The Ideological Obstacles to the Development of the Class Struggle


1) Although the objective conditions of economic crisis provide hope that capitalism will collapse, still, the system persists. Capitalist society is in crisis and, as Sander shows in his texts published in Internationalist Perspective numbers 30 - 34, the economic system is increasingly feeling the full effect of its own contradictions. And yet, despite this crisis and the deepening structural problems, the fundamental economic relations are still not put into question. There are only two possibilities: either bourgeois society will continue or it will collapse. Either the revolution will introduce radically new social relations of production which will do away with the obstacles and contradictions which fetter the productive forces and which, according to Marx, will entail the simultaneous disappearance of the nation, the state, the family, and even labor, or the old social relations will be perpetuated, as a result of a kind of inertia and internal dynamic, which it is our task to explain.

2) We must, therefore, explain how the prevailing social relations have for the time being been maintained. The capitalist mode of production has developed much as Marx foresaw, by keeping its laws of motion hidden from sight, which makes it difficult to grasp them. Capital has absorbed, recomposed, and integrated, all that was transmitted to it by history: precapitalist relations of production, agriculture, the city, knowledge, science. It has subordinated it all to its relentless functioning, even as it has globalized it. Capitalism has not merely subordinated once independent sectors to its developmental trajectory, it has also created new sectors, by transforming what existed before, by revolutionizing existing institutions. It is not just society which has become the site of social reproduction, but nature and space itself, which is destroyed and then transformed into a social product by the prevailing technologies, from physics to the micro-chip. Nonetheless, this growth of the productive forces engenders specific contradictions, which it reproduces and sharpens.

3) If capitalism persists, it is because it contains self-regulating mechanisms. Marx had analyzed these and showed how they intensify social conflicts. Marx believed that the productive forces constantly collide with the narrow limits of the existing relations of production and modes of production. Partial crises can be transformed into a general crisis. However, capitalism has been able to attenuate its internal contradictions during this century. But, at what cost? Surely the millions who have died in the innumerable wars which have racked the planet were but a part of this cost. The question of the relations of production and their reproduction is thus posed. The relations of production must be constantly reproduced. For capital, this reproduction is effected when the process of accumulation, of the circulation of goods and money, is not interrupted. As Marx showed, the goal of this proces, of the cycle of accumulation, is a redistribution of surplus-value which, through a complex series of movements, is also the beginning of a new cycle of accumulation.

4) Besides the weight of its economic contradictions, which plague it throughout its development, capitalism must also grapple with the fundamental contradiction posed by labor-power. That's why capital must be grasped as a totality, comprising the whole of the economic and social system, not just the production process itself. The task of capital is to try to reduce living labor-power to the simple category of variable capital, to attempt to completely integrate the proletariat as a mere commodity, and to thereby remove the living contradiction. Nonetheless, the contradiction of the class struggle persists. The class struggle is the practical expression of the living contradiction which lies at the heart of capital, and which can bring the system of production to a halt. As Marx saw it, the class struggle is the material basis for the development of revolutionary consciousness. Paradoxically, it is often an economic struggle for limited demands that ignites the sparks from which can arise a new power which can block the development of capital. The class struggle shatters bourgeois legitimacy, makes clear the roots of exploitation, and shows that other social relations are possible.

5) A society entails the production and reproduction of social relations, and not just the production of goods. That aspect of reproduction, the reproduction of social relations themselves, only lay hold of the means of production towards the end of the nineteenth century. It's at that moment that the capitalist mode of production really becomes dominant, integrates the sub-systems which pre-existed capitalism, without being able to constitute itself as a totally coherent system devoid of contradictions. Capitalist society persists because its social relations are intact, or are not put in question. What permits the reproduction of these social relations is surely the weight of ideology. Thus, we must analyze how ideology can facilitate the renewal of the existing social relations, either by making them acceptable or by hiding and distorting them. Ideology acts through persuasion, complementing the social constraints of the repressive apparatus. Reproduction can never occur only on the basis of either ideology or repression alone. The many ideologies, philosophy, religion, culture, morality, have served throughout the history of capitalism as diversions as much as instruments of reproduction.

6) The upheaval of the working class is not mechanistically determined: the development of the class consciouness of the workers can be blocked. The development of class consciousness is not a linear process. It collides with the conditions of exploitation and with the ideology sown by the bourgeoisie to derail the class from its revolutionary tasks. There is no such thing as a straight line to revolution, and a revolutionary outcome is not inevitable. Knowing that class consciousness does not arise independently of the conditions of exploitation and of the struggles against them, and repudiating any kind of idealism, we believe that the development of class consciousness is integrally linked to the growth of working class combativity, itself the product of general economic conditions. On the path towards revolution, the factor of class consciousness is primordial.

7) However, ideological pressure cannot explain everything. Its power is real but limited. It masks contradictions both for and within consciousness. At worst, it pospones the effects but cannot suppress them. It is clear that without economic growth, ideology alone would not be able to maintain the relations of production. It can only mask their reproduction. As ideology has become more diffuse, less centralized, it has become a part of daily life, assuring that the workers, who are atomized on the job, are also atomized with respect to the whole of life and its perspectives.

8) But the working class can fulfill its historic role only by fighting as a distinct, autonomous class. Otherwise, it becomes "integrated," and will disappear as an historic class, subsisting only as a social category. But a movement in that direction is not a conscious one. It is provoked either by violence or by ideological persuasion, and illustrates the fundamental contradiction of capitalism: the contradiction between the affirmation of the class in its struggle and its negation by its momentary acceptance of its situation of exploitation, which means integration. It results in an unease which is vaguely felt throughout society, and which the bourgeoisie tries to extinguish with its ideological discourse.

9) It is this last point that we want to pursue, so as to be able to determine the changes that have occurred in the constitution of the ideological fetters on the development of the class struggle. We must try to discover the strength of the ideological obstacles developed by the bourgeoisie to prevent the development of class consciousness, so that we can develop a perspective on the chances for the development of revolutionary working class struggles in the context of the present crisis. Confronted by this crisis, and with a renewal of working class combativity, the bourgeoisie must prevent the reality of exploitation from becoming clear, the content of its relations of production from becoming transparent, which can only be accomplished by utilizing and adapting its ideological discourse.

10) The essential function of ideological production is to block the possible movement of the proletariat towards autonomy. This latter being understood as a consciousness of the existence of interests that run counter to the logic of capital. The ICC pamphlet Class Consciousness and Communist Organization (a pamphlet which the ICC today no longer holds to in all respects) showed that the point of departure of bourgeois ideology was, on the one hand, private property in the means of production, which isolates individuals, and on the other, the relations of production themselves, the contradictions of which are reflected in bourgeois thought.

11) Any representation which contributes to the reproduction of the relations of prodution is ideological. Ideology cannot be separated from practice, but not all practice is the application of ideology. Ideological discourse accelerates the hegemony of bourgeois practice, and forges adherence to the value system of bourgeois society. It is founded on right, on law, opposed to blind force, presented as barbarism. Ideology makes it possible to forge a consensus, and to legitimize the system of exploitation. Even if it is an expression of the domination of an exploiting class, ideology develops on the basis of an actual practice. It is always established on a material base, which is then de-objectified, spiritualized. It is a social practice seeking to assume the permanence of a dissemination of false consciousness.

12) Ideas, which in the primitive community express the language of all, become, in a society based on the production of commodities, the ideas of the ruling class. An ideological superstructure is constituted at the same time as a political superstructure. The division of society into classes is thereby justified by the ruling class: that is the primary function of ideology. Ideology makes it possible to disguise the reality of exploitation; through it, the particular interests of an exploiting minority are presented as the interests of all. Ideology hides the reality, the brutality, of capitalism's economic thrust, and expansion. It masks the contradictions, makes them "disappear."

13) While this justification for the exploitation of one class by another is constantly strengthened, it is also ever changing. With the development of the productive forces, man can better grasp reality, new ideas and analyses arise, forcing the bourgeoisie to regularly reconsider its ideological arsenal and to produce new discourses. One consequence of capitalist ideology is that thought is utilized in a contemplative fashion, that it possesses no power of its own, that social relations are conceived and studied as phenomena ruled by supra-historical laws. This is a deformation of political thought, a corollary to the reification which tends to eliminate the boundaries between nature and culture, as is the case with racist ideology, for example, where what is an historical creation is presented as natural and a-historical. Ideology makes itself a-historical; it doesn't accord any place to human action which can transform the laws to which it is purportedly subject. Such a reified perception is the opposite of the historical and social analysis defended by Marxism. Ideological discourse implies the non-recognition of experience, and becomes a factor in the elimination of the dialectic through the irruption of utopian thought, a perfect totalitarian ideal, in line with the propagandistic aims of the ruling class.

14) The development of capitalism has its repercussions on ideology. We have pointed out the vast changes which have occurred over the course of capitalist development. These changes affect the development of the class struggle and the development of class consciousness, and thus also the development of ideology. We can see differences between the two phases in the development of capital, with respect both to the situation of the working class and the role of workers' organizations, and the ideology disseminated by capital to counter the development of class consciousness.

15) Within the framework of the formal domination of capital, the working class could still appear and function as a distinct class: it openly organized itself to resist the worst effects of capitalist exploitation. Ascendant capitalism, of course, brought with it profound changes, such as the separation of the worker from his work place. The introduction of a division internal to the workplace, of a technological division of labor, creates a distance between the processes of production and consumption. Such separations are necessary to bring about the conditions for the accumulation of capital. The industrial revolution brought with it a generalized division of labor, socially as well as technically, which, however, necessitated the creation of a new space for exploitation: the workshop.

16) The strategy which underlies the industrial process is not so much to isolate individuals, as to deprive them of the space to lead a natural life, and thereby deprive them of their own being. Capital dispossesses a group of its space, thereby depriving it of the conditions for its reproduction, cutting it off from its sources of non-industrial subsistence and income. The privatization of collective space eradicates the sense of primitive solidarity. It becomes difficult for the person, the laborer, to exercise his capacity for work freely. The watchword of the industrial world is to situate everyone in a given social space, to limit the movement of people, so as to be able to control and subjugate the worker, and assert the domination of capital over man. This creates the conditions for capitalist development, but also, in a contradictory fashion, the conditions for a new social life, a new class solidarity, by virtue of the concentrations of workers in such a social space. The development of capitalism thus entails the setting up of a whole series of procedures designed to control, subjugate, tame, and measure, individuals, to make them, at the same time, both docile and useful.

17) Surveillance, statistics, classification, tests, and records, are all ways to subjugate bodies. Capital has divided up the social landscape, privatized it, created walls, enclosures, and sites of imposed residence. The aim was to subordinate the workers to the project of capital, to shape them, to control them, in their very being. Industrial society has provided itself with the specific sites where it can subjugate the labor-power which it needs to reproduce itself and to develop, to teach this labor-power to be disciplined, to respond to the rules that are imposed on it, and to break its resistance. The new industrial power thus develops new social relations, and seeks to eliminate solidarity amongst the workers, to turn each of them into a fragmented individual so as to make them dependent. In this way, an ideology of the enterprise was created: as the social site of production, the enterprise became the framework for the reproduction of social relations. This site was also the center of the relations between daily life, work, and leisure, which were all organized around the enterprise. This site was the seat of economic rationality, from which the technical division of labor was extended to the whole of society. In the factory, the social relations of exploitation and domination, of authority and power, were reproduced. And, there too, in contradiction to what the new industrial power sought, the bases for workers' resistance and class solidarity were also laid down.

18) The social relation of production are not just reproduced in the social space where the working class acts, thinks, and is: the enterprise. They are reproduced in the market place, in the broadest sense of that word, in daily life, in the family, in the city. They are also reproduced there where the global surplus-value of society is realized, divided up, expended, in the global functioning of society, in art, culture and science. This requires a powerful apparatus of education, adaptation, and integration, the decisive role of the mass media, and the conditioning of the mass of the population. One crucial element of this process is the school. Pedagogic methods, even the physical space itself, reduce the student to passivity, habituate him to hard work, devoid of any pleasure. The space in which learnig occurs is repressive, but this structure has an import much greater than just localized repression. The very knowledge itself, swallowed by the student, and regurgitated on tests, corresponds to the division of labor in bourgeois society. The school itself is a site for the reproduction of the prevailing social relations. The school disseminates knowledge and molds the the younger generation to the needs of business. Beyond this function of the schools in general, the elitist function of the university proceeds through a careful selection of prospective students, which discourages those who do not fit in, and thereby constitutes and reconstitutes the Establishment.

19) In its ascendant phase, the bourgeoisie articulated an ideology of order and progress, concretized in the struggles between secularists and clericals, between progressives and conservatives. What was proposed was rationalism and centralizing nationalism. Rationalism purported to be universalist and humanist. It claimed to base itself on science, on ethics, on right. Industrialization brought with it its own conception of reason. It overthrew old philosophies, sciences and knowledges, and replaced them with new ones. Industry brought with it, too, new practices. The world of the commodity spread, together with the growth of industrial productivity, and absorbed what had existed before. The world market was constituted, and forcibly subjected everything which existed to the demands of the market and of capitalist production. With this, there also developed an ideology of growth.

20) A separation was brought about between the individual and the social, between the activity of individual capitalists and global capital which implacably advanced. Similarly, there was a separation between values and interests; interests cynically calculated in terms of cash, and values promulgated on an ideal plane. The bourgeoisie defined itself as the social class which does not want to be called a class. This phenomenon of refusal to style itself as a class, took place through the idea of the nation, which is specific to the bourgeoisie. Thus, the bourgeoisie disappeared completely on the ideological plane. The bourgeoisie was self-effacing, and hid behind its representation, via nationalism. Patriotism would be the mold into which the population would be pressed, the national flag uniting classes, and providing, by way of universal military service, an ideology of respect for established hierarchies, the Nation, and national unity.

21) This ideological claim of the bourgeoisie clashed with the reality of the contradiction of capitalist exploitation itself. The workers, recruited, isolated, atomized, within the factory forged new social links and constituted themselves as a class. The working class could resist in an organized way, and thereby demonstated its existence as such. Historically, the working class provided itself with organizations for resistance: unions, political parties, cooperatives, mutual associations and clubs, such that its daily life was shaped around organs of the working class. The working class could still clearly identify itself as a separate class, clearly distinguished from the values promoted by the bourgeoisie, and having a life of its own. That was the period when working class neighborhoods overflowed with militant life, where political newspapers multiplied, testimony to a keen anti-bourgeois consciouness. Unfortunately, these same channels would be utilized by the Social Democracy to distill what would become a reformist ideology. Reformism meant that socialism would be possible by changing some of the more extreme forms of capitalism, and expanding the cooperative experience under the control of the state, obtaining improvements in the conditions of explotation by way of trade union and parliamentary struggles. The class struggle could not only be repressed brutally, the bourgeois order legitimating itself by force, and by reference to its authority as a separate class. The bourgeoisie, through its control of the state, could supervise the development of the class struggle by repression, but also by ideological means, and by its progressive integration into the very logic of the capitalist system.

22) Therein lay the importance of the integration of Social Democracy. This ideological discourse would be transmitted by the Social Democracy, which would become, despite the opposition of its left wing, the spokesman for nationalism, thereby indicating its progressive integration into the capitalist state, itself the effect of the ongoing transformation of Western capitalism. This would be clear in Social Democratic thinking, illustrated by Kautsky, Jaurès, and Vandervelde, defending the virtues of the state, which would constitute the veritable basis for the ideological integration of the working class.

23) With the passage of capitalism to its phase of real domination, less and less space would be free, and that space would increasingly be invaded by the logic of the process of the valorization of capital. That process develops its own coherence, and every aspect of daily life is commodified and drawn into the web of valorization. Under the real domination of capital, capital acts solely on the basis of its own logic. There is a tendency to the unification of the once distinct processses of production and circulation into a global process of the reproduction and accumulation of capital, the formation of an average rate of profit, the direct integration of science into production by way of the state, and the penetration of the law of value into every facet of social life. Capitalist accumulation changes its nature: it's no longer merely the accumulation of wealth or of means of production strictly speaking, but also the accumulation of technology, information, and knowledge, literally subjected to the imperatives of capital, impregnated by it, the centralized organization of which is guaranteed by the state. The concentration and centralization of capital, which are permanent processes, confer on capital an elasticity and capacity for organization hitherto unforeseen.

24) The end of World War One made manifest a fundamental trnsformation of capitalism: a significant economic concentration occurred in the West under the aegis of the state. Thus began a generalization of the passage to the real domination of capital in the most developed countries. The war had also made possible the revolutionary upheavals which allowed us to glimpse the possibilities for autonomous action on the part of the exploited class on an international scale. This was an autonomy, however, that was smashed by the evolution of capital and by Social Democratic ideology, such that the October revolution, despite the formidable achievements which it had made possible, including the significant proletarian cultural movements of 1918-1920, could be liquidated by the Stalinist reaction. The old working class organizations were now integrated into the state: if the Social Democracy had undergone a process of absorption by the state lasting several decades, the movement had been greatly accelerated, and it would only take a few years for the proletarian life of the Bolshevik party to be drained by the logic of the capitalist state.

25) If World War One brought about a revolutionary explosion whereby the proletariat could become an autonomous subject with its own social project, we have not really witnessed anything on that scale since. The bourgeoisie has drawn the lessons of the Russian Revolution. It can better control the most flagrant contradictions of the accumulation process through the intervention of the state, by the regular massacre of millions of workers, and by the development of an ideological apparatus better adapted to the control of explosions of class struggle. This implies a vastly increased role for the state, which involves utilizing Social Democratic ideology to keep the working class subject to it.

26) The bourgeoisie has developed an ideology based on the smooth functioning of the state, such that the working class finds itself confronted by the historical impossibility of acting as an autonomous force. All the weapons of Social Democratic reform have been emptied of their proletarian content, and completely integrated into the bourgeois logic of profit. What are put forward are generic ideological themes, not based on class, and universal. This tendency is growing.

27) Thus, in the period between the two World Wars, traditional liberal ideology was rejected, in large part because the profound shock of the economic crisis shook to its very foundations any confidence in individual advancement. Moreover, it was necessary to justify the growing intervention of the state, and therefore to reject economic individualism in favor of statification, whether in the form of the New Deal, the Popular Front, or the De Man Plan. The defeat of liberalism would also give rise to a need for collective action and a certain ideology of "fraternity": the League of Nations, "workers'" fraternities under the aegis of the SP or CP, youth hostels, etc., even as the communist revolution met with defeat. This situation would generate a technocratic ideology, crystalling in the conception of a purely bureaucratic leadership and administration of society.

28) At the same time, mass movements mythifying the sovereign state also emerged. These ideologies were immediately recuperated by the state. The way was open for the development of fascism and Stalinism, preaching one or another form of populist authoritarianism. These ideologies took up the idea of an elite party, a vanguard, in the service of the people, incarnating itself in the national state. The state became the principal vehicle of bourgeois ideology through its growing control of several apparatuses: the press, the Church, schools, unions. The critical study of Stalinist ideology is provided by George Orwell in his novel, 1984. That novel showed the three essential dimensions of ideological false consciousness: the dethronement of temporalization, the repression of sexuality, and the schizoid structure of totalitarian consciouness.

29) World War Two was the apogee of that ideological thrust, with its anti-fascist mobilization under the cover of the national and democratic state. As a result of the atrocities revealed by the war, an essentially individualist reaction occurred, expressed through the concept of the defense of the rights of man. Despite the Marshall Plan, the immediate post-war period was characterized by material scarcity in Europe. Culturally, engagement and the defense of the party were still the rage. Existentialism, personalism, ideologies affirming man's freedom while he submitted himself to political apparatuses which were the bearers of the truth, still animated the intellectuals. This paradox reached its highest point with Hungary 1956 and the anti-colonial movements.

30) Can one speak of the "golden sixties" without caricaturing the economic evolution of the post-war period? The period of the '50's and '60's were characterized in the advanced countries, in general terms, by a certain kind of abundance, with a doubling of the purchasing power of the workers' from 1950-1968. The growth continued, but a change occurred: growth now entailed destruction in order to be possible. Destruction, as the two World Wars showed, had now become integral to capitalism, and not only in overt violence, civil or military. Everywhere, the bourgeoisie planned the obsolescence of goods; that is to say, how long industrial products would last was now deliberately shortened. Armaments also became the key to economic growth. Peace and war became increasingly indistinguishable. Destruction became immanent to production.

31) Artifical needs are created. Advertising and the media stimulated needs, shaped them, and made them correspond to the objects produced, and vice versa. Massification led to the complex phenomenon of a loss of personal identity; the individual became lost in the crowd. There was a tendency towards the normalization of thinking as a function of an abstract and average social norm, a permanent pressure exercised on the mind, on conduct, on the personality itself, leading to a passive submission, to a defense of cultural stereotypes, to fashion. Sociologists theorized all this under the heading of the consumer society: crude individualism prevailed in the leisure society, shaped by TV and the car. As Jean Baudrillard pointed out, "consumption is a myth," denouncing it as the major form of contemporary alienation. It is apparent that consumption has a functional character: the satisfaction of needs, yes; but also the happiness postulated by bourgeois ideology thanks to advertising. The atomization of the working class is consolidated on the ideological plane: "my car is my freedom" symbolizes the phantasy of individual freedom.

32) While the bourgeoisie theorized the integration of the working class, May '68 signified, on the international level, the resurgence of class struggle seeking the path of autonomy. May '68 transcended the clichés of purely economic or purely student struggles, to pose the question of the future of society, even if the movement did not possess the means to resolve it. May '68 rejected the authoritarian order, and the various apparatuses linked to it. Stalinism, reformism, Christianity, were all swept away. The workers turned back towards a past filled with struggle, and gave life to new proletarian expressions of it.

33) The bourgeoisie reacted to this challenge, and Social Democratic ideologies, under the control of leftism, became more radical. This period also saw the decomposition, within bourgeois ideology, of collective subjects and sectoral apparatuses, in favor of movements crystallizing around the defense of the rights of man and of nature: Amnesty International, the League for the Rights of Man, feminism, ecology, etc. Pop culture also developed, a phenomenon which acted on the consciousness of the younger generation, proposing a life style adapted to circumstances: live fast, multiply one's experiences, refuse to be engaged. Ideology little by little gravitated from political discourse, which had been discredited, to culture or the counter-culture, such that the alienated image of man became even more confused. An ideology fixated on the moment developed in the USA, with its focus on the micro-local reflected by TV in "reality shows." These tendencies were exacerbated through their emotional expression in gatherings orchestrated by charismatic figures.

34) The '70s and '80s have been characterized, in a contradictory fashion, by a rejection of political dogmas which expressed itself in an ecologist, and anti-totalitarian, ideology, even as there was a search for new forms of religiosity, and by the consumption of rapidly changing cultural products. This latter has included an offensive of scientificity, in which the knowledge of specialists provides not a globalizing perspective, but theorizes chaos, the reappearance of fragmentary explanations, atomization. With the progress of AIDS, the image of science becomes increasingly blurred. Theories are less global. We are witnessing a more and more fragmented knowledge, leading to the splintering of the representation of the world. New questions arise directed at sociobiology and the issue of genetic manipulations. It seems clear that all this generates a climate of ethical insecurity, at a time when economic security cannot be guaranteed.

35) This period is also characterized by important technological changes in the labor process. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, we have seen a new reaction to economic crisis. More than ever, variable capital has become a small part of the process of production, while between capitalists there is a ferocious intensification of competition. The market is increasingly integrated in a global fashion on an international scale. Moreover, the national state has less and less control of the market, in contrast to supranational institutions and networks. And a new ideological matrix has also appeared. It's no longer a matter of seeing ideology as a vast military operation decided on by a well-hidden general staff. Ideology is disseminated by taking account of the general state of mind. Ideological productions are disseminated to the public by the mass media, an industry which develops multiple channels of emission so as to reach the diverse sectors of the population. The state no longer controls it from above, ideology being largely decentralized, via cable, local TV, and impregnating the whole of daily life, such that we are seeing a real phenomenon of autonomization of ideology.

36) Hyper-individualism is no longer adapted to an anxious society, where the fear of unemployment, exclusion, sickness, and insecurity is rampant. Reassurance is needed, and that is incarnated in the emergent thematics of health, family, ecology, the soil, the return to the past, forcing the bourgeoisie to readjust its ideological discourses. The 35-hour week, reduction of labor time, and the creation of jobs, have been the themes of mobilization. What appears neccessary is the defense of jobs and the enterprise in a context of recomposition, in which the economic certitudes of the past are in tatters. An ideology of doubt establishes itself, not the kind of doubt which stimulates research, but a scepticism with respect to the possibility of a future different from the one provided by capitalism. Raymond Aron summarized this feeling very well when he proclaimed that "progress now brings with it disillusion" (1969). Meanwhile, Michel Crozier, another French sociologist, theorized the same thing in 1970, with his La societé bloquée.

37) The bourgeoisie can invoke the failure of communism to strengthen the feeling of there being no possibility of a future outside of bourgeois society. The perpetuation of capitalist social relations has as one of its results a distrust of history, an uncertainty about historical time. The result is the theorization of the invariance of capitalism, and the utopianism of communism.

38) And what of the future? In this fin de siècle, the working class remains alienated, without its own expression, isolated by the confusion of the revolutionary groups that arose in May '68. Without pretending to have fully grasped the problem of ideology, it nonetheless seems that the obstacles to the development of class consciousness have grown, and make the emergence of class struggles more difficult.

39) However, there is never a closed system, only a tendency towards systematization, based on the relations of production and their contradictions. The state has always attempted to reduce the conflicts arising from these contradictions, or to at least attenuate their consequences. It seeks to create a cohesion from out of the chaos of contradictions. However, just when such a systematization begins to take hold, an upheaval is being prepared. The apparent solidity masks the rottenness; decadence is on the march. The principles of cohesion can never eliminate the contradictions, even as these latter cannot eliminate the regulatory mechanisms of class society. These mechanisms are blind and spontaneous. The economy contains an internal regulation stemming from the social relations of production, but the control of worker's resistance cannot always succeed. This resistance is irreducible. The contradiction of labor power remains fundamental. And if the mass of workers expelled from the labor process increases, if their atomization grows, and if working class culture has been effaced, giving way to a-class references, such that ideological control is effected in a less authoritarian, less centralized manner, discontent, disenchantment, dissaray vis a vis the official discourse also grows. The official ideology is less and less credible. Within the different movements of struggle which have interfered with the capitalist readjustment to the present economic crisis, the signs of a questioning of the logic of the bourgeoisie have also appeared.

40) If their starting point is specific economic demands, recent workers' struggles nonetheless pose the question of an alternative, of a necessary change in social relations, and put in question the credibility of bourgois state measures to overcome the economic crisis. As a result, the ideological and cultural apparatuses of bourgeois society are also affected. Although a clear working class response has not yet been given, elements indicative of an evolution, of a slow development of consciousness, no longer saddled with Stalinist mystifications, indeed, of a desired revolution, have begun to appear. Questions about the social calm of the ‘80s, about tail-ending the unions, about defeatism and indifference, about the needed solidarity in struggle, have all been raised to one degree or another in recent struggles. And all of this is indicative of a real change within the working class.

41) The struggle against ideology cannot be waged in a formal manner. It is through the development of workers' struggles that answers will arise, answers which can become the object of a theorization, and then linked to a revolutionary perspective.


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