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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #280 - At the border of social relations (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Tue, 6 Mar 2018 08:58:33 +0200

The society is crossed by conflicting relations which oppose antagonistic groups. But there are also social groups that occupy border positions. ---- In The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels write: " The history of any society to this day has been nothing but the story of class struggles.[...]However, the distinctive character of our era, of the time of the bourgeoisie, is to have simplified the class antagonisms. Society is divided into two vast enemy camps, into two great classes diametrically opposed: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat . " ---- Nevertheless, in his book Class Struggles in France, Marx distinguishes up to seven social classes. If, in reality, sociologically and historically there is more than two social classes, on the political plane, the capitalist class struggle opposes two main social classes. As a result, the other social classes do not have a truly independent political strategy and are thus led to ally with one of the main classes.

Middle classes, civil servants and proletarianized bourgeoisie

Several sociologists of the second half of the XX th century saw in the service sector of society and the growth of employees and intermediate professions, an averaging of the company that would eventually deny the existence of a class struggle. In the same way, some put forward, especially after the strike movement of 1995, the position taken by the public sector trade unionism in relation to that of the industrial centers. Still others see the precarious intellectual workers as the new revolutionary social avant-garde.

In reality, the existence of these groups and their numerical growth - middle classes, civil servants, precarious intellectuals ... - does not however contradict the existence of the class struggle and change the center of gravity of society. These groups have a borderline position in social relations and this is not an autonomous political strategy. They are thus susceptible according to the political balance of power and the state of class consciousness to ally with the capitalist bourgeoisie or the proletariat.

It is important to maintain in the revolutionary analysis the centrality of the proletariat at the risk of invisibilizing the working classes - workers and employees - who ensure the jobs of execution and, on the contrary, to over-visibilize the protesting discourse of social groups more endowed with cultural capital and thus more able to present themselves as mobilization entrepreneurs.

Border social groups

In particular, the notion of " frontier " groups has been developed in chicana feminism as a result of feminist lesbian chicana [1]Gloria Anzaldua. But the notion of a " frontier " group is not limited to the question of the struggle of capitalist social classes, but encompasses other social antagonisms.

For example, Queer people [2], such as trans * people, are groups that are bordered by social gender relations. Nevertheless, the queer theory makes the mistake of focusing their policies on these groups whereas the issue is rather that of the conditions of their alliance or not with the feminist movement.

Similarly in social relations of racialization, some groups occupy a border position. This is the case for some Métis people, whose white passing, may give them white privileges. This is also the case according to decolonial thinkers such as Boaventura de Sousa Santos, certain European migration groups, such as the Portuguese, who come from countries which in the capitalist world system are located in the semi-periphery. Ethno-racial groups that occupy a border position are thus also likely to ally or not, depending on the state of political power relations, with privileged groups or on the contrary racialized groups.

Specificities of border experiences and political alliances
Border social experiences are specific and may require special consideration.

For example, there are unions organizing workers in the public service. There may be commissions to develop work demands specific to each category. But the inter-categorial organization is important to be able to organize alliances between those who occupy positions of execution, technicians or managers.

Similarly, there are awareness groups for trans * or homosexual people, for example. This is justified to the extent that the participation of trans * people in non-mixed groups of cisgender women may expose them to transphobia. But this does not prevent trans groups from being able to develop a pro-feminist policy.

Similarly, border ethno-racial experiences may require a sharing of specific experiences and a reflection about discrimination, but also the privileges that benefit these groups, to develop a work of awareness that promotes alliance with socially racial groups.

Irene Pereira

[1] Chicano refers to people of Mexican origin living in the United States.

[2]A term used to refer to all persons who have gender, sex or sexual identity that escapes the norms of gender division.

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