Labor and aristocracies

Charles Brown BrownBingb at
Mon Feb 10 13:08:46 MST 2003

From: "LouPaulsen" <LouPaulsen at>

clip...  I think that all the debate is about
whether (a) imperialism, racism, etc. are in the short term beneficial to
the 'privileged' / less oppressed group, while being against their long-term
class interests, or (b) whether they are against the interests of the
'priviliged'/less oppressed group in the short term  AND in the long term.

Some people then think that they have to prove (b) in order to prove that it
is in the 'material interest' of the less oppressed workers to join in the
revolution.  I don't think we do in fact have to prove (b), so I'm less
concerned about whether it is true or not.

For example, Al Szymanski once published a study in a sociological journal
which purported to demonstrate (b) with respect to racism in the US.  He
claimed to demonstrate that wage rates for whites were lower in states where
there was 'more racism' against African-Americans.  It wasn't a very good
study, unfortunately, from the methodological point of view.


Charles:  This is also one of Victor Perlo's theses in Economics of Racism  I
and II.

It always seems to me that Marx and Engels placed this issue at THE center of
Marxism's tasks with the top priority they gave the slogan "Workers of all
countries, unite ! ".  Surely, Marx , who said that Britain's capitalism was
built on the pivot of Irish workers', English workers' and American slaves'
labor,  was thinking especially about British "bourgeois" workers overcoming
the false consciousness of their identification with the British bourgeoisie
instead of with the Irish and Negro workers ,in emphasizing this slogan. It
was important that they unite with French ,German, Belgian and Italian
workers too, but attaining internationalist consciousness would be especially
difficult in relation to the more underprivileged nations and races of
workers. So, in a way, the topic of this thread was seen as the number one
problem of Marxism by its founders from the beginning. It is appropriate that
this thread is so long on this list.

I'd be curious as to why Lou Paulson doesn't think what he labels "b" above
doesn't have to be proven. I'm not disagreeing with him, but just want to
hear his thinking on it.

In contemplating the continuing interesting posts from comrades on this
thread, I have wondered, well, what exactly is Marx's thesis as to why the
working class will carry out a revolution ?  Is it because they are exploited
? impoverished ? oppressed ? alienated ? bodily mortified, soulfully
depressed ? the more any of these , the more inclined to revolt ?

Comrades Anthony and Jose have mentioned the fact that Marx's theory
understands the value of labor power as determined, like any other commodity,
by the value added to it  in its production, including the principle of
socially necessary labor time.  At first blush , this seems, maybe  , to
reduce the level of exploitation of workers in neo-colonies relative to that
of workers in imperialist countries because costs of production of their
labor power would be less relatively.  Or am I misunderstanding ?

Nonetheless, all of our discussion about the relative levels of exploitation
of workers in different countries is directed toward trying to explain
different levels of revolutionary and  militant action by different groups of
workers over the last 150 plus years; or to not explain the different levels
by different levels of exploitation.  But are there distinctly different
levels of "revolutionary" inclination in this history ?  It seems to me that
there have been more "revolutions" in the "colonies" than in the imperialist
centers. But I 'm not ready to catalogue it yet, right here , right now. And
the answer would probably have to be more complicated than a catalogue.

 On the other hand, even assuming that this is true, as others have said in
slightly different ways,  that doesn't present a happy circumstance for those
of us trying to spur on the Big Change, because whatever "more" revolution
and militancy has been had in the "colonies" and among more oppressed
categories of workers,  the net result has been in 2003 a historically
relative victory for capitalism and counter-revolution. This is significantly
caused by the relative lack of revolution among less oppressed and perhaps
less exploited ( recognizing that that is at issue on this thread) workers,
and their effective alliance with the capitalists against other working
classes in the form of things like support for imperialist wars politically
and soldierly.

 We cannot get the necessary premise of world revolution - workers of all
countries , races , genders, etc. united - without reaching the more
privileged workers for our cause.


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