Socialism and the Bourgeois Way of Life

[From: There will come a day... By Gotfred Appel. Futura 1971 pp. 23-26]

It is immediately evident that the principal class contradiction in the parasite state of Denmark has always been and still is the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – between the class which is in power, and which has ownership of the means of production on the one hand, and on the other hand that class which is the child of the capitalist big industry, and which has nothing but its labour power to sell.

But that does  n o t  necessarily mean that always and under all circumstances the bourgeoisie is grossly oppressing and exploiting the proletariat. The technical development as a whole, the gigantic, modern production machine in the developed capitalist world as a whole are built on exploitation, on the value-creating labour of the workers, yes – but in the imperialist countries the whole of this development has mainly taken place on the basis of a vigorous exploitation,  n o t  of the workers of the imperialist countries themselves, but of the working people of the colonial and dependent countries.

Today the factor of exploitation is present in Danish capitalist society, but it does not take up the dominant position. Today the factor of bribery is dominating the relation between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This factor of bribery has had its imprint on the attitude of the working class as a whole.

As a result of the factor of bribery, as a result of the enormous growth of capitalist industry, as a result of social-democratic reformism and modern revisionism the working class' habits of life, its demands in life, its dreams and expectations – and even the means used by it to attain them – are bourgeois, bourgeois to the marrow!

You cannot just say that as far as material standard of living is concerned we have “gone too far ahead” compared to the people out there. You cannot say that we have to “wait for them a little”, until we can proceed together with them.

In the parasite consumer's society of Denmark we have not gone too far “ahead”. We have gone in the wrong direction. We have gone in a bourgeois direction, in a direction which is one hundred per cent bourgeois individualistic.

Progress – material as well as cultural – will take quite another direction under socialism. No one can say exactly what road it will take – the working class will have to and is going to pave it itself – but it is  n o t  going to be the bourgeois road, it is  n o t  going to be the road, which we have followed for the past many decades.

Of course, Lenin was right when he once said that it was easier to carry out the socialist revolution in Russia than it was going to be in Western Europe, but that in return it would be easier in Western Europe than in the Soviet Union to build the material industrial basis of socialism. Of course we shall never start our socialist construction on the same level – technically, materially – as for instance India.

But nevertheless when that time comes we shall find ourselves in a situation, where we shall have to build our socialist Denmark with diligence and thrift. The glare of advertising and the whole of the gigantic industry behind the noise, will stop. The hurlyburly of fashion will come to an end, the status symbols will lose their importance and their value – and no longer will there be such a difference in the standard of living from country to country that it will be cheaper for Danes to go by jet-plane to Mallorca than have one's holiday on the (Danish island of) Bornholm!

When we know that a fundamental change will take place in the way of life of the working class first of all and then of the working people, a fundamental change in the demands they make of life and their personal needs, when we know that we have not gone too far “ahead” in the direction the whole of mankind will take, but that we have gone in the wrong direction – when we know that, should we not tell the working class? Should we not, as part of the revolutionary agitation and propaganda, tell the working class, that with absolute certainty the day is bound to come when the class must not only acquire the ideology – Marxism – which is its own, in the true sense of the word, but that it must also create its own attitude towards life and educate the whole of the working population in this world outlook and this ideology, and this attitude?

Or should we, as the revisionists want us to do, carry on the efforts to, lead the working class in the direction, which we  k n o w  to be wrong? Should we assist and lead it in the efforts to get still more of the “benefits”, which the bourgeoisie has succeeded in making the Working class consider “benefits”? Should we lead it to satisfy still more of the “needs” which the bourgeoisie has imposed on it through the glare of advertisement of the consumer's society? Should we be really “revolutionary”, even, and help the working class invent  n e w  needs of exactly the same kind?

Thus the question is posed:

Should we strive to lead the workers in the struggle for higher wages, shorter working hours, mobilize it to demand more bourgeois “social benefits”, more “spare time benefits”, to satisfy its bourgeois needs for “leisure”?

Or should we openly call it swindle and deception to promise the workers things which we know they cannot get? Should we openly call it pandering to the bourgeois way of thinking, to the bourgeois strivings in the working class, and straight out declare that it must be fought against, and that this fight is one of the preconditions of the socialist revolution?

Should we not openly say that the whole of this struggle for the fulfilment of bourgeois needs is leading the working class directly away from a socialist way of thinking? That the trade union activity at the present level of development of the parasite state is directly harmful and a hindrance to the struggle for socialism?

In the present situation, where the factor of bribery is dominating in relation to the factor of exploitation, and where the working class as a whole – organizationally, politically and ideologically – has made itself the ally of the bourgeoisie in order  t o g e t h e r  w i t h  the bourgeoisie to preserve capitalist society – in this situation it is the main task of the revolutionary communists to break down this bourgeois way of thinking in the working class. The task is to point out precisely that the way of thinking which is characteristic of the class as a whole,  i s  bourgeois.

We have to start an ideological offensive against the bourgeois, reformist and revisionist ideology and all its manifestations and effects. We must take the offensive in order, through this destruction, to spread an understanding of the factor of bribery and the objectively existing road of development, which  n o  o n e  and  n o t h i n g  can halt. We have to build up revolutionary strength for the day of battle to come.

Of course, the very nature of the situation dictates that these ideas will not take root among the great masses of workers and working people right away. But gradually the factor of bribery  w i l l  diminish. Gradually we  s h a l l  come into a situation where first of all the working class will be an exploited class – if it does not happen more suddenly in connection with a holocaust of crises and wars!

In the course of this development more and more people will have their eyes opened – if revolutionary communists prove able to conduct their ideological, political and organizational struggle correctly, and if they are able constantly to sum up experience, correct mistakes made, and deepen their understanding together with the changes in this reality and through this to create close links with these increasing numbers of people.

Above all, it will be an ideological struggle in the working class itself. It will be a struggle against all bourgeois tendencies which will hamper the workers' understanding of the fact that the coming national crisis is its own long-term and deepest interest, and which will also tend to draw the workers away from solidarity with the fighting peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and over to the side of its “own” capitalists.

It is going to be a hard and difficult struggle. But as the inevitable economic development proceeds, and as the “cosy” life of the labour aristocracy, which has been built on the backs of millions and millions of human beings, disappears, this development will mobilize more and more people. At a certain point, the struggle will also become an economic struggle to defend the very means of existence, and in the end it will also be a political revolutionary struggle for power in society.

One day the situation will exist when the dominant position of bourgeois ideology and bourgeois way of life among the working class will be broken down to a sufficient degree and replaced with Marxism applied to Danish reality, and where the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat therefore will be resolved in the socialist revolution.

This socialist revolution, the creation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the construction of a socialist Denmark will create the preconditions for the  f i n a l  annihilation of the influence of bourgeois ideology.