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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #279 - Interview, Alain Bihr (sociologist): "Even insufficient, Marx remains necessary!" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 9 Feb 2018 09:17:54 +0200

"The abolition of the state requires specific material conditions which can only be the fruit of a social revolution." ---- Former professor of philosophy and sociologist passionate about Marxist thought, long militant in the left self-management of the CFDT and host of the critical bulletin In Contre-courant, Alain Bihr is now a member of Alternative Libertaire in Alsace. He is the author of about twenty books for forty years, some of which have made milestone: La Farce Quiet (1986), Between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat: the capitalist framework (1989), From the Grand Soir to the alternative (1991) ), The Twilight of Nation-States (2000), The Neoliberal Novelanguage (2007), The Inequality System (with Roland Pfefferkorn, 2008), The Unknown Logic of Capital (2010).

Read the presentation of this book in Alternative libertaire of October 2017
At the time of digitization, uberisation, platform economics, etc., what is the relevance of reading, studying or referring to an author as old (some and some would say " dated Karl Marx ?

Alain Bihr:This question is naive. It proceeds from the ignorance of one of the fundamental and specific features of the capitalist mode of production that Engels and Marx pointed out as early as The Manifesto of the Communist Party: the fact that it can not reproduce its constituent relations (the relations of production, property, class, etc.) without constantly upsetting their forms and contents. In a word, the structural invariance of the capitalist mode of production is only possible in and through the permanent change of modes of production, consumption, habitation, etc. to live in short, to which he puts humanity under his control. To say that Marx remains current is simply to affirm that the principles of analysis (method, concepts, guiding hypotheses, etc.) of the structural elements of capitalism that he has elaborated remain necessary, even if they may prove insufficient, to understand that what is new today in the capitalist world proceeds fundamentally from this dialectic of invariance in and through change. Even insufficient, Marx remains necessary !

What are the differences and continuities between the proletariat of today and that of the XIX th century ? And for the bourgeoisie ?

Alain Bihr:The transformation of social class relations, starting from the social classes themselves, illustrates what I have just said. They remain relations of exploitation, domination and alienation, linking and opposing those who own and manage the social means of production and monopolize the monetary wealth to those who, by their wage labor, value the precedents in as capital. This is the structural datum. At the same time, and this is the main transformation that has been amplified and accelerated in recent decades, these reports have today a global dimension. Hence both a greater concentration and centralization of capital (and hence of the power of the bourgeoisie) at the world level and an increased differentiation of statutes within the wage-earners, itself globalized,

The phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat" has historically served to cover the dictatorship of a party claiming to act in the name of the proletariat. But when libertarian communists claim "all power to workers" or "all power to councils", does this not imply a form of undivided power exercised by the proletariat?

Alain Bihr: Of all the texts in which Marx explores the political forms of the proletarian revolution, it follows that we must be careful to articulate three elements that are as many imperatives or objectives of this revolution. "The dictatorship of the proletariat", certainly, that is to say the exercise by the proletariat of political power, possibly involving coercive measures against counterrevolutionary social forces. But also "the achievement of democracy Which, from a formal and indirect democracy, must become a real and direct democracy: the exercise of political power, in the sense of the direction, organization and control of all social activities, by the vast majority of the population in the form of bodies (factory councils, neighborhood committees, municipalities, etc.), in which the democratic debate and decision are the rule, or through representative assemblies of which members are subject to strict principles (rotation, revocability, imperative mandate, etc.). And "the withering away of the state" in the sense that, to this very extent, political power will cease

gradually to be exercised in the form of an apparatus placed outside and above society and by professionals of the political action, since the simple civil servant to the leaders populating the tops of these apparatus d 'State.

The way in which Marx thinks of the state remains a stumbling block for libertarian thought. Maximilian Rubel felt that Marx had not developed this in his work. What to think?

Alain Bihr: It is true that one does not find in Marx a perfectly elaborate theory of the state in general or even of the capitalist state in particular. And yet the question of the state has not ceased to concern him, since his criticism of the section devoted to the state in the Philosophy of Law of Hegel (1843) until the Civil War in France (1871) in which he draws lessons from the Paris Commune. Many of the passages he has devoted to it, however, reveal some major guidelines. Let's remember two. On the one hand, the state is fundamentally a social relation or, more exactly, the synthesis of all social relations structuring society.; as such, it possesses a materiality (an objectivity) that can not be reduced to the subjectivity of statesmen or men of the state, to their good or bad will. On the other hand, the division, the opposition and the hierarchy between state and civil society, which makes the state exist, have their origin in internal divisions (especially between social classes) which prevent civil society from establishing or maintain unity on its own. From this it follows that - and this is undoubtedly a fundamental point of divergence with part of the anarchist thought - that the State can not be abolished by a stroke of the pen: its abolition requires specific material (social) conditions that can only be the result of a social revolution and the process by which society (re) conquers control of its own (re) production process. I will add that the same thing could be said about the commodity or the currency.

In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx evokes the "organization of proletarians in class, and therefore in political party". In what way does political party organization and classroom organization overlap ?

Alain Bihr: Let's move aside to start a misunderstanding. When Engels and Marx speak of a political party or communist party in The Manifesto, the word party does not have the narrow and exclusive meaning it has today. It does not mean that specific form of political organization created by the exercise of representative democracy (parliamentary), which is still largely non-existent in the first half of the XIX th century. It then has a much broader meaning, the one attributed to it when we talk about "taking the side of": Choose such cause, option, decision, opinion, etc., among multiple possible. Therefore, to propose that the proletarians organize themselves into a political party, is to propose to them that they come together, regroup, organize themselves to act (fight) in common in the sense of their own interests. This can be done in the form of parties (in the current sense), unions, cooperatives, mutuals, popular education movements, cultural associations, etc., without prejudging the relative importance of these different forms. of organization which are so many foci of formation and reinforcement of class subjectivity. In this sense, the organization of the proletariat in part is the same as the affirmation of the class as a class for itself.

Marx would have written: "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing at all". What is this statement based on?

Alain Bihr: For my part, I have never read anything like that under the pen of Marx. But I do not pretend to have read all Marx ... This kind of sententious remark is not in his usual style. I will therefore willingly formulate the hypothesis that this is one of those innumerable deformations or falsifications of which his thought has been a victim.

Interviewed by Winston Ronwen (AL Moselle)

In summary:
Alain Bihr (sociologist): " Even insufficient, Marx remains necessary ! "
Political economy: The usefulness of Marxian criticism for libertarians
Basics: Capitalist logic in eight basic notions
the value
the work force
domestic work
the capital gain
the trend decline in the rate of profit
Marx or Keynes ? The development of capitalism is no longer epoch
On the borders of Marxism and anarchism, councilism
Proudhon, the instigator denied
Bakunin, the critic heard
Daniel Guérin, returned from " libertarian marxism "
The "other communism" remains relevant

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