[Marxism] Labor aristocracy

Shane Hopkinson chen9692000 at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 2 06:43:42 MDT 2005


Like Tom O I'm sure we've been over this. I recently
recommended to someone asking about bureaucracy
Mandel's book on the topic "Money and Power". There is
an extended review of this book on International
Viewpoint site called "Ernest Mandel and the Marxian
Theory of Bureaucracy"

Here is a extract:

...Mandel was the first thinker in the revolutionary
Marxist tradition to reject explicitly Lenin’s notion
of the “labor aristocracy.” Mandel cites three
important reasons for jettisoning the notion that a
layer of workers in the imperialist countries share in
the “super-profits” extracted from workers in the
“third world.” First, the multinational corporations’
total profits from their direct investments in Africa,
Asia and Latin America can not account for the wage
bill of even the most well paid, unionized workers in
the industrialized countries. Put simply, workers in
the “third world” do not produce sufficient surplus
value to “bribe” a significant sector of the working
class in the Europe, the US or Japan. Second, the gap
between the wages of workers in the “north” and
“south” is much greater than wage differentials among
workers in the “north.” In other words, the entire
working classes of Europe, the US and Japan are
potential “labor aristocracies.” But, Mandel points
out, these global wage differentials are the result of
the greater capital intensity (organic composition of
capital) and higher productivity of labor (rate of
surplus value) in the advanced capitalist social
formations, not some sharing of “super profits”
between capital and labor in the industrialized
countries. Put simply, the better paid workers of the
“north” are more exploited than the poorly paid
workers of the “south.” Finally, Mandel points out
that some of the best paid workers in Europe, the U.S.
and Japan, especially those in the metal working
industries, were among the most militant and radical
proletarians, providing the mass base of the
revolutionary Communist parties of the 1920s and early

Mandel found a more fruitful Marxian discussion of the
labor bureaucracy under capitalism in the work of Rosa
Luxemburg. Luxemburg, well before either Lenin or
Trotsky, understood that the emergence and development
of the trade union and party officialdom was the key
to German social-democracy’s growing conservatism... 

Mandel located the origins of the labor bureaucracy in
the episodic and discontinuous character of working
class struggle under capitalism.

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