The major groups of the proletariat: the masses of our epoch inside the imperialist countries

Following the disappearance of the developed communist organizations which existed before the period of ebb of the world revolution, the revolutionaries found themselves largely separated from the living reality of the working class and the proletariat. Communists must now fight to be able to simply regain the place they once had among workers and proletarians. This is an important challenge, which requires patience and rigor.

In this context certain notions are necessary to move in the right direction. One of them is the notion of major proletarian groups. It is of particular importance for the deployment of communist parties in our time. That said, this notion is far from new. In fact, it is used to answer questions that all revolutionaries who have fought for socialism have faced since the advent of capitalism and the birth of the working class movement.

The notion of major proletarian groups serves to identify who we are talking about precisely when we speak of “the masses” today; of which is made up the mass of workers of which Marx spoke, at the heart of the labor process and the production process in society. Is this mass of workers still as large as before? How are the proletarians who compose it grouped? What is their function in the great social process of work? If we cannot answer these questions, it is impossible to develop a true communist practice.

Through the revolutionary investigation, our party identified ten objective groupings within the Canadian proletariat, ten groups each of which corresponds to the driven force of capitalist production in the country. These groups include all of Canada’s proletarians and all of the tasks they perform on a daily basis. Identifying and studying these major groups has allowed our party to have an overview of the Canadian proletariat and better understand how the masses come together in objective sectors of society. These ten groups are 1) “inactive” workers, 2) “out of law” workers, 3) laborers and day laborers, 4) operators and specialized workers, 5) executing workforce, 6) public services employees, 7) skilled workers in public services, 8) skilled workers in construction, 9) skilled workers in production and 10) technicians in production and public services. To have access to a more detailed description of each of these groups, we invite our readers to read the text The 10 major groups of the proletariat.

The identification of these large groups inside the proletariat is not a finality: it is rather the starting point to obtain a clear image of our class and to develop a scientific analysis of it. This is the beginning of a set of exciting and fundamental reflections. There will be pages and pages of inquiry, study and knowledge to be produced on each of the major groups. We will have to develop our understanding of what brings them together and what distinguishes them. To acquire this knowledge, it is necessary to analyze the real world from fundamental categories such as machinery, big industry, the social division of labor, the production process, the circulation of commodities, the different cycles of circulation and transformation of capital. The notion of the major group of the proletariat thus obliges us to return to the basics of society, to the economy, to understand our social class and its role in the capitalist mode of production.

To sum it up simply, in an advanced capitalist country like Canada, the major groups of the proletariat are the masses of our time. Any communist party evolving in conditions similar to ours must necessarily seek to know the major groups inside the proletariat of its country and to be linked to it. Historically, the communist parties that took power did so because they managed to implant the revolution among the millions of workers at the heart of the society in which they operated. To achieve this, they had to develop a detailed and concrete knowledge of the reality of these millions of workers. Even today, it is impossible to instigate and lead a real revolutionary movement without developing the same kind of concrete knowledge about the revolutionary class and its place in the economy. This necessity is revealed as soon as one begins to penetrate real movements and becomes more and more necessary as one advances in the revolutionary process.

At the time of the Third International, the scientific mastery of the question of the major groups of the proletariat was at the heart of the conceptions and the practice of the communist parties. From the strategic perspective of the armed insurrection, the parties had to map and analyze the different branches of industry, the different economic sectors, the unions and the working-class neighborhoods, in order to be able to plan adequately and to position their forces in the right place so that they can launch the offensive when the time comes. Indeed, the realization of the insurrection required a chain of precise events in specific sectors such as transport (stations, ports, etc.), public services, production, and so on. It was therefore imperative to have a detailed knowledge of these sectors to be able to deploy properly. Today, in view of the protracted people’s war, this need remains and it is even more essential. The realization of the people’s war requires us to master the strategic question of large numbers, that is to say to develop a just and precise conception of how to operate the tumble of the people into the camp of the revolution.

The notion of large proletarian groups also serves to rectify the errors and lies conveyed by the bourgeoisie and by anti-Marxist ideological currents. It serves to show that production and exploitation have not disappeared in the advanced capitalist countries and that in a country like Canada, millions of people are still part of the proletariat. It also serves to counter the postmodern idea that “the masses” are made up of multiple identities, people living in “oppression” or the marginalized and the poor. On the contrary, the masses of the proletariat constitute an organic whole corresponding to the way in which society functions objectively, that is to say to the social division of labor and to the overall process of capitalist production. Unlike anti-materialist activists, our party seeks to address the vast majority, not the margin. It seeks to build itself within the large groups and large movements which exist objectively in society. The mapping of the ten major groups of the proletariat thus allows us to ensure that we are deploying towards the whole class (towards the majority of society) and not only towards one of its fractions.

To be able to lead a real revolutionary process, one must understand what the masses are as Marxists, and therefore, by using the category of major group (whatever the name it is given). Of course, this element of analysis must itself be supplemented by many others, for example the distribution of the population on the territory, the presence of such or such branch of industry in such or such region, the organization of proletarians in unions, etc. However, recognizing the importance of large groups in the revolutionary process is a minimum condition for a party to qualify as a workers’ and communist party. When thinking about the deployment and advancement of the revolutionary organization, major groups are the first thing to bear in mind.

Together with the application of productives workers’ centrality, the deployment towards the great groups of the proletariat constitutes the basis on which to develop a revolutionary political activity aiming at the seizure of power and the transformation of the relations of production. The penetration of the productive fraction of the proletariat (the central artery of capitalism where surplus value is produced), on the one hand, as well as the link with all the massive groups which compose it, on the other hand, constitute two objectives that are both distinct and inseparable from the revolution. These two objectives tell the Communist parties, immediately, how to start their deployment work and what to prioritize.