Class Hatred: Necessary But Not Sufficient

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Fuck the rich. Seriously, fuck ’em. Such a popular sentiment is felt by millions in the United States and around the world. It’s the verbal expression of the crushing realities of real life for the oppressed masses and is a powerful statement of class loyalty and combativeness. This expression of class hatred, and those like it, in their rawest forms have existed since the dawn of class society itself. The objective conditions of everyday life breed these ingrained feelings towards the ruling classes and the enforcers of this system that exploits, preys, and kills the working class and oppressed people. Consequently, all communists should support these genuine expressions of class rage towards the class enemy, but communists must insist that class hatred be transformed into class consciousness.

Class consciousness arises on the basis of genuine class hatred, but itself is not reducible to class hatred. Class consciousness means having a consciousness regarding the historical tasks of the proletariat as a class (specifically the consolidation of this class to capture power and establish its dictatorship, transitioning to communism, and thereby abolishing itself as a class). Class hatred, however, exists solely within the purview of the individual. It emerges from the real lived experiences of the average oppressed worker but is only based on their experience alone. It is a particularity, granted, a particularity that millions also share and can relate to, but it has not yet been transformed into a scientific generality. Class hatred represents a stage of perceptual knowledge, it sees the external relations between things, their separate aspects, but cannot yet connect these, dig beneath surface level appearances, nor formulate a general program to resolve the misery of the class itself as a whole. It’s as if each individual is the “frog in the well” that Mao spoke of. The frog at the bottom of the well thinks that the sky is only as big as the opening of the well, therefore any knowledge that the frog thinks it knows about the composition of the sky is necessarily limited by its own subjective position, and further constrained by an external object. If the frog surfaced, or in our case the individual worker, they would then come to see, through their own experiences with others and scientific experiment/investigation, the laws of motion of society, its internal contradictions, and their place within it.

Even though class hatred resides at the perceptual stage of knowledge it’s important in relation to the possibility of its movement to rational knowledge, e.g. class consciousness. Class hatred is the germ of class consciousness, but that germ requires the subjective factor of an organized and well disciplined Communist Party to temper it into class consciousness. From there instinctual class hatred moves towards collective class mobilization. The proletariat, as a class, begins to be more than just a class of itself, but now a class for itself. The process by which class hatred is molded into class consciousness and how this process relates to the everyday lives of the masses, and especially to mass rebellions, is understood only by communists, i.e. those armed with the necessary theoretical toolkit to understand the contradictions and laws of capitalism which create these conditions.

Many on the Left confuse class hatred for class consciousness, in fact there are even entire political tendencies based on this confusion. This idea usually flares up whenever there is a spontaneous uprising or outburst from the masses. Anarchism and varieties of petty-bourgeoisie socialism (like democratic socialism) take class hatred and spontaneity to be genuine expressions of a solidified class movement towards revolution, i.e. towards socialism, when in reality the spontaneous uprisings of the masses are born from a desire to rebel against their current miserable conditions, against injustice, oppression etc. It’s imagined that in these moments workers are suddenly “awakened” to their historic tasks, and the logic that flows from this is that no organization and leadership (i.e. a Communist Party) is necessary, or at the worst some form of horizontalist organization or mass party may be necessary. After all, why would such a thing be necessary when the masses have already become class conscious? However, acts of rebellion, which are practical expressions of class hatred do not entail anything revolutionary in and of themselves, especially without the organization and leadership of a Communist Party. In fact, without a Communist Party standing at the helm, bourgeois ideology will be what guides and influences these rebellions, not proletarian ideology.

Capitalist society, with its extreme division between mental and manual labor and the dominance of bourgeois ideology that permeates all classes in society makes it impossible for the working class en masse to spontaneously become class conscious. Some proletarians, through study, experience in mass struggle, or contact with other class conscious workers may themselves move beyond simple class hatred and become class conscious workers. Yet even so, there remains the fact that not all workers can and will do this, which raises the necessity of bridging the gap between those sections that are class conscious (the vanguard) with those that are not. The organization that bridges this gap is the Party, comprised of the class conscious section, with its goal to raise as many proletarians as possible to the ranks of the class conscious section and to organize and lead the revolution. The necessity of the Party is not borne out of the minds of fanatics or closet authoritarians, but by the contradictions of capitalist society itself. To insist on negating it is to abandon revolution, and is not based on any rational knowledge of the laws and composition of capitalist society, but instead rests at the level of perceptual knowledge, which is usually underdeveloped class hatred. Without a Party that can propagate proletarian ideology broadly amongst the masses there can be no transformation of the spontaneous rebellion of the masses into revolutionary struggle.

We should of course encourage all manifestations of proletarian class hatred, but we shouldn’t be blinded to the fact that alone this is not sufficient for revolution. If class hatred was enough to make revolution we would have made it several times over by now with little to no effort required! Instead of getting caught up in the never ending circle of rebellion/repression that follows from the petty-bourgeois and anarchist approach which negates class consciousness in a real practical sense, communists must present a clear-sighted argument as to the necessity of the transformation of consciousness, which also means combatting bourgeois ideology (especially its manifestations on the Left), and most importantly building a capable and powerful Communist Party that is able to provide leadership and organization.

 

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