not just from simple, limited, mechanical, economic factors.” 1

2.3 Differences between ideology and class consciousness

Having a split between physical and intellectual work resulted a creation of special layer of class whose roll was defence and development of ideas. These intellectual people became ideologues. The consciousness of the ideologues was an individual consciousness.

Bourgeoisie consciousness, religion etc, is also consciousness and, therefore, they have their ideologues. On the other hand, the consciousness of the proletariat cannot be ideology and, therefore, Proletariat has not any ideologues!

There are two important criteria for distinguishing ideology from the class consciousness. Firstly, Proletariat has no economic power and, therefore, cannot create an ideological superstructure. Therefore, in all ideologies, people and their circumstances appear up and down. Marx describes this in his work, the German Ideology very well, he writes on page 19:

“If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura , this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process.”

The second important is that unlike the proletariats’ consciousness that is developed in a collective process and is collective, ideology developed individually and is an individual consciousness. In order to be more accurate, need to emphasis that the consciousness of proletariat is not an individual consciousness as ideology, but is an historical and social phenomenon.

“Ideology, even if it expresses very well the domination of a social class , is never a truly collective product. Like a mirror broken into a thousand fragments which all reflect the same image, ideology imposes itself on all individuals.” 2

Ideologues have a task which is part of class society’s superstructure, to ruminate the ups and downs of society. Thanks to ideologues and their enormous resources that the dominated idea is dominated class’ idea. Marx describes this in the German Ideology, page 60 as the following:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance.”

Unlike the ideologues’ advice, human liberation is an historic phenomenon. That is why Proletariat cannot liberate itself, unless liberate all humanity.

““Liberation” is an historical and not a mental act, and it is brought about by historical conditions, the development of industry, commerce, agriculture, the conditions of intercourse... “ 3

Another consequence of the opinion to inject class consciousness into the working class is that their view provides an ideological view of the class consciousness. As a result, revolutionaries become ideologues. Finally, in contrast to the councils, class consciousness’ highest expression is not the worker council but the revolutionary political organization.

“Unlike the councilists "ultra democratic" advice the ICC asserts that class consciousness’ highest expression is not the worker council which is developed with difficulty and lots of challenges and by a large number of errors. Without a revolutionary political organization, which is the place where proletariat’s the valuable historic experience are accumulated and crystallized. It is the most developed, concentrated form of the proletariat’s collective memory which is only created in a big magnitude before the revolutionary period condition, then, the class acquires itself again in a very united way.” [Our translation] 4

To Be Continued

M. Jahangiry
1 January 2010
1. Communist Organization & Class Consciousness, page 45
2. Communist Organization & Class Consciousness, page 31
3. The German Ideology, page 23
4. Marxism contra councilism – IR 14