Traditionally, Western Marxists have posited that the proletarians were the revolutionary class, while Eastern Marxists have argued that the peasantry were the revolutionary class. The fact of the matter was that very few Western Marxists, if any, were ever proletarians and very few Eastern Marxists, if any, were ever peasants. While Marxists can project these characteristics onto other classes of people, in order to try to build an image of populism, the truth is that neither the proletarians nor peasants were ever very revolutionary at all. As it turns out, most people prefer things the way they are until the conditions become downright intolerable, at which point moving to another country is usually preferable to participating in a violent revolution. We’ve seen a tendency to move rather than change in migrations from Mexico, Ireland, and countless other countries over the years. While many Marxists argue that the primer for revolution is the existence of large working classes that live under poor material conditions, it’s more complicated than that. The large majority of dictators and party staffers who came to lead successful “communist” parties were educated in wealthy countries, returned to poorer homelands, and used their resources abroad or from their families to secure funding for their parties domestically. The real revolutionaries, historically, have never been the workers at all, but rather those who could afford not to work and devote their time to agitating. This situation, however, came with its own constraints that no one has addressed yet.
Relying on bookish ne’er-do-wells to spread propaganda and kickstart revolutions was a strategy that only worked in countries too poor to afford simple surveillance of the population. Part of the reason why Marxism-Leninism never took off in developed countries was because the police states were developed enough to see these parties as the threats they were, the Marxists that are here were not of the same cloth, and the workers were wealthy enough not to risk it all to live under the thumb of their lessers. Unlike their third-world counterparts, Marxists in developed countries didn’t have the ability to source ample resources from wealthier comrades abroad and their credentials weren’t unique. As a rule, studying the humanities makes you far more likely to spend your idle time dwelling on philosophy and alternative economics, than say an engineering student. Western Marxists, who seemingly weren’t groomed and accustomed to the actual idea of working for a living, can be found more in the humanities than any other department in academia for this reason. Unlike their equally unskilled Eastern counterparts, the bogus degrees and accolades that Marxists earn here don’t have the same cache. Earning a whimsical degree here, such as an English degree from Harvard, in America, means you have an average salary of $37,300. The same things that worked to sell yourself abroad, in countries backwards enough where simply moving out of your village was a big deal at the time, did not work in the developed world. The Marxists here were tragically normal people at best, and usually worse than that. Being able to sell yourself on image alone, as they’ve done with personality cults abroad, is hard to do here when all of the figures you can source aren’t exceptional. This isn’t a coincidence, but rather just a result of something else: to become a Marxist in America, you’ve had to most likely diverge from what sociology deems the path of least resistance.
In sociology, the path of least resistance is the path that an individual can take with the most minimal effort required. For children from a college educated family, the path of least resistance is going to college and getting a degree. For children from a high school educated family, the path of least resistance is working a job right out of high school if their parents don’t push for them to attend college. The path of least resistance even determines partly what you read, and therefore what you think, based on what material is most convenient for you to read. Going off of that, it’s not wild to think that the path of least resistance can also be applied to whether or not you change your beliefs when confronted with an obstacle. The path of least resistance changes you by coincidence, but when you leave the path, often involuntarily, the changes made to your person are very consciously observed and often become counter to what you were before. In a country so individualistic, so capitalistic, and so intent on drilling those values into citizens’ heads, most Americans that arrive at Marxism are deviants to begin with here. These aren’t put-together people, but rather the refuse and rejects of society who’ve deviated from the path of least resistance. It’s highly unlikely that anything in America institutionally or at home pushed them that way, unlike their Eastern counterparts who were pushed towards communism due to the ravages of imperialism in their homelands. Marxism in the East was sold as a rapidly modernizing philosophy that accelerated industrial growth and promised to empower the weak nations of the world. Marxism in America is most often a reaction for those who can’t replicate their parents’ success, as they inherited the bourgeois leisurely habits of their parents. These “Marxists,” feeling entitled to nicer conditions based on the minimal effort they saw their parents give, were born too late to realize the work that went into earning those positions that afforded their parents those lifestyles. While Marxism was viewed by the Asians and Eurasians as empowering, it’s viewed by America’s ne’er-do-wells as a great equalizer, and thus in its present forms will never win.
The Western Marxist, much like the Western Capitalist, is tragically drawn more to grandeur than reality. The Marxist dreams of passive jobs that provide a higher-than-average income, while the Western Capitalist dreams of having passive income streams to allow him to do what he wants. Both are drawn to the hedonistic cult of post-work, rather than anything productive or virtuous. In America and other Western nations, to earn a middle-class income or above, you simply have to settle for poor work-life balances at the most. Anyone can go to trade school and become a plumber, anyone can go to college, get an english degree, and become a technical writer, based on just intellectual and financial barriers-to-entry. You may have to move, you may have to take on debt, but upwards mobility here is largely doable as long as you’re willing to embrace the suck in a capitalist society. Most Marxists here don’t do that, and usually seem to be failed grifters, who have tried their hand at getting jobs in fields where little to no actual work is required. While this “failed grifter” idea was always a suspicion of mine based on anecdotal evidence, it’s been all but confirmed by the rapidly growing anti-work “movement” – if you could call a congealed mass of slugs and leeches a movement – in America. Suffice to say, America has no actual revolutionary class and most certainly not one that is proletarian. On the contrary, it has a population of faux-revolutionaries bound to their parents’ basements at worst and the armchairs of PMC layabout jobs at best.
The true revolutionary class – in the reform sense – on the horizon has already been born, is small but growing, and has yet to be addressed: Gray Collar Workers. These are workers, chiefly skilled tradesmen and engineers, who do a blend of both white collar and blue collar work. The class has three conditions going for it, in regards to their potential as comrades:
Unlike the peasants and proletarians before them, Gray Collar Workers are largely capable of being unionized, are almost always educated, and are typically well-off. The material conditions haven’t changed enough for them yet to become radicalized, although in the tech industry we’re seeing this more and more already. As the years drag on and this economy grinds to a halt, Gray Collar Workers may look out the window of a warehouse or factory and wonder where it all went wrong. These workers won’t be won over by personality cults, a tactic used by Asian and Eurasian Marxists to sway ignorant proletarians and peasants over to their side. This class of workers is a rare combination of people being both trained to find solutions and educated enough to be more aware of the world around them. As America degenerates further and further into a cultural wasteland dominated by lumpenproletarians, they’ll look more and more for solutions. Function, for such educated and realistic individuals who work in disciplines that rely on objectivity, will take precedence over any imagery. Unlike the bourgeois shareholders of the future, this class doesn’t live in gated communities, and their country’s problems are as much their problems as anyone else’s. As the middle class continues to disintegrate and these workers are barred from entry into the dwindling bastions of safe, orderly neighborhoods left, they’ll be urged more and more to devote themselves to political change.
As process automation makes more and more workers redundant in the coming decades, an increasingly large number of the workers remaining will be Gray Collar Workers. These workers, being able to cross-reference digital and physical knowledge back and forth, will be far harder to automate than any other class of workers. As America’s economic standing, and thus purchasing power diminishes, it is likely that more factories will return to America as largely automated facilities to save on supply chain costs that continue to rise. Companies that had traditionally taken advantage of labor cost differences by outsourcing will be less incentivized as Americans become poorer, speaking relatively in terms of trading power. In a world with more tense trade relations, as America loses its status as an uncontested superpower, its likely companies will relocate their production centers closer to home. These returning industries will provide a comfortable niche for these Gray Collar Workers, and not many other kinds of workers, who can be automated by machines or outsourced over the internet. In addition to that, in more traditional industries that require machinery too unwieldy or not adaptable enough to be used on occasions, specialized blue workers will remain behind to pick up the slack. These workers will not be entry-level employees but rather seasoned veterans overflowing with certifications and experience who can’t be replaced by machines. These crooks and crannies that all these professionals wedge themselves into will create ripe ground for unionization, and these more intelligent workers will certainly be more class conscious than their predecessors as a result. We’ve already seen divergences in thought at large companies like Google, where the Gray Collar engineers disagree with their Professional-Managerial-Class colleagues regularly and sometimes publicly.
The Gray Collar Vanguard will provide a powerful counterpart to all revolutionary forces before them, being a class of proletarians that accepted their lot at an earlier age, improved it, and are still in touch with the world around them. They’ll be workers seeking solutions to problems they experience, and uniquely will feel the solutions themselves once they’ve been implemented. Maybe this is all wrong, just some hopeful interpretation of reality, but it makes sense on paper and when it comes to predicting the future, that’s the most we can hope for. As we move closer to a post-scarcity society, it seems that all these factors are becoming apparent and converging into one general zeitgeist. Marx’s idea on the era of when communism could begin, where once capitalism had developed the means of production to the point that everyone could live comfortably, is fast approaching. If the Gray Collar class takes its rightful place as the vanguard, they won’t wage class war in the trenches, but through the combined might of powerful new unions, new publications run by workers, and political parties run by workers. The dominant socialism of the future may very well value technical education, hard work, and won’t see workers as just useful pawns, because they’ll be the workers themselves. The fact that the development of Gray Collar workers as a class is coinciding at the same time that we enter into the age of post-scarcity may yet save humanity from the Great Filter of capitalism and give us new purpose in a world without limits.