514. Development (XV)
The Canadian truckers have mobilised against the residual Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Justin Trudeau’s government—restrictions that are not so much residual as the nucleus for a new apparatus of government control. The right has taken some rhetorical delight in the assertion that: “The left can’t stand it when real workers take action. Where are you leftists when there’s a real working-class revolt?”. Whether this is effective rhetoric depends on the audience—and I am not sure the rightists who say it believe it themselves. If the audience is the general public who think “left = support working-class revolt” then the rhetoric is probably somewhat effective, it points out a hypocrisy. The left itself, however, will not be convinced—although, of course, rhetoric is usually aimed at the undecided, not your opponent.
The statement does not cut to the leftist core because the left—still suffused with a Marxist outlook—has never asserted that simply being in the “oppressed” category as such makes you progressive. Integral to Marxist ideas, still current in a revised form, is the notion that the oppressed suffer from false consciousness; they are confused about their “true” class interests. That is how an unemployed German-Jewish intellectual with an aristocratic German wife and a German owner of an English factory (the dynamic duo, Marx and Engels) claimed to know what the English working class wanted better than the English working class themselves. Marx and Engels happened to have attained the correct standpoint to ascertain the “objective” perspective on working-class interests—in England and, indeed, around the world.
This view still pertains today, although now it is applied to the PoC, sexual minorities, migrants workers, and all the groups that have substituted for the proletariat. This is why you can parade all the “black conservatives” you want and leftists will still say: “Uncle Tom, he doesn’t understand his real interests.” Rightists—perhaps engaging in literalness and factuality—will mock the white leftist who chastises a black conservative for their lack of racial awareness. “A-ha, you’re the racist!”. Of course, the idea-system does not work like that: whether or not a person is “racist” is determined by whether they have grasped the objective situation and are taking the steps to dismantle race-based thought altogether. In a sense, the left is more rational: the facts do not speak for themselves; you need some standpoint from which to interpret the facts, and the leftist has one—while the rightist denies he has one at all, although he obviously implicitly does.
For the leftist, the truckers are the petit-bourgeoisie; they are small businessmen who own their means of production (trucks), or at at least, due to the nature of their work, relate to it as if they owned it—they have quite a lot of freedom, their place in the division of labour is not so constrained. Ergo, they misidentify their interests with big capital and the bourgeois class; and, further, being under acute economic threat and still relatively “freelance” they protect their interests in an “actionist” way—and it is this vigorous petit-bourgeois defence of the system that is characteristic of fascism. For Marxists, fascism is a petit-bourgeois phenomenon.
Indeed, when Pinochet took power in Chile—deposed the Communist president, Allende—he did so with support from truckers and small shopkeepers who went on strike. This really is a reactionary class—although that is a good thing, in my estimation. They are not, however, what Marxists mean by “the workers”: the workers are taken to have nothing, to own nothing.
Today, this category can only be found among newly arrived migrants, formerly despised sexual minorities, and other marginal groups. Since the economy refuses to produce a proletariat, the left has been forced to manufacture a proletariat through subversion—so the borders must be opened precisely to create a large class who own practically nothing in Western countries, a class with which a revolution can then be made. The “working class” is the left’s very own original creation.