dayneg at aros.net
Mon Jun 18 11:47:44 MDT 2001
On Mon, 18 Jun 2001, Greg Schofield wrote:
. . .
> "the question is rather if core workers benefit from the super exploitation
> of peripheral workers"
> Now this is what I am actually disagreeing with, forgive me George but you
> have expressed everything so clearly below that I think it really sums up
> what is worrying me. I would ask Dayne whether in general George's
> statement would appear as a fair summation of a general attitude loosely
> associated with this list and loosely (I emphasize this conditional
> statement) with "dependency theory".
DG: Remember that i am not an exponent of dependency theory and i don't
claim to be speaking for, or to be able to speak for, contemporary
dependency theory advocates. My exposure to dependency theory led me to
respect AGFrank for pointing out: 1) the U.S. capitalist class was
exploiting and ripping-off Latin America, not trying to help Latin America
'develop', 2) that the international capitalist system had incorporated
"underdevelopment" as the systemic fate of the 'third world,' 3) that
development which qualitatively improved the lives of the mass of workers
and farmers and other oppressed people would have to be won in struggle
against capitalism. This is my recollection, thirty+ years later, of what
*i* appreciated about AGFrank and 'dependency theory.'
I do not recall AGFrank discussing whether U.S. capitalists used
their additional loot from Latin America to raise the standard of living
of U.S. workers and/or in other ways try to 'buy off' U.S. workers. It may
be that dependency theorists have taken up these issues more recently, or
maybe AGF did even back in the 1960s and i just don't remember or never
'got it.' Anyway *i* do not "loosely" associate the 'bought off' theory,
in either Lenin's blunt 'bribery' form (thanks J. Enyang) or George's more
systemic economic form, with dependency theory. I certainly didn't come
away from my exposure to dependency theory with a fatalistic attitude that
the U.S. working class had been 'bought off'. . . and the only hope was
third world revolution.
Greg, i think you are dumping more of the weaknesses of the 'first
world' left on dependency theory than is deserved. It seems to me that
problems of the 'first world' left which originated separate from
dependency theory - before, around, and after its 1960s-70s heyday - are
all being lumped together and blamed on dependency theory. For example,
identifying with and looking for salvation from revolution elsewhere has
been a weakness of the U.S. left since long before the appearance of
dependency theory. The Third International encouraged an attitude of
relying on Moscow for direction; Stalin cultivated(by any means possible,
including murder) the attitude that the decisive way to support world
revolution was to support his/the CPSU leadership of the USSR and the
USSR's foreign policy.
GS: . . .
> To me this is the vital political question. The common assumption that we
> the movement have been doing it right and the working class have let us
> down. . . .
> As I said it is a common assumption, in fact overwhelming. My proposition
> is that we have been doing it all wrong, we have ceased to be the party of
> the working class and hence Engels' quote, which has been used in this
> list; where he complains that the English working class have a bourgeois
> outlook and revel in Britain's imperial glories is predicate not on them
> receiving benefits from this imperialism, but by the absence of a working
> class party which is mentioned in the same paragraph as his explanation of
> these statements).
> Engels' is not saying they have been bought-off, but rather that the lack
> of real class party leaves them no other option but adapt to a bourgeois
> world. . . .
DG: I agree, except that i think there are very few fanatics left who are
still sure they 'have been doing it right' or who are only now worrying
that they may recently 'ceased to be the party of the working class.'
Can you share the full Engels paragraph with us?
GS: . . .
> 6. The reward for super-exploiting 3rd WW is a falling standard of living,
> loss of bargaining strength, insecurity, unemployment and a general erosion
> of conditions amongst the 1st WW - super-exploited workers are competitors,
> not a source of benefit.
> 7. The material interest of 1stWW in 3rdWW is in strengthening their
> standard of living, thus lessening the competitive antagonism and building
> solidarity. It is as simple as ABC that workers will see competing sections
> as enemies before seeing them as comrades in struggle, the cure is struggle
> even for interests which appear to directly conflict (such interests cannot
> remain but will be left behind - but nothing happens unless the immediate
> is first struggled for, in that struggle the immediate interests naturally
> change and broaden).
> 8. It is the political inability of the 1stW communist movement to deal
> with point 6 in order to realise point 7 that is the actual problem.
> Now I will leave it there as I think in broad strokes what I see as the two
> contended conceptions stand balanced against one another. I hope comrades
> will care to comment.
> Greg Schofield
> Perth Australia
DG: Again, i generally agree with your points above. However i don't
hold dependency theory fundamentally responsible for the problems of the
first world left. So i don't see my general agreement with your views
above as somehow a repudiation of dependency theory.
Social democracy (reformism - which may be at least partially a
product of 'first world' workers 'being bought' off in some way but is
certainly not a product of dependency theory) and Stalinism are by far the
biggest sources of political weakness in the 'first world' workers'
movements, before and since the appearance of 'dependency theory. Social
democratic(reformist) and Stalinist organizations have led and influenced
mass workers movements, and actually, of course, *misled* them away from
fighting for their/our own interest in independent working class political
organization and social revolution. At most, you and others may hold
dependency theory responsible for disorienting elements or segments of a
*potential* revolutionary 'first world' workers leadership, but certainly
dependency theory can not be held responsible for crimes against the
workers movement in any way comparable to those of Social Democracy and
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