Saturday, 8 February 2014

The SWP-Counterfire Vanguard & the Working Class

Karl Marx stresses that the “communist vanguard” must lead from the front. 

Marx himself says that the ‘bourgeoisie’ at some stages ‘educate’ the proletariat. Of course he sees his comments as being equally applicable to Communist parties themselves or to their “vanguards”, even though they aren't seen, by themselves, as ‘bourgeois’ (or even middle class). He says that the Communist vanguard

‘supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education… These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.’


This distinction between the Communist middle class and the non-Communist middle class was neatly encapsulated, by Communists and Trotskyists, by the term ‘bourgeoisie’ or ‘bourgeois’. That is,

If one is middle class and a Communist/Trotskyist as well, then one is not ‘bourgeois’.

However, the non-Communist middle class is bourgeois. Thus:

if a member of the SWP/Counterfire today earns, say, £150,000 a year, or even if he owns shares, etc., and if he is still nonetheless a Trotskyist or a member of the SWP/Counterfire, then he quite simply isn't bourgeois.


But today even that is not likely. SWP/Counterfire members who are professors, lecturers, journalists, professionals, etc. count themselves as ‘workers’ and therefore members of the working class! No matter how much they earn, and how different their lifestyles are from the working class, they will still class themselves as ‘workers’, and therefore also non-bourgeois, because of their revolutionary political affiliations. Thus a self-employed man on less than £20,000 a year, and who, say, also supports the Conservative Party, will be more ‘bourgeois’ (to the SWP) than a SWP/Counterfire-supporting professor (on £50,000 or more a year) simply because of his non-revolutionary political affiliations.

This is the logic of SWP/Counterfire today. This logic was made clear by Martin Smith (the sex-abuser and violent criminal), once National Secretary of the SWP and former spokesman for Unite Against Fascism, when he classed the English Defence League (around two years ago) as a ‘petit bourgeois’ organisation. He did so quite simply because it is at odds, politically, with the SWP - and the EDL even had the audacity to include a few ‘self-employed businessmen’, as Smith put it, in its fold!

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