The Euro-Amerikan “left” has completely mystified the question of class consciousness. They see in every labor strike, in the slightest twitch for reform, examples of proletarianism. Some “socialist scholars” (a self-awarded title, to be sure) conduct almost anthropological expeditions into the settler masses, seeing in every remembered folk song or cultural nuance some profound but hidden nuggets of working class consciousness. Others, who have spent years as working class “experts,” find proletarian vision in every joke about the bosses told during coffee breaks. This is not politics, whatever else it may be.
There is nothing mystical, elusive or hidden about real working class consciousness. It is the political awareness that the exploiting class and its State must be fought, that the laboring masses of the world have unity in their need for socialism. The Red Army is class consciousness. An action for higher wages or better working conditions need not embody any real class consciousness whatsoever. Narrow self-interest is not the same as consciousness of class interests. “More for me” is not the same slogan as “liberate humanity.”
Lenin wrote on this: “Only when the individual worker realizes that he is a member of the entire working class, only when he recognizes the fact that his petty day-to-day struggle against individual employers and individual government officials is a struggle against the entire bourgeoisie and the entire government does his struggle become a class struggle.”