Labor aristocracy

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Tue Sep 12 02:15:09 MDT 1995


I think that Louis' recent post has shown, contra MIM, that a multiethnic
working class movement has and can emerge.  Note his great discussion of
Leadbelly's connection with Seeger; now I know why the real djones bought
Leadbelly's  CD and put a postcard of him up.  Thanks Louis.

 The concept of the labor aristocracy has long fascinated me.  Here's a
provocative passage on it from a critical British CP text from the
1930's--TA Jackson's Dialectics:The Logic of Marxism and Its Critics.

In my opinion, this text-- along with 1933 Political Economy Pamphlets,
Blake's textbook and Korsch's Karl Marx-- represented the zenith of
Leninist revolutionary theory in the English-speaking world before WWII.

Korsch had not made his break with Lenin explicit yet; I think this happens
in his review of Pannekoek's Lenin as Philosopher (this is surely worth
discussion; perhaps Alex Trotter will reappear at some point).

"Because of its nature and situation monopolist Capitalism can, and does,
secure from the plunder of the colonies--achieved in a score of ways--an
immense super-profit in addition to tis gains from the exploitation of the
workers at 'home.' To gain this above-the-average profit the impeiralist
ascedancy of the home country and the correspoding colonial subjectin of
the area plundered are essential conditions--as is also the maintainence
and consolidation of its monopoly grip at home.  The maintainence of this
relation has, however, its difficulties--all resting ultimately upon the
danger of proletarian revolt at home and Nationalist revolt in the
colonies. True to its innermost nature, the financial oligarchy soon
realies that a little money spent in corruption can go a long way towards
insuring it against immediate danger from either quarter.  In the case of
the home proletariat the means of corruption exist ready to hand.  The
influx of cheap foodstuffs, the material embodiment of the tribute wrung
from the colonies [note this tribute is NOT Lenin's coupon-clipping--rb],
cheapened the cost of living for the proletariat at a time when the rapid
expansion of industry made it inconvenient for the bourgeoisie to carry
through a programme of reducing money-wages to correspond.  On the basis of
this 'prosperity' grew up, alongside and linked with teh non revolutionary
'gradualist' theory' of leaders of the Trade Unions coering the skilled
trades and 'key-position' workers, a practice which gave riise to a system
of admitting this upper strata of the proletariat ot a share in the
super-exploitation of the colonies--the practice of conceding trifling wage
advances or abstaining from imposing wage reductions.  Combined with this a
systematic policy of veiled and open corruption is resorted to.  Actual
cases of direct bribery (in the narrow economic sense) are rare and
insignificant.  But the indirect bribery which consists in flattery, in
social patronage, in giving confidential 'tips' from which big ganins can
be reaped, in aiding the economic and social advancement of sons, daughters
and dependants, etc.--all these modes of bribery have been employed
systematically in all the Imperialist countries for the express purpose of
winning THE LEADERS of the proletariat--and through them their
followers--over to a 'more reasonable frame of mind.' p336(my emphasis)The
analysis goes on believe you me.



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