This yearâ€™s conference theme demands that we first address the questions, â€œWho needs to be mobilized, and mobilized to do what?â€ This panel will begin the discussion through an examination of the fundamental attitudinal question: are the masses of people â€œbackwardâ€ and in need of having their â€œconsciousness raisedâ€? That traditional view implies that the left must teach people to want to transform the world and take them along step by step. If, however, the impediment is not workersâ€™ consciousness, but rather the leftâ€™s presuppositions and elitism, then the left needs to re-think and re-organize its theory and practice.
Our panel has diverse views. One presenter will discuss Lukacsâ€™ formulation of Marxism as the consciousness of the working class. Another will challenge the prevalent leftist view of consumerism as a simply a product of capitalism. One will discuss why the leftâ€™s indifference to mass psychology has created an opening for the Right. Some may argue that the leftâ€™s role is to lead, with a resultant focus on methods of spreading left ideas and building organizations. At least one will argue that it is the left which needs to be transformed so it can build a new relationship to mass movements, creating an interchange of ideas and information without elitism and presuppositions, and stressing the need to develop ideas with the workers.