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Thursday June 22nd 2017

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Levels of Consciousness

By Peter Molenaar

Let us recall that the realm of philosophy is divided into two camps.  ‘Philosophical Materialism’ asserts that the universe existed prior to consciousness, whereas “idealists” believe the universe was created from consciousness.

Curiously, the Buddhists among us avoid the mind-body question, choosing instead to seek liberation via introspective meditation.  (Note:  some degree of ascetic detachment is recommended.) “Complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings” is the noble goal of the Mahayana.  However, more than two thousand years of this practice hasn’t achieved very much.

So, we must agree with the Marxists that there is a material basis for human liberation…which is not to say that the “subjective factor” does not matter.  When acted upon, ideas do become a material force.

On the subject of “levels of consciousness,” Lenin had much to say.  In ascending order he elaborated: 1.) trade union consciousness 2.) class consciousness 3.) socialist consciousness.

As for this writer, he endured 35 years of hard labor within the gassy bowels of Smith Foundry.  Yet privileged memories remain from the periodic convening of our bargaining unit.  Our ‘trade union consciousness’ would then ascend, under the watchful eye of our Ojibwe (union) business agent.

Note:  Under Wisconsin’s “right to work” law, a worker is allowed to accept wages without paying union dues… thereby lowering his or her self to the level of bourgeois morality.

But ‘class consciousness’ reflects a deeper understanding than mere trade union consciousness.  For example, striking fast food workers beamed with pride when told:  LIFTING UP LOW WAGE WORKERS ELEVATES ALL WORKERS.  We should appreciate, as well, the Teamsters sign which reads:  STOP THE WAR ON WORKERS.

Yet, according to Lenin, a fully developed class consciousness views the world through the eyes of all social classes.  Thus, we gain the capacity to make a class analysis of national and world events with class struggle in mind.

Note:  Let’s all commend the Communications Workers (CWA) who have been leafleting Twins fans outside Target stadium… Labor stands opposed to the pending TPP trade agreement.

As for ‘socialist consciousness,’ envision public ownership of the main means of production and an end to private profit as the principle economic force.  Yes, it is entirely possible to live without capitalists, but totally impossible to live without workers.

I see the sun has come out again.  It is time for some meditation…perhaps for the benefit of all sentient beings!

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