Convention Discussion: We must adjust our language to today’s realities

BY:Peter Wise| March 18, 2019


Question of the week: How have changes in capitalist production shifted the composition and organization of the
 workforce, and the working class as a whole? What have trends like automation,
uberization, and online collaboration meant for the participation and status of women in the
 workforce? Of youth?


I have no doubt that all the factors contributing to the destruction of the work force or its decay and betrayal in our capitalist society are operative. However, the most pernicious is the use of AI. Part of the problem is unintentional by those who develop and employ it but it is certainly no accident that corporate America is planning its use and implementing it at a lightening speed. While Marx and Engels never had an inkling of this type of technology, they nevertheless predicted technology of any kind could and would be weaponized against the proletariat.

The question for me is the following – should we not revise the language of Marxist theory and application to parallel the increasing technological threats on the working and middle class? Younger people who are searching for ways to defeat or at least mitigate all they worked for academically and were promised in the future need to be talked to in terms they understand. The whole notion of the working class, who constitutes it and the occupations it includes, need to see the relevance of Marx but posed in terms they understand. While coal miners, steel workers and others still need to be protected or relegated environmentally safe jobs, what about the data entry person? The software engineer? Even the soldier and sailor? Part of the way to reach these people and increase the ranks of the CPUSA requires much more use of electronic media, adjustment of the language we use, and increased efforts to demonstrate the relevance of communism in the 21st century. And historical errors need to be fully admitted and discussed.

I do not feel only negative, however. Great strides have been made with a socialist share in mass media, like People’s World and allied online publications. These publications are smartly designed and attractive and I find that a major improvement in how education and news is disseminated. The concept of intersectionality has been popularized (and rightly) to the extent that racism, sexism, capitalism, imperialism and workers’ rights can be considered as a whole and their solutions simplified and amplified as more socialists comprehend the larger picture.


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