On Revolutionary Agency : ‘Existing Frameworks’, ‘Carts before Horses’ and ‘Firestorms’.
 ‘Within the framework of existing institutions’
In Beyond Capital, Istvan Meszaros writes that…
the socialist offensive under the conditions of its new historical actuality…..implies also the necessity to face up to the major challenge of being compelled to embark on such an offensive within the framework of the existing institutions of the working class, which happened to be defensively constituted, under very different historical conditions, in the past. Both going beyond capital and envisaging a socialist offensive are paradigm issues of a transition to socialism. [Beyond Capital, Meszaros, I. pp.937-38].
Fundamentally, I think we must locate the ‘existing institutions of the working class’ as being its trade unions which were indeed ‘defensively constituted, under very different historical conditions’.
In their current bureaucratised form, the trade unions have played out their historic ‘economistic’ role. The onrush of the structural crisis of the capital order has clearly revealed that organised labour in this form has becoming implicitly vestigial and is heading deeper into the quagmire of a very profound crisis under the impact of the said structural crisis. Trade unionism itself is arriving at a crossroads of history which appointment is unavoidable under the unfolding conditions of the ‘activation of capital’s absolute limits’. Today we must focus on the conception of the structural crisis of capital which has been developed by Meszaros. The unfolding of this crisis signifies that the proletariat cannot go on in the old way with its bureaucratised trade unions and its traditional parties which have become openly parties of capital. The ‘Social Democratic’ and ‘Communist’ Parties are all now secondary political articulations of capital and its state power. They do not pose a serious threat to the rule of capital and, indeed, are often to be found in governments which are managing the affairs of capital and its state power. And indeed, a very good service is provided.
To understand today why there is an inability of trade unionism to defend the interests of the employed proletariat (never mind the other sections), we need, firstly, to understand how trade unionism itself came into being in the cauldron of capitalist expansion in the past two centuries and how the defensive posture which it has taken historically as the product of these past conditions of its emergence and development is related to its formation and evolution. And specifically to its relationship to the state power of capital itself. But secondly, and more critically, how the unfolding of capital’s structural crisis is actually impacting on the traditional ‘economistic’ role of trade unionism. Trade unionism is itself now slipping deeper into crisis as a result of the impact of this structural crisis of capital. It is approaching a fork in the road of history. It is an unavoidable appointment with history.
But we must be circumspect, and not ‘rush in where angels fear to tread’. This does not discount the possibility that trade unionism may well constitute the point of departure for new forms of organisation emerging out of them. Specifically here, I am referring to the emergence of forms of revolutionary agency. The actual political articulation in practice is therefore to work within and as a part of the trade union movement in order to raise transitional proposals as its crisis as labour’s traditional form of organisation deepens as mediated by capital’s crisis. In this sense, trade unionism manifests a different historic role to its former one and unfolds in its crisis as the ‘nursery’ of a higher form of revolutionary agency. Therefore, in my opinion, it would be a mistake not to work within the trade unions – ‘within the framework of existing institutions’ – and strategically inept to simply reject them as “finished” or “run by self-serving bureaucracies”, etc. Of course, a battle with the trade union bureaucracy will be inevitable as the crisis within trade unionism manifests itself as the proletariat encounters the force of capital-in-crisis and looks for more adequate strategies and forms of struggle against capital and its state power. Trade unionism here displays contradictory tendencies. On the one hand, it is tied to the dead conditions of the past and, accordingly, in its current bureaucratised forms, is outmoded. However, at the same time, the very crisis of capital itself posits within trade unionism the possibility of going beyond itself into a higher form of agency. It is important to acknowledge these contradictory tendencies within trade unionism which will undoubtedly sharpen as the structural crisis of capital unfolds in this century.
The state power of capital has already declared a state of economic warfare on and against the life of the proletariat. This can only intensify as the crisis of capital deepens. In Britain, every last quantum of value in public and social provision is now caught in the process of being sucked into the gilded chambers of global finance capital as a return for money lent to prop up the banking system. To pay back the global creditor parasites of finance capital, the whole system of public provision in Britain (hospitals, schools, housing, municipal services, social support, welfare provision, etc) is going into the coffers of capital in the form of the augmentation of money capital. The implications of this ongoing process of appropriation are socially explosive. The ‘payback’ must come from somewhere. Value does not materialise out of thin air or droppeth from the sky. Capital is hardnosed, hardfaced and driven by its own uncompromising logic of exploitation, accumulation and value augmentation. Absolutely nothing must stand in the way of its untransgressable logic.
It means a massive transfer of value to finance capital from the destruction of living standards, public services, jobs, housing, healthcare, education, amenities, benefits and taxation increases on people who cannot afford to pay and, in many cases, are already impoverished. The real scale of the debt to finance capital is astronomical. One estimate, combining private and public debt, has placed it at £4.5 trillion in total. The capitalist class, and their hangers on in their state institutions and elsewhere, are forcing the proletariat to carry the burden of the crisis of their bankrupt system. This parasitic system of the rule of capital is displacing the problems, and imposing the burdens, of its crisis onto the shoulders of the proletariat. The weight of those burdens is going to grow heavier as the months and years pass. The agency of this imposition is the state power of capital. Nobody is exempt ; the sick, homeless, pensioners, jobless, elderly, needy, vulnerable, students, small shopkeepers, small retailers, self-employed, etc. Those in work today are only too aware that tomorrow they could be joining the dole queue with the long term, structurally unemployed.
The only way to fully oppose these measures is to come together and work collectively as a class. To begin to mobilise and organise the resistance to the destruction and devastation already taking place and rapidly worsening. This implies the need to work towards the establishment of new forms of agency which are adequate enough to build and spearhead resistance to the capital order itself. Already we are witnessing the widespread and most disturbing global destruction of Nature’s creation, ecological devastation and the subjection of the living creatures of the Earth to all manner of cruelty and barbarity for profit or sadistic pleasure. The motivating force behind this is the uncontrollable destructive dynamic, expansion and accumulation of capital in crisis, the drive for profit. The dynamics of their order demands this destruction!
It is the enduring and unfolding historic crisis of the very structure of the capital relation itself and not simply a displaceable cyclical or conjunctural crisis. The organisational framework of a higher form of agency will bring together all those individuals, groups and organisations being attacked by the ruling class and its state power: bringing together trade unionised and non-unionised workers, the unemployed, benefits/welfare claimants, public sector workers, migrant workers, students, young and old, the homeless, community and campaign groups, small business people, the ‘professions’, etc. Inclusiveness, mutual support and solidarity would be the watchwords of such an organisation. Meetings would need to discuss and clarify the democracy, structures, relations, etc, of the organisation.
The trade unions (regardless of how militant or radical they may become in posture or structure), with their ‘conservative’ bureaucratic structures and well-paid and pensioned top stratum, are completely inadequate to deal with the demands being placed on millions by the depth and severity of the developing ongoing crisis of the capitalist order. As of April, 2014, the approximate membership of the trade unions in the UK was 6.2 million and dropping. In fact, trade unionism itself – in order to be fit to deal with this developing crisis – needs to undergo a complete transformation and actually go beyond itself into a higher form of agency in which a directly elective and participatory democracy is complimented by an integrated system of continuously revocable delegation, accountability and dismissability rather than having officials and ‘representatives’ either elected once in a blue moon or even appointed for life on featherbedded salaries. The salaries received by the top trade union leaders and officials are ‘executive’ salaries. The late leader of the RMT in Britain, Bob Crow (representing railway workers and staff, etc) received five times the salary of what a probationary schoolteacher starts on in British schools.
It is not in the interests of the top stratum of the trade unions to carry forward a struggle against capital to its historic conclusion. And that conclusion is the transcendence of the capital relation globally and the establishment of a world socialist society. It would mean beyond doubt the end of their privileges. That is why it would always betray. Its interests are inextricably tied to the continuation of the capital order and its state power. The continued historic existence of the whole labour and trade union bureaucracy is indissolubly tied up with the continuation of this destructive, outmoded capitalist order.
Indeed, this is to such a degree – the interests of the trade union bureaucracy so closely interwoven with the continuation of the capital system – that it will be impossible for organised labour to take to the offensive against capital and its state power without simultaneously coming into direct conflict with this labour bureaucracy. We can already see this in relation to the opposition of the Labour Party leadership in the UK to strikes and mass street demonstrations.
Accordingly, in the struggles to come, the radical regeneration and de-bureaucratisation of trade unionism will be an absolutely minimal prerequisite for these unions to form part of the unfolding of such an offensive. But even this will not be enough. The question of higher forms of agency is now most definitely and undoubtedly on the agenda. Without a definite move forward against their current conservative organisational structures and bureacratic administration, they will start to become vestigial and die away as the structural crisis of capital widens and deepens. At best, they will end up as providence or workers’ insurance societies in a totally corporatist, no-strike, arrangement with the state power of capital.
 Placing ‘the horse before the cart’ (and not the other way around)
The conception of structural crisis is central here. What the capital system has entered is no longer an escapable or displaceable cyclic crisis. Capital has entered the cul-de-sac of its long historic journey. The agency of capital is its state power. Historic forces are already driving them towards the destruction of whole sections of the global proletariat which are superfluous to the needs of capital. If we look at what has happened to the city of Detroit in the United States, we can see what the future holds for countless millions across the globe if we do not commence the necessary re-structuring of the social metabolic landscape. If we do not establish the necessary forms of agency to commence this mighty historic process of transition.
We are witnessing the most rapacious and disturbing forms of destruction and barbarism as capital’s crisis unfolds. They are having to do this simply in order to ‘stand still’, never mind accumulate. But in doing this, they simultaneously start to posit the dynamic for revolution. A ‘structural crisis’ really does mean revolution or barbarism. And, as Meszaros says, “barbarism if we’re lucky”. People speak of “apocalypse” as if it is some distant instantaneous event. It is actually taking place now. This is the epoch of the apocalypse. This is the epoch of capital’s structural crisis. The only possible response to go beyond it is global socialist revolution. We do not stop (“permanent revolution”) until the individual, collective and global state powers of capital are defeated and the social relation of capital is finally and irreversibly eradicated from the social metabolism.
We do not and cannot know in advance all the detailed particularity of the trajectory of capital’s unfolding crisis. When the proletariat in England developed Chartism and formed its trade unions in the 19th century, the class moved into the terra incognita of history as, of course, all new movements do. It really had no idea what would happen when it started to do all this. But it had to do it. And we carry, necessarily and most importantly, all those lessons we have learned from our history with us into those new territories in order to develop and enrich the movement of our class to terminate the existence of capital. To put an end to its haunting of humanity once and for all. To exorcise it from the life of humanity.
There are no ‘guarantees’ or ‘warranties’. There is no guarantee that two centuries from now (or even less) humans will not be using stone axes to chop their food. Or that the planet will not be a devastated landscape with the final remnants of human communities dying off or surviving ‘on the edge’. But we cannot proceed as if this is going to be the inevitable outcome. Likewise we cannot, and must not, place conditions – theoretically, politically or otherwise – on the class movement. After all, that is precisely what the left wing sects and cults are doing. We must take the class movement as it is, where it is at the present historical stage, as it unfolds. Participate in it according to the stage it has reached and bring our experience into it in order to help develop it. But in a completely non-sectarian mode of operation.
Also I think a major, indeed fundamental, point here is that we have to determine and develop our work and organisation according to, and in response to, the specific social and cultural conditions which prevail in any given part of the globe. Really we have no choice in that matter. We cannot step outside of them. We are living our lives in them. Even as far as the form of revolutionary agency is concerned, I have my sincere doubts about whether there will be a magic formulation which will be appropriate for all cultures although common features may emerge in these forms of organisation determined by and manifesting the universal aspects of the class relations of capitalist societies the world over. (concrete universals)
For example, can I work organisationally and politically with others in Iran in the same way I work with others in Britain? To a great extent, I am determined in this work by the prevailing conditions and I have to orientate myself accordingly. I can work with others in Iran but how? And how does it differ from working with others in Britain or France or the USA? Is this not the same with whole classes? How does the proletariat as a class in Iran orientate itself in regard to these questions of agency, with all the millenia of history, traditions, Shia Islam, etc, in that historically-rich land and how does the proletariat in Britain address the same questions with its differing class traditions, history, organisations, etc? These are not peripheral ‘inessential’ questions but are intrinsic to the totality of the determination.
But one thing is very clear. Regardless of its ‘anti-imperialist’ pretensions, the theocratic state in Iran is a culturally and historically determined form of the state power of capital. It may display aspects of the class interests of the radical petit bourgeoisie in the governmental management of this state power, but it is undeniably a state power which stands in opposition to the interests of the proletariat in that part of the world. So regardless of cultural considerations, the question of who rules – of “state power” – remains inextricably connected with the question of class organisation. How do we, as a class, organise for power? What forms of agency will be required and what will determine the specificity of these forms in different parts of the world with differing cultural and social conditions?
How do we put in place measures and structures which ensures that the past mistakes, such as bureaucratic usurpation, etc, do not establish a foothold? What does ‘democracy’ actually mean for us as a class? The so-called democracy of the capitalist class is not what we mean by democracy. How can we maintain, enrich and develop the continuity of our democracy in the period of transition with all its inevitable problems, contradictions, etc?
To organise for power does not simply mean organising for political power. It must presuppose organising for the economic and social power of the class which, of course, is the political act par excellence. We organise and develop our agencies of revolution primarily for the appropriation of production and distribution and, accordingly, to disempower the powers of capital within the social metabolism itself. Inevitably, this is unconditionally unacceptable to and for the state power of capital. They will move against us. Herein lies the co-temporality of the actual socio-economic restructuring by our agencies of the social metabolism and the rising and onset of political revolution against that state power. Its complete and utter destruction by our agencies of revolution.
The agency of proletarian socialist revolution therefore, necessarily, is not simply characterised as a political agency. It is a ‘Swiss-army knife’ of an organisation, if we may deploy that term. Its character embodies and expresses the social, economic and cultural tasks which history spurs it on to realise as well as, simultaneously, its obvious and intensely political tasks. The agency of revolution does not simply bear a political character but an essential socio-cultural one.
It is not simply a question of overthrowing the political state power of capital, critical as that is in order to open up an unfettered and unhindered historical horizon for the consummation of the restructuring of the social metabolism. The actual restructuring of the social fabric and landscape which capital-in-crisis itself is now in the process of devastating will have to begin prior to the overthrow of this state power but, indeed, will and can only be fully consummated after that overthrow of the major global centres of that state power. And, in my opinion, we will not be able to embark of that process of ‘full consummation’ until the state power of capital in the United States of America is well and truly broken. Perhaps this may sound strange to some, but – in agreement with Meszaros – the future of communism, in my opinion, lies, ultimately, in the USA.
The horizon will not be fully opened up for restructuring until the major state powers of capital have been trampled into the dust of human history. The notion of political transformation first, then mechanically followed by socio-cultural transformation second, is tediously often a fundamental premise in the operation of the “vanguardist” left-wing sectarian grouplets. Indeed, it is a fundamental ‘raison d’etre’ in their very existence. To merely suggest that we can and must build a movement that starts to move onto the road of going beyond capital – even in the violent presence of the state power of capital – is countered with derisory laughter and immediate dismissal by such “revolutionary” groups.
I was a local branch member of the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain from 1976 to 1985. Some of you may know that it was the one headed by the serial sexual predator Gerry Healy. We got him eventually. The WRP was dissolved.
We were always told, in this wretched sect, that the beginnings of social transformation (transition to socialism) were predicated on successful political revolution. That the state had to be toppled first in political revolution and then, and only then, could we proceed with the transition to socialism. This ‘transition’ to socialism was always counterposed to the actual historical genesis and development of the capitalist mode of production which developed slowly and embryonically ‘within the womb’ of feudalism and then was born onto the historical scene in a series of political and social upheavals and revolutions. We were lectured to that socialism does not arise out of capitalism in the same way that capitalism arose out of feudalism. The sectarian groups today, generally, still think in exactly the same vein. We will leave to one side, for the time being, how the feudal system in Europe, intially in Roman Gaul, itself emerged historically from the ruins and legacies of the western Roman Empire over a period of at least two or more centuries. It was not until the second half of the 8th century that it could be identified as a distinctly determinate, novel mode of production in Europe.
I now think this is self-serving ‘cart before the horse’ rhetoric. When I was a young member of the WRP in the 70s and 80s – full of apostolic zealotry and sacrificial proselytising passion – I would have thought the complete opposite. But if we study the incredibly rich work of Marx and Engels in the 1840s – specifically the Holy Family and German Ideology – we can very clearly see that this sectarian position is completely at odds with their materialist conception. People only really start to change the conditions of their life – and thereby themselves in the process of doing this – under the impact, weight, influence of real material changes actually taking place in their conditions of life. They do not get out of bed in the morning and then decide to move towards revolution without some form of real material mediation actually motivating them. People do, indeed, tend to take the “line of least resistance” until that position is no longer possible or tenable.
Such changes begin to impress on people the need for real material changes in their mode of life and this tends to bring on the emergence and development of political conceptions and perspectives. This is precisely what the unfolding of capital’s crisis is doing globally. People are, in a certain sense, ‘experimenting’ with new ways of struggle, new ways of opposing capital in contrast to the traditional forms and strategies. These real developments, full of contradiction, are the source of alterations and ‘leaps’ in consciousness. The source of the origination and development of what Marx refers to as the ‘alteration of men on a mass scale’ and the growth of a ‘mass communist consciousness’. It is, therefore, the actual unfolding of capital’s crisis which is generating new ways of ‘dealing’ with this crisis on the part of the proletariat globally and, in the course of this rich contradictory process, actually serving to promote changes in ‘mass consciousness’.
The sectarian left remain convinced that it is still possible and necessary to import ‘consciousness’ from the ‘outside’ (this conception of ‘from the outside’ is extremely problematic on an ontological level) by selling papers, leafletting, etc. But such alterations in humans and their consciousness only really comes about as a result of their activity in response to real material changes taking place in their social relations, in their mode of life. The educator does not merely educate but must also be educated.
In my opinion, Marx’s critique of Left Hegelianism in the 1840s contains an implicit critique of these methods and forms of ‘importation of consciousness’.
The dynamic of revolution will only start to become determinately established when people actually start to take matters into their own hands, independently of the state power of capital, and under the impact of capital’s crisis. When we observe what has actually happened in the American city of Detroit (motown city, mass production of cars, with a massive and, at times, militant proletariat) in the state of Michigan, we are observing a pre-figuration of what is to come for milllions but we are also seeing the seeds of how people can organise in opposition to capital’s destruction of the cultural conditions of the future socialist society. People have been left to rot by capital and its state power but they are, in response, starting to take matters into their own hands. Even, I understand, community policing of their own areas.
When the actions and organisation (agency) of the proletariat actually start to challenge and circumvent the rule of capital, then the state power of capital will start to move or consider moving onto a war footing. We will then require our agencies to respond accordingly with all the logistical and military considerations implicit therein. Our proteus ‘Swiss-army knife’ form of agency will then be required to switch into a totally different mode of operation to mobilise for the fight and topple this state power. If a state power goes to war against its “own” people, then that people has a right and obligation to respond accordingly.
We have to consider a situation where the structural crisis of capital is deepening and increasingly starting to shake and animate every aspect of human life to the point where people’s ‘line of least resistance’ has disintegrated and they have, en masse, truly started to take matters into their own hands through their self-created forms of agency. Some are saying that this process is now in process of formation. Do we really think that as the intensification of the crisis begins to draw in many millions of people across the globe, then this movement would be controllable by the state power using previous methods? Or do we think that people will simply sit and ‘take it’ in a state of docility and resignation as capital-in-crisis profoundly impacts on their lives? Let us not forget that this same crisis will impact the lives of those who work for this state power.
In the 1970s, as capital started to enter its structural crisis, we even witnessed soldiers in Italy on strike and marching under red banners. In Britain, in the 1910s, there were police strikes. It frightened the state mandarins in Britain to such a degree that they immediately rushed into a no-strike agreement with them. I have my doubts whether such an agreement will continue to hold in the future.
 The deepening of the structural crisis of capital is creating the conditions for a global firestorm, the likes of which human history has never witnessed before.
In my opinion, it is a question of degree (Hegel’s conception of ‘measure’ in the Logic) whereby an intractable, insoluble crisis passes beyond the point/s of ‘no return’, certain historical ‘markers’, ‘parameters’ or ‘points’ which were previously ‘sacrosanctly’ structured into the capital order as an intrinsic part of it. Beyond these, a certain qualitative change sets in and the whole order degenerates into a distinctly new, higher qualitative phase of break-up and disintegration. Humanity has witnessed such ‘phases’ before in its history in different cultures and different parts of the world.
The latest phase (“wave” to to speak, 2008-14) in the gathering structural crisis of the global capitalist order is a pre-figuration of what is to come in higher form. What is arising will be on a qualitatively higher stage of development and in forms of social expression which are not, as yet, being fully experienced and articulated in their effects on the proletariat and on Nature’s creation.
As each phase in the crisis unfolds, this will deepen and ‘concentrate’, accumulatively, the whole character of the crisis of globalised capital. Beyond a certain point in its development this will confer on this crisis qualities of a higher order compared to its previous phases. Beyond a certain point, a point of qualitative transformation, the previous phases (“waves”) gather sublatively, reinforce and ‘self-concentrate’ and become expressed in a “tsunami of history” so to speak.
The earlier phases in the crisis could be compared, metaphorically, to a containable forest fire which, with heat and high winds, (i.e. as conditions change and assert their effects and character, reinforcing previous changes) can readily become qualitatively transformed into an uncontrollable firestorm. Out of control and bringing in a period of profound crisis for the capital order totally distinct from the previous stages in the development of its crisis. Such a “firestorm” phase will constitute the highest, universal expression of capital’s global structural crisis, manifest in every sphere and aspects of human life, but raised to a higher power and degree of intensity.
“Tsunami of history” is therefore a figure of speech used to express the gathering of this crisis as it unfolds and deepens but which, beyond a certain point in its development, must become a crisis of a distinctly different order to the previous phases. When and where global capital in crisis has reached the point where its own character as capital has become a structural, immovable fetter which clamps its own self-expansion (augmentation of its value), then, as Meszaros writes, we see the “activation of its absolute limits” (p.142, Beyond Capital). The deepening of this crisis-process has historically profound implications for the proletariat and its class organisations through which it has traditionally conducted its struggle against capital. Going on in the ‘old ways’ will not be possible
When the crisis had deepened so very profoundly and is turning people’s lives upside down and inside out then they have no choice whatsoever but to embark on an offensive. We are then, we become, an active part of a totally different historical situation and all the foolish, superstitious nonsense about the ‘eternity of the capitalist order’ and the ‘end of history’ narrative peddled by the ideologues of global capital is revealed to be what it truly is. In such an unfolding, dynamic situation, ‘shifts in consciousness’ become the rule rather than the exception. Such ‘shifts’ will become absolutely necessary as the struggle proceeds. What the state power of capital ‘permits’ or ‘does not permit’ will be something which will be played out and resolved in the course of the unfolding class struggle.
Finally, just to return explicitly to the question of the specific form of agency. There are those still calling for a new ‘Party’, new socialist ‘Party’ or new “revolutionary” ‘Party’. In my opinion, the age of the ‘Parties’ is over. I tend to think that a mass organisation of the proletariat – its agency of revolution – based upon its own developed class conception of democracy, and one that increasingly becomes capable of actually restructuring the whole social metabolism as well as carrying through political revolution by any means which it considers necessary, will create and develop itself as the ‘party’ of the class. In other words, the agency of revolution itself will be the party of the class without the need for some separated, distinct, even ‘alien’, political Party within itself, within its own political body. The agency will be the ‘party’ and the ‘party’ will be the agency of revolution.
This is not to infer that the agency of revolution will not contain ‘Parties’, groups, tendencies, etc. The trade unions, for example, have always contained such groupings but their existence as trades unions has not been conditional on the existence of such groupings within them. We would, perhaps, need to fight to maintain the identity and integrity of our revolutionary agency against the influence of centrifugal forces and elements whose activities are tending to fragment and disintegrate it. But I wonder how such ‘Parties’, etc, could actually survive and for how long under such conditions or even establish themselves at all in the ongoing democratic conditions under which the revolutionary agency would be actually operating. These ‘Parties’ actually thrive in the absence of any real, open discussion and democratic election, recall, accountability and dismissal, etc. Under such conditions, what future could such ‘Parties’ have?
Of course, the agency of revolution will have a ‘political expression’ but what is crucial is the relationship of this ‘expression’ to the agency as a totality. This ‘expression’ would have to be totally and politically subordinate to the ongoing and unfolding democracy of the operation of the agency of revolution as a whole. The appropriate, inalienable safeguards and limitations would necessarily have to be put in place to prevent the emergence of bureaucratic structures, usurpation, imposition, etc. The democracy of the movement would be paramount and transparent. We would not be able to make the transition to the new society without the highest and most transparent forms of democracy in the revolutionary agency of our class.