Sources on class struggle in Kazakhstan, and a historical reference

Nazarbayev’s statue on the ground

(this overview is ended 11-1-2022)

From the above sources on the present movement in Kazakhstan, we learn that left-bourgeois forces propagate a return from ‘neo-liberal’ private capitalism to state capitalism from the USSR-period. Amongst workers this idea is alive in a nostalgic way, as they have seen worsen their situation with privatizations. We have seen the same amongst oil workers in Iran. However, historical council communism offers another perspective.

A historical reference

(written in 1940, based on the council experiences in Russia, Germany, Hungaria 1917-1923)

“However, if the revolution … simultaneously spreads to … other countries, the situation becomes much more favorable. …

Therefore, the first thing necessary for the success of the proletarian revolution is expansion across borders. No limitation of the movement to a single country – the entire capitalist world must be involved in the uprising.

In order to prevent this state-capitalist development, only one way is open to the working class: the independent organisation of production. However, the powers striving for state capitalism will not leave it alone and will try to take control themselves. The question of the organization of production therefore coincides with the question of the organization of political power.

This is true, moreover, of any class that achieves economic power: if it is to be able to maintain it against the attacks of other classes, it must at the same time organize political power in face of those classes. The difference is merely that in the earlier forms of society the economically ruling class was the class of the exploiters, which by its organization of power had to prevent an attack by the exploited on the system. In communist society, however, all classes are abolished; the political power formation of the workers here has only the purpose of making possible the confirmation of the power of the class during the revolution.

A first condition for the establishment of workers’ power is, that all contradictions within the working class are abolished. Without this, power formation by the class as a unity is not possible.

However, it is not primarily a question of eliminating ideological differences. The Bolshevists see this as the essential thing; they believe that only when the difference in thinking among the workers has disappeared will the class be capable of common action. That is why they want the whole class to be led by their party, without considering that this is the surest way to break the independent power of the working class completely.

As a Marxist, one must be aware that a difference of opinion, of thought, arises from a difference of class position. Not in individual cases, of course, but when one looks at the different views as social phenomena. One can find this confirmed in all past periods of class struggle. One has only to think, for example, of the difference in thinking between a docker, a diamond worker and an office worker. Also within the working class the role one plays in the production process determines one’s way of thinking.

Therefore, when we speak of the elimination of antagonisms between workers as a first condition for the organisation of a proletarian power, it is not a question of the elimination of the difference in ways of thinking. The latter can only be the result when the difference in the economic position has been abolished. The economic equality of the workers is a first condition for the growth of a workers’ power. Specifically, this means that the privileges of the workers’ aristocracy are abolished, that the trade unions (insofar as they still exist), which maintain the spiritual and material majority of this aristocracy over the other workers, are dissolved, that the workers in the enterprises form their business organizations in order to decide jointly, as a unit, on the measures to be taken. The workers thrown out of production by capitalism must be reintroduced into the production process – unity of action between working and unemployed sections of the proletariat could not otherwise be achieved. The creation of an economic equality of the workers must be the first work of the revolution if the power of the working class is to be established.

The driving force of the revolution will naturally lie in the proletarian centers, Mining and industrial districts, big business in the cities constitute the main centers of proletarian power. Here beats the heart of production, here are the workers gathered in large producing units to act in an organized manner. Against this, all kinds of insignificant little companies, remnants of the small capitalist period, will play no role. They will probably be left to their own devices by the workers working in them, whenever this is possible without damage to the progress of production. In any case, they play no role in the organization of production. In this way the main centers of production become at the same time the centers of proletarian power formation.

In addition to the elimination of economic inequality within the working class, the sharp separation of the proletariat from its former oppressors is a necessary condition for the success of the proletarian revolution. The proletarian regime is not “democratic” in the bourgeois sense, it does not recognize the “equal rights of all people,” exploiters and exploited, it can only grant rights to one group of people, namely to those, who perform a socially necessary function, it must eliminate all parasitism. This too is not a moral requirement, but a necessity for the establishment of power. As long as one grants a group of people the right to live without producing, one leaves open the possibility of counter-revolutionary power formation.

How the proletariat can succeed in preventing the organization of a bourgeois power can be deduced from the measures taken by the workers in Catalonia in the first days of the Spanish revolution. Without abolishing money, they took the decision, that only on presentation of a proof that the buyer was employed as a worker in a company, as a miliciano, or that for special reason (physical incapacity) he was exempted from work, it was allowed to sell. In Catalonia, this measure was very soon revoked, as the workers were persuaded by their organizations. Nevertheless, it can be an important weapon in the hands of the workers. It makes it impossible for the members of the possessing class to withdraw temporarily, to live on their accumulated property, and meanwhile to conspire to counter-revolutionary action. They are forced to report to the workers’ councils and can thus be put under control. At the same time, this measure constitutes a first step on the road to the organization of production and distribution by means of the labor time account.

The organization of power by the working class can only come about naturally on the basis of the organization in the companies. Its purpose is the organization of production, as a means of equalizing all workers economically and separating and putting under the control of the members of the bourgeoisie who cannot be included in production in the normal way. Of course, the armed power of the workers will also have to rest on the same basis.

In the enterprises where the workers produce collectively, or in proletarian districts such as mining districts, Rühr area, they hold meetings to discuss the problems of the moment. Here the measures necessary for the progress of production and the maintenance of power are discussed. From here, actions are also taken. From here delegates are sent to other companies and to workers’ councils to represent the views of the producers. From here the workers march when necessary, to quell any counter-revolutionary attempt that may arise here or there. If certain work must be done jointly by a larger number of workers, – defense against regular attacks by counterrevolutionary forces gathered abroad, or the performance of isolated work that falls outside normal production – then these companies send out labor or combat teams, which are supplied with arms, means of life and labor through the company. For the companies are the real centers of proletarian power; here the weapons, the food supplies must be, so that it is really the organized producers who have these at their disposal and so that no hostile power can take possession of them. …”

Source: G.I.C., Over de perspectieven van de komende klassenacties, in Radencommunisme, March-April 1940

3 Comments on “Sources on class struggle in Kazakhstan, and a historical reference

  1. Je ne pense pas qu’on puisse réduire la classe ouvrière seulement aux mines et industries, les plus grosses. C’était peut-être le cas en Russie des années 1917, mais aujourd’hui, cela voudrait dire les seules industries en Chine. Ailleurs ce sont les services et le secteur de la reproduction qui sont la plus grosse partie de la classe ouvrière. Je résume en grand trait…

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    I don’t think you can reduce the working class only to the mines and industries, the big ones. That may have been the case in Russia in the 1917s, but today it would mean only industries in China. Elsewhere it is the services and the reproduction sector that are the largest part of the working class. I summarize in broad strokes… (translated with Deepl.com)

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  2. Probablement vous referez au fragment du GIC de 1940, écrit pout le cas qu’une révolution prolétarienne en Allemagne mettait fin à la deuxième guerre mondiale. Bien sur qu’il faut se rendre compte des changements dans la composition de la classe ouvrière. Mais dans ce texte, le GIC se demandait ou résidait la force du prolétariat en Allemagne et en Europe. Dans le cas de la présente révolte en Kazakhstan – encore loin d’une révolution prolétarienne – il me semble clair que cette force se trouve dans le secteur du pétrole et gaz. Cela n’a rien à faire avec une ‘réduction’ de classe ouvrière. Dans cette question de relations de force entre les classes, on peut pas se servir d’un principe ‘majoritaire’ au nom de la ‘démocratie’, ou même en vue des élections parlementaires.

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    You will probably refer to the GIC fragment of 1940, written in case a proletarian revolution in Germany ended the Second World War. Of course one has to realize the changes in the composition of the working class. But in this text, the GIC asked itself where the strength of the proletariat in Germany and in Europe resided. In the case of the present revolt in Kazakhstan – still far from a proletarian revolution – it seems clear to me that this strength lies in the oil and gas sector. This has nothing to do with a ‘reduction’ of the working class. In this question of power relations between classes, one cannot use a ‘majority’ principle in the name of ‘democracy’, or even in view of parliamentary elections.

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