[Marxism] Who's running this?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 12 13:58:45 MDT 2014

 From Chris Ford's introduction to "Borot'bism":

The working class also bore the stigmata of colonialism, emerging at the 
historic conjuncture when capitalism was shifting into the phase of 
imperialism. This saw the division of the globe based on the relative 
strength and influence of the core metropolitan states, a phase 
characterized by a further concentration and centralization of capital, 
shifting from laissez-faire with the rise of cartels, trusts and state 
monopolies. This witnessed a transformation not only in capital but 
within the working class itself, seeing the growth of a privileged 
strata, an 'aristocracy of labor'. Whilst it is rarely acknowledged, 
Russian imperialism was no exception. In Ukraine the working class was 
comprised initially of mainly Russian migrant labor inclusive of an 
upper layer in the higher paid, skilled posts. Ukrainian new entrants 
found Russian not only the language of the state and administration but 
of the labor regime, the factory owner and foreman, their immediate 
class adversary.

These developments posited the national question at the point of 
production through a division of labor which relegated Ukrainians to the 
low paid, flexible labor strata, under-represented in heavy industry and 
over-represented in service and agricultural sectors. Like the Irish 
emigrants in England, they served as a pool of cheap labor, with one 
difference; it was in their own country. It was not coincidental that 
Russian nationalism expressed itself in the most extreme forms in 
Ukraine where the notorious Black Hundreds were disproportionately 
strong. This chauvinism permeated the working class. The observations of 
a local blacksmith in Yuzovka (now Donetsk) during the 1905 revolution 
provide flavor: "Whose running this? A bunch of Khokholy and Zhidy", 
that is Ukrainians and Jews.

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