Who are we?
Kontra klasa is a Marxist collective based primarily in Zagreb, with comrades and sympathizers in other parts of Croatia and the region. It came to existence as a result of several months of discussions in which people from all over the left (socialist) part of the political spectrum took part. The name itself – Kontra klasa – has two meanings. On the one hand, it describes our stance towards the current social order; we are against class division in society and against the existence of classes in general. The other meaning of our name, which might be more obvious if we write the word together, Kontraklasa, is based on the role of the working class in capitalism, or rather in the process of its abolition. Workers, the modern proletariat, are a class whose interests are opposed to those of capital and as such it holds the potential for its toppling; the working class is, due to its position in society, always placed against the rule of capital, it’s the counter-class.
What are our activities?
Our activities comprise of theoretical and practical work, nevertheless those two spheres of work are by their nature interdependent. Our theoretical work consists of writing and publishing texts about the contemporary labour and socialist movement and its strategy. We also translate texts written by our comrades from around the world. The purpose of our theoretical work is to direct our practical activities which are the cornerstone of our collective. We strive to actively partake in labour struggles (on the level circumstances and our limited resources allow us) and gather new information, experiences and contacts which could prove useful in the future. Out of the experiences of past struggles we create analyses to help guide us through further struggles. We believe that to not repeat past mistake we must learn from them.
Maybe the best example of our practical work are our bulletins – Crveni kadar (Red cadre) – in which we concisely analyze events from Croatia and the world. In those bulletins we try to present a socialist perspective on the current developments and draw attention to class struggle taking place today. Another branch of our activity is made up of various discussions on the topics related to the functioning of modern capitalism and the activities of labour movement. These discussions are internal but all supporters of the working class are welcome. Furthermore, we also plan to hold public discussions and workshops about labour organizing.
We don’t want to lower the work of our collective to the level of self-motivated activism, which is a problem plaguing today’s left. Our activities are directed towards the achievement of concrete goals, not towards gaining publicity, and with them we hope to contribute to the creation of a new and just world.
Where do we stand?
In the end, there still remains the question of our basic positions. Although we collectively reject commitment to any socialist tendency or current (except for the basic ones – Marxism and communism), we still hold certain positions which create a pathway to our present and future activities.
- Internationalism – we oppose nationalism in every shape or form – since capital is present globally, the working class needs to make connections on a global scale. With this we oppose various racist and nativist movements in present society. The purpose of nationalism is to weaken the power of the working class, present domestic capitalists as our allies and foreign workers as our enemies. With adherence to internationalism, we support fights against every form of discrimination within the working class, such as misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, religious discrimination, etc.
- Antiparliamentarism – Since the time of 2nd International (the end of the 19th century), socialist movements were engaged in parliamentary participation, with the intention of seizing power or using inter – parliament institutions and discussions for propaganda purposes. More than a century later, it is fairly obvious that this strategy is completely amiss. We don’t even have to travel into the past to see this – the example of Syriza is telling enough – it came to power with promises of socialist reforms and ended up a classical party of the liberal right. With less and less people voting, which is an obvious sign of progressive rejection or parliamentarism by the working class, potential socialist propaganda within Parliament would even be counterproductive. Socialism can’t be achieved through formation of nominally socialist governments and dead end reforms, but only through the workers’ revolutionary initiative for the socioeconomic transformation of the social system as a whole.
- Unions – With their beginnings in the age of industrial capitalism, unions had a role of fighting for workers’ rights in the past. The progressivness of this role was, however, replaced by the potential of socialist revolution in times which allowed it. It is hard to pinpoint the moment in which unions lost their progressiveness, but we can certainly identify this loss today. Nowadays unions are more likely to smother workers’ initiatives by siding with the law and instisting on making compromises with capital in order to preserve „social peace“. Does this mean, however, as some socialist currents suggest, that interworking with the unions is out of the question? No. Unions can still enable a sense of security, especially on a personal level. Nevertheless, we as communists consider our duty to advocate for workers’ interests even though it may result in clashes with union management and even expulsion from the union. The unions are not potentially revolutionary organizations, their purpose is to maintain the status quo.
- Rejection of “real socialism” – the socialist/communist movement has yet to fully free itself from the imprints of official ideological currents of so called “real socialism” which characterised the East block countries. Since the Russian revolution of 1917 and especially Stalin’s dictatorship in the Soviet union (from the 1930’s, onward), socialist and communist groups have uncritically supported these countries. This trend somewhat continues to this day, taking shape in leftism’s defense of crimes committed in Stalinist regimes, and of maintaining yugonostalgic sentiments in the Croatian and wider Balkan context. Our position regarding these regimes is that neither of them represented a form of worker’s state, let alone socialism or communism. They were systems with class divisions within which the working class was still exploited, including the present systems, like that in North Korea. For this reason, these systems are not worthy of our support. Discussion about their economic structure is still ongoing within our collective and probably will remain that way for a period of time.
These positions are only some among many, presented in a rather short and crude way. Detailed explanations of these positions as well as analyses of other questions regarding present socialist and workers activities will be delivered in our magazine articles and theoretical works published on our website.