[Marxism] Re: Labor Aristocracy

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Sun Oct 2 17:19:37 MDT 2005

Shane, thanks for the Mandel post. He puts it well. Two minor comments.

>>Mandel was the first thinker in the revolutionary
Marxist tradition to reject explicitly Lenin’s notion
of the “labor aristocracy.<<

That's interesting -- can we establish a date? Tony Cliff's article
critiquing Lenin on this point appeared in 1957. Not withing to be
competitive, just curious. Here's the Cliff article:

>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

But of course there are many "labour aristocracy" theorists who do think
the entire western working class (or all white workers) is a labour
aristocracy bought off by imperialism. We've had just such arguments on
this list. The theory tends to slide back and forth between this idea and
the idea of stratification within the western working class, which is one
reason it's maddeningly hard to pin down. 

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