MSZ (September 1988)
The question so popular in leftist circles – “why don’t the workers have a revolution instead of keep capitalism going?” – is a false question.
It derives from the assumption that they, the “little people,” really must do something different than they do. But they don’t have to. It is so glibly put, as though it were some kind of higher necessity that the proletariat has to obey whether it wants to or not. Such a law is given neither by nature nor by “history,” but solely by the idealism of vulgar materialist worldviews.
That capitalism, with its regime of business and power, gives the wage earners enough reasons for a revolution, in no way means – as is suggested – that this is therefore “inevitable.” Exploitation is not a stimulus to which the workers (must) react with a conditioned reflex by abolishing it. Whether they enter into struggle against the system of wage labor is a question of insight into the nature of capitalism’s class antagonism and the will to end it. Otherwise nothing happens, i.e. the old shit continues!
The question why “the masses” do not have a revolution acts as though these masses constantly grapple with a problem: whether they should now take part in or dump the whole business. But nobody has this problem, who participates. In any case, no worker asks himself before going to the factory in the morning whether he wouldn’t actually rather be the “historical subject of revolution.” He goes because he needs money, and afterwards goes home, where he sees how far he can stretch his meager means. Nothing is more ridiculous than the idea that by doing so he has decided against his “real mission.”
Nowadays, the whole question is posed only rhetorically by leftist critical thinkers to fertilize philosophical seminars. It is already meant to be an answer, namely in this way: the mere fact that the revolution has not yet taken place is probably argument enough. And indeed to declare the reasons for revolution are obsolete. So the metaphysical determinist theory is not criticized, but creatively applied. The slogan is recited backwards: if an uprising doesn’t happen, it obviously isn’t necessary (any more)! “Necessary” and appropriate are therefore always exactly the “resistance” and the “social movements” that just exist – because: otherwise there would not be this, but something else. So eco-greens and feminism are given academic appreciation for the same reason that the self-created bogeyman of a proletarian mission is historical-philosophically and sociologically entombed.