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

Marv Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Mon Apr 6 10:39:18 MDT 2009

Joaquin writes:

> For the record, and so there is no ambiguity, I believe the US working
> class, and most of all its white component, are fools for failing to
> understand that they would be much better off acting as part of their
> class.
> Like duh...

But this can be said of the working class worldwide, which has not
recognized or acted in it's historic interests, as the classicial Marxists
fully expected it would. It has limited itself for the most part to the
fight for reforms under capitalism rather than overthrowing the system and
replacing it with socialized property forms and relations.

Different national components of the international working class developed a
revolutionary socialist consciousness while fighting militantly for reforms
at different times in their histories, but this has been true of workers in
BOTH the imperialist and oppressed nations. It's worth noting in this
context that the high tide of European working class militancy coincided
with the high tide of European imperialism, while the increasing reformism
of the European working class coincided with the decline of European
imperial power, which would appear to be the inverse of Joaquin's thesis
that imperialism provides the sole or primary material basis foir reformism.

Even the maligned US workers, including whites, can't be accused of acting
like "fools" all of the time - clearly not during the time of Debs, the IWW,
and the CIO when many understood they were "acting as part of their class."
By the same token, there have been long periods of political quiescence in
the colonial and semi-colonial world.

This is not to deny the immense transfers of wealth from the oppressed
nations to the imperialist RULING classes, but it is impossible to quantify
how much of this wealth has been passed on to the metropolitan working class
in the form of higher wages and social benefits, and how much improvement in
the workers' standard of living - and their consequent reformism - owes to
"endogenous" factors such as technological change resulting in higher
productivity, favourable conditions for economic growth resulting from
geography and climate, faster growth resulting from prior class struggles
between the landowning aristocracy and bourgeoisie, etc..


> How much does the U.S. benefit from its domination of the world as the top
> dog imperialist power? Consider this: The U.S. is spending three quarters
> of
> a trillion dollars a year on its military establishment, which is
> EXCLUSIVELY dedicated to projecting force to dominate other countries,
> since
> the U.S. "homeland" is in absolutely no military danger from anybody. "In
> 2007, US military spending was above 1/4 of combined industrial and
> agricultural production in the USA," says Wikipedia.

The US built up its armed forces in World War II against major powers like
Japan and Germany and subsequently expanded them further to contain the
Soviet Union and China. It doesn't need it's vast nuclear and conventional
arsenal to contain the limited anti-imperialist rebellions it periodically
now confronts in third world countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

There have been continuing pressures within the military and political
establishment to to redirect military spending towards lower-cost,
lower-intensity counter-insurgency war. But these pressures have been offset
by opposing ones from the defence industry, which has a huge stake in the
current level of spending on mammoth weapons systems. Until very recently,
the lure of the vast US market played a greater role in allowing it to
exercise imperial control than did it's military power.

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