C Derick Varn’s observations on Marxism


All very valid problems for Marxism, but the most damning of all is this:

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Welp. I somehow expected some glimmer of hope at the end of that. It's just about how everything is shit (pretty accurate though). As for the lack of working-class people in marxish groups: It is mostly lack of time. (You have to add the commuting time to the work-time to see how little time is left for people.) Some workers are in alternating shifts, so there simply isn't any day where you are available every week, except Sunday. The only groups that take your actual job-time into account are unions. Parties do not care about building a database about when members could even be available in theory, instead they spam you with invitations to things that are scheduled to overlap with your time on the job, it's asinine.

Another (and strictly less important) aspect is that students have all sorts of annoying and arrogant habits and discriminate against non-students, and especially the non-STEM students discriminate against others. You write a paragraph about something and they ask you (loudly and in front of the whole group) where you PLAGIARIZED that from, because apparently, if you're a real prole as you claim to be, you can't write and only copy & paste.

Come on, Derrick, proofread your shit. That read like one of our tl;dr effort posts.

It's the classic observation that leftist groups always end up being appropriated by middle class intellectual masturbaters. We can cry all we want about COINTELPRO, but in reality the left itself is to blame for the failure of any popular support or movement. If you actually believe clinging to the atrocious model of the Soviet Union and its descendant states will get you anything except rightful scorn, you should seriously kill yourself; if you insist that the working class should read obscure 20th century thinkers, something they don't have the free time for, instead of explaining it to them in simple terms, you should kill yourself; and then there's the general dogmatism towards Marx and the refusal to believe some of his ideas were flat wrong and others are no longer applicable and need to be updated for the globalist digital-financial age.

This highlights some of the many reasons I identify as far-leftist but not Marxist..

Try applying a logical process to developing your own theory.

I more or less agree with that. The current financial reality is not far removed from Marx's prediction apart from his theory that the industrial capitalists would dominate the finance capitalists. What I think needs to be seriously reworked is the dialectical framework by which societies progress from one mode of production to another. Modes of production are not so few and definative as Marx imagined. Slash-and-burn agrarianism like that recently practiced in the Yucatan should be regarded as an entirely seperate mode of production that the sedentary urban agrarianism of the pre-columbian Valley of Mexico.

Classes are more numerous and distinct as well. For example, administrators would seem to have more interests in common with the medieval clergy than they do with other waged laborers. Consider that their function is to act in place of a far away authority that they rarely see, but what actually provides for their livelihood is the labor of those to whom they administer. What they provide is purpose, morale, and instruction as to how to behave within present system. It could rightly be said that they personally extract the value produced by productive laborers and take some for themselves before passing the remainder on to their bosses.

I think he may have dyslexia or something — all of his posts read like this. You can still grasp the underlying idea, though, which is usually insightful.

The answer is not to identify as anything — even as a Marxist. Marx is useful as the originator of a methodology whose science is still being developed and carried through.

Not even my friend. Even the actual christfags go to church less because they need to feed their family
Which is pretty ironic if you think about it

This tbh, especially the Soviet worship turns off so many people

Corporate Human Resources departments are one example of how authority is spread out. They act as a pseudo law enforcement, a kind of corporate secret police enforcing ideological compliance. There are countless numbers of jobs that don't produce anything but security and "labor peace".

Nice try contrapoints

Well, Varn does acknowledge that the proletariat has been politicized in the past. The outcome of mid-20th century class struggle was social democracy and New Deal liberalism, which was a compromise between labor and capital which proved stable and fruitful for both sides until the 1970s. Now those institutions of compromise are almost entirely gone, setting the stage for open class struggle once again.

As for why the modern worker is so depoliticized, I'd like to make the argument that it's mostly to do with the built environment, and the way most people live and work (particularly in the USA). Increasing economic complexity, labor specialization and efficiency means workers are increasingly stratified across different professions and firms. Suburbanization and the supremacy of automobiles means almost everyone commutes a significant distance to work. And there are no factory-specific neighborhoods anymore, people are scattered randomly across urban and suburban areas and usually have very little in common with their neighbors. Modern workers are incredibly mobile, often moving across nations and between cities with ease, but rarely putting down the kind of roots you would see 100 years ago. Add to this that most workers exist in precarity and that modern firms are often national or trans-national and have no responsibility to the communities they service.

All of this leads to a situation where if someone wants to attend a meeting of my local DSA chapter, they all have to drive 30 minutes to an hour to a location which changes every month, to meet for 90 minutes with a small, rotating cast of members who they share almost nothing in common with. It's not an effective atmosphere for building solidarity or a coherent movement with such a diverse, transient population. Getting a population of such atomized individuals to see past their own individual interests and conceptions of politics in favor of an overarching class consciousness and a political program to support it is IMO a near-impossibility in the current system.

Attached: Fig 6. A commuter flow-based regionalization of the United States.PNG (2079x1381, 3.11M)

So what is to be done? Because this shit is really getting me down.

Totally. That should be analyzed and classified as its own class, because really it is. Administrators work for wages, but they do not create commodities. Their material interests lie in the maintainance of the system, unlike other wage laborers who would be served by its immediate destruction.

The response I've been toying with is basically to return to patterns of life from 100 years ago. Reorganize people into moderate-density mixed-use towns and cities that don't require daily commuting. Establish industries that meet local or regional needs, organized cooperatively and producing according to some form of non-market plan. Complement these with cooperative farms and small shops/restaurants/etc. Decouple regions from global supply chains, reduce and equalize consumption and reduce the complexity of economics and governance. You do this and suddenly old strategies of syndicalism, councilism and anarchist-communism start to make sense again.

This is the only strategy I can think of which acknowledges ecological and material realities while keeping intact the proletarian, internationalist spirit of socialism. Modern ML- and DSA-types who focus on seizing existing states and economic structures, or preserving existing social-welfare systems, are barely revolutionary and usually rely on a techno-utopian ignorance of the way the planet is going (to say nothing of the fact that they breed nationalist chauvinism). Critical theorist ideas I've seen which do acknowledge the present are all extremely vague and unhelpful.

There is no positive way forward which readily springs from the way our society is currently organized. The only way to socialism is to go back.

this sounds extremely utopian
how exactly are you going to enact your plan? what you seem to be proposing is that we do a thing that requires political power so we can have the conditions to seize political power. Like the 'radical socdems' who want to enact globally enforced taxes you cheat by presupposing that we already have the sort of political change your ideas require. If we have the political power to
we have already controlled capital: we have already won. I'm basically paraphrasing Zizek here:

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Work in the own you live in, don’t move for work. Which is pretty hard for most people because of Capitalism.

Are all forms of organization 'utopian' now? I'm trying to articulate how people could come together in a way to build solidarity and politicize workers as a precondition to revolutionary socialist action. I guess you could accuse me of 'mass lifestylism', but getting people to move back into urban areas and start businesses together or form an agricultural co-op does not require the total abolition of capital as a prerequisite.

Current attempts by Marxists to politicize people are laughably useless. Facebook maymays and arguing on imageboards do not a revolution make. Like Varn said, you've got a handful of activists and intellectuals still using the same old tactics but the vast majority of working people do not give a shit, and they will continue to not give a shit until you offer them a change in material conditions that will deliver them from late capitalist isolation and apathy into an environment of community and solidarity.

How? As I said it appears your plan requires us to have political power to enact it in the first place.
Quite, and that's why I'm in a political organisation, trying to steer it left and shilling more or less every day for a 6-hour workday or 4-day workweek, something that is understandable to the generic worker and the liberal paradigms of politics and society, and is also quite literally Communism-as-the-real-movement.

The question is how do we enable people to organize more in real life. We lack public spaces because of cars and we live far from our work because of cars. So almost anything that helps public transport or helps with living near work and makes car use less attractive should be supported. If you live in a country that lowers your taxes based on your commuting costs (like Germany and Austria do), you should push for abolishing that sprawl-incentivizing regulation. Shill for mixed-use zoning and the land-value tax, and for public transport to be subsidized by such a tax.

I live in America and I have my food places, shops and colleges I go to in a ~30 mile radius. It's the best I could do. I'm gonna have to look for a job soon after getting this associates (big universities cost quite a bit) so it is the best I could do at the moment.

why the fuck don't we have labor meetings online. I'm sure something like a youtube livestream could do most of the work with call ins/emails/live chats being addressed.

This is a good idea.

Marx does seem to have missed the rise of the managerial class.

But… we today find that these "professionals" are just as vulnerable to capitalist pressure to create a reserve army of unemployed. A lot of anxious college graduates our there nowadays, it's no longer the meal ticket it was.

Fascinating image. It looks like a slime mold.

It's not utopia as far as his urban planning prescription goes, all it takes is a national coordination of zoning laws the promote density. The current built landscape of the US is not some kind of natural inevitability, it was the result of deliberate choices in urban planning. And once the population has been more condensed, organizing for all the rest becomes easier.

but this requires political power, does it not? not as much as seizing the state or whatever but it's still rather a major project for a movement with barely any political influence.

Not necessarily, it's something the milquetoast liberals will likely trot out at some point even without leftist support. They all want to live in hip cities after all. In this, I believe the cultural trend is on our side. It's something you can already see among the Davos set when they celebrate the rise of superstar mayors and megapoli etc. Not to mention that for energy scarcity reasons we kinda will have no choice but to start being more efficient in our transportation and commute approach.

The future isn't all dark. I hope.

I suppose "anti-corporation" microcapitalist left-liberals do support 'local eating' and whatnot, but I doubt it will ever be more than a minority or a lifestylist option. Also, they want to live in hip cities. but as we know from the gentrification process they destroy the very hipness they come to live in. They do not work as a group defending a coherent interest.
Also microcapitalism is still capitalism, and will operate according to its rules, i.e. stop being micro very soon.

I mean, Marxism nowadays is gender ideology.