By Josef Falkinger Monday, 04 May 2009
It is fashionable among some layers on the left to blame the workers' "low consciousness" for the lack of a genuine left alternative emerging within the labour movement internationally. This is utterly false and represents a lack of understanding of how the working class moves historically. The working class is fully aware of the situation it is in. What it requires is a leadership up to task of leading the class in its struggle to change society.
"Der Feind, den wir am meisten hassen,
der uns umlagert schwarz und dicht,
das ist der Unverstand der Massen,
den nur des Geistes Schwert durchbricht."
"The enemy, that we hate most,
Who besieges us black and densely,
It is the masses' stupidity
broken only by the sword of the ghost."
(Ferdinand Freiligrath, German poet and friend of Marx)
Like the poet Freiligrath in the 19th century, many on the left today are of the opinion that the so-called "low consciousness of the masses" is the reason why we have not seen successful revolutions, or major movements of the working class in recent years. These people constantly complain about how deeply people are indoctrinated and manipulated by so-called "neoliberal" ideology. This actually reflects the "low consciousness" of these "lefts", and their total lack of understanding of the working class and its organisations.
Revolutionary Marxism has a completely different approach to this question. It is the leadership of the traditional mass organisations of the working class and the Left, not the masses, that is in an unprecedented crisis. Revolutionary Marxists distinguish themselves from all other tendencies on the left with their approach to the question of political mass consciousness and its inner dynamics.