[Marxism] Imperialism and the US working class (Was YADL)

chegitz guevara absynthe at gmail.com
Sun Apr 5 19:50:50 MDT 2009

There are several things to keep in mind with regards to the fall in
real wages. First, while real wages have fallen by 10% in the U.S.,
family incomes have risen by about 40%, because most families now have
two incomes. Second, part of the reason why wages have not kept pace
with increases in production is because of the rise in health care
costs in this country. In a previous job, if I totaled the cost of my
benefits, it came out to add about another 15% to my monetary

Now, Juaquin raises the issue of modern "stuff" being better than
"stuff" from forty years ago, and this is undeniably true. Doesn't
matter though, as poverty is both relative and real. Some poor people
today live better than rich people did 3,000 years ago. Doesn't mean
we shouldn't consider them poor. Better, cheaper tvs doesn't mean that
people are richer. It means that what were once luxury items (like
salt and pepper) are now things that anyone can have.

Juaquin also raised the point that living in an imperialist country is
better than living in a developing nation (ceteris paribus). Leaving
out certain Indian reservations, the rural poor in America, and some
poor in certain American cities (Gary, Camden, etc), it's mostly true.
But if we extend that argument to its logical conclusion, then MIM (or
it's successor splinters) are correct, and for all intents and
purposes, the entire population of the imperialist world benefits from

Of course, it ignores how much of America's wealth is self-generated.
True, most of the areas the U.S. colonized have been incorporated into
the U.S. (the whole country!), nonetheless, it remains the case that
most of America's wealth comes from the exploitation of American
workers. Because American workers are so productive, and because the
United States was the sole industrial power left at the end of WWII,
American workers were able to beg a few more crumbs from their

In truth, it's not a simple question, because despite the fact that
most trade in the U.S. is inter-imperialist trade, there is the
question of value added from products extracted from the Third World.
But Marxism 101 tells us that the products coming from the Third World
are valued by the socially necessary labor embodied in them, and while
monopolies certainly distort that value . . .

It's too complex a problem to be figured out in email threads. It's a
PhD project, analyzing all the threads of capital and figuring out
exactly how much imperialism contributes to living standards in the
imperialist world.

On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 5:02 PM,  <J.M.P.Cloke at lboro.ac.uk> wrote:
> Much as I truly hate to agree with Sartesian, he (she?
> It?) is quite right. The average relative wage in the UK
> and the USA across a range of manufacturing and industrial
> sectors declined steadily from the mid-1970s onwards and
> the gini coefficient increased correspondingly. What the
> Thatcher governments in the UK and all of the subsequent
> ones achieved was a dramatic change in the shape of wealth
> distribution; from being (roughly) a pyramid-shaped wealth
> distribution in the late 1970s in the UK the distribution
> of wealth assumed a roughly hour-glassed shape, with
> (critically) those in the middle-classes able to take
> advantage of the increasing privatization and
> liberalization initiatives effectively bribed by
> successive governments to abandon what used to be referred
> to as 'the post-war consensus', better-known as one-nation
> toryism.

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