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(sup) (en) The Intelligentsia and Class Struggle

From "Arthur J. Miller" <bayou@blarg.net>
Date Tue, 29 Apr 2003 07:47:13 +0200 (CEST)


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>From Bayou La Rose
Looking up from the toil of ages, the workers sees and feels the burden
of their exploitation and wonders why it does not change? It matters not if
they were land workers of 500 years ago, a factory worker of a hundred years
ago, or a fast food worker today struggling to make ends meet, the burden of
toil continues with little real change.
The farm workers who are plunged into strained toil, the pain of a bent
back tells of the survival at substandard wages, wonders why they don’t show
up in the modern labor analysis? The young fast food workers always on their
feet, though the hours of toil are always desired to end, but with each hour
the torment increases, they must wonder when the good life some people speak
of will begin for them? The office workers who are trained to type like a
machines, pains in the wrists and hands have them wondering why people think
they have it so good? The miners down in some deep dark hole, digging for
the minerals that are needed to keep society running, may wonder about the
great conditions of modern American workers that some speak of, for the
miners need not worry about the threats of hell from the skypilots, for is
not their dally toil hell on earth? The assembly line workers, pushed almost
beyond human limits by the speed-up line, may wonder why some people say
that they do not exist anymore in this country? The old yardbirds struggling
to make it in shipyards where around every corner are dangers to watch out
for, may wonder about those who say that the industry of America is no
longer blue collar, then why in hell do we yardbirds still toil?

From all the far corners of this land working people face the day-to-day
drudgery of labor under the capitalist system. That is their reality, that
is their fate, but there are those who wish to deny them the acknowledgement
of their existence. It is said that class no longer matters in the analysis
of society. Tell that to those that must struggle from paycheck to pay check
in order to put food on their tables. There are those that say the American
working class has it good, tell that to the millions of workers who have no
medical coverage and must either not seek medical help when needed or go
into to great debt. There are those that say working conditions have
improved greatly, tell that to all the injured workers and those that die
each year, fact is in many industries that have grown old there is not a
reinvestment in new equipment and the old equipment is used until it breaks
and often at that time injuries or kills some worker, so in some industries
conditions are worse than they were. There are those that say modern wages
are the best in history, tell that to those that work at poverty wages and
those who lost so much in the early Reagan years and have yet to win back
what they lost. There are those that say class struggle is a thing in the
past and is no longer needed, such is a lie that ignores the reality of the
need of all working people to struggle day-to-day for better wages, medical
benefits, improved working conditions and the need to dump the bosses off
our backs and build a society in which we are no longer preyed upon by
parasites. Within the class of the intelligentsia all these arguments will
be found that deny the reality of working class life.

The continuous exploitation of the working class is a clear reality
throughout the ages that class systems has ruled over those who labor. It is
clear to be seen by all that there is a class that controls and profits
greatly off the labor of another class that is forced to work in order to
survive. But between those two classes exists a middle-class that, though
they do not control the class system, benefit from the class system. Thus
they also stand in the way of the liberation of the working class and the
dismantling of the class system. One segment of the middle-class that has
had the most dominating harmful effect on the working class has been the
intelligentsia.

Though as a class the intelligentsia exists as a great historical force
that the working class must resist if they wish to reach liberation, still
there are some within that class who do realize the role that the
intelligentsia plays in class oppression and have and do seek ways to
overcome that oppression. Some have been teachers who rather than
indoctrinate working people, seek to empower them with skills to speak and
act for themselves.

This writing is only views of one worker, though others may agree with
me, who has spent a lifetime working on ships, on oilrigs, in the hard rock
mining industry, as a long haul truck driver, a farm worker and as an
environmental technician. Since I joined the work force at 17 and through
the next four decades I have not only labored but also have been an active
class warrior, it is upon the experience gained that I come to my analysis
based upon the real world and not the world of abstract theories.
The social system that we have lived under is built upon a hierarchical
class structure. Those that rule the system grant some of those below them
privileges over those that the system deems less worthily. The purpose of
such privileges is to try to create a vested interest in the system among
those that do not directly control the system.

The question of placement within the hierarchy is not based upon;
intelligence, understanding, ability, talent or skills, but rather it is a
question of privilege,
in other words the hierarchical system grants the privilege to some to
oppress others and have greater opportunities, be it by race, sex, class or
what ever. The hierarchy is
not of one dimension alone, like class alone, but rather it is
multi-dimensional, class, sex. race, religion, culture, nationalism, and so
on.

Some times some factors have a greater influence than others at different
times. That is how you can have a Black woman (like Rice) in the ruling
class, whereas you can't have a white working class male in the ruling
class. A part of the ruling class is drawn from the intelligentsia in order
to help run the government in the interests the super wealthy. Though Rice,
because of her standing within the intelligentsia can be brought into a
segment of the ruling class, that being government decision makers, she is
limited from reaching the top of that segment. Were she to try to become
president, she would be faced with the factors of race and sex, which would
be very hard to overcome if she was completing with a white male. So the
multi-demensionalism of the system even plays out within the ruling class.
The multi-dimensional hierarchical system is the nature of
institutionalized oppression. But that does not deal with all oppression
because people are influenced by the culture of the system and some people
oppress each other even when they are not at a higher
level of the hierarchy.

Am I saying that those that are granted privileges of oppression and
greater opportunities should be cut off from those that they oppress? No. I
am saying that the oppressed need to resist the privileges of others that
oppress them, and those that
have privileges that are granted by those above them should reject those
privileges and demand rights of freedom from privilege and oppression for
all.

Privilege cannot be rejected by denying the existence of privilege. The
middle-class has class privileges over the working class. That is the
reality of the class system. That does not mean that within the middle-class
there are not people who are having a hard time or face oppression and
exploitation. Some within the middle-class seek to justify themselves by
denying their class or stating that they too at times suffer. Such
justifications do deal with the issue of privilege.

There are a number of elements within the middle-class, such groups like
managers and small time capitalists, who cannot join in common cause with
the working class without giving up their direct role over the working class
and thus more than likely becoming working class. Then there is an element
of the middle-class that, thought they are wage earners, but by the factor
of having class privileges, are middle-class rather than working class, for
class is not just about economics it is also about privilege. That privilege
is what makes middle-class wage earners middle-class and not working class.
Those among middle-class wage earners who do not have a role in directly
controlling workers and see that their interests are with workers and reject
class privilege can step out of the middle-class and join with the working
class in common struggle.

The intelligentsia is the class of intellectuals who are mostly
middle-class except when they are in control of the government and thus then
are a part of the ruling class. One aspect of the system is the role of
‘authorities’. Damn near every subject has its own authorities. Political
authority is the government, economic authority is the capitalists and
intelligentsia economists, legal authority is the courts, lawyers and the
cops, religious authority is the church, and so on. Within the
intelligentsia you will find numerous authorities, for example to have a
medical practice approved some medical authority from the intelligentsia
must approve it, even if that practice has been used for hundreds of years
and has proved itself based upon experience. One of the means that the
intelligentsia oppresses the working class is that within it you will find
the authorities over labor, such folks as labor historians, labor
theoreticians and labor economists. .

The struggle against white privilege, male sex privilege and class
privilege and so on, is a struggle that is best understood on the personal
level. An example: I for a number of years have worked in support of Native
struggles, when ever a Native struggle comes about that deals with their
culture in order to prove their culture, one way or another an 'authority',
an anthropologist, is called in (this happens all the time in the struggle
of
Native prisoners for their religious rights) to state what their Native
'ways' are. Well I was once asked to come to a school that was showing the
movie "The Wobblies" to speak as a real live Wobbly. When the movie was over
a labor history professor spoke for 45 minutes (knowing very little of what
he was talking about) and then told me I had 5 minutes to speak. I saw the
connection that I have been trying to get you all to understand. I got up
and said: "Labor historians are to workers as anthropologists are to
Indians. Don't believe a word they say!" That is all I said and that is all
I needed to say.

Thus one form of oppression by the intelligentsia is that they seek to
speak for those they have little understanding of, and they are not a part
of. Members of the intelligentsia write most books on labor, labor
economics, labor conditions and labor history. One reason for this is the
culture of oppression and classism that recognizes intelligentsia
authorities of labor over the writings of direct experience by working
people. It is damn near impossible for a working person to get a book
published that is written based upon personal experiences. I have tried but
I have found no publisher willing to publish my writings on work
experiences. But if I had a some degree from some institution of higher
indoctrination, and no direct experiences I could get books published even
if I did not know much of anything about what I was writing. Because of this
the working class has become dependent upon the intelligentsia for their
history and ideas and such forced cultural dependence is a form of
oppression, because it strips us of our voice of self-expression.

Also, the intelligentsia writes based upon their own agendas and not very
often do their agendas come close to expressing the real interests of
working people. Nor do they give you a true idea of class struggle because
their books isolate events in history and determine if they were a success
or failure in the view of the agenda of the intelligentsia writer. Class
struggle cannot be seen in isolated events, but rather it is a continuous
journey, with struggles leading to other struggles. One struggle could be
seen as a failure to the intelligentsia, but because of that struggle some
learned important lessons and because of that greater struggles evolved.
Also, because of many factors class struggle goes through cycles of
decreased activities and increased activities, so it is false to say in
times of decreased activities that class struggle no longer exists. For
right around the corner of time new struggles are on the way that are
influenced by past struggles. .

I once went to a meeting after the Valdez oil spill and listened to an
intelligentsia authority speak about what was wrong with oil tankers. That
person knew little about what he was talking about. He was just repeating
what others of his kind had said or written. Well I have worked on many
tankers and had been working in the maritime industry for somewhere around
20 years. I tried to explain that double bottoms are only useful if they
have forced ventilation, which few have, because most tankers leak small
amounts of oil and the oil collected in the double bottoms create fumes that
are explosive and if the tanker colludes with something that causes a spark
in those double bottoms that could create an exposition right under the oil
cargo tanks. So you need to ventilate the fumes out of the double bottoms. I
also tired to explain other things that could be done to tankers to make
them safer to the environment. Like for example, tankers don’t carry oil
containment booms and thus if they leak oil they have to sit there waiting
for oil containment equipment to get there and a lot of oil could spread out
because of that. That is one reason why many oil spills cover such a large
area. The authority guy felt like I was challenging his authority and did
not want to hear what I had to say, and since I was not an authority
everyone else just wanted to hear from the authority and not from me. A few
agreed that I was a sellout to the environment because I worked in the
maritime industry.

We working people have many solutions to problems based upon real
experience, but since in this class system we are inferior to the
intelligentsia authorities we are not heard and the system keeps us in our
‘place’.

Does an intelligentsia labor authority know more about the reality of
labor than do workers? Do they understand the day-to-day reality of working
in industries that they have never worked in? Do they understand the
suffering, hardship, hopes and desires of the people they study? How much
should we depend about these authorities when it comes to an analysis of our
class problems and the direction we should go? Think about that question as
I ask you this: If your car needs work on it whom would you take it to? An
intelligentsia authority that understands theory only? Or to some working
class mechanic who has a lot of experience fixing cars? If the abstract
theories of the authorities of labor are better than the practical
experience of workers themselves very little in this world would function,
for it is the practical experience of workers that take the ideas of others
and make them into reality. So if we workers make ideas into reality then
why are we viewed as inferior to the intelligentsia and must be lead around
by our noses by them?

And that idea of superiority is some times a reason why things are as bad
as they are. I’ll give you another personal experience. When I was laid off
from one shipyard a retaining program opened up for us so-called displaced
workers. I decided to go into environmental technician training. That
training dealt with such stuff as environmental site assessments, hazardous
sites such as Superfund sites, industrial health and safety, emergency spill
response, different industrial environmental plans and more. As a worker I
had a strong industrial background, and as an activist both in worker issues
like health and safety and as an environmentalist, I already knew a lot
about the subject. And I have been a radical writer for many years and I was
good a researching documents. So I thought I had an advantage going into the
training. The only areas that I did not have a background in were some of
the sciences like geology, but I figured I could learn that. The people at
the school tried to talk me out of taking the training because I did not
have a college degree, but I did not let that stop me and I was the only one
of the 32 people in the class that did not have a degree. I went through the
months of the training; I got A’s on my reports, tests and final test, and
came in 3rd in my class.

Before I went out looking for a job I took all of the State of Washington
Department of Labor and Industries workshops on industrial safety. After
that I went out looking for work with environmental companies and as a
health and safety person in different industries. To my surprise I found
that none of them wanted to hire me because I did not have a degree. Let me
ask you a question; if your safety depended upon a safety person or if you
were to have a site inspected, would you rather have someone with a degree
and training, who just knew words out of some book? Or would you want
someone who had the training and had the experience of knowing what they
were looking at and how to prevent problems? When we did an inspection of a
house which included looking for lead in pipe joints, everyone but me had to
write down that there was possible lead, I have been a pipefitter for many
years and I know what lead in joints looks like so I could say one way or
another. In checking out lockouts and tagouts I know what I am looking at
because I have done many of them. Once I saw a safety person try to close a
value and when the handle would not move he locked it out. The fact is the
handle was stuck and the valve was open. I can look at a valve and tell if
it is open or closed. When I took the State workshop on confined spaces the
teacher stated that all burning leads had to be tested to see if they
leaked. I asked him if the regulations called for a drop test. He did not
know what a drop test was. That is the test to see if there is a leak in a
burning lead. I can look at industrial systems and see where the possible
problem spots are because I have built many such systems. I could go on and
on about this, but the point is, part of the reason why there are so many
industrial environmental problems and injuries is that those who are
responsible to prevent them only know words out of books and don’t know what
they are looking at. And this problem is created because of the myth of the
superiority of intelligentsia theory over the practical experience of
working people.

Now folks can call me all kinds of names, say that I am prejudice against
the intelligentsia, or make it out that I am an intellectual because I know
how to read and think (as most workers can) even though I have no connection
to the intelligentsia for I never got far in their system of indoctrination
(never finished high school, and I am just a shipyard worker), or any other
excuse used to discredit what I say. But all that is just smoke screens used
to not address the issues I have written about. And to those who say: "why
can't we just all get along?" I say no, not as long as someone is standing
on my back trying to keep me down!

From time to time, mostly folks from the intelligentsia, ask why class
struggle has not yet liberated working people from the exploitation of the
class system? There are many historical reasons; one such reason is that we
have had a parasite clinging to our backs, the intelligentsia. The
intelligentsia has helped keep the class system in place by suppressing our
voice, but also by creating sectarian cults that keep the working class
divided. Most all rebellious workers understand the basics of class
struggle. When left to our own self-management of our organizations and
actions, most workers function through their experiences with direct action
and through solidarity based unity. At the point of direct struggle workers
know that they either stand with the struggle or they are a scab siding with
the ruling class.

Though workers do find slightly different forms of organized struggle,
still the direct struggles of workers are basically the same and the
differences are no problem to the struggle because as long as they stand in
solidarity the differences are just a form of worker free association and
free will of self-determination, and most of the differences are based upon
different experiences of conditions and struggle.

Throughout the years of class struggle the intelligentsia have convinced
different workers that they could not struggle by their own means and that
they needed to join into some intelligentsia controlled sectarian cult. The
most prominent of such cults are the numerous Marxist intelligentsia cults.
When working people speak of empowering themselves in order to speak and
act in their own self-interest, the intelligentsia begins to worry. For who
will follow the intelligentsia if the people below them no longer need them
to think for them? It is like the preachers losing their sheep when they
realize they not longer need a shepherd.

For some such talk brings back the fear of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. A
closer look at that Cultural Revolution will show that it was really a power
struggle among competing members of the intelligentsia. Mao was of the
intelligentsia and not of the working class.

Within the political personality cults created by the intelligentsia there
is competition among the cults to see which will be the ruling cult.
Unfortunately most of the time it is working people who are manipulated into
being the foot soldiers in the conflicts between these cults. But yes, there
needs to be a cultural revolution, the act of working people reclaiming
their culture away from the ruling class, the middle-class and specially
from the intelligentsia. And yes the intelligentsia would have good reason
to worry about a real working class cultural revolution. For in Mao’s
cultural revolution there was still a place for some of the intelligentsia
at the top of it, and others were suppressed, but a working class cultural
revolution would leave no place in society for any of the intelligentsia and
thus they would need to learn to do something useful, for workers would no
longer be their prey to feed upon. Workers do not need all the Marxs and
other such parasites that have sought to control us. We can do for ourselves
right nicely on our own.

Ah, the faithful ones converge to the defense of their Gods, for it is not
right to speak ill of the holy ones. Such heretics as I must be confronted.
The very thought that working people could look around them and understand
what they saw is blasphemy! As I continue my defiance of the holy ones, I
say working folks knew that there was a class of people that exploited them
and that they were of a class that was being exploited. All they had to do
is look around them and see that the same class play was being performed
everywhere they looked! With or without the holy ones, they knew that the
side that exploited them cooperated together in the interest of that
arrangement, and that only by cooperation of the exploited would they ever
improve their lot.

Though the holy ones mere existence depends upon the idea that the
exploited ones have not the ability to see their own way, reality is the
ugly breaker of such myths for within any society throughout the history of
societies, it has been the intelligence and the skills of the exploited
class that has turned mere ideas into material reality. Could the holy ones
build or sail a ship? Work a mine? Create all that society uses? I, the
heretic ask this, where is the true intelligence to be found, in dreaming up
theories or in the creation of material reality? Who is really superior to
whom?

As for your Marxist scientific socialism, where has that lead in all its
attempts? A higher level of social human existence? Hell no! It has lead to
a higher level of capitalism and exploitation! Marxism has been one of the
greatest historical mistakes ever made! Cast that false prophet down from
his intelligentsia throne!

And now this heretic will vent his most damning blasphemy of all. It has
been the interference of the intelligentsia class in the affairs of the
working class that is responsible for the continuation of the class system.
The capitalists will always act as they do because it is in their nature to
do so. And it is in the common interest of the working class to cast those
parasites off their backs and take direct control of industry and their
communities to run things for the benefit off all working people. The
intelligentsia class exists only by the means of the privilege that comes
from the illusion of superiority. It is in their direct interest to maintain
their privilege. In order to do that all their social theories are based
upon the concept of the idea of superiority where the holy ones create cults
where they are looked upon as great and all knowing while the followers, the
working class, are but sheep for the shepherd.

“Follow me!” The holy ones proclaim. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao,
DeLeon or who ever, “follow me and I’ll lead you to your salvation.” Though
the beginning of the call to the parade comes from the same need, the end of
the exploitation, each parade takes a different route with a different holy
one leading the way and merging the parades together is an impossible task
for which holy one would be the holiest of them all? So one of the reasons
why the working class has not been able to unite in common struggle is that
the intelligentsia keeps them divided and that will always be so as long as
we workers follow anyone but ourselves.

The intelligentsia cannot do other than keep the working class divided
because it is in their nature to do so. You cannot be a holy one if no one
worships you, no matter what the end results are. It is like the old story
of the scorpion and the mouse. The scorpion and the mouse are on the banks
of a stream. The scorpion asks the mouse if he will carry him on his back
across the stream. The mouse says to the scorpion “you will sting me if I
do”.

The scorpion tells the mouse that he will not do that because they will both
drown and die. The mouse sees the logic in that and thinking it would be
nice to have a friend like mister scorpion, the mouse takes the scorpion on
his back and starts to swim across the stream. Half way across the stream
the scorpion stings the mouse. The mouse asks the scorpion why he did that
for now they both will die. The scorpion replied, “I can’t help it is my
nature.” Like the scorpion, the intelligentsia cannot help it, it is their
nature to divide the working class and thus drown us in defeat.

Another reason why the holy ones of the intelligentsia class cannot ever
bring real salvation to the working class is that the holy ones exist only
in the realm of theatrical abstractions. Building a new society is like
building a house or ship and the intelligentsia has little practical
knowledge of the reality of such construction. We working people are the
ones with the needed knowledge, so why do we need to have the intelligentsia
riding on our backs only to sting us?

My blasphemy is not confined to the Marxist holy ones and their cults, for
even within such philosophical tendencies such as anarchism you will find
intelligentsia cults that seek to keep working people dependent upon cults
and cult leaders. Within the modern so-called anarchist realm, they are a
number of intelligentsia cults then even contradict the basic ideas of
anarchism. They do this by sectarian attacks upon the free will of people by
continuously attacking people’s expression of their free will and telling
them they are wrong because they are not following their so-called anarchist
cult. The babblings of the cults of the post-modern, post-leftists,
post-structurists, anti-organizationalists, post-reality intelligentsia
anarchist cultists are a good example of this. Their endless attacks on
class struggle anarchists is in fact direct attacks on the free will of
people to decide for themselves the manner in which they struggle.

Another oppressive element created by the anarchist intelligentsia is the
creation of anarchist celebrities. Most of the time these celebrities are of
the intelligentsia class. Whenever these celebrities fart, that is taken as
a profound statement and the groupies will swarm over every word as if they
are written in stone and passed down from some illusional heights of greater
understanding. Some of these celebrities do seek personality cults around
them, some do not, and some have cults created around them after they have
died.

Anarchism, in my view, is a continues journey of ideas and action. There
have been many who have written worthwhile words to read, but often those
words lose their usefulness when the writer of the words is elevated to the
status of a celebrity where their words are viewed as worthy because of
their status rather than the validity of the words themselves. This does
some harmful things, first the useful ideas are lost in celebrityism and
this helps suppress the ideas of those that have not gain the celebrity
status, for their words are deemed less important, not based upon ideas by
rather based upon status. Also it should be pointed out that often what
these anarchist writers are writing about are ideas and actions that they
have taken from the on going struggles of people who lack status.

New forms and different forms of struggle are an essential element in
progression of anarchist struggle, but to turn anarchist struggle away from
the struggle against capitalism and the state and refocus the struggle into
a struggle between competing anarchist intelligentsia cults is reactionary
and a continuation of the system of classes dominating other classes. In
this case the domination of the intelligentsia class over the working class.
The class struggle is not just about economics (the wage system); it is
also about dismantling the class system. No matter what changes we make in
other things, if we do not dismantle the class system the working class will
continue to be in bondage! The class system can only be dismantled by the
free organizational expressions of the working class and by the direct
action of working people through their self-determination struggles of
knocking all the classes above them off their class pedestals and that
includes the intelligentsia. This struggle can include those of the
intelligentsia who reject their class status and privileges and join with
the working class, not to dominate them, but rather to help the educational
process that will empower workers with a voice of their own and the ability
to act in their own direct interests to dismantle the class system in order
to create a classless society where the privilege of a few is replaced with
the well-being of all, free self-expression and self-management.

In The Spirit Of Total Resistance
Arthur J. Miller


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