I have a bad memory. And I am not good with quotes. And on top of that I am a bit mischievous. If I am being yacked at by some overly self important "revolutionary" who thinks it is their responsibility to "educate me" I have different ways of dealing with this. For example it is not unknown for me to make up a quote and attribute it to Lenin or Marx. This can keep the overly self important person off my back for weeks. One of my favorites is where I claimed that Lenin in one of his most "profound and important" statements had said that: "A wet bird never flies at night." Of course this is absolute nonsense. Lenin never said any such thing and anyway wet birds do on occasion fly at night.
Please do not click on to another post as I am getting somewhere. It is about something helpful that Lenin did actually say and also something that Marx said. Lenin said that revolutionaries had to have a sense of history. And Marx said that it was easier to understand complex phenomena and processes if we could envisage them physically. At least I think they said these things. Let us for the sake of this post accept that they did. Maybe it was me said them.
A sense of history? What is this? A sense of history is an understanding where we are in history and in this way we can have a better chance of seeing where we as a species came from and where we can possibly go to. It is understandable to think that history refers to the decades we have lived. But this is a bad mistake. These years of ours are but the blink of an eye. Tomorrow I will be 71 years old. These 71 years are not history. History is tens and tens of thousands of years. I read last week that the aboriginal peoples of Australia came down from the North East, from what is now mainland Asia 30,000 years ago. Now we are beginning to talk about history. And that the Australian aboriginal people of today have a story that people from the North East had brought with them the seeds that grew into the palm trees. And I read that DNA testing is now proving this to be correct. The oral memory of the aboriginal people in Australia, their sense of history, still has elements in it stretching back 30,000 years. Now we are talking about history.
What is the point I am trying to get at? World capitalism is in a difficult and very confusing period. I agree with Trotsky where he said that Capitalism was in its death agony. I also believe that unless that capitalism is ended in the decades ahead that life on earth as we know it will be destroyed. Either through climate change, pollution, drought, a rise in the sea levels, mass hunger, war including nuclear or partial nuclear war or a combination of all of these. This is the reality. And not for centuries ahead but for decades ahead. Capitalism will destroy life on earth as we know it in the decades ahead. See the black rhino has just been declared extinct.
History shows that human society has been in a similar situation before as what it is in today. There were the societies with the advanced knowledge, the huge cities, the pyramids etc. The ruling classes in these cities were unable to take these societies forward so they collapsed and their knowledge, cities and pyramids sank back into the oceans, were grown over by the jungles or left uninhabited and useless in the deserts. Less advanced peoples emerged and had to start and build societies again from a lower base. Today history will work itself out different.
Capitalism is in its death agony. Unless it is overthrown it will destroy life on earth as we know it. The force that can overthrow it is the international working class. However for the moment the working class is blocked from doing so by its pro capitalist leadership. We are in a somewhat similar situation to the old societies. Unless capitalism is overthrown the knowledge, the worlds infrastructure, the worlds great art, the species that exists, including the human species, will be destroyed. However this time it will be much worse than before. The knowledge now exists to destroy life on earth through climate change, nuclear war etc. What history tells us is that we are at a cross roads. The working class has to overthrow capitalism, take the capitalist class, which is made up of crazed war criminals and profiteers and remove them from power. This must be done in whatever way necessary and it must be done in the years, at most decades, ahead. Time is running out. And this is not a game.
While we are thinking about this I think also about what Marx said about envisaging phenomena physically in order better to understand. I do not have the skill on the computer to draw a graph but if I had what would a graph of the class struggle and the class balance of forces over the last two centuries look like. I will put my head on the block and take a chance and make a few suggestions. Maybe somebody else can make other suggestions, even maybe draw a graph so we can think about this better. Go back two hundred years or so and the graph begins with the working class just coming into existence. Throughout the 1800's it makes the odd effort to rise to its feet, the Paris commune, the Chartists, new trade unions, and then to the high point of the Russian Revolution. But then the graph levels off as Stalinism takes over, as the revolution is isolated in what became known as the Soviet Union. There was another small spurt in the graph as the Chinese revolution took place but this was Stalinist from the start. Stalinism then combined with Social Democracy to prevent the working class ending capitalism so now we have capitalism restored in the former so-called Soviet Union and it looks like on the way back in China. History took a step forward in 1917 but it has now taken a step back again.
So what about the graph. What about Marx saying try to envisage things physically. The world's class balance of forces saw the working class rise up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, then thrown back with the coming to power of Stalinism, then a brief spurt, distorted spurt with Stalinism again in China and now capitalism being re-established again world wide. The graph rose up to 1917, then leveled off and now has plunged down again with capitalism being reinstated world wide. This I believe is where we are at with the graph of the world class balance of forces.
But there are many sides to all phenomena. There is another side to the world graph of the class balance of forces also. The working class is stronger in numbers and social weight than ever before. 50% of the world's factory workers are now women. Workers are more integrated into huge multinationals than ever before. Objectively the working class is stronger than ever before. This is an undeniable reality and a great plus for the working class and the class struggle.
But subjectively, that is in its leadership and consciousness, the working class has been thrown back. With the collapse of Stalinism there has been a weakening in the belief that there is an alternative to capitalism. This is the vacuum that has to be filled. Create a new leadership with a new consciousness that international socialism is possible. This is what is necessary. But back to the graph. Where will it go? It is not possible to say for sure.
It will either rise to new heights with the working class taking power in major countries and changing the world. Rise much higher than it did in 1917. Or the working class will fail to take power and life on earth as we know it will be destroyed. Time is running out for the graph. Time is running out for the working class. Time is running out for the human species and all species and life on earth as we know it. No amount of phony quotes from me or anybody else can make this reality go away.