Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Difficulties of Creating a Revolutionary Consciousness

I used to have a regular reader/commenter "Todd." In this post and in this post, I explored the idea of building a more revolutionary consciousness out of the distinctly non-revolutionary Canadian general public in a gradualist fashion. I called for a leftist government to transform the decision-making process in the public sector over to tripartite councils consisting of one-third traditional management, one-third worker representatives and one-third elected citizens.
As the employer, governments have the complete right to implement worker control over the public sector. At the same time, without creating to great a split with the past I think there's call for having managers who have a sense of the big picture remaining on the board. But there should be all sorts of positions (at levels of local control) for elected citizen representatives. As the recipients of the services provided and as representatives of the taxpayers, these citizens can voice complaints about service or service delivery and get a sense of who has a just case in things like work hours, job stability and costs, workers or management.

It will help ordinary people understand how their society works and will not seem to radical for all the people out in suburbia.

it's about making people comfortable with being in control. This society that we've constructed is incredibly complex and it's been designed by and for capitalists and technocrats. But we can't just smash it. A lot of people don't want to smash it. But what do we do with it? First, more people have to get a chance to figure out how it works. These elected citizen representatives will be a part of this process. Every hospital will have a number of ordinary people up there representing the communities as potential users (and definitely the taxpayers) of that institution. Every water and sewer system, every highway, every local power facility and every local police service. Whoever is interested can run for a term or two as a paid representative of the general public.

So, ordinary people will get an understanding of how their society really functions and will have a hand in the sometimes difficult decisions of managing important public resources. I'm willing to bet that that alone will bring about a difference in the organization and delivery of services. As well, ordinary people, either as workers or as citizen representatives, will get empowered by having genuine decision-making capabilities, unmediated by a corporate hierarchy with a non-democratic agenda.

Todd took issue with this. He appeared to say that since this piecemeal reform would itself be hysterically attacked, why don't I forget about gradual steps and go for the whole enchilada?
I think what I'm trying to say is that, no matter that it's only "baby steps" you want to take (no matter how well they might be justified), someone is going to oppose them for one reason or another. The same thing can be said about more robust demands as well, so why not just go for broke and demand full worker control instead of a half-way measure?
This statement came out at some point after Todd had criticized me for imagining a cohesiveness to society, "the people" or the working classes, that doesn't exist, and which therefore makes calls to arms difficult if not impossible.
And again with the "we" stuff. At this point in time, given the state of consciousness of much (never mind most) of Canada (much less the rest of the planet), "we" is a dead issue. There are far too many cleavages, real and imagined, to start talking about "we" (it's hard enough to talk about "the working class" and get them to believe it) right now. We have to still work on making the right kind of "we" (and we get that with raised consciousness and organized political action).
Besides, you're asking that we turn away from one "singularity" ie The Revolution to look for another one: spontaneously raised consciousness in the masses (and how that's different from people who've had their consciousnesses raised enough to force one or more decisive struggle[s] I don't know).
Todd, if you're still around, or anyone else, can you explain to me what "full worker control" means and how it is to be implemented after it has been successfully demanded? Who will do this demanding? What sorts of accountability will there be? Is obtaining full worker control somehow more feasible or equally feasible to implementing tripartite boards of citizens, workers and managers? Why? How? What is this "organized political action" that's being discussed? A useless rally somewhere? A poster on a utility pole? A forum involving the usual suspects in a lefty church or university meeting room to hear an academic speak? What? What are we talking about?

If none of these things can be explained, then I fear that it's just all symptomatic of the left's continuing irrelevance.

1 comment:

Edstock said...

"a leftist government to transform the decision-making process in the public sector over to tripartite councils consisting of one-third traditional management, one-third worker representatives and one-third elected citizens"

IMHO an excellent idea = for numerous reasons = that deserves more development.