Jacobin and DSA and Red-Greens still misbelieve

The most mistaken idea of Marxism was that people would prioritize class identification and would “gain consciousness” toward viewing the socio-economic environment as a contention between capital and labor.

That paradigm of social identity had some resonance for a couple of generations between the late nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth, when it first occurred that labor needed to defend itself against the propensity of the new industrial-capitalist enterprises to maximize exploitation. “Class consciousness” was never as predominant as the Marxists imagined and it never developed all so much as per their advocacy efforts.

People don’t typically have much sense of directly participating in politics, no less history. People tend to be locally-minded. Life is hard and the human condition is challenging. To cope, people tend to turn to religion. In our modern times they tend to conflate nationalism with community. Class-based striving and class identification are not predominant.

It’s now more than a hundred years since the Russian Revolution and more than 80 years since the victorious establishment of the CIO. Going forward, will the labor-Marxist paradigm still experience some waves of rejuvenation, as it did during the 1970s and then, to a lesser extent, recently in the wake of Occupy (2011) and the Bernie Sanders campaign (2016)? I kind of doubt it, but, in any case, its overall waning seems likely, such that it will only constitute a sub-chapter of history books before too long.

A co-editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a Green movement activist for almost thirty years.