[Marxism] The "turn to industry" of the 70s and 80s

Sam B sam.b.ann.arbor at gmail.com
Sat May 16 19:08:32 MDT 2009

On Sat, May 16, 2009 at 6:42 PM, Joaquin Bustelo <jbustelo at gmail.com> wrote:
> But what is the alternative? A proletarian socialist movement is not
> POSSIBLE because there is no actual class movement for this to be the most
> advanced expression of.

The Marxist Wager

by Slavoj Zizek


Progressive liberals today often complain that they would like to join
a "revolution" (a more radical emancipatory political movement), but
no matter how desperately they search for it, they just "don't see it"
(they don't see anywhere in the social space a political agent with a
will and strength to seriously engage in such activity).

While there is a moment of truth in it, one should nonetheless also
add that the very attitude of these liberals is in itself part of a
problem: if one just waits to "see" a revolutionary movement, it will,
of course, never arise, and one will never see it.

What Hegel says about the curtain that separates appearances from true
reality (behind the veil of appearance there is nothing, only what the
subject who looks there put it there), holds also for a revolutionary
process: "seeing" and "desire" are here inextricably linked, i.e., the
revolutionary potential is not there to discover as an objective
social fact, one "sees it" only insofar as one "desires" it (engages
oneself in the movement).

No wonder Mensheviks and those who opposed Lenin's call for a
revolutionary takeover in the summer of 1917 "didn't see" the
conditions for it as "ripe" and opposed it as "premature" - they
simply did not WANT the revolution. (Another version of this skeptical
argument about "seeing" is that liberals claim how capitalism is today
so global and allencompassing that they cannot "see" any serious
alternative to it, that they cannot imagine a feasible "outside" to
it. The reply to this is that, insofar as this is true, they do not
see at all, tout court: the task is not to see the outside, but to see
in the first place (to grasp the nature of today's capitalism) - the
Marxist wager is that, when we "see" this, we see enough, inclusive of
how to get out...)

So our reply to the worried progressive liberals, eager to join the
revolution, and just not seeing its chances anywhere around, should be
like the answer to the proverbial ecologist worried about the prospect
of catastrophe: don't worry, the catastrophe will arrive...

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