What is a comprador bourgeoisie?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 8 07:49:56 MST 2002

Although Michael D. asked me offlist to clarify this, it would probably be
useful to post the answer to the list since others might have been
mystified by this bit of jargon that appears here frequently, from myself

Etymologically, it means "buyer". "Comprar" means to buy in Spanish or
Portuguese. In colonial times, it had a specific meaning according to
Oxford. It was "the name of a native servant employed by Europeans, in
India and the East, to purchase necessaries and keep the household
accounts: a house-steward."

C. Lockyer's 1711 "Trade in India" states "Every Factory had formerly a
Compradore, whose Business it was to buy in Provisions and other Necessarys."

Miss Bird's 1880 "Japan" states, "Each firm has its Chinese compradore, a
factotum, middleman, and occasionally a tyrant."

With the development of imperialist control of colonial colonies, these
comprador elements began to become a kind of ruling class, even though it
was not so much rooted in ownership of the means of production but as
middlemen. When attempts were made to build up local industry, the
imperialist bourgeoisie would often attack such initiatives with the
comprador on their side. It is probably not a stretch to say that the
resistance to Chavez in Venezuela today has somewhat of a comprador nature,
even though it is based more in finance than in foreign-owned
manufacturing. Generally speaking, the comprador elements in 3rd world
countries today are tied to foreign banks, insurance companies,
telecommunications firms, etc.

The term figures heavily in Maoist circles. See this article by Philippine
CP leader Jose Sison for an application:


Louis Proyect
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