My Kingdom for an Honest Coordinator

I have yet to meet a Marxist who admits the existence of the coordinator class. In a way, this is completely understandable. As soon as you admit the existence of that class, you kind of can’t be a Marxist anymore. If there’s a coordinator class, and you admit it, and you are a believer in social justice, then you must address it. If class divisions can arise from an unequal distribution of labor, then obviously social justice movements must incorporate new divisions of labor in what they do.

But show me an established organization willing to do that. Show me an organization that’s been around a little bit, where money is coming in and people are getting paid, where people in nice clothes are making decisions – show me those decision-making people giving up some of their authority. I have yet to meet anyone who believes in social justice that much.

As a working-class person, I think I hate Marxists more than anyone. I know what politicians and CEOs are going to do. I expect it. I know what Marxists are going to do too, but unlike politicians and CEOs, Marxists claim to represent me. With friends like Marxists, working people do not need any enemies. I would like to read an article by a Marxist saying the following:

Look, we think working people get a raw deal in this country. Just because working people are stupid doesn’t mean they should be treated badly. The working-class deserves new, kinder, nicer bosses than the mean old capitalists. We propose that we, Marxists, be those kinder new bosses.

Let’s be honest here. We all know that working people are too stupid to manage their own affairs. We all know that talents are unequally distributed throughout society. We all know that the working class is a bunch of sheep who will easily get lost without a shepherd to lead them. We just don’t think shepherds should be in the business of beating the sheep.

So, if you doltish working people will give your loyalties to us, we will protect you and keep you safe. You’ll still be doing all the shit work that you are now; you’ll just be doing it under our overarching supervision. And since we’re nicer than the mean, old capitalists of the world, we think you should trust us.

That’s really what it comes down to. Marxists think the working class is stupid. I see it over and over every time I get an e-mail from one of them. Every time I have a discussion with them, it’s always the same thing. I have yet to meet a Marxist who doesn’t, deep down, think that working people need to be led in their own best interest.

Maybe you could sell that stuff to the working class 100 years ago. I don’t know. But I’m telling you right now: As long as you think that working people are stupid sheep and that you should be their shepherd — as long as the left is structured that way (because, right or wrong, when I look up, it sure looks to me like most of the left is structured that way) — you’re never going to be able to build movements large enough to tackle, say, global warming or U.S. imperialism.

In my opinion, though, I don’t think Marxists are interested in combating global warming or U.S. imperialism. I think they’re interested in being big fish in little ponds. I think they’d like to be big fish in big ponds, but since they’re stuck in little ponds, they settle for being big fish there instead. I do not believe Marxists are seriously interested in any revolution that doesn’t leave them at the top of the food chain.

Listening to a Bush, Barack, or Hillary talk about anything bothers me less than listening to a Marxist claim to care about working people. If you deny the existence of the coordinator class, and if you refuse to talk about balanced job complexes, you are no friend of the working class.

Coordinatorist organizational structures do not serve the interests of the working class. They serve the interests of the coordinator class. Denying the existence of the coordinator class also serves that class’s interest. And to be completely honest with you, I’m not sure I can think of anything that makes me angrier than that denial.

Finally, one more time let me say the following: If I claimed to be for women’s rights, yet I said I was opposed to abortion rights, no one (on the left) would consider me to be a supporter of women’s rights. This logic is correct. If you do not support women’s control over their own bodies, you’re not a supporter of women’s rights.

In the same manner, if you cannot acknowledge the existence of the coordinator class, and if you do not support the concept of balanced job complexes (and crucially, if you’re not willing to work one yourself), then you are not a supporter of working-class liberation. You might be a supporter of better working conditions (or whatever) for the working class. But you are not a supporter of working-class liberation.

Supporting women’s reproductive rights is a necessary condition to support women’s liberation. Supporting balanced job complexes and coordinator-class acknowledgment is a necessary condition to support working-class liberation.

Eric Patton lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He can be reached via e-mail at: Read other articles by Eric, or visit Eric's website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ariadna said on May 22nd, 2007 at 11:55am #

    Question: What are “balanced job complexes”? Something you made up or is it a ready-made phrase not in wide circulation yet.
    “…unlike politicians and CEOs, Marxists claim to represent me.” is false. There is no US politician, NOT ONE, who does not claim to represent “the American people,” or pretend to deeply care about the working class (newly renamed “middle class”).
    As for this:

    ” I have yet to meet a Marxist who doesn’t, deep down, think that working people need to be led in their own best interest.
    Maybe you could sell that stuff to the working class 100 years ago.”

    What are trying to say? That 100 years ago the working people were dumb but now are smart? I’d say, if anything, they are DUMBER, or else they would not have so easily relinquished the gains made over the past century (PAID overtime, the there 8s, etc).
    It all seems muddled to me projecting only a diffuse,dull and throbbing ache at the thought of the word “marxist.”

  2. Philip V. said on May 22nd, 2007 at 12:24pm #

    If acquiescing to your masters in the slave market makes you happy then by all means go ahead. If you are more comfortable with them, as you appear to be, then by all means trade in your hours for a handful of nickels and dimes, for stress, for longer hours and less benefits, and for a triple bypass surgery at age 52.
    I don’t think working class people are stupid. I don’t think anyone is stupid. I think they are misinformed, misdirected, and ultimately brainwashed into believing that they are getting a fair shake when they “negotiate” their labor contract. If they are none of the things listed, and they truly have come to be aware of their bondage and servitutde, then it’s because someone (a marxist) told them about it and it all began to make sense to them.

  3. Eric Patton said on May 22nd, 2007 at 12:44pm #

    Thank you for your honesty.

  4. Kevin S. said on May 22nd, 2007 at 3:12pm #

    How does the use of one quote from an anonymous so-called Marxists justify your entire article? I know for a fact that a majority of Marxists don’t see working people as stupid sheep. Once the legitimacy of the quote is called into question so goes the legitimacy of the article. It is always nice to see what others are thinking and for that I am thankful for the time you gave to share with us your thoughts.

  5. Doug D. said on May 22nd, 2007 at 6:37pm #

    In a sense, I agree with Eric, but I don’t think the problem of elitism is restricted exclusively to Marxists. What it boils down to is education and access. Uneducated (understood as not synonymous with “stupid”) people indeed are more easily led, fooled, and manipulated. That shouldn’t be surprising, given the global distraction industry which comprises advertising and entertainment, 24-7.
    As far as admitting the existence of a coordinator class is concerned, I don’t believe that accepting this undermines any and all Marxist thought. If Marxism is understood as a conception of history (and the present and future) as being primarily moved by class relations, then there really is no conflict as far as I can see.
    Anyway, people who post comments on internet discussion boards should be less jerk-y. The powers that be are strong enough to cause progressive people problems without us alienating others by being priggish and snippy.

  6. Ariadna said on May 22nd, 2007 at 10:30pm #

    I agree with Dough 99.9%.
    The part I reserve the right to differ on is the need and pleasure of being snippy when the call for snippiness moves us….

  7. Gary Kleppe said on May 23rd, 2007 at 10:26am #

    Here is a Wikipedia article on Balanced Job Complexes.

    I think a lot of us, myself included, have been mired down in the current system for so long that it’s hard for us to even conceive of what a truly fair arrangement would look like. That’s something we need to work on, yes, but not (I hope) reason enough to start throwing people out of the movement — and I don’t even know where I’d go to actually work a BJC.

  8. charlie said on May 24th, 2007 at 12:05am #

    I am a marxist. i acknowledge that a bureaucracy exists under socialism. the point, however, is for the working class to control the bureaucracy and gradually eliminate bureaucratic forms of organisation…

  9. alan johnstone said on May 28th, 2007 at 7:34pm #

    Rather than direct your criticism at Marxists , the more approprisate target would have been the Leninists ( including the Trotskyist variety ) . After all , it was they and not Marx who argued that the working class required the dictatorship of a vanguard party , with professional revolutionaries to lead them and that the working class was incapable of anything more than than trade-union consciousness . Marx certainly never shared these ideas . And if a Marxist did advocate such views , to paraphrase Marx , then Marx himself would not have been a Marxist .

  10. charlie said on May 29th, 2007 at 2:40pm #

    Marx argued that there would be a transition period, a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, were his words in the Critique of the Gotha Programme. Lenin did not argue that the working class was incapable of anything more than trade union consciousness — this criticism was made of social democratic parties that existed before the “Leninist” parties that espoused democratic centralism. This is all pretty irrelavent though, and only of interest to history buffs like me.

  11. alan johnstone said on May 30th, 2007 at 7:12am #

    Charlie ,
    Perhaps you might like to read what Hal Draper says about Marx and his meaning of Dictatorship of the Proletariat – a mere synonym for the conquest of political power by the working class. – in contrast to Lenin’s interpretation .

    Indeed Lenin is quoted as saying “Now we are repeating what was approved by the Central EC two years ago . . . Namely, that the Soviet Socialist Democracy (sic!) is in no way inconsistent with the rule and dictatorship of one person; that the will of a class is at best realised by a Dictator who sometimes will accomplish more by himself and is frequently more needed” (Lenin: Collected Works, Vol. 17, p. 89. First Russian Edition).

    Lenin’s short article The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism (1913) is a concise explanation of the basics of Marxism (
    But by 1918 the dictatorship of the proletariat had become for Lenin “the very essence of Marx’s teaching” (The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, 1918,
    It is noticeable however that Lenin’s Three Sources article contained no mention of the phrase or Lenin’s particular conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

    And on the same site , why not read Paresh Chattopadhyay’s Manifesto of Emancipation , on Marx approach in the Gotha programme to the transitional period – which is far removed from any Leninist or Trotskyist idea of “workers state” .

    And as for Lenin , was this not what he said:-
    “If Socialism can only be realized when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years”

    but from What is to be Done :-

    “The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own efforts, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic theories that were elaborated by the educated representatives of the propertied classes, the intellectuals” (Foreign Languages Publishing House edition, Moscow, pp. 50-51).
    “Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside of the economic struggle, from outside of the sphere of relations between workers and employers” (Lenin’s emphasis, p.133).
    “The spontaneous working class movement by itself is able to create (and inevitably creates) only trade unionism, and working class trade unionist politics are precisely working class bourgeois politics” (pp. 159-60) .

    Is it irrelevant when we still possess political parties that claim to be socialist advocating the cul de sac of the “workers state”