Labor Aristocracy -

Shane Hopkinson s.hopkinson at
Sun Feb 2 19:53:49 MST 2003

Dear MM

Hopefully Tom's questions will give the discussion more
focus. I have a couple of questions based on some of my
much belated reading of Australian history.

>As I see it, Lenin is struggling to recast almost all of Marxist theory
>after August 1914. He revisits Hegel, he rethinks the State. And he wants a
>totalising theory that can simultaneously explain the horrible twin
>features of WWI: imperialism and the betrayal of social democracy.

Indeed and by extension we need to explain why there has never been a 
successful revolution in an advanced capitalist country. Personally I
find the two (related) explanations - the 'lack of correct leadership' 
and the 'bribery' model implied by the aristocracy theory unconvincing.

In reading Farrells' 'International Socialism and Australian 
Labour' it is interesting to see how the locals reacted to Moscow 1917.
Firstly it was welcomed because it pushed the campaign to end the war
forward and secondly the various left groups saw in it a vindication of
their ideas about industrial democracy and workers control. 

Someone on this list raised the issue of the Bolsheviks historic over
estimation of the revolutionary possibilities of the period in the West
at least. My question is, looking at the growing peace movement in WW1,
was Lenin's idea that the period of 'wars and revolutions' ushered in by 
imperialism to be one of inter-imperialist wars like 1914-18 in which
such peace movements would eventually develop revolutionary leanings
with presumably millions of workers under arms turning their guns on
the bosses instead of each other.

I guess that WW2 must have seemed a potential vindication of this idea 
but instead of continuing war and depression we got the long-boom. 

Of course there were plenty of "wars and revolutions" but they were not 
really what Lenin (and Trotsky?) had in mind and did not result in 
large-scale wars in which workers were radicalised in an anti-capitalist 

My question then: Does Lenin mean that imperialism will usher in a 
period of specifically *inter-imperialist* wars? and given that they
didn't occur - what are the implications for the theory of how a 
revolution will play out in Australia or USA?



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