WHAT WE BELIEVE
Why Class War?
Class War is not just another party seeking to gain power or a new way of telling people what to do. Class war is what happens when ordinary people have had enough of being pushed around and decide to fight back. If you’re one of the people who’ve swallowed the crap about “we’re all middle class now” or “we live in a classless society” this is the time to stop reading! We live in a society severely split along the lines of class, where capitalism, the State and the ruling class dominate us. So what do we mean by this?
Capitalism is an economic system run purely for profit in the interests of a small class - the capitalists - at the expense of a larger class - the working class. The whole of our present society is geared to the needs of capitalism. It is the mechanism whereby we sell our labour, in exchange for money, to purchase the goods and services we need, which we also happen to have produced in the first place! However, we only get a proportion of the wealth that our labour produces, the rest goes to the capitalists in profit.
This is fundamental to capitalism - in order for it to work the many must produce wealth for the few. Western style capitalism is often hailed as being the free market, all it means is that they are “free” to exploit us.
The situation is exactly the same in the so-called “planned economies” of the “Communist” countries. Karl Marx suggested that capitalism is a machine governed by natural laws - it isn’t. It’s an economic system run by a group of people who compete fiercely with each other for the right to rip us off. Capitalism has nothing to offer us except an endless cycle of war, famine, recession and unemployment. It is not inevitable that it will die of it’s own accord, it could linger on for centuries yet, lurching from crisis to crisis, therefore it must be destroyed.
Although capitalism is the major form of social organisation in terms of production, there are things that it can’t do. Broadly speaking it cannot supply the `social’ organisation of society, this hole is filled by something else - the State.
The State is the means by which a tiny minority control and dominate the rest of us, in the interests of the ruling power in our society - the capitalists. To give you an idea of how small a minority we are talking about, the often quoted figures are still true - that 7% of the population owns 84% of the wealth. The state is a set of institutions and bodies through which government is exercised e.g. parliament, local government, ministries, civil service, police, law, education, and the church. The aim of government is to keep the lid on class conflict, and to control competition between the capitalist, to make sure of the smooth running of society. It does this by enforcing the laws of private property, and the right of capitalists to buy and sell it. It doesn’t matter whether that property is land, food, health, sex, factories, houses or anything else that takes their fancy.
But the State came before capitalism, and it has always been a form of control and oppression in the interests of whatever ruling class is in power, and whatever economic system they choose to use. In Britain we are given the `choice’, every five years or so, of what Party we’d like to govern us. This, like many other `choices’, is a false on, a con trick to fool us into thinking we can change things through the vote. It also gives us politicians, as figureheads, to blame for our difficulties.
But the reality is that the power of the state lies with the capitalists, and the states own officials - they pull the strings. With power concentrated like it is there is always the risk that a small group can mount an attempt to gain control of the state, for example Fascists or Lenin-inspired communists. This would be nothing more than swapping one set of bosses for another - we want to sweep the lot of them away.
Because capitalism represents exploitation, and the State represents domination, it isn’t surprising that the society they have produced is split into different categories, or classes, of people who hold a position directly in relation to capitalism and the state.
It is important that we stress here that we have to generalise when defining class, there are always exceptions to the rule, there are also sub-sections within classes that can confuse the picture.
The Ruling Class
About 5% of the population.
Some examples: Owners of major companies, landowners judges ,top cops, church leaders and the aristocracy including the Royal Family.
The Middle Class
About 20% of the population
Some examples :professionals e.g. journalists, doctors, teachers, management, social workers Also priests, officers in the armed forces and the owners of small businesses
The Working Class
About 75% of the population
Some examples: Factory shop and office workers, nurses, technicians agricultural workers, soldiers up to NCO level and the unemployed
The above figures are not the invention of Class War - they come from the State’s own figures and were updated after the 1981 census.
The Ruling Class
In general there are two main factors that give you your place in the class system : wealth and power. The ruling class rule but they don’t actually govern - that is left to the State’s politicians and officials They don’t all sit around in smoke filled rooms conspiring to oppress us, they don’t need to most of the time. So how do they keep us in our place? By the old trick of divide and rule - setting white against black, men against women and worker against worker. This breaks down any sense of class solidarity, identity and unity - without which a revolution is an impossible dream.
The Middle Class
Contact between the ruling class and the working class is very rare Most inter-class contact comes between the working and middle classes. The middle class is made up of many sub-sections and layers, all performing different roles and functions necessary for capitalist society to run. Basically speaking they manage us in the interests of the ruling class.
The most recognisable role for the middle class is the economic management of business and industry e.g. work/factory managers, and accountants. These are the top dogs, the highest earners in the middle class, because Without their services capitalism would rapidly collapse.
By it’s very nature capitalism is filled with brutality and inequality. If left to it’s devices it would end in either barbarism or class revolution. Neither is any good to the ruling class, so this must be prevented by capitalism putting on a `human face` - the caring side of capitalism! a large section of the middle class provide this function. Mopping up the casualties of class society, and providing a `buffer’ for class anger, and sometime channeling it into minor tinkering with social conditions. they also provide the vital services we need, but at a cost to us - they have virtual control over whole areas of our lives.
A not so obvious role of the middle class is to provide and intellectual and cultural framework in which ideas that serve the interests of the ruling class become part of our everyday thoughts. The endless repeating of certain ideas, stereotypes and myths try to stifle our class consciousness and turn us into `model citizens’. These can be the crude lies like ` all blacks are lazy and thick’ or the more sophisticated crap about the so-called `classless society’. Examples would be the media and advertising industry, education and religion.
Capitalism must have a constant supply of new ideas to create new markets to sustain its profits. It must also evolve in order to survive. Middle class researchers and intellectuals provide the information necessary to make this possible. This is true right from university professors to the new so-called `green’ entrepreneurs.
Because of the varied roles of the middle classes there is often conflict and contradictions within its ranks. When the class struggle comes to a head it would split them, forcing them to take sides. As a general rule those near the top would side with the bosses, having the most to lose. Those who come on our side can only do so on our terms. Whish is to join us as equals, and not in their usual role as leaders.
The Working Class
The briefest way of describing our class is to say we are everyone who is not in the middle and ruling class! This is not just a smart arse remark. In general the working class are people who live by their labour, the ownership of property that generates wealth is the dividing line - if you have enough property or money not to work then you are not working class.
The other part of class identity is `social power’. The working classes do not have the power, we are the ones who are told what to do. We are defined not by what we do, but by what is done to us. But this does not mean that we are powerless - far from it. The state spends vast amounts of money and energy to keep us in our place. Also, because our work is at the very centre of everyday practical economic activity it is fair to say that everything hinges around whether we want to `play the game’ or not .
Class is a much disputed topic. the ruling class need to confuse the issue in order to survive. If the majority of people have a clear idea of the workings of a class society, social control would be impossible and the ruling class would be toppled from their positions of wealth privilege and power.
As capitalism developed and class society became a feature of people’s lives , the ruling class found it necessary to stifle class consciousness, and even to get working class people to identify with capitalism. Myths like ` we’re all middle class now’ or ` we live in a classless society’ , are laughable and contradictory. These are the rantings of middle class journalists, ad-men and politicians, who want to wish away class conflict and try to create a false idea of equality.
With the rise of the `Consumer Society’ and the easy availability of credit, more and more working class people can afford things like their own house, car, holidays abroad etc, But this increase of personal wealth does in no way increase your social power. At the end of the day these extra goods all rely on your ability to work. The day you lose your job and can’t keep up the payments, they all go out the window along with the easy credit that made them available. and at the same time when we can afford a few extra goodies, the wealth of the already rich and powerful rises fantastically. What counds is not token improvements in our life-styles but the gross inequality in the overall distribution of wealth and power.
With the running down of the traditional heavy industries, the old image of the working class has dramatically changed - massively so during the 1980’s. In its place are more white collar workers, and the rise in service industry, high tech and part time employment. But it’s ridiculous to say that just because there is a more diverse labour market the working class has disappeared! It hasn’t, it’s just that to the middle class politicians, media people and journalists if you don’t wear overalls, a cloth cap, and get your hands dirty at work you aren’t working class. That’s how thick they really are!
The end of class society can only come about through working class revolution. This is because the working class is the only social group capable of this massive transformation of society, by virtue of the fact that we are the overwhelming majority and because we have the interest, motivation and ability to do so. History has shown us many examples of the working class’s revolutionary ability, there is no good reason for thinking that this will be any different in the future.
As we said earlier, once you are aware of how crap this society is you either:
1) Do nothing about it because you belong to the ruling class or middle class and have a lot to lose through a revolution
2) Take a cynical `why bother’ attitude, believe that this is the way it will always be and go back to sticking your head in the sand
3) Or you believe that things should change and that we have to organise and fight back to do so.
How you go about doing number three depends on how much `change’ you actually want, and what exactly you are prepared to do. Some people feel they are changing society by voting Labour, joining CND, becoming a vegetarian or joining the Green party. There’s nothing wrong with being a Green, vegetarian member of CND, but it is being criminally naive if you think it will really change the overall structure of society. The same goes for those who think that by `dropping out’ and living some sort of `alternative lifestyle’ they are doing something to change society. They aren’t. The State can tolerate millions of it’s citizens wandering off and living in teepees. and would probably prefer them to do so since they would then be not harmless , and no threat to the State. Others think that by voting Labour they’ll achieve change. We don’t. Class War doesn’t prattle on about `waiting for a Labour Government” or electing Socialist Councils because the Labour Party is about as revolutionary as a pond full of ducks! It’s political aims and ideas are just a `soft’ version of capitalism. It also has a negative and destructive influence because it pretends to be the political voice of the working class. The reality is that it’ s run by a motley collection of bloated, corrupt union officials and trendy-lefty social worker types who are nothing more than a load of parasitical, careerist bureaucrats, easing their `radical consciousness’ by naming tower blocks after obscure Latin American freedom fighters and drinking Nicaraguan coffee at their smart parties, in their smart houses in Hampstead and Holland Park.
Some people join Left-wing groups like the Socialist Workers Party, or Militant. They do want to change society and realise (well some do) that it will only change through a revolution. Class War believers this too ,but how these groups see the coming about of a revolution, and what type of society will be formed and by who, is fundamentally different to what we think and want.
Firstly Class War is not another `Party” trying to gain power. We don’t want to swap one set of bosses for another, no matter how `radical and progressive ‘they pretend to be. They talk about `democratic centralism’ and how the working class needs `their leadership’ - What a joke! We don’t need them anymore than we need the Tories or Labour - THEY NEED US! We have no intention of destroying capitalism just so that it can be replaced by a NEW state, and new laws. Quite apart from anything else, the very nature of these tiny bands of `revolutionaries’ who seem to form new groups, and splinter groups, at the drop of a hat means they usually have an exclusively middle class membership. The working class members soon leave. As a result they launch endless new `front organisations’ to try to recruit members. Based around issues such as the war in Ireland, anti racism and sexism and gay rights etc. The damage that has been done by their guilt-ridden brands of anti-racism and anti-sexism, in particular, is a disgrace to see. In reality though, these obscure left wing groups are little more than a talking shop where their members prattle away to their hearts content about `the political relevance of one-legged tea pickers in Tibet’. While the real world passes them by...
Unlike the Left we see the community as of crucial importance to our class. It is obvious no what any major industrial battles will not succeed without massive community support, such as during the Miners Strike. Crime and other anti-social behavior, racism and sexism must be fought from within our communities, we can’t sit back waiting for someone to do it for us. This is what the Left want us to do, leave everything to them and they will sort it our for us. But what usually happens is that as soon as something else appears on the horizon they’re off like a shot! A good example of this is the Poll Tax - as soon as it was announced that it was going to be scrapped they dropped it like a hot potato, probably relieved that their would be no more riots in Trafalgar Square that would threaten their cozy lifestyles.
To the Left the working class are there to be ordered about because we are too thick to think for ourselves. The new concerns of the Left in this country reflect the political, economic and cultural hopes of the middle class more than ever before. Tragically any decent revolutionaries within these groups usually become burnt out, disillusioned and are wasted. Class War makes no `revolutionary demands’ on behalf for the working class. But we do see the need to play up the revolutionary elements within our struggles, towards an objective of creating a popular `culture of resistance’. This is the popularisation of the ideas of class struggle, class pride and identity, and the values of solidarity, self-management and internationalism. Fundamentally this is about bringing politics into all areas of peoples lives. At present the capitalists invade all areas of our lives - in turn we will have to retrieve every part of them.
Class War makes no “revolutionary demands” on behalf of the working class. But we do see the need to play up the revolutionary elements within our struggles, towards an objective of creating a popular “culture of resistance”. This is the popularisation of the ideas of class struggle, class pride and identity, and the values of solidarity ,self management and internationalism. Fundamentally this is about bringing politics into all areas of peoples lives. At present the capitalists invade all areas of our lives - in turn we will have to retrieve every part of them. This development will become the foundation and energy behind any possible revolutionary movement. In areas of the world where this has happened, like Spain, Italy and Russia, the traditions have lingered on generations after the original movements were crushed - it’s powerful stuff!
WHAT WE DO
As we have said before, the Class War Federation doesn’t have all the answers, neither do we pretend to. We are not a new “party”, or leaders in waiting. Unlike the rest of the Left we don’t see ordinary working class people as mindless, moronic sheep with no political brain of their own who we must seek out and educate with our “superior” political beliefs. We believe that ordinary people have our basic politics already - that of suspicion of authority, and a hatred for the privileged elite. The role of our propaganda is to champion and develop these ideas.
Our propaganda is fundamentally different from all the other political groups. While the Left whine and moan about the power of the State, injustice, write garbled theory and copy the dated writings of obscure 19th century intellectuals or concentrate on “building the part”, Class War tries to increase the confidence, autonomy, initiative and solidarity of working class people.
Moaning on and on about how terrible everything is, is depressing and boring and encourages reformism (Green politics for example). We know that however many reforms are made, the ruling class will be in direct, or indirect (e.g. culturally) control of our lives. They will still control where and how we live and work, and to a large extent what we think. Apart from sheer physical force, the ruling class controls us by demoralisation, pacification, creating apathy, robbing us of our identity as a class and fostering and encouraging prejudice of every possible kind to divide us. Through our propaganda, we try to combat this.
There are three ideas central to Class War, humour, populism and violence. Some people have said that writing a paper in this style is patronising - well that’s crap, of course many working class people are very capable of reading intellectual material - and Class War is aimed at them as much as those who aren’t. Humour is essential to the paper, firstly because is makes people want to read it, and secondly because it is the best way we have of making our point. People remember witty one-liners, and repeat them to their mates, taking with it the political content. Humour is a very powerful weapon. It makes our enemies seem ridiculous and less powerful.
Politics is not separate from everyday life, it is life. The idea that politics must be boring and serious encourages us to forget this. The trouble with most lefty papers is that they are difficult and boring to read. There is a reason why people like to read The Sun. It’s not because they’re stupid and ignorant, it’s because a lot of the time is a light entertaining read. This isn’t saying that The Sun doesn’t talk crap. It just means that there is a lot to be said for a paper that is simple, entertaining and easy to read, and that’s what Class War should be like if we want people to read it. The idea that if you enjoy reading a paper like that, or watching soaps or sitcoms on the telly, means you’re thick, is just intellectual bullshit.
Class War doesn’t shy away from violence, it promotes open class violence - the idea of a lot of people fighting a common enemy. We feature people fighting back in the paper to show that it happens all the time (it’s ignored or marginalised by everyone else), and to show that it works, giving people the confidence they need to take on capitalism and the State. After all the ruling class aren’t just going to roll over and give up their power - it will have to be taken from them.
We also produce a range of propaganda for people who have read Class War and want to know more about what we believe - you’re reading some now! Our theoretical journal, The Heavy Stuff, comes out regularly and goes into current issues and affairs with more depth than Class War does. We also have Unfinished Business, a 200 page book which goes into the present situation that our class is in, how we got there, and how we can learn from the past to change the present. All of the ideas you have read here are gone into in more detail, and it’s highly recommended reading.
WE ARE CLASS WAR
The Class War Federation is made up of normal people, we are not weirdoes or loony lefties! Our politics are common sense and straightforward not the intellectual ranting of university professors. We strongly believe that everyday life and politics are the same thing. If your politics aren’t part of everyday life then they are worthless. Our political activity must be as open to a 30 year old housewife, as to a 40 year old miner as to an OAP.
We do not demand 6am paper sales outside factories in the freezing cold, or 24 hour activity (endless rounds of meetings etc). Class War is not arrogant like the Left, or your everyday politician. Yes, we do have ideas and we do stand firm behind our views, but we don’t think we are perfect, we don’t put forward a theory and say that if everyone followed it to the letter then everything would be fine and the sun would always shine! Our politics come from our lives and the real world; they are a necessity, not a theory.
Class War are not the only “Left wing” group who recognise that
working class people are political (because they have to be) - it’s just
that it’s couched in different terms from the intellectual claptrap of
the Left. We believe that it is right, and a necessity, that there should be
similar groups to our own, and that there should always be debate within our
Federation. Because we are a working class group, and because our politics come
from there, we are able to respect and work with working class people who are
not yet political, or who may have different views than our own.