The Intelligentsia And The Class Struggle

The farm workers who are plunged into strained toil, the pain of a bent back tells of the survival at substandard wages, wonders why they don’t show up in the modern labor analysis? The young fast food workers always on their feet, though the hours of toil are always desired to end, but with each hour the torment increases, they must wonder when the good life some people speak of will begin for them? The office workers who are trained to type like a machines, pains in the wrists and hands have them wondering why people think they have it so good? The miners down in some deep dark hole, digging for the minerals that are needed to keep society running, may wonder about the great conditions of modern American workers that some speak of, for the miners need not worry about the threats of hell from the skypilots, for is not their dally toil hell on earth? The assembly line workers, pushed almost beyond human limits by the speed-up line, may wonder why some people say that they do not exist anymore in this country? The old yardbirds struggling to make it in shipyards where around every corner are dangers to watch out for, may wonder about those who say that the industry of America is no longer blue collar, then why in hell do we yardbirds still toil?

From all the far corners of this land working people face the day-to-day drudgery of labor under the capitalist system. That is their reality, that is their fate, but there are those who wish to deny them the acknowledgement of their existence. It is said that class no longer matters in the analysis of society. Tell that to those that must struggle from paycheck to pay check in order to put food on their tables. There are those that say the American working class has it good, tell that to the millions of workers who have no medical coverage and must either not seek medical help when needed or go into to great debt. There are those that say working conditions have improved greatly, tell that to all the injured workers and those that die each year, fact is in many industries that have grown old there is not a reinvestment in new equipment and the old equipment is used until it breaks and often at that time injuries or kills some worker, so in some industries conditions are worse than they were. There are those that say modern wages are the best in history, tell that to those that work at poverty wages and those who lost so much in the early Reagan years and have yet to win back what they lost. There are those that say class struggle is a thing in the past and is no longer needed, such is a lie that ignores the reality of the need of all working people to struggle day-to-day for better wages, medical benefits, improved working conditions and the need to dump the bosses off our backs and build a society in which we are no longer preyed upon by parasites. Within the class of the intelligentsia all these arguments will be found that deny the reality of working class life.

The continuous exploitation of the working class is a clear reality throughout the ages that class systems has ruled over those who labor. It is clear to be seen by all that there is a class that controls and profits greatly off the labor of another class that is forced to work in order to survive. But between those two classes exists a middle-class that, though they do not control the class system, benefit from the class system. Thus they also stand in the way of the liberation of the working class and the dismantling of the class system. One segment of the middle-class that has had the most dominating harmful effect on the working class has been the intelligentsia.

Though as a class the intelligentsia exists as a great historical force that the working class must resist if they wish to reach liberation, still there are some within that class who do realize the role that the intelligentsia plays in class oppression and have and do seek ways to overcome that oppression. Some have been teachers who rather than indoctrinate working people, seek to empower them with skills to speak and act for themselves.

This writing is only views of one worker, though others may agree with me, who has spent a lifetime working on ships, on oilrigs, in the hard rock mining industry, as a long haul truck driver, a farm worker and as an environmental technician. Since I joined the work force at 17 and through the next four decades I have not only labored but also have been an active class warrior, it is upon the experience gained that I come to my analysis based upon the real world and not the world of abstract theories.

The social system that we have lived under is built upon a hierarchical class structure. Those that rule the system grant some of those below them privileges over those that the system deems less worthily. The purpose of such privileges is to try to create a vested interest in the system among those that do not directly control the system.

The question of placement within the hierarchy is not based upon; intelligence, understanding, ability, talent or skills, but rather it is a question of privilege, in other words the hierarchical system grants the privilege to some to oppress others and have greater opportunities, be it by race, sex, class or what ever. The hierarchy is not of one dimension alone, like class alone, but rather it is multi-dimensional, class, sex. race, religion, culture, nationalism, and so on.

Some times some factors have a greater influence than others at different times. That is how you can have a Black woman (like Rice) in the ruling class, whereas you can't have a white working class male in the ruling class. A part of the ruling class is drawn from the intelligentsia in order to help run the government in the interests the super wealthy. Though Rice, because of her standing within the intelligentsia can be brought into a segment of the ruling class, that being government decision makers, she is limited from reaching the top of that segment. Were she to try to become president, she would be faced with the factors of race and sex, which would be very hard to overcome if she was completing with a white male. So the multi-demensionalism of the system even plays out within the ruling class.

The multi-dimensional hierarchical system is the nature of institutionalized oppression. But that does not deal with all oppression because people are influenced by the culture of the system and some people oppress each other even when they are not at a higher level of the hierarchy.

Am I saying that those that are granted privileges of oppression and greater opportunities should be cut off from those that they oppress? No. I am saying that the oppressed need to resist the privileges of others that oppress them, and those that have privileges that are granted by those above them should reject those privileges and demand rights of freedom from privilege and oppression for all.

Privilege cannot be rejected by denying the existence of privilege. The middle-class has class privileges over the working class. That is the reality of the class system. That does not mean that within the middle-class there are not people who are having a hard time or face oppression and exploitation. Some within the middle-class seek to justify themselves by denying their class or stating that they too at times suffer. Such justifications do deal with the issue of privilege.

There are a number of elements within the middle-class, such groups like managers and small time capitalists, who cannot join in common cause with the working class without giving up their direct role over the working class and thus more than likely becoming working class. Then there is an element of the middle-class that, thought they are wage earners, but by the factor of having class privileges, are middle-class rather than working class, for class is not just about economics it is also about privilege. That privilege is what makes middle-class wage earners middle-class and not working class. Those among middle-class wage earners who do not have a role in directly controlling workers and see that their interests are with workers and reject class privilege can step out of the middle-class and join with the working class in common struggle.

The intelligentsia is the class of intellectuals who are mostly middle-class except when they are in control of the government and thus then are a part of the ruling class. One aspect of the system is the role of ‘authorities’. Damn near every subject has its own authorities. Political authority is the government, economic authority is the capitalists and intelligentsia economists, legal authority is the courts, lawyers and the cops, religious authority is the church, and so on. Within the intelligentsia you will find numerous authorities, for example to have a medical practice approved some medical authority from the intelligentsia must approve it, even if that practice has been used for hundreds of years and has proved itself based upon experience. One of the means that the intelligentsia oppresses the working class is that within it you will find the authorities over labor, such folks as labor historians, labor theoreticians and labor economists. .

The struggle against white privilege, male sex privilege and class privilege and so on, is a struggle that is best understood on the personal level. An example: I for a number of years have worked in support of Native struggles, when ever a Native struggle comes about that deals with their culture in order to prove their culture, one way or another an 'authority', an anthropologist, is called in (this happens all the time in the struggle of Native prisoners for their religious rights) to state what their Native 'ways' are. Well I was once asked to come to a school that was showing the movie "The Wobblies" to speak as a real live Wobbly. When the movie was over a labor history professor spoke for 45 minutes (knowing very little of what he was talking about) and then told me I had 5 minutes to speak. I saw the connection that I have been trying to get you all to understand. I got up and said: "Labor historians are to workers as anthropologists are to Indians. Don't believe a word they say!" That is all I said and that is all I needed to say.

Thus one form of oppression by the intelligentsia is that they seek to speak for those they have little understanding of, and they are not a part of. Members of the intelligentsia write most books on labor, labor economics, labor conditions and labor history. One reason for this is the culture of oppression and classism that recognizes intelligentsia authorities of labor over the writings of direct experience by working people. It is damn near impossible for a working person to get a book published that is written based upon personal experiences. I have tried but I have found no publisher willing to publish my writings on work experiences. But if I had a some degree from some institution of higher indoctrination, and no direct experiences I could get books published even if I did not know much of anything about what I was writing. Because of this the working class has become dependent upon the intelligentsia for their history and ideas and such forced cultural dependence is a form of oppression, because it strips us of our voice of self-expression.

Also, the intelligentsia writes based upon their own agendas and not very often do their agendas come close to expressing the real interests of working people. Nor do they give you a true idea of class struggle because their books isolate events in history and determine if they were a success or failure in the view of the agenda of the intelligentsia writer. Class struggle cannot be seen in isolated events, but rather it is a continuous journey, with struggles leading to other struggles. One struggle could be seen as a failure to the intelligentsia, but because of that struggle some learned important lessons and because of that greater struggles evolved. Also, because of many factors class struggle goes through cycles of decreased activities and increased activities, so it is false to say in times of decreased activities that class struggle no longer exists. For right around the corner of time new struggles are on the way that are influenced by past struggles. .

I once went to a meeting after the Valdez oil spill and listened to an intelligentsia authority speak about what was wrong with oil tankers. That person knew little about what he was talking about. He was just repeating what others of his kind had said or written. Well I have worked on many tankers and had been working in the maritime industry for somewhere around 20 years. I tried to explain that double bottoms are only useful if they have forced ventilation, which few have, because most tankers leak small amounts of oil and the oil collected in the double bottoms create fumes that are explosive and if the tanker colludes with something that causes a spark in those double bottoms that could create an exposition right under the oil cargo tanks. So you need to ventilate the fumes out of the double bottoms. I also tired to explain other things that could be done to tankers to make them safer to the environment. Like for example, tankers don’t carry oil containment booms and thus if they leak oil they have to sit there waiting for oil containment equipment to get there and a lot of oil could spread out because of that. That is one reason why many oil spills cover such a large area. The authority guy felt like I was challenging his authority and did not want to hear what I had to say, and since I was not an authority everyone else just wanted to hear from the authority and not from me. A few agreed that I was a sellout to the environment because I worked in the maritime industry.

We working people have many solutions to problems based upon real experience, but since in this class system we are inferior to the intelligentsia authorities we are not heard and the system keeps us in our ‘place’.

Does an intelligentsia labor authority know more about the reality of labor than do workers? Do they understand the day-to-day reality of working in industries that they have never worked in? Do they understand the suffering, hardship, hopes and desires of the people they study? How much should we depend about these authorities when it comes to an analysis of our class problems and the direction we should go? Think about that question as I ask you this: If your car needs work on it whom would you take it to? An intelligentsia authority that understands theory only? Or to some working class mechanic who has a lot of experience fixing cars? If the abstract theories of the authorities of labor are better than the practical experience of workers themselves very little in this world would function, for it is the practical experience of workers that take the ideas of others and make them into reality. So if we workers make ideas into reality then why are we viewed as inferior to the intelligentsia and must be lead around by our noses by them?

And that idea of superiority is some times a reason why things are as bad as they are. I’ll give you another personal experience. When I was laid off from one shipyard a retaining program opened up for us so-called displaced workers. I decided to go into environmental technician training. That training dealt with such stuff as environmental site assessments, hazardous sites such as Superfund sites, industrial health and safety, emergency spill response, different industrial environmental plans and more. As a worker I had a strong industrial background, and as an activist both in worker issues like health and safety and as an environmentalist, I already knew a lot about the subject. And I have been a radical writer for many years and I was good a researching documents. So I thought I had an advantage going into the training. The only areas that I did not have a background in were some of the sciences like geology, but I figured I could learn that. The people at the school tried to talk me out of taking the training because I did not have a college degree, but I did not let that stop me and I was the only one of the 32 people in the class that did not have a degree. I went through the months of the training; I got A’s on my reports, tests and final test, and came in 3rd in my class.

Before I went out looking for a job I took all of the State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries workshops on industrial safety. After that I went out looking for work with environmental companies and as a health and safety person in different industries. To my surprise I found that none of them wanted to hire me because I did not have a degree. Let me ask you a question; if your safety depended upon a safety person or if you were to have a site inspected, would you rather have someone with a degree and training, who just knew words out of some book? Or would you want someone who had the training and had the experience of knowing what they were looking at and how to prevent problems? When we did an inspection of a house which included looking for lead in pipe joints, everyone but me had to write down that there was possible lead, I have been a pipefitter for many years and I know what lead in joints looks like so I could say one way or another. In checking out lockouts and tagouts I know what I am looking at because I have done many of them. Once I saw a safety person try to close a value and when the handle would not move he locked it out. The fact is the handle was stuck and the valve was open. I can look at a valve and tell if it is open or closed. When I took the State workshop on confined spaces the teacher stated that all burning leads had to be tested to see if they leaked. I asked him if the regulations called for a drop test. He did not know what a drop test was. That is the test to see if there is a leak in a burning lead. I can look at industrial systems and see where the possible problem spots are because I have built many such systems. I could go on and on about this, but the point is, part of the reason why there are so many industrial environmental problems and injuries is that those who are responsible to prevent them only know words out of books and don’t know what they are looking at. And this problem is created because of the myth of the superiority of intelligentsia theory over the practical experience of working people.

Now folks can call me all kinds of names, say that I am prejudice against the intelligentsia, or make it out that I am an intellectual because I know how to read and think (as most workers can) even though I have no connection to the intelligentsia for I never got far in their system of indoctrination (never finished high school, and I am just a shipyard worker), or any other excuse used to discredit what I say. But all that is just smoke screens used to not address the issues I have written about. And to those who say: "why can't we just all get along?" I say no, not as long as someone is standing on my back trying to keep me down!

From time to time, mostly folks from the intelligentsia, ask why class struggle has not yet liberated working people from the exploitation of the class system? There are many historical reasons; one such reason is that we have had a parasite clinging to our backs, the intelligentsia. The intelligentsia has helped keep the class system in place by suppressing our voice, but also by creating sectarian cults that keep the working class divided. Most all rebellious workers understand the basics of class struggle. When left to our own self-management of our organizations and actions, most workers function through their experiences with direct action and through solidarity based unity. At the point of direct struggle workers know that they either stand with the struggle or they are a scab siding with the ruling class.

Though workers do find slightly different forms of organized struggle, still the direct struggles of workers are basically the same and the differences are no problem to the struggle because as long as they stand in solidarity the differences are just a form of worker free association and free will of self-determination, and most of the differences are based upon different experiences of conditions and struggle.

Throughout the years of class struggle the intelligentsia have convinced different workers that they could not struggle by their own means and that they needed to join into some intelligentsia controlled sectarian cult. The most prominent of such cults are the numerous Marxist intelligentsia cults.

When working people speak of empowering themselves in order to speak and act in their own self-interest, the intelligentsia begins to worry. For who will follow the intelligentsia if the people below them no longer need them to think for them? It is like the preachers losing their sheep when they realize they not longer need a shepherd.

For some such talk brings back the fear of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. A closer look at that Cultural Revolution will show that it was really a power struggle among competing members of the intelligentsia. Mao was of the intelligentsia and not of the working class.

Within the political personality cults created by the intelligentsia there is competition among the cults to see which will be the ruling cult.

Unfortunately most of the time it is working people who are manipulated into being the foot soldiers in the conflicts between these cults. But yes, there needs to be a cultural revolution, the act of working people reclaiming their culture away from the ruling class, the middle-class and specially from the intelligentsia. And yes the intelligentsia would have good reason to worry about a real working class cultural revolution. For in Mao’s cultural revolution there was still a place for some of the intelligentsia at the top of it, and others were suppressed, but a working class cultural revolution would leave no place in society for any of the intelligentsia and thus they would need to learn to do something useful, for workers would no longer be their prey to feed upon. Workers do not need all the Marxs and other such parasites that have sought to control us. We can do for ourselves right nicely on our own.

Ah, the faithful ones converge to the defense of their Gods, for it is not right to speak ill of the holy ones. Such heretics as I must be confronted. The very thought that working people could look around them and understand what they saw is blasphemy! As I continue my defiance of the holy ones, I say working folks knew that there was a class of people that exploited them and that they were of a class that was being exploited. All they had to do is look around them and see that the same class play was being performed everywhere they looked! With or without the holy ones, they knew that the side that exploited them cooperated together in the interest of that arrangement, and that only by cooperation of the exploited would they ever improve their lot.

Though the holy ones mere existence depends upon the idea that the exploited ones have not the ability to see their own way, reality is the ugly breaker of such myths for within any society throughout the history of societies, it has been the intelligence and the skills of the exploited class that has turned mere ideas into material reality. Could the holy ones build or sail a ship? Work a mine? Create all that society uses? I, the heretic ask this, where is the true intelligence to be found, in dreaming up theories or in the creation of material reality? Who is really superior to whom?

As for your Marxist scientific socialism, where has that lead in all its attempts? A higher level of social human existence? Hell no! It has lead to a higher level of capitalism and exploitation! Marxism has been one of the greatest historical mistakes ever made! Cast that false prophet down from his intelligentsia throne!

And now this heretic will vent his most damning blasphemy of all. It has been the interference of the intelligentsia class in the affairs of the working class that is responsible for the continuation of the class system. The capitalists will always act as they do because it is in their nature to do so. And it is in the common interest of the working class to cast those parasites off their backs and take direct control of industry and their communities to run things for the benefit off all working people. The intelligentsia class exists only by the means of the privilege that comes from the illusion of superiority. It is in their direct interest to maintain their privilege. In order to do that all their social theories are based upon the concept of the idea of superiority where the holy ones create cults where they are looked upon as great and all knowing while the followers, the working class, are but sheep for the shepherd.

“Follow me!” The holy ones proclaim. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, DeLeon or who ever, “follow me and I’ll lead you to your salvation.” Though the beginning of the call to the parade comes from the same need, the end of the exploitation, each parade takes a different route with a different holy one leading the way and merging the parades together is an impossible task for which holy one would be the holiest of them all? So one of the reasons why the working class has not been able to unite in common struggle is that the intelligentsia keeps them divided and that will always be so as long as we workers follow anyone but ourselves.

The intelligentsia cannot do other than keep the working class divided because it is in their nature to do so. You cannot be a holy one if no one worships you, no matter what the end results are. It is like the old story of the scorpion and the mouse. The scorpion and the mouse are on the banks of a stream. The scorpion asks the mouse if he will carry him on his back across the stream. The mouse says to the scorpion “you will sting me if I do”. The scorpion tells the mouse that he will not do that because they will both drown and die. The mouse sees the logic in that and thinking it would be nice to have a friend like mister scorpion, the mouse takes the scorpion on his back and starts to swim across the stream. Half way across the stream the scorpion stings the mouse. The mouse asks the scorpion why he did that for now they both will die. The scorpion replied, “I can’t help it is my nature.” Like the scorpion, the intelligentsia cannot help it, it is their nature to divide the working class and thus drown us in defeat.

Another reason why the holy ones of the intelligentsia class cannot ever bring real salvation to the working class is that the holy ones exist only in the realm of theatrical abstractions. Building a new society is like building a house or ship and the intelligentsia has little practical knowledge of the reality of such construction. We working people are the ones with the needed knowledge, so why do we need to have the intelligentsia riding on our backs only to sting us?

My blasphemy is not confined to the Marxist holy ones and their cults, for even within such philosophical tendencies such as anarchism you will find intelligentsia cults that seek to keep working people dependent upon cults and cult leaders. Within the modern so-called anarchist realm, they are a number of intelligentsia cults then even contradict the basic ideas of anarchism. They do this by sectarian attacks upon the free will of people by continuously attacking people’s expression of their free will and telling them they are wrong because they are not following their so-called anarchist cult. The babblings of the cults of the post-modern, post-leftists, post-structurists, anti-organizationalists, post-reality intelligentsia anarchist cultists are a good example of this. Their endless attacks on class struggle anarchists is in fact direct attacks on the free will of people to decide for themselves the manner in which they struggle.

Another oppressive element created by the anarchist intelligentsia is the creation of anarchist celebrities. Most of the time these celebrities are of the intelligentsia class. Whenever these celebrities fart, that is taken as a profound statement and the groupies will swarm over every word as if they are written in stone and passed down from some illusional heights of greater understanding. Some of these celebrities do seek personality cults around them, some do not, and some have cults created around them after they have died.

Anarchism, in my view, is a continues journey of ideas and action. There have been many who have written worthwhile words to read, but often those words lose their usefulness when the writer of the words is elevated to the status of a celebrity where their words are viewed as worthy because of their status rather than the validity of the words themselves. This does some harmful things, first the useful ideas are lost in celebrityism and this helps suppress the ideas of those that have not gain the celebrity status, for their words are deemed less important, not based upon ideas by rather based upon status. Also it should be pointed out that often what these anarchist writers are writing about are ideas and actions that they have taken from the on going struggles of people who lack status.

New forms and different forms of struggle are an essential element in progression of anarchist struggle, but to turn anarchist struggle away from the struggle against capitalism and the state and refocus the struggle into a struggle between competing anarchist intelligentsia cults is reactionary and a continuation of the system of classes dominating other classes. In this case the domination of the intelligentsia class over the working class.

The class struggle is not just about economics (the wage system); it is also about dismantling the class system. No matter what changes we make in other things, if we do not dismantle the class system the working class will continue to be in bondage! The class system can only be dismantled by the free organizational expressions of the working class and by the direct action of working people through their self-determination struggles of knocking all the classes above them off their class pedestals and that includes the intelligentsia. This struggle can include those of the intelligentsia who reject their class status and privileges and join with the working class, not to dominate them, but rather to help the educational process that will empower workers with a voice of their own and the ability to act in their own direct interests to dismantle the class system in order to create a classless society where the privilege of a few is replaced with the well-being of all, free self-expression and self-management.

In The Spirit Of Total Resistance
Arthur J. Miller