By Robert Biester
- Apathy and Optimism
- Revolutionary Apathy vs Revolutionary Optimism
- Class over Identity?
- Apathetic to all things non worker
Apathy and Optimism
Apathy is the lack of feeling towards the things around you, the general act of indifference to the things that you have no control over, this feeling has become the norm among workers as capitalism continues to deprive humanity of its natural state, as the alienation of Humanity from its labor and the very surroundings that the worker has indifferent to become more and more a separate entity that the worker cant get away from, trapped in a perpetual cycle that generates a sense of numbness.
This apathy creates problems that can hurt the worker in the long run, not only physically but also psychologically as the individual tries desperately to shed himself of the lack of feeling that he has, this can take the common form of chemical dependency which is for a lack of a better word, cope for the lack of emotions that the person cannot control in the matter of whether they have it or not, since it is linked to the alienation stemming from capitalism which is unavoidable.
The other form this apathy can take comes in the form of Racism and Generalized hatred for the “other”, this form of apathy is more common with Petty bourgeois teenagers and young adults, and it is easy to see why as these people grew up with promises that they were above the curb, their upbringing being in predominantly white suburbs where the alienation the proletariat feel early on is not known, but it should be noted that the feeling is not exclusive to the petty bourgeoisie, many lumpenproletariat and proletariat also turn towards racism to explain the apathy they feel and try to destroy it with the idea that the other races are to blame and must be destroyed or separated.
The folly of this is that the alienation of society is not that simple, it is not based off one race, but the class that race belongs to as the bourgeoisie are a colorless amorphous blob that extracts value from everything and everyone no matter their race, the apathetic racist having tried to supplement his lack of being with the being of race, has created a paradigm where he must admit that the black proletariat is either in on the exploitation of Man or is a victim of it as well, but if the black proletariat is involved alongside the black bourgeoisie and must be eliminated for that then what is to be said about the relation between the white proletariat and the white bourgeoise?
And what if the black proletariat is like the white proletariat and is a victim of the same apathy that the white proletariat feels, then wouldnt the simple solution of this be closing rank and basing yourself off class rather than race?
The crux of this paradigm is that the apathetic racist must either shed his racism and embrace communism as the only solution to the apathy he feels, or must admit that race based capitalism is the answer that he is looking for, but this “solution” will not destroy apathy but rather deepen it as the apathetic racist has betted his entire hand on the wrong side and must now go into coping harder then when they lived prior to race-based capitalism.
The negativity generated by apathy has many forms not just as Racism but also in form of phobias ranging from those against members of other religions or those who don’t meet the status quo of mainstream capitalist norms. However to the opposite of this pole apathy can create the feeling of euphoric positivity, and this is where the ideology of Optimism can take form
Optimism is often seen as the opposite of apathy, the feeling of positivity towards your surroundings and the future, this is something of a misdirection as optimism is not the opposite of apathy, it is the opposite of pessimism, which is holding a more realistic view on the current state of things rather than looking to the future for the answers to all things, Optimism does not negate apathy as quite to the contrary it is itself a outgrowth of apathy.
Optimists must view the future as positive because of a lack of emotion they feel to the present, they have themselves chosen what can make them happy without really figuring out how to achieve it, pessimists are more vulgar in their apathy as they see the current state of things and criticize it and the view that it can be changed in the future off the merit that its the future.
As Trotsky put the optimist delusion of the future in 1901
“The nineteenth century has in many ways satisfied and has in even more ways deceived the hopes of the optimist … It has compelled him to transfer most of his hopes to the twentieth century. Whenever the optimist was confronted by an atrocious fact, he exclaimed: What, and this can happen on the threshold of the twentieth century! When he drew wonderful pictured of the harmonious future, he placed them in the twentieth century.”
Optimism is one of the coping philosophies that came from the arising apathy within capitalism, its philosophy is rendered useless if you were to destroy the base contradictions within capitalism and so itself is also destroyed. What is the point of looking to the future when you are already happy in the current?
Not to say that optimism is itself bad, what is being said is that the idea that optimism and apathy as being opposites is untrue and even disregards the social origin of the two, one is alienation that came out of Capitalism and the other came from those who felt that alienation, Optimism is not a solution to the problems of the present because it is trying to reconcile the individual to the fact that they cannot solve the problems of today on an individual level and must be done socially in the form of one class destroying the other, and in essence destroying itself.
Revolutionary Apathy and Revolutionary Optimism
“How can Apathy be revolutionary?” You may be asking yourself, it is not apathy that i believe is revolutionary or to even turn the emotionlessness of alienation into some kind of revolutionary thing that communists should embrace, but rather the act of feeling it towards the things that distract you can be revolutionary, the feeling of apathy towards the outside world is toxic if you do not understand the reasons behind it, but it can be revolutionary if you understand why and use that feeling to motivate yourself towards everything that is used to distract from revolution.
Apathy as a form of perspective makes the traps that the bourgeoisie have set up around the workers to make it harder to organize as a coherent class, as a coherent party or even as a coherent ideology, Sectarianism being the tool of the rulers to keep the workers in a state of perpetual civil war, fighting amongst each other over who deserves the handout that the owners give out from their halls of gold and amber, Revolutionary apathy means seeing these handouts and feeling nothing towards them, the only thing that matters is the Proletariat and the Proletarian revolution, to say that something must happen before the proletariat seizes power is nothing more than the echoes of Bourgeois idealism.
Revolutionary apathy does not mean to feel nothing, to not love or feel sympathy, on the contrary it means to only love the Proletariat, to feel sympathy for the workers of other nations oppressed by Imperialism and the heel of capitalist domination by those who would like to see the workers of the world under the umbrella of Capital, this goes double for the Proletariat in the US and in China, the only feeling that the proletariat should feel towards their respective State is to see its defeat underneath the wave of Revolution.
It would be easier to describe Revolutionary apathy in more detail when compared to Revolutionary optimism, an idea created by Peruvian Stalinist Abimael Guzman who used it to explain why his Shining path guerrillas shouldn’t fear death, and to a lesser extent to justify his opportunistic terrorism, but what is its definition rather then the purpose of its creation?. The definition being that the revolutionary party must look at all revolutionary causes as good, or rather that there is no such thing as a bad deed done by the revolutionary party, we must look to the proletariat as the real future for humanity and they will inevitably come to the side of the communists when reached out.
As Comrade Chairman Mao put it:
“Marxist-Leninists have always had an attitude of revolutionary optimism towards the future of the cause of the proletarian revolution. We are profoundly convinced that the brilliant light of the dictatorship of the proletariat, of socialism and of Marxism-Leninism will shine forth over the Soviet land. The proletariat is sure to achieve complete and final victory on earth.”
This is opposite to Revolutionary apathy, the proletariat will not just become communists out of a predestined path like the revolutionary optimist suggests, but rather it is up to the workers party and the revolutionary workers to do this,, to bring other workers into the struggle for revolution and make our hope for the future a reality, to make the case that the only way forward is communism or destruction under the heel of capitalist exploitation, this is not a set in stone thing but rather a struggle that deserves the complete attention from Communists, who is it the communist should stand with? The proletariat or the party, to the revolutionary optimist it is the party because it will always draw the proletariat no matter their position in times of crisis, for the revolutionary apathetic it is the proletariat that we stand with, if the workers party cannot draw their own namesake then it is not a workers party, it is a party substituting itself for the workers.
But to the “revolutionary Maoists” at Struggle session they have this to say about those who criticize their infallible parties:
“Those who lack faith in the masses, who lack a proletarian worldview, are easily susceptible to hearsay and even the lies generated by class enemies. Inactive individuals who treat revolution as a sporting match actually take up such abhorrent activity as rumor-spreading and gossiping. A simple Twitter search about Maoism will find no shortage of accounts belonging to disorganized individuals with a fetish for the historic failed revisionist projects, and generally they are found spreading around what they consider to be the best gossip. They have fully given in to pessimism regarding any and all practical organizing carried out by Communists. Instead of going among the masses, they have cocooned themselves in the false reality of their internet echo chambers. Their “self-care” includes more pessimism, more self-deprecation, and more gossip. It is obvious that immersion in this environment has a powerful corrosive effect on these individuals.”
It is not a crime to say that we should be critical of the actions done by the party if it has done something warranted of criticism, and to say that the people critiquing them are being petty bourgeois moralists who are judging a revolutionary movement is quite hypocritical, Doubly so from people who claim to uphold a theory called “self-criticism”.
Revolutionary apathy is the attitude of decades with no revolution, even though there was struggle there has been no revolutionary party, And why is this? Because the revolutionary has become blinded by the lures and traps of the capitalists, the goal of socialism have become a phantom as the revolutionary party is turned into the electoralist lobbying group fighting for a more equitable capitalism (the comedy of this is lost on them because they would have to be marxist to understand it). The glitz and glamor of the future that is right around the corner has taken them for a fool.
As with all things the bourgeoisie have found a way to exploit the finer sentiments of Humanity, turning the double oppression of minority groups and imperialized people into the sandpits of struggle, all the bourgeoisie have to do is point and say “ah your complaints are warranted, but how about the oppression of black people. how can you organize yourselves if nobody is organizing for them” and they do it shamelessly as they continue to exploit both the white worker and black worker knowing well that the struggle for the vague mass of black people they are referring to is not the black worker themselves, but the black people as a race, and the class within that race that benefits most from the reforms of the capitalist state will be the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, why else is it the black petty bourgeoisie who call for reform and organize their protests while the black proletariat continue to be subject to bourgeois domination?
It is not because the black petty bourgeoisie care about the black proletariat, just like the white petty bourgeoisie who will protest against government oversight and taxes until it is they who get the tax cut and will summarily leave the white proletariat down in the dirt. The skin may be different but the class remains the same and for the proletariat the road always leads back to wage labor, revolutionary apathy means seeing this for what it is, a trap that can only be destroyed by the united working class.
And what about the imperialized people of the world? The answer does not change with the introduction of an imperialized nation’s proletariat. The national bourgeoisie there have no sympathy for them and if anything they are worse then the international bourgeoisie because they will attach themselves to the proletariat like a parasite the very instant that the imperialist power is waning in the nation, so while they had used their proletariat as sheep to the slaughter for profit and the profit of the monopoly capitalist, but when the proletariat’s power is beginning to outweigh that of the imperialist the national bourgeoisie come and say “oh magnificent worker, don’t you see that we owners of the factories and farms were the victims of imperialism too.” they remark with one hand on heart and the other with its figures crossed on the back “Sure we took the international bourgeoisie’s money and protection from your assaults, but in our hearts we are still the members of your nation and so you must side with us over the imperialists”.
Revolutionary apathy means that the proletariat shouldn’t care if their bourgeoisie is
a part of their nation or not. The only thing the proletariat should care about is the proletariat itself and not the identity that the bourgeoisie uphold in order to keep them on a leash that they must side with their nation rather than side with their class and overthrow those who exploit them for their labor power.
Class over Identity?
“Class reductionism” has become something of a dirty word in the vocabulary of modern “leftism” with it meaning someone who reduces everything to class, this line of reasoning comes into the direct path of what the bourgeoisie want, oh how convenient that the system that creates racism and the divides among the working class to prevent it from toppling the exploitation of the proletariat must first be reformed before we can unite as a class, how can the black proletariat be united with the white proletariat if the oppressive state is oppressing black people?
“We must first side with black people as a whole, even the black petty bourgeois because they are oppressed too” shouts the black petty bourgeoisie who has substituted itself as the proletariat and has pretended to have attached itself to the struggle against capitalism. having organized another rally for themselves to be given the same benefits the white petty bourgeoisie have. Oh how they hue and cry over the ills of capitalism “capitalism is the problem and root of racism” they say “but before we destroy capitalism we first must reform the racist institutions that hold the black people under its thumb and that the white proletariat benefit from”, Admitting that capitalism is the problem does little when the proletariat is still disunited, when there is no workers party and the communists and socialists are too busy fighting themselves to even begin the process of building one.
Fighting to reform capitalism to the point of equitability has become one of the main forms of organizing that Comrades in the US have devoted themselves to and it has lead to nothing of substance, and has just led to greater oppression by the state with the protesting movement becoming demotivated and demoralized because they wasted month of energy and enthusiasm because reformism leads to greater suffering from the prolongation of capitalist atrophy. such is the case with what with the push to defund the police, after months of intense protests and rioting a handful of cities decided to defund their police by only about 5% and even then this meager offering did not last as only a few months later they have all but increased the polices budget after the contradictions of capitalism came to a head as unemployment increased and the increase of labor strikes occurring.
And why is this? Because the bourgeoisie have made it so by playing on the finer sentiments of mankind, all they have to do is dangle a little bit of capital in the face of the petty bourgeoisie and they are against any action of the revolutionary variety, and with members of the group that they doubly oppress in their pocket calling for reforms over revolution, the revolutionary must listen to them otherwise they are “apart of the problem”, the fault lies on both the identities movement and the leadership of said movement because if the movement is the movement that chose these leaders, is it not them who made the decision to put these rats on display? if you were to scream in shock that your movement is being co-opted by the bourgeoisie and their petty bourgeois pawns who lead the marches and give their speeches, then it is your own fault for putting your trust into the hand of vague identity politics using the phrases of Revolutionaries.
In the past the White proletariat took the bait of the Bourgeoisie, in the late 1880’s the owners hired black laborers to act as scabs during strikes and in response the all white workers took up clubs and rocks as they had done for years against the reactions of the bosses, the problem that arises from this is that they were unable to see that this was another form of Bourgeois tricksterism. The black strikebreakers were paid far less then they would if they were white but desperation created the feeling of having to take the scab work because it was the only one that was hiring, and in turn desperation in the white worker turned into hatred as they took this as being proof that the black worker was a pawn/collaborator. They were unable to see how the bourgeoisie had turned the working class against itself; it wasn’t until the IWW that the proletariat was able to see itself as stronger together rather than apart.
And this has continued somewhat today among the proletariat, especially aimed at immigrants who are believed to be an danger to the job market with their “overabundance of cheap labor” ironically though one of the largest anti immigrant unions is also the largest hispanic union, the united farm workers have spent the last couple decades funding anti immigrant politicians and even funded some of the fences that go along the southwest border with mexico. Not out of racial hatred but out of existential fear that the bourgeoisie will use scabs to take away jobs from union members and destroy the bargaining power that they currently have.
This is precisely where revolutionary apathy comes in, as with apathy the feeling of numbness to the things around you applied to the class outside of the proletariat regardless of identity should become the perspective of Revolutionaries, and it stands true in the US as the bourgeoisie tries everything in its power to divide the working class by concocting conspiracy within its ranks, and it is the “revolutionary optimists” who uphold these conspiracies.
The white petty bourgeois also take advantage of these conspiracies to continue its dominance within the economics of middlemen within the US, the overwhelming majority of reactionaries and white supremacists are either small business owners or the management for the many corporations that uphold a rigid hierarchy that can be comprised if reforms and concessions were given to POC, that would of course endanger the amount of privilege that they take for granted within class society. They then take the dispossessed and indoctrinate them into believing that the entirety of the black population is out to get them and it is quite easy to do this in the era of mass apathy as stated above, of course this does not mean that the white proletariat is susceptible frequently to racism or will naturally turn to racism instead it means that the white petty bourgeoisie take advantage of the situation more often then the Communists and Socialists.
Revolutionary apathy does not mean Class over Identity but rather that the class of an individual has more meaning than the identity of them, why should the proletariat care for the wellbeing of the bourgeoisie or the petty bourgeoisie just off the merit they are Hispanic/Black/Indigenious, why should the proletariat care whether their boss is a POC or LGBTQ+? And that is the brunt of what it means to be revolutionary apathetic, why should the revolutionary care about anyone other then the proletariat, why should they care about the feelings of the petty bourgeoisie who cut costs at every level and do everything they can to swindle the money earned by the proletariat away from them? At the end of the day the Proletariat will hang the bourgeoisie regardless of their race or other identity.
Apathetic to all things non-Worker
In the era of atrophied capitalism that has humanity on the brink of extinction it is of the most importance that the traps of the bourgeoisie are seen for what they are as nothing more then distractions, if that means to ignore the “specifics of oppression” in favor of the focus being towards the oppression of the proletariat then so be it. The neo-Economism that has taken hold of Socialism by trying to relegate it to reformism for one section of society which can be quickly taken away from said section, oh how the bourgeoisie love reformism over struggle because it means the true backers of it get the true gains of said reforms, THE PETTY BOURGEOISIE.
This does not mean however that it is solely the petty bourgeoisie who push for these reforms, on the class level it is, but on the individual level there are those who opportunistically use identity as a way to advance themselves up the Capitalist social ladder to become influencers and grifters who leach themselves to the suffering of those under capitalism. Much like how the labor aristocracy leeches itself onto unions and uses it as a way to make money from donations made to them by either viewers or people who follow their content, this has created a group of pseudo-intellectuals who will use the clout that they gain over time from either their opinions or from video/written essays they have put out on the internet.
Throughout the Trump presidency there were always grifters popping up to take advantage of the growing white nationalist community who felt empowered by their rhetoric becoming mainstream and while most of them were either from petty bourgeois backgrounds, there was one who became a incredible success who continues to be a political power today(albeit in a much smaller capacity than during the Trump presidency) despite her background being much more proletariat of course. I am talking about Candice Owens who quickly became the “black republican” and head of the “urban outreach” section of turning point USA. Candice soon called for a mass exodus of black voters from the Democratic party to the Republican party which was a thinly veiled attempt by the Conservatives to get more votes, of course this didn’t really work but it still drew in a sizeable following among blacks who felt like the democratic party had betrayed them in some capacity or that it didn’t love america enough.
“Uncle tom” is often thrown at these conservatives over a perceived belief that they are betraying their blackness because they don’t conform to the stereotype that all black people must be a democrat, however Candice does not care either way as she has become both an advocate against identity politics while also being one of the forerunners of conservative identity politics and this showcases the grift of Candice, because the black community isn’t as homogeneous as a lot of people think it is easy to divide it among superficial political lines much like with how the white community also does not exist, each “community” is made up of individuals who are just lumped into it because they were born with a certain melanin level and this itself is a trap of the bourgeoisie. By homogenizing entire communities they make it a point to say how you must side with your identity or that you are a spokesperson for your identity, by doing this they have made it so that rather than thinking about your class you are instead thinking about your races place within society, and this again is where radicalization through apathy comes into play.
The owners do not care about the identity of those they exploit, they care about the amount of money it costs them to purchase their labor power and the amount of capital they will be able to extract from that labor power. There is also somewhat the boogeyman that out of mainstream identities become, the LGBTQ+ community was one of the and still is one of the largest boogeyman for the bourgeoisie to point to and say “look at the moral degenerates over there, can’t you see that the real problems with society and your lack of feeling is them, not the fact that we work you to the bone and discard you when you are too old”.
Revolutionary apathies purpose is to see this and call it out, and callout the identity politics that are meant to keep the proletariat in a subordinated role among movements, the proletarian struggle should be the only struggle and it should be the proletariat and its revolutionary party that gives the workers spontaneity form and purpose rather then letting it sizzle in the waves of capitalist reaction and propaganda, this cannot be done if we continue to focus on minor reforms and identity politics, revolutionary apathy means apathetic to all things non-worker.
Apathetic to all things non-worker means that the revolutionary should only care about the Proletariat and the proletarian struggle and not relegate itself to the creations of the capitalist state, to say otherwise admits several contradictions in the head of those who believe that we must first reform capitalism to the point of equitability for all races before we close rank within the working class, it implies that the Black proletariat and White proletariat don’t share the same exploitation by the bourgeoisie. The blindness inhabited by those who continue to believe that the struggle for emancipation of humanity is through the colorless proletariat.
Apathy is a curse put on humanity by the emergence of Commodity production and the alienation of man by its own creations, Revolutionary Apathy means the reversal of this, the apathetic worker must look at the coping mechanisms created for them by the owners and say no and take power into their own hands. Revolutionary Apathies purpose is to look at the identity politics of the petty bourgeoisie who try and corral them into struggles with the intended goal of making their own lives better while leaving the Proletariat masses in a state of exhaustion and the same spot they were in, and say that the only class that will give them the freedom they want is the party they belong to and the only party that will support them in this goal of freedom is the workers party.
Revolutionary apathy when summed up is quite simple:
Why should I care about anything other than the proletariat of the world?