exploitation (Dayne)

Greg Schofield gschofield at SPAMone.net.au
Mon Jun 18 19:38:11 MDT 2001

Dayne thanks for your reply, first the quote you asked for (this is the
opening paragraph I deleted the last paragraph as it is short and discusses

"You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well,
exactly the same as they think about politics in general: the same as what
the bourgeois think. There is no workers' party here, there are only
Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily share the feast
of England's monopoly of the world market and the colonies. In my opinion
the colonies proper, i.e., the countries occupied by a European population,
Canada, the Cape, Australia, will all become independent; on the other hand
the countries inhabited by a native population, which are simply
subjugated, India, Algiers, the Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish possessions,
must be taken over for the time being by the proletariat and led as rapidly
as possible towards independence.  How this process will develop is
difficult to say. India will perhaps, indeed very probably, produce a
revolution, and as the proletariat emancipating itself cannot conduct any
colonial wars, this would have to be given full scope; it would not pass
off without all sorts of destruction, of course, but that sort of thing is
inseparable from all revolutions.  The same might also take place
elsewhere, e.g., in Algiers and Egypt, and would certainly be the best
thing for us.  We shall have enough to do at home.  Once Europe is
reorganised, and North America, that will furnish such colossal power and
such an example that the semi-civilised countries will follow in their wake
of their own accord. Economic needs alone will be responsible for this. But
as to what social and political phases these countries will then have to
pass through before they likewise arrive at socialist organisation, we
to-day can only advance rather idle hypotheses, I think. One thing alone is
certain: the victorious proletariat can force no blessings of any kind upon
any foreign nation without undermining its own victory by so doing.  Which
of course by no means excludes defensive wars of various kinds"

It is a quote which has is not attempting to be theoretical, though it
obviously stems from a deep grasp of theory so that point is rather mute
(the bit about what they think is important for it is in answer to a
question by Kautsky which seems rather niave - it implies he asked what did
British workers think about the colonies?  which makes perfect sense in
terms of Engels' reply).

The pertinent bit is that it can easily be read two ways; 1) that is there
is no worker's party because they gaily share in the feast or; 2) they
share in the feast because there is no workers party (ie they have adapted
to circumstances in other words - I doubt that Engels would view their
feast as much more than some table scraps discarded for other reasons but
that depends on how you read his many other statements).

Considering what Engels said elsewhere about the corruption and bribery of
working class leaders in England I think reading two is the one best fitted
to the context, as it implies the norm of a class without political
leadership - that is absorbed into the dominant ideology.

I put the whole paragraph in because there is some very interesting stuff -
one way of reading it as a political platform for a worker's party vis a
vis colonies. Clearly Engels is well aware of national liberation as a
future avenue, and warns Kautsky of dismissing the idea that blessing may
be given on bayonet's - an obvious counter to bourgeois assertions about

Dayne because of the length I will write another post as a reply to you
points - plus you state in that post something I find very important and
wish to discuss separately.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

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