[Marxism] "My" theses [was RE:Imperialism and the US workingclass(Was YADL)]

Marv Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Tue Apr 7 07:19:40 MDT 2009

Joaquin writes:

> Marv writes: <<They indicted the Labour and social democratic leadership
> of
> the trade unions and workers' parties; they did not write off the working
> classes of England or the continent, whom they expected to inevitably
> break
> with their "bourgeois" leaders.>>
> Yes, but the REASON they anticipated that is they believed England's
> uniquely favorable world position would erode and be undone. But look
> especially at the half-facetious comment that in addition to a bourgeois
> aristocracy it seemed like England was set on creating a bourgeois
> proletariat, to which Engels adds, "For a nation which exploits the whole
> world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable."

But England's uniquely favourable world position was eroded and undone, and
it's proletariat has remained "embourgeoisiefied" to the present day. The
more revolutionary-minded European proletariat to which the British working
class was unfavourably compared ultimately went down the same reformist road
after the continental empires disappeared.

So something other (or more) than imperialism must account for the
durability of British and European capitalism and it's continued capacity to
provide the mass of the population with tolerable and even rising living
standards after the presumed "fundamental material basis" for them were no
longer present.

Not that I would seek for the answer in the idealist notion that
capitalism's continued stability owes to the political adaptation of this or
that Marxist tendency; it was the other way round: the stability prompted
the adaptation. The suggestion that Britain and the old imperialist powers
were able to piggyback on a hegemonic US imperialism and receive their share
of the plunder as junior partners, while more persuasive, is still a
refutation of the Comintern conception of inevitable inter-imperialist
conflict resulting in the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. And as I've
noted previously on this list, that theory defined the export of capital 
colonizer to colonized as the distinguishing feature of the imperial
relationship - a relationship which was also turned on it's head over the
past decade.

Another example of how the classical Marxist texts - outstanding analyses of
capitalism and imperialism in their time - are not a irrefutable guide to
contemporary issues, a point you have frequently stressed yourself but seem
to ignore in the present instance.


> I'm not trying to indict anyone nor am I arguing the working class OUGHT
> to
> be passive or MUST be passive under X, Y or Z circumstances. I am trying
> to
> understand and have a broader layer of comrades understand and come to
> grips
> with *what has actually happened* in the United States. For some reason,
> any
> number of comrades see this as tremendously offensive and threatening.
> I agree that what you describe is certainly a possible even likely cause
> of
> radicalization...I do not believe history is as deterministic as all that,
> nor
> that there is a simple, one-to-one correspondence between politics and
> economics. There are many contradictory pressures and layers of mediation.
> Yet when one sees a phenomenon like the decline of the U.S. labor movement
> over a period now exceeding 60 years, that cries out for an explanation
> with
> a lot of oomph behind it.

Believe me, Joaquin, I don't pretend to have all the answers either, and
welcome the opportunity to wrestle with the issues raised by yourself,
Artesian, and others. My views have evolved over the years, but I still find
most to value on this and allied lists.

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