First of all it is important to point out that some one who is a proletarian is someone who is both oppressed in some form or another and that person is also exploited for his/her labor, meaning he/she creates more wealth for his/her bosses than he/she receives. Some one who works at say McDonald's as a cashier is a proletarian. They do not actually produce any wealth but they do collect it for their bosses. The person in a factory somewhere who is making the pre-made patties for the restaurant use would be a proletarian because he/she is creating a product to be sold at a profit higher than s/he is paid. So in short anyone who PRODUCES wealth and receives a lower wage than s/he creates is exploited for their labor and thus is a proletarian. The cashier, while not a proletarian (as in they do not produce any wealth) is still a member of the working class and is still exploited.
I tend to think that it is hypocritical when I hear communist say that "we shouldn't separate ourselves from the working class" and yet they insist on talking at people like they are ignorant and the communist try to use this superior language that makes themselves feel smarter. They repeat "we shouldn't separate ourselves from the working class" over and over and then go to the working class and TELL them what they should believe and how things really are and mainly they just come off sounding really condescending and turn people off of socialism.
If we are not to remove ourselves from the masses (I will be replacing the words "working class" with "the masses" from now on) then we must adapt their ideas to our own. Not try and force the masses to take on our ideas fully because that will never happen. What is more important? That the masses have Marxist principles? Or that the masses call it Marxism?
An example of adapting our ideas to theirs: In the US the masses see that there are multiple classes. So instead of applying dialect materialism to the situation and adapting and moving forward the communist would rather scream at the masses that they are wrong and only the communist are right that there are only two classes. But I tell you that we must adapt the ideas of the masses into our own rather we like it or not. If the masses believe there are multiple classes then we must say "okay, how do we go forward with this way of thinking." Of course we should attempt to slowly educate and advocate to the masses that there are two main class blocs but to refuse to listen to the masses is to refuse the masses support.
In the US there is a general understanding in the masses that there is a upper class, a upper middle class, a working middle class, Working class poor, and the lower class (poor, homeless etc). That is five classes, some may argue there is only four recognized by the masses and that is fine and can be applied as well. The most common way I hear to deal with this contradiction between the masses and the American communist is to simply "educate the working class about class consciousness" But as it was so well put by a successful revolutionary in a imperialist dominated country:
"Education requires money, people and instruments. In today's world money is entirely in the hands of the capitalists. Those who have charge of education are all either capitalists or wives of capitalists. In today's world the schools and the press, the two most important instruments of education are entirely under capitalist control. In short, education in today's world is capitalist education. If we teach capitalism to children, these children, when they grow up will in turn teach capitalism to a second generation of children. Education thus remains in the hands of the capitalists. Then the capitalists have 'parliaments' to pass laws protecting the capitalists and handicapping the proletariat; they have 'governments' to apply these laws and to enforce the advantages and the prohibitions that they contain; they have 'armies' and 'police' to defend the well-being of the capitalists and to repress the demands of the proletariat; they have 'banks' to serve as repositories in the circulation of their wealth ; they have ' factories', which are the instruments by which they monopolize the production of goods. Thus, if the communists do not seize political power, they will not be able to find any refuge in this world; how, under such circumstances, could they take charge of education? Thus, the capitalists will continue to control education and to praise their capitalism to the skies, so that the number of coverts to the proletariat's communist propaganda will diminish from day to day. Consequently, I believe that the method of education is unfeasible...."(1)
It is not the masses who should be parroting us, but it us who should lead them in the right direction while helping them help themselves. Only by putting "politics in command!" can we successfully move the masses forward to communism. But a big step is that we as revolutionaries have to put the peoples politics into consideration and stop thinking we know all the answers. We don't and we can't, they are always going to be contradictions that need to be met and all we can do is try to solve it for the betterment of the masses.
I for one see a huge connection between why there is a separation of the masses and communist and the communist condescending nature. Ive seen it too many times where some one will walk away because the communist "know everything" and aren't listening to the people. And that leaves an impression on that person that communist are all that way; controlling and condescending and unwilling to listen to other peoples theory's and ideas.
Ive said it many of times that we communist are the main reason why we are so unpopular. We are disorganized, over barring, constant in-fighting, some communist insult other people that don't share their ideas constantly (I have never changed my mind because I was called stupid or ignorant have you?), we talk tooooooo much about stuff that happened in Russia back in 1919 and while it is important to learn from the past it is also a waste to dwell on it.
So this is my call to all communist to start using the language of the proletarian or else stay on your sidelines and keep shouting cause no one is listening. And no one is going to start listening to you til you start listening to them also. I end this with a quote that addresses what I'm talking about:
"Twenty-four years of experience tell us that the right task, policy and style of work invariably conform with the demands of the masses at a given time and place and invariably strengthen our ties with the masses, and the wrong task, policy and style of work invariably disagree with the demands of the masses at a given time and place and invariably alienate us from the masses. The reason why such evils as dogmatism, empiricism, commandism, tailism, sectarianism, bureaucracy and an arrogant attitude in work are definitely harmful and intolerable, and why anyone suffering from these maladies must overcome them, is that they alienate us from the masses."(2)
"Production by the masses, the interests of the masses, the experiences and feelings of the masses - to these the leading cadres should pay constant attention. "(2)
"We should pay close attention to the well being of the masses, from the problems of land and labour to those of fuel, rice, cooking oil and salt.... All such problems concerning the well being of the masses should be placed on our agenda. We should discuss them, adopt and carry out decisions and check up on the results. We should help the masses to realize that we represent their interests and that our lives are intimately bound up with theirs. We should help them to proceed from these things to an understanding of the higher tasks which we have put forward, the tasks of the revolutionary war, so that they will support the revolution and spread it throughout the country, respond to our political appeals and fight to the end for victory in the revolution. " (2)
Written by: Dustin Slagle
(1) "Communism and Dictatorship" by Mao Tse Tung November 1920 January 1921 [Extracted from. two letters to Ts’ai Ho-sen, in November 1920 and January 1921.]
(2) "The Little Red Book" (Quotations from Chairman Mao), Chapter:"The Mass Line", Published 1966. Quotes taken from; http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book/