"The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of All Countries, Unite!"
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
May 29, 2004
by Lil Joe
Modern productive forces and advanced technology is daily creating a uniform international working-class. Presently, it is a global class in-itself -- that is, workers or proletarians are a multi-ethnic cosmopolitan class of property-less individuals that everywhere must sell their labor power to ascertain the wherewithal (money) to purchase means of subsistence. However, in the more advanced industrial capitalist democracies in Western Europe the political praxis of sharpening class struggle is engendering what is becoming class-conscious, a class for-itself.
By "class for-itself" I understand self-organized economic units, merging in the formation of a class based, self-organized and self-financed independent political organization engaged in struggles to win state power, to by that political power transfer the productive forces from the private property of capitalists managed in the interests of capitalist profitability, to public property managed by the workers themselves, in the interest of humanity. The proletariat is based on wage labor, exploited by capital. By the transfer of the productive forces from private capitalists to public property with production and distribution oriented to reproduction of humanity, the relationship of wage-labor and capital will be abolished and thereupon the abolition of class structures throughout society.
Today the Argentine and the Haitian proletariat, and the Zimbabwean peasants are in the frontier barricades of the world revolution of workers and toilers. There they lack the material economic conditions, the numerical dominance of a huge industrial proletariat necessary to carry through a working-class, communist revolutionary expropriation of the productive forces. The American workers have the industrial and numerical capacity to lead this world-communistic revolution, but lack the class-consciousness, and political independence required to transform potentiality of a class in-itself into the revolutionary actuality of a self-moving revolutionary class for-itself.
It is the European proletariat, in particular the German, British, French and Italian industrial workers that have the numbers, and the class-consciousness to carry through expropriations of the property of the European bourgeoisie.
The European proletariat also has the history, and presently, the class political independence, socialist, labor, and communist parties that have won the battle of democracy in their respective countries. Though the French, British, German, Italian and more recently Spanish workers have, in their respective countries, voted in Labor Party, Socialist and Communist Party governments, objectively, and consciously voting for socialist expropriations of the productive forces, once in power, these parties refuse to legislate the expropriation and transfer of these productive forces from the private property of capitalists to the public property of organized labor.
The crisis in the socialist and communist worker's movement is how to break the mass base of the labor, socialist and communist parties from their conservative leadership. The workers must clean themselves in the crucible of proletarian praxis -- by practical-critical, revolutionizing practice overthrow the chains of authoritarian subordination and discipline and fear of trusting themselves with the future of humanity as their class responsibility: the emancipation of the working-class is the task of the working-classes themselves.
This Essay is an explication of the fundamentals of a modern Marxian analysis of the global economy. My purpose is to present a Marxist perspective and approach to doing such an analysis. In this sense it is of necessity a critique of the Leninist theory of "Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism."
The practical necessity of doing this -- that is, representing the basic premises of Marxian science and critiquing Leninism in this connection is that Lenin's theoretical errors have led the natural leaders in the European and American workers and socialist movements to reject the revolutionary potentiality of the European and American workers to, in our lifetime, become communist actuality.
I write this as a proletarian, a communist and revolutionary and thus to advance the objective of the international working-class seizing the productive forces and the products of proletarian labor alienated from us by the bourgeoisie through mechanisms of the capitalist market economy.
Marx went to the essence of this problem by exposing the truth of capitalist's economic exploitation of workers in the labor-process. Lenin [perhaps inadvertently] regurgitated, erroneously, as "Marxism" the Leninist theory of "capitalist imperialism". The fundamental conceptual errors were Lenin's return to bourgeois political economy, and in particular David Ricardo's theory of wages and profits. I deal with this, in a brief presentation in Part Two, regarding Marx's correction, by critique of Ricardo's labor market theory of value, wages, surplus -value, and profits.
Marx consciously presented philosophical analysis in its
its techno-economic context. The object must exist as a use-value before it
can be offered as an exchange-value for some other use-value. Commodities,
including labor power as a commodity, evolved in the framework of markets, in
the framework of feudalism in connection with mercantilism, and the
facilitations of the world-markets, manufacture, and industry evolved from
the feudal system into modern capitalism.
"As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the
old society from top to bottom, as soon as the laborers are turned into
proletarians, their means of labor into capital, as soon as the capitalist
mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of
labor and further transformation of the land and other means of production
into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well
as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form.
"The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of
production, produces capitalist private property." (Marx: Capital Vol. I
Part VIII: Primitive Accumulation. Chapter 32: Historical Tendency of
In The Philosophy of Right, Hegel wrote:
"Contract brings into existence the property whose external side, its side
as an existent, is no longer a mere 'thing' but contains the moment of a
will (and consequently the will of a second person also). Contract is the
process in which there is revealed and mediated the contradiction that I am
and remain the independent owner of something from which I exclude the will
of another only in so far as in identifying my will with the will of another
I cease to be an owner." (Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Part I, Abstract
Right. Chapter Two: Contract)
The "Contract" is of course a legal issue. For Hegel, as an Idealist the
Idea precedes matter, the concept the thing -- or rather the thing is the
actualization of the concept. For Marx, the materialist, the thing, or
activity, e.g. production and exchange, occurs prior to the legal concept, or
"Commodities are things, and therefore without power of resistance against
man. If they are wanting in docility he can use force; in other words, he
can take possession of them.  In order that these objects may enter into
relation with each other as commodities, their guardians must place
themselves in relation to one another, as persons whose will resides in
those objects, and must behave in such a way that each does not appropriate
the commodity of the other, and part with his own, except by means of an act
done by mutual consent. They must therefore, mutually recognize in each
other the rights of private proprietors. This juridical relation, which thus
expresses itself in a contract, whether such contract be part of a developed
legal system or not, is a relation between two wills, and is but the reflex
of the real economic relation between the two." (Marx: Capital Vol. I Part
I: Commodities and Money. Chapter Two: Exchange.)
We thus arrive at the point of alienation by contract.
Hegel, from the standpoint of Idealism continues:
"I have power to alienate a property as an external thing (see § 65); but
more than this, the concept compels me to alienate it qua property in order
that thereby my will may become objective to me as determinately existent.
In this situation, however, my will as alienated is at the same time
another's will. Consequently this situation wherein this compulsion of the
concept is realized is the unity of different wills and so a unity in which
both surrender their difference and their own special character." (Hegel
Marx the materialist corrects Hegel:
"This juridical relation, which thus expresses itself in a contract, whether
such contract be part of a developed legal system or not, is a relation
between two wills, and is but the reflex of the real economic relation
between the two. It is this economic relation that determines the
subject-matter comprised in each such juridical act." (Marx op. cit.)
Hegel: "Contract for wages (locatio operae) - alienation of my productive
capacity or my services so far, that is, as these are alienable, the
alienation being restricted in time or in some other way (see § 67)." (Hegel
In his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 Marx wrote of the
material circumstances which compel individuals to offer their "productive
capacity", what today one might call a "marketable skill", and therefore
present themselves as animate tools for the possession of others: society is
split into the two classes - property owners and propertyless workers.
The bourgeoisie -- class of modern capitalists; owners of the means of
social production and employers of wage-labor -- as a class owns the means
of social production, the means of production and subsistence. This class
monopoly compels the propertyless proletarians to sell the only thing they
have -- their capacity to work.
In context of predominately agricultural communities, where members of a
house-hold hire themselves out to supplement family income, and are not
completely dependent upon wages as in advanced industrial societies they're
wages are supplementary to agriculture, e.g. family farm, wages are lower
than in urban centers where wages are required to ascertain any and
everything needed. Where families are totally dependent upon the wages for
survival, the prices of subsistence are higher, and as the cost price of
reproducing labor-power requires more income, it is therefore more
expensive. This understanding also refutes the claim that proletarians "high
wages" are at the expense of low wage workers in agrarian countries.
The price of labor power, paid by capitalists is purchased at their value,
and is not the workers "share" in the products of their labor. Rather, when
sold, that labor-power and therefore its products belong to the capitalists.
Thus Marx writes: "The worker places his life in the object; but now it no
longer belongs to him, but to the object. The greater his activity,
therefore, the fewer objects the worker possesses. What the product of his
labor is, he is not. Therefore, the greater this product, the less is he
himself. The externalization of the worker in his product means not only
that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists
outside him, independently of him and alien to him, and begins to confront
him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed on the
object confronts him as hostile and alien" (Marx: Economic and Philosophic
Manuscripts of 1844).
But Hegel is right. This labor-capacity is an alienable property of the
proletarian, and although exploited as nothing but an animate tool --
Aristotle's definition of slaves -- yet proletarians are not slaves
precisely because it sells its object, thus its alienation, renting out
himself qua "hands" for a stipulated time, thus the contract.
What the proletarian sells is his or her "labor-power" as a commodity.
In the Manuscripts of 1844 Marx was in error, insofar as he referred to the
laborer, the person himself as a commodity, which would have made him a
slave rather than a proletarian. Marx had written: "The worker becomes
poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in
power and extent. The worker becomes an ever-cheaper commodity the more
commodities he produces. The devaluation of the human world grows in direct
proportion to the increase in value of the world of things. Labor not only
produces commodities; it also produces itself and the workers as a commodity
and it does so in the same proportion in which it produces commodities in
However, as a consequence of intense critical studies and observations,
including self-criticism and correction by the end of the 1850s Marx had --
as Hegel had done -- come to understand that it is the labor-capacity, or
labor power that is the commodity, owned by the person and alienable by he
or she, without selling himself or herself into slavery.
In Capital Marx wrote: "By labor-power or capacity for labor is to be
understood the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing
in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces a use-value of any
Here too we are provided the scientific, calculable definition of labor
exploitation as unpaid labor based in the capacity of this particular
commodity, unlike any other, having the capacity to not only reproduce its
own value in the product but at the same time create new, fresh value in one
and the same labor process.
Marx: "The change of value that occurs in the case of money intended to be
converted into capital, cannot take place in the money itself, since in its
function of means of purchase and of payment, it does no more than realize
the price of the commodity it buys or pays for; and, as hard cash, it is
value petrified, never varying. Just as little can it originate in the
second act of circulation, the re-sale of the commodity, which does no more
than transform the article from its bodily form back again into its
money-form. The change must, therefore, take place in the commodity bought
by the first act, M-C, but not in its value, for equivalents are exchanged,
and the commodity is paid for at its full value. We are, therefore, forced
to the conclusion that the change originates in the use-value, as such, of
the commodity, i.e., in its consumption. In order to be able to extract
value from the consumption of a commodity, our friend, Moneybags, must be so
lucky as to find, within the sphere of circulation, in the market, a
commodity, whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source
of value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an embodiment of
labor, and, consequently, a creation of value. The possessor of money does
find on the market such a special commodity in capacity for labor or
Other factors remaining constant, the more advanced the industry and
technology the higher the labor productivity and the greater the surplus of
unpaid labor. With this understanding is refuted the bourgeois lie that
profits are the capitalists "wages", or "share" in which, they claim they
are "paid" for risk taking in entrepreneurial "responsibility".
We are now concerned with an analysis distinguishing the Hegelian-Marxian
theory of labor objectification theory of value from the Ricardian-Leninist
theory of market value, prices and profits.
Both the Marxian and the Ricardian economic theory operate from the
assumption that the capitalist market economy is the economic environment in
which the means of production and subsistence are the property of landlords
and capitalists, and labor-time spent in production, working materials, is
the basis of determining economic value.
Marxian-Engels labor-theory of value is distinguished from the
Ricardian-Leninist's theory in the Hegelian Marxian systemic concept of
labor power (labor capacity qua capacity to work). The buying and selling of
labor power. Labor creativity, or work as value creation,
self-objectification in the labor process. Socially necessary labor-time.
Subjective labor (immediate human activity). Concrete labor objectified the
productive forces, means of production embodying historical cumulative value
qua capital, total capital, commensurate embodiments of homogeneous abstract
labor expressed in market-prices.
The Marxian focus is therefore on the problems reproduction of species being
by producing means of production and subsistence, socially necessary
labor-time, objectification, commodities, alienation of labor capacity (the
buying and selling of labor power), socially necessary labor-time
objectified in social production, surplus labor-time objectified in surplus
produce embodying value and therefore surplus value, the exploitation of
wage labor by capital, prices (approximating values corresponding to
socially necessary labor-time) the market mediated by competition, supply
and demand, money as medium of exchange.
Marx: "It is because all commodities, as values, are realized human labor,
and therefore commensurable, that their values can be measured by one and
the same special commodity, and the latter be converted into the common
measure of their values, i.e., into money. Money as a measure of value is
the phenomenal form that must of necessity be assumed by that measure of
value which is immanent in commodities, labor-time." (Karl Marx 1867,
Chapter III, Section 1).
According to David Ricardo: "The value of a commodity, or the quantity of
any other commodity for which it will exchange, depends on the relative
quantity of labor which is necessary for its production, and not on the
greater or less compensation which is paid for that labor.
Marx's presents Ricardo's economic theory, criticizing its shortcomings,
thus corrected, thus:
"Ricardo starts out from the determination of the relative va1ues (or
exchangeable values) of commodities by 'the quantity of labor'… If two
commodities are equivalents — or bear a definite proportion to each other
or, which is the same thing, if their magnitude differs according to the
quantity of 'labor' which they contain — then it is obvious that regarded as
exchange-values, their substance must be the same. Their substance is
labor. That is why they are 'values'. Their magnitude varies, according to
whether they contain more or less of this substance. But Ricardo does not
examine the form—the peculiar characteristic of labor that creates
exchange-value or manifests itself in exchange-values — the nature of this
labor. Hence he does not grasp the connection of this labor with money or
that it must assume the form of money. Hence he completely fails to grasp
the connection between the determination of the exchange-value of the
commodity by labor-time and the fact that the development of commodities
necessarily leads to the formation of money. Hence his erroneous theory of
money. Right from the start he is only concerned with the magnitude of
value, i.e., the fact that the magnitudes of the va1ues of the commodities
are proportionate to the quantities of labor, which are required for their
production. Ricardo proceeds from here and he expressly names Adam Smith as
In the Wealth of Nations, in the chapter "On the Real and Nominal Price of
Commodities, or their Price in Labor, and their Price in Money", Adam Smith
"The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who
wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. What
everything is really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to
dispose of it or exchange it for something else, is the toil and trouble
which it can save to himself, and which it can impose upon other people.
What is bought with money or with goods is purchased by labor as much as
what we acquire by the toil of our own body. That money or those goods
indeed save us this toil. They contain the value of a certain quantity of
labor, which we exchange for what is supposed at the time to contain the
value of an equal quantity.
Marx recognized on the other hand labor-time spent in production as
objectified humanity, that is the labor-time required to reproduce humanity
qua species being, socially necessary labor-time thus embodied in the
commodity, qua substance of value of commensurate labor congealed in
In the 1844 Paris Manuscripts analyzing the literature of [primarily
English, but not exclusively so] Political Economy on one hand and German
Speculative Philosophy on the other, recognizing the synthesis in Hegel's
Phenomenology, Marx observed:
"This fact simply means that the object that labor produces, its product,
stands opposed to it as something alien, as a power independent of the
producer. The product of labor is labor embodied and made material in an
object; it is the objectification of labor. The realization of labor is its
objectification. In the sphere of political economy, this realization of
labor appears as a loss of reality for the worker, objectification as loss
of and bondage to the object, and appropriation as estrangement, as
In Marx's Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63 2) Absolute Surplus Value b) Ratio
of Surplus Labor to Necessary Labor, Marx wrote:
"Because surplus value is reducible to surplus labor, capital has a
boundless drive to increase surplus labor. Capital endeavors, in return for
the objectified labor expended in wages, to obtain the greatest possible
quantity of living labor time, i.e. the greatest possible excess of labor
time over and above the labor time required for the reproduction of the
wage, i.e. the reproduction of the value of the daily means of subsistence
of the worker himself."
Subsequently, in Capital Volume I, the Chapter on The Working-Day, Section
1 - The Limits of the Working Day, Marx observed:
"The capitalist has bought the labor-power at its day-rate. To him its
use-value belongs during one working day. He has thus acquired the right to
make the laborer work for him during one day. But, what is a working day? At
all events, less than a natural day. By how much? The capitalist has his own
views of this ultima Thule, the necessary limit of the working day. As
capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital.
But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and
surplus value, to make its constant factor, the means of production,
absorbed the greatest possible amount of surplus-labor. Capital is dead
labor, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the
more, the more labor it sucks. The time during which the laborer works, is
the time during which the capitalist consumes the labor-power he has
purchased of him."
Lenin's thesis on Imperialism, while based in Ricardo's error makes a
further error by divorcing wages from its socially necessary labor-time
content and determination to compare wages in one part of the capitalist
world with wages in another. Leaving out the consideration of
techno-economic content of value and determination of surplus-value, Lenin
compares the price of labor-power in one part of the world with the profits
made in another.
Ricardo and Lenin's labor theory of value is based on wages, that is the
price of labor-power being determined by the market -- that is on
distribution rather than production.
We have seen that, in Capital and other late economic writings, Marx
dismissed money as anything other than medium of exchange. "The change of
value that occurs in the case of money intended to be converted into
capital, cannot take place in the money itself, since in its function of
means of purchase and of payment, it does no more than realize the price of
the commodity it buys or pays for; and, as hard cash, it is value petrified,
On the other hand, and to the contrary, Lenin's theory of imperialism argues
that money itself -- "finance capital" -- is a basis for wealth rather than,
as Marx argued the distribution of the proceeds of surplus value between
industrial capital and finance capital. Even Adam Smith and David Ricardo
In contrast to the Marxian theory of value and surplus value determined by
socially-necessary labor-time, which is itself determined by the level of
development of the productive forces, technology and thereby the level of
labor productivity -- the socially necessary labor-time required for
producing the means of production and subsistence --
Lenin's theory of "super-profits" is based in market locations on the one
hand, and the greed of "imperialists" and proletarians in the developed
In Marx's Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63, the chapter: Transformation of
Money into Capital - The Valorization Process, Marx wrote:
"The commodity, from which we proceeded as something already given, is
viewed here in the process of its becoming….Capitalist production, however,
requires not only that the commodities thrown into the labor process should
be valorized, should acquire a new value by the addition of labor —
industrial consumption is nothing but the addition of new labor — but also
that the values thrown into industrial consumption — for the use values
thrown into it all had value to the extent that they were commodities —
should valorize themselves as values, should produce new value owing to the
fact that they were values."
In order to blame European and American workers "high wages", paid out of
capitalists "super-profits" from the "super-exploitation" of low wage 3rd
world workers, the Leninists are diverting from the Marxian economic analysis
of labor process, where valorizing occurs, to an issue of money, banks and
monopolies. Yet, whether we are speaking of proletarians in America, Cuba,
Europe, Russia, China, or Africa in capitalist economics proletarians wages
equals what they require to purchase their families means of subsistence --
food, shelter and clothing.
Yet, in the industrially developed technologically advanced capitalist
countries labor productivity is highest. Therefore by reducing socially
necessary labor-time relative to stable prices of their labor-power, surplus
produce embodying relatively less labor has greater surplus value and the
profits of capital is at its highest. If there is to be any talk of
"super-profits" it is where the rate of surplus value is highest -- in the
United States, the European Union, Japan, South Africa and other
industrialized capitalist regimes.
Marx, Commenting on Adam Smith and David Ricardo in this connection, wrote,
in Theories of Surplus Value, Chapter 3 - section 5: Smith’s Identification
of Surplus-Value with Profit. The Vulgar Element in Smith’s Theory:
"Because Adam makes what is in substance an analysis of surplus value, but
does not present it explicitly in the form of a definite category, distinct
from its special forms; he subsequently mixes it up directly with the
further developed form, profit. This error persists with Ricardo and all
The same error persists with Lenin and his disciples' theory of imperialism
placing the determination of wages and profits ("super-profits") in the
mechanisms of finance capital [e.g. World Bank, IMF, &C.] and transnational
monopolies (managed by WTO,&C]. Thus, their Marxist sounding rhetoric
notwithstanding, these "socialists" in Europe and more particularly America
do not demonstrate on behalf of the cosmopolitan proletariats revolutionary
expropriation of the productive forces in the developed world, but "fair
trade not free trade" on one hand, and to close down low wage "sweatshops"
in 3rd world countries on the other.
There is nothing revolutionary or socialist about these professional
protestors. The modern world' market' economy is the result of the entire
history of human economic developments based in technological progress, and
corresponding changes in social evolution. The fact of the day is that the
productive forces, with its advances in technology have outgrown the market
economy, which can evolve no longer. The next step in socioeconomic
evolution is that the working-class take state power in the developed world,
and by that power abolishing the market economy by legislating the transfer
of the productive forces from the possession of capitalists to the public
property of organized labor: on this basis systemically doing away with
commodity production, wage labor and capital.
"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling
ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of
society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The
class which has the means of material production at its disposal,
has control at the same time over the means of mental production,
so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack
the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas
are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material
relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as
ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the
ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance."
Here [directly above] Marx states the socio-epistemological premises, for what was evolved as socio-epistemological praxis theory. In this sense of critique it is, or rather should be, clear that Lenin's bourgeois epistemology, and attacks on the British, French and German working-class as privileged, corrupt, and bribed at the expense of the workers and peasants in colonial and neo-colonial countries in the 3rd world, as Aduku Addae, (below), pointed out is a perspective informed in Lenin's own Russian political socialization. Lenin's vision of Russia as vanguard of humanity’s liberation is in the same cultural mode as the Slavophile.
It’s not surprising that "anti-imperialist" native bourgeois nationalists, which together with the proletariat of those colonies and neo -colonies -- created by imperialism and colonialism -- in their political risings against colonialism, would find their intellectual weapons in Lenin's "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism", whereas Lenin's Bolsheviks [especially under Stalin] find their material allies against Western Europe in 3rd world nationalist, anti-imperialism.
The Revolutionary socialists in the 3rd world liberation wars gravitated, as well as Europe, to Trotskyism. The 3rd world revolutionary socialists find their intellectual weapons in Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism -- Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution justified the attempts of the Bolsheviks to assume state power in Russia. Mao was a 'practical Trotskyism' in his struggle for "continuous revolution" ('permanent revolution' by another name) in that the Chinese Communist Party overthrew the bourgeois party in the bourgeois-democratic war of national liberation. The Vietnamese, Cuban and other revolutionary communist revolutions pushed the political revolution into social revolutions.
Yet, the 3rd world liberation movements that entered the path of permanent revolution to socialist revolution were unable to win. Revolutions require a passive element: a material basis. These 3rd world socialist revolutions were unable to go beyond a variation of state-monopoly capitalism. These "socialist' states like the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, China, Tanzania, Guinea, and Cuba -- lacking the technological basis and proletarian majorities required to sustain worker's democracies and worker self-management in production and distribution have disintegrated, or are disintegrating into a privatized entrepreneur capitalism.
It is necessary to begin again at the beginning.
The task I am undertaking is to free Marxism of Leninism by demonstrating that "Marxism-Leninism" is an ideological oxymoron. Aduku showed -- a political disaster there is no such thing as in economics -- that itself was either a theoretical error informed by or the result of Lenin’s political strategy of turning from the industrial working-class struggles in Europe. Diverted, in other words from the seizure (or legislative transfer) to the agrarian peasant based bourgeois-nationalist struggles "against imperialism". What class benefits most from substituting instead of proletarian revolution in industrial countries where the bourgeois owns the means of production and distribution?
In the article, “ABCs of Class Struggle”, a very concise but important article for Chicken Bones Journal, a Black email magazine, by Aduku Addae, he was exactly on point:
"The silencing of the working class and the decade-old replacement of informed socialist discourse with the half-wit sound bites of liberalism in the world-sociopolitical debate is a natural consequence of generations of adherence to the "political line" which preached the gospel of "United Democratic Fronts" against "Imperialism." This doctrine, as we have seen in practice, is capitalist ideology in essence, all nationalist struggles being ultimately directed at fortifying the capitalist order of society. It has yielded the most repressive and corrupt regimes in Angola, The Congo, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Somalia - - the list goes on ad infinitum.
"Lenin's formulation that "Imperialism" was the highest stage of capitalism is of course what started the trouble. This misperception emanated as much from Lenin's myopic preoccupation with Czarist Russia as from his long exilic isolation from the Russian working class and the broader struggle in Europe. (The European struggle of itself was an experience in isolation...)
"Capitalism is the bane of both Feudalism and Imperialism.
Capitalism used Imperialism for 500 years and then discarded it.
(The emergence of the USA as a world power after World War II, in
place of Imperialistic Britain, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany,
is a good indication of this. And now the imminent decline of the
USA - as it yields to the final imperialistic and reactionary
impulses of Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the Confederate
South - is even this moment in the making.) Capitalism is the
highest stage of Capitalism - no less, no more" (Aduku Addae: The
ABCs of Class Struggle)
The critique of Leninism in this regard is necessary because Lenin has provided the bourgeois ideologists with a veneer of "Marxism" as a Left "mask" behind which they grin as in the name of "Marxism", they as "Euro-centric", gut it. Qua "Marxism-Leninism", the bourgeois partisans of the colonial and neo-colonial bourgeoisie front off as socialists, communists, and even "Marxists" but they displace Marx's Marxism, and use Lenin's Leninism to present their reactionary attacks both on Marxism and the industrialized proletariat.
Aduku: "The most notable effect of this doctrine is that it
sapped the energy of the working class in imaginary battles against
a so-called imperialistic enemy. These were battles, however, which
were in reality against the working class itself
The Marxist materialist conception of history posit the necessity to penetrate philosophical political phenomena to ascertain from the material economic data, and the analysis of the data of social facts to a deeper theory of the economic basis of politics. In this case, which class stands to benefit most from the specific political movement for national independence? Lenin understood this, of course. In his pamphlet "The Rights of Nations to Self-Determination", for instance, Lenin admitted:
"As far as the theory of Marxism in general is concerned, the question of the right to self-determination presents no difficulty. No one can seriously question the London resolution of 1896, or the fact that self-determination implies only the right to secede, or that the formation of independent national states is the tendency in all bourgeois-democratic revolutions.
"Where the oppressed nations are concerned, the separate
organization of the proletariat as an independent party sometimes
leads to such a bitter struggle against local nationalism that the
perspective becomes distorted and the nationalism of the oppressor
nation is lost sight of" (Lenin: Rights of Nations to
The Marxian natural science of society is based in an analysis of production determining the division of labor, forms of exchange with corresponding production relations and, on this basis classes, estates, property, law, politics and family forms.
The classic Leninist conception of capitalist imperialism is that capitalism is in a "new," "higher stage." This assertion is based on capitalists having established monopolies, and the ascendancy of finance capital, on the one hand, and export capital colonialism to access resources and cheap labor, on the other hand.
Therefore, Leninists oppose "monopoly capitalism" and "imperialism," especially the more visible forms of colonialism by European capitalists in "Third" World countries. But, the practical consequence of their anti-monopoly coalitions and anti-imperialism support groups (by "Marxist-Leninists" in the "First" World) is to subordinate the class struggle(s) of labor against capital in European and American capitalist countries.
The political consequence of this is that, in so doing, the "Marxist-Leninists" became lackeys of the bourgeois national liberation movements in the "Third" World, and of bourgeois "people of color" / hustlers of racial nationalism in developed capitalist countries. More particularly, in the U.S., this subordination to bourgeois ideological anti-imperialism has been dominant in U.S. "Left" discourse owing to its [the American working classes] complete lack of proletarian political institutions and consciousness.
The ideologues of these bourgeois, "people of color" / hustlers of racial politics go further to attack the basic premises of Marxism -- the need for workers in advanced industrialized capitalist democracies to win the battles of democracy and seize the productive forces. This basic of Marx's premises is attacked -- in the name of "racial" and identity politics -- as "Euro-centric." They dismiss the European and American working classes and toiling masses as "racist", "spoiled", "privileged" and unworthy of their attention.
Lenin first presented this perspective within the Marxist movement to justify the Bolshevik plan to seize state power in agrarian feudal Russia. The materialist premise is that capitalist industrial development of social production, and thus a proletarian majority in the population is required for workers to win democratic power and expropriate the productive forces.
Trotsky and Lenin argued that "proletarian" revolution could occur, and would first occur in agrarian feudal Russia as the continuation of the bourgeois democratic revolution in that country. Kautsky, Plekhanov, and Rosa Luxemburg opposed this view. In response, Lenin went on a frenzy attacking Kautsky as an "opportunist," and saying that the European proletariat was "bourgeois". The logical conclusion of this position is that the Russian, and what is today called "Third World" peasants of less developed countries are/were the ones to make the "socialist revolution."
Lenin took some of Engels' statements in private correspondences out of context, and made "opportunism" and the corruption of the Western proletariat, the issue to divert from what Marx and Engels declared on the issue of "socialist" revolution in Russia – that it was impossible. The collapse of the Soviet Union proved them right.
Lenin adopted Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution for political reasons because he believed, rightly, that Russia was ripe for 'revolution' in consequence of World War I. To justify this in Marxist textology Lenin came up with quotes from Engels intimating that proletarian revolutions would not happen in Western Europe because the workers there were corrupt opportunists. To make this consistent with the writings of Marx and Engels, Lenin came up with some out of context quotes from scattered letters written by Engels in fits of depression regarding his impatience with the English proletariat.
In his work, entitled, "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism," Lenin engages in psychology and morality, not economic science, when he writes about "opportunism":
"We now have to examine yet another significant aspect of imperialism to which most of the discussions on the subject usually attach insufficient importance. One of the shortcomings of the Marxist Hilferding is that on this point he has taken a step backward compared with the non-Marxist Hobson. I refer to parasitism, which is characteristic of imperialism.
"It must be observed that in Great Britain the tendency of imperialism to split the workers, to strengthen opportunism among them and to cause temporary decay in the working-class movement, revealed itself much earlier than the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries; for two important distinguishing features of imperialism were already observed in Great Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century — vast colonial possessions and a monopolist position in the world market. Marx and Engels traced this connection between opportunism in the working-class movement and the imperialist features of British capitalism systematically, during the course of several decades.
For example, on October 7, 1858, Engels wrote to Marx: 'The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.' Almost a quarter of a century later, in a letter dated August 11, 1881, Engels speaks of the 'worst English trade unions which allow themselves to be led by men sold to, or at least paid by, the middle class'. In a letter to Kautsky, dated September 12, 1882, Engels wrote: "You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general. There is no workers' party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily share the feast of England's monopoly of the world market and the colonies." (Engels expressed similar ideas in the press in his preface to the second edition of The Condition of the Working Class in England, which appeared in 1892.)
"This clearly shows the causes and effects. The causes are: (1)
exploitation of the whole world by this country; (2) its monopolist
position in the world market; (3) its colonial monopoly. The
effects are: (1) a section of the British proletariat becomes
bourgeois; (2) a section of the proletariat allows itself to be led
by men bought by, or at least paid by, the bourgeoisie. The
imperialism of the beginning of the twentieth century completed the
division of the world among a handful of states, each of which
today exploits (in the sense of drawing superprofits from) a part
of the "whole world" only a little smaller than that which England
exploited in 1858; each of them occupies a monopolist position in
the world market thanks to trusts, cartels, finance capital and
creditor and debtor relations; each of them enjoys to some degree a
colonial monopoly which comprise the whole colonial world..."
What Lenin really presents to us is his own moral indignation in the form of a theory of 'opportunism.' Lenin defines opportunism as workers being bought-off by the bourgeoisie.
Ostensibly as a "Marxist," what Lenin wrote is nothing but bourgeois moral indignation. There is no economic analysis in his critique of opportunism.
In actuality, and for the materialist, everyone compelled to participate in the capitalist mode of production and appropriation is for sell and is "bought." Thus, without any moral indignation, Marx -- as a materialist philosopher and social scientist -- recognized, together with Engels in the Communist Manifesto, the nature of individuals created by capitalism:
"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an
end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has
pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to
his 'natural superiors', and has left no other nexus between man
and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment'. It
has drowned out the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour,
of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy
water of egotistical calculation."
Understanding this it would be absurd to attribute to Engels, let alone to Marx, the theoretical denunciation of individuals as sell-outs.
But, to consider the more 'scientific' sounding issue of the bourgeoisification of the English proletariat, it is both an oxymoron and theoretical nonsense. In the Communist Manifesto, written for public publication on behalf of a proletarian communist league in 1848, Engels wrote in 1888 -- three decades after having privately written to Marx that the English workers are "becoming more and more bourgeois”.
"By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners
of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. * By
proletariat, the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means
of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor
power in order to live. [Engels, 1888 English edition]"
So what then is a bourgeois-proletarian? It would have to be a modern capitalist that both owns the means of social production and at the same time does not own any means of production, an individual who both purchases his own labor power and as a proletarian sells his labor power to himself. This self-contradictory reasoning is inherent in the oxymoronic concept of a bourgeois proletariat.
When on August 11, 1881, in his letter to Kautsky Engels speaks of the, “worst English trade unions which allow themselves to be led by men sold to, or at least paid by, the middle class" that is a truism, in that ALL proletarians as proletarians "sell their labor-power in order to live".
To whom do they sell their labor power? To the bourgeoisie! What is the interest of proletarians? Workers are denounced as 'opportunists', and even 'bourgeois', for winning through class war, against the capitalists, the highest possible price for their labor-power.
In the letter to Kautsky, dated September 12, 1882, Engels wrote: "You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general. There is no workers' party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily share the feast of England's monopoly of the world market and the colonies". The issues that Engels was dealing with were objective and subjective material conditions. The first thing is that the English workers lacked class-consciousness because they lacked class institutions -- there was no labor party at the time and therefore no independent proletarian perspective.
At the same time, the English capitalists, because of their international investments and out-sourcing, were able to maximize profits to the extent that they were able to appease the British working-class by meeting their economic demands championed by Conservatives or Liberal-Radical partisans to keep the workers locked into the two party system. However, obviously, at the time, Engels either didn't understand, or if understood disagreed with the Marxian theory of labor power, wages and profits and so by this remark enabled Lenin, and Leninists to attack the European and American workers as being somehow responsible for the exploitation of workers in colonial countries.
Both Marx and Engels were however clear that the possibility of proletarian socialist revolution would be the result of objective conditions -- the advanced state of productive technology and a proletarian majority in the population on one hand, and objective subjectivity, class interests, a labor party winning the battle of democracy and legislating the expropriation of the productive forces from the capitalist class to public property in which production and distribution would become managed by the workers themselves, in agriculture as well as industry.
Marx,in 1875, in polemic against Bakunin's proto-theory of permanent revolution, of a communist revolution being based in the peasantry in agrarian Russia, wrote:
Marx: "…where the peasant exists in the mass as private proprietor, where he even forms a more or less considerable majority, as in all states of the west European continent, where he has not disappeared and been replaced by the agricultural wage-laborer, as in England, the following cases apply: either he hinders each workers' revolution, makes a wreck of it, as he has formerly done in France, or the proletariat (for the peasant proprietor does not belong to the proletariat, and even where his condition is proletarian, he believes himself not to) must as government take measures through which the peasant finds his condition immediately improved, so as to win him for the revolution; measures which will at least provide the possibility of easing the transition from private ownership of land to collective ownership, so that the peasant arrives at this of his own accord, from economic reasons. It must not hit the peasant over the head, as it would e.g. by proclaim the abolition of the right of inheritance or the abolition of his property. The latter is only possible where the capitalist tenant farmer has forced out the peasants, and where the true cultivator is just as good a proletarian, a wage-laborer, as is the town worker, and so has immediately, not just indirectly, the very same interests as him. Still less should smallholding property be strengthened, by the enlargement of the peasant allotment simply through peasant annexation of the larger estates, as in Bakunin's revolutionary campaign.
"Bakunin: Or, if one considers this question from the national angle, we would for the same reason assume that, as far as the Germans are concerned, the Slavs will stand in the same slavish dependence towards the victorious German proletariat as the latter does at present towards its own bourgeoisie.
"Marx: Schoolboy stupidity! A radical social revolution depends
on certain definite historical conditions of economic development
as its precondition. It is also only possible where with capitalist
production the industrial proletariat occupies at least an
important position among the mass of the people. And if it is to
have any chance of victory, it must be able to do immediately as
much for the peasants as the French bourgeoisie, mutatis mutandis,
did in its revolution for the French peasants of that time. A fine
idea, that the rule of labor involves the subjugation of land
labor! But here Mr. Bakunin's innermost thoughts emerge. He
understands absolutely nothing about the social revolution, only
its political phrases."
On the critical issues of their analysis as to whether communistic proletarian revolution could win in Russia, because of the then vast peasantry and tiny proletariat, and more importantly because of its relative lack of industrial technology, Marx and Engels said No. Could it happen in Europe? Yes. In fact, at the time of his writing it could only happen in Europe and in England in particular!
Engels: "On the subject matter, Mr. Tkachov tells the German workers that, as regards Russia, I possess not even a “little knowledge," possess nothing but “ignorance," and he feels himself, therefore, obliged to explain the real state of affairs to them, particularly the reasons that, just at the present time, a social revolution could be accomplished in Russia with the greatest of ease, much more easily than in Western Europe.
Tkachov: “We have no urban proletariat, that is undoubtedly true; but, then, we also have no bourgeoisie; ... our workers will have to fight only against the political power — the power of capital is with us still only in embryo. And you, sir, are undoubtedly aware that the fight against the former is much easier than against the latter.”
Engels: "The revolution that modern socialism strives to achieve is, briefly, the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie and the establishment of a new organization of society by the destruction of all class distinctions. This requires not only a proletariat to carry out this revolution, but also a bourgeoisie in whose hands the social productive forces have developed so far that they permit the final destruction of class distinctions. ... Only at a certain level of development of these social productive forces, even a very high level for our modern conditions, does it become possible to raise production to such an extent that the abolition of class distinctions can constitute real progress, can be lasting without bringing about stagnation or even decline in the mode of social production. But the productive forces have reached this level of development only in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, therefore, in this respect also is just as necessary a precondition for the socialist revolution as is the proletariat itself. Hence a man who says that this revolution can be more easily carried out in a country where, although there is no proletariat, there is no bourgeoisie either, only proves that he has still to learn the ABC of socialism.
"It is, therefore, sheer bounce for Mr. Tkachov to say that the Russian peasants, although 'owners', are 'nearer to socialism' than the propertyless workers of Western Europe. Quite the opposite. If anything can still save Russian communal ownership and give it a chance of growing into a new, really viable form, it is a proletarian revolution in Western Europe.http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/refugee-literature/ch05.htm
The intention of this Essay on the Marxian theory of self-expanding capital also accounts for globalization, and conflicts between the United States, the European Union and the Asian Pacific blocs, rivalries, and the War to dominate the Persian Gulf. But dealt with in such a way as to reestablish that the "principle contradiction" in capitalist production and appropriation is the exploitation of wage-labor by capital. That being the case, of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today the proletariat is the only class with objective conditions and subjective interests to be the communistic revolutionary class.
It is therefore not surprising that the bourgeois regimes, not just in the technologically advanced countries of Europe and the United States, but also the 3rd world capitalist countries, join in chorus attacking European Marxism as racist and the industrial proletariat as "corrupt," "bourgeois," and other such nonsense.
The outcome of the Bolshevik experiment, what Lenin called "state-monopoly capitalism" but Stalin called "socialism" the collapse of the Soviet bureaucratic state-monopoly capitalist regime, the privatization of "Chinese Communism", and the long since privatization of capitalist state regimes in Africa that claimed to be "socialist", prove that Marx and Engels were right: communist revolutions are a proletarian affair only in, or beginning in, the most advanced technological countries where the working-class has a democratic tradition and is the majority in those democracies.
We know that consciousness of material conditions does not always flow from a correct comprehension of subjective perspectives, as Wilhelm Reich showed in the original versions of Sex-Pol, Character Analysis and most importantly "The Mass Psychology of Fascism." This is where ideological struggle comes in. The working-class in Europe has had labor, socialist and communist parties come to political power, or rather the reigns of government by capitulating to nationalism, imperialist interests and wars. These workers bourgeois consciousness must be fought by uncompromising proletarian cosmopolitan politics and ideology.
But, this cannot be successful separate and apart from workers legislating the transfer of the productive forces from the capitalist class to the working class. The most powerful, economically dominant class is the class that owns the productive forces, and consequently whatever party has government power will inevitably work in that class' interests, as we see with the German Social-Democrats, the British Labor Party, the French and Italian Socialist and Communist Parties and so on.
For instance, rather than standing outside the British Labour Party denouncing the New Labor clique as opportunist, and trying on that basis to win recruits to socialist sects, the members of the Marxist Left in Britain should re-enter the Labor Party and Unions, advance the demand for the TUC to call an open federal Trade Union Congress to throw the entire New Labor cadres and leadership out of the Unions and out of the Party and campaign to rewrite the Political Perspective and Program of the Labor Party directed not at nationalization of bankrupt industries, BUT THE FORCEBLE EXPROPRIATION OF ALL THE PRODUCTIVE FORCES PLACED DIRECTLY IN THE HANDS OF THE WORKERS THEMSELVES.
Ending capitalist ownership of the economy, thus ends their political hold on the state, displacing the standing army and destroying the officer corps by armed workers militias. Ending their ownership of the domestic economy at the same time ends their dominating foreign policy. The workers instead will create an internationalist proletarian foreign policy withdrawing from all imperialist occupations and wars. There is no alternative.
Part II of Thesis on Imperialism and War
The relative poverty of peasants in agrarian based capitalist countries is due, in large part, to those countries having a relative lack of industrial productivity, advanced technology and national infrastructure as compared to the industrialized and technologically advanced capitalist countries. Thus, workers and peasants in 3rd world capitalist countries are poorer than workers and farmers in the industrialized and technologically advanced capitalist countries in the European Union, Japan, South Africa, Kuwait, South Africa, Israel, and the United States. It does not follow from this that European and American workers are "rich"
In the highly industrialized, and technologically advanced capitalist democracies, as a result of wealth engendered by high labor productivity, workers self-organized into economic combat organizations, trade unions have won the relatively high wages and social benefits. Yet, in these capitalist countries, based in industrial capital formation and efficient use of the advances in technology capitalist profits are astronomical in comparison to the wages of labor. Comparatively, the more modern the industry and more advanced the technology the higher the productivity of labor and higher the rates of profits relative to wages in the specific capitalist enterprises.
I will show that it is therefore nothing but bourgeois propaganda, and lies, both in the industrially developed capitalist countries, and less developed agrarian based capitalist countries, that the industrial proletariat, specifically in the European Union and the United States, is greedy, and in their greed the cause both of inflation ("wage-pull inflation”) and 3rd world poverty.
Logically, in the industrialized capitalist countries, it is the vulgar economists that attack the industrial proletariat for its "unreasonable" demands upon capital to increase wages and decrease hours of the working-day on the basis of higher labor productivity. However, the bourgeois Leftist culture in the industrialized, technologically advanced capitalist countries, and the rising nationalist bourgeois ideologist in 3rd world capitalist countries, join the bourgeois ideological Right in attacking the industrial proletariat in the developed countries for having won gains in wages, reduced hours, and increased social benefits.
Ironically, in the industrialized capitalist countries where labor productivity is the source both of relatively high wages in comparison to workers wages in 3rd world countries, and the rate of wages low in comparison to the increased profits resulting from this higher labor productivity, that elements even in the Leninist Left attack European and American workers as "corrupt", "racist", “sell-outs” who are bribed, and, in effect, a cause of -- at any rate an important contributinggggg factor to -- tthe poverty of 3rd world peasants and beneficiaries of the "super-profits" derived from the "racist, super-exploitation" of 3rd world workers.
The leading elements of the "Progressive", and Leninist Left regard "revolution" as a desperate response to poverty and "national oppression". They therefore place themselves on the side of the 3rd world bourgeois in opposition to "imperialism", and "globalization", and "support" the various national bourgeois and "indigenous peoples" movements seeking a better deal from the industrialized bourgeois dominated countries of the European Union, Japan and North America.
Not only do the Western progressives and anti-racist, anti-imperialist not seek revolutionary strategies to take the political power and productive forces from the industrial capitalist's in the industrialized countries, they only attack their "immoral" behavior in the 3rd world capitalist countries, such as running "sweatshops". Thus, instead of attacking the exploitation of wage labor by capitalists in the industrialized countries, with the objective of expropriating basic industries such as cotton, steel, plastics, agriculture, coal, petrochemical, telecommunication, automobile manufacture, assembly plants, lumber, transportation, firearms, aircraft, household appliance industries, high tech industries and so on, these progressives,anti-racists,anti-imperialists focus on wage increases in clothing industries such as Nike in Indonesia or China.
I am not saying that struggles for wages increases in 3rd world capitalist countries, or lowering duties on import of commodities produced by 3rd world capitalists is a bad thing. But, the anti-globalization and anti-imperialist movements in industrialized capitalist countries siding with the nationalist bourgeoisie in the 3rd world countries to erect barriers against cheaper agricultural imports only aid the 3rd world bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletarians and peasants in those countries who stand to benefit from importing cheaper commodities.
Given the cosmopolitan character of capitalist commodity production and circulation, it is in the interest of proletarians in the developed industrialized capitalist countries and in the less developed capitalist countries to break down all economic tariffs and political frontiers, organizing transnational labor unions and political organizations.
The economic gains by workers in industrialized technologically advanced capitalist countries have come as the result of organized labor winning these gains. Such gains, money and power, the result of industrial and technological advances in labor productivity are threatened when average rates of profits decline and the capitalist is forced to export capital -- "outsourcing" -- in search of cheaper labor. It is in the material interests of workers in the developed countries to put their wealth and power into cross border campaigns organizing truely international trade unions.
Rather than truck drivers in the American transport industry, organized into the Teamsters Union fighting Mexican truckers entering the United States by NAFTA rules the American truckers need to go to Mexico and invest their millions of dollars in pension funds to organize the unorganized truckers in Mexico into a single transport union from the southern tip of Mexico throughout all of Mexico, the United States and Canada to Alaska. The money expended in organizing the Mexican truckers will be returned ten-fold once dues of Mexican Teamsters is the same as American Teamsters based on winning contract parity for all workers based on the highest wage, backed by transnational strikes. The same for the Longshoremen stretching along the Atlantic and the Pacific Coast organizing Mexican, American and Canadian dock workers into a single transnational Longshoremen and women's union. Similarly the auto industry in Canada, the United States and Mexico including Maquiladora workers as dues paying union members of the United Auto Workers, and so on into every other transnational industry, including farm-workers.
The total capital advanced in the wages of labor,as a percentage of total outlays, averages out, regardless of location, in consequence of which capitalist average profits decline compelling capital to attack wages. This attack on the living standard of workers in industrialized countries and the struggle to win wages and benefits gains in less developed countries is one and the same struggle which can be won only by transnational labor organizations: proletarian internationalism.
It is from this point of view that I propose not only international but intercontinental proletarian organizational unity, both practical and theoretical. The proletarians in the European Union are already moving into this mode of class-conscious struggle. This requires however that the working-class take their unions and parties back from those who have promoted peace and collaboration with capitalists, and refuse to transfer the productive forces from capitalist private property to proletarian public property.
The way the New Labor clique has structured the party bureaucracies, however, is designed to prevent the rank and file workers from throwing them out, and if thrown out leaving those structures intact, to prevent radical reorganization. The radicalized rank and file can retake their unions and parties by calling rank and file trade unions conventions to develop strategies to run candidates for offices throughout the trade unions.
One way to advance this, and facilitate the self-activity of the workers at the base at the same time, is by having those running for local and national offices hold, as part of their campaign, weekly public meetings on days and times that can generate largest possible turnouts, and have at these meetings, discussions leading to district and regional public meetings called by these radical candidates. These would in turn lead to the organizing of a Public rank and file National Party Convention at which the representatives of the rank and file will be authorized the power to write a New Party Constitution and a correspondingly new entire party structure guided by the objective of winning parliamentary majorities of workers who are pledged to once in Parliament legislate the transfer of the productive forces from the private clutches of capitalists to the public property of the working class.
If in Parliament the proletarian party is prevented by rules of procedure, and/ or the National Constitution, House of Lords, Courts or Presidency from enacting these expropriations then the worker in Parliament, backed by their constituencies and the radicalized rank and file, and the new leaders of the trade unions will have no alternative but to disband the Parliament, House of Lords, Courts and Presidency and place the power of government directly in the hands of those unions and constituents. If they send in the troops, we will have the electoral authority to call upon the rank and file workers at the base of the military to refuse orders and go over to the side of the new government.
This can work if these kinds of activities are happening simultaneously in the most industrialized and technologically advanced countries in Europe -- Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy for example. That the European workers are ready to do this is indicated by recent elections in these countries. The English workers voting for the Labour Party majority were actually voting for a workers government. The German workers voting for the Social-Democrats and the French, Spanish, and Italian workers voting in Social-Democratic, Socialist and Communist Parliamentary majorities were voting for Social Democracy, Socialism and Communism notwithstanding the betrayals of those Party's class collaborationist bureaucracies once in power. The class-conscious French proletariat became so disappointed by the class collaborationist policies of the Socialist Party/Communist Party government that they boycotted their bid for re-election.
Once revolutionary socialists and communists in Europe get out of their heads the myth that European workers are selfish and bribed by capitalist "super-profits" derived, supposedly, from the "super-exploitation" of the 3rd world they can see the obvious revolutionary potential of the European proletariat as an ally of 3rd world workers and peasants.
Not only are the German, French and Italian workers almost always in the streets in public protests and strikes in defense of gains won, now under attack by capitalists and governments, and working-class youth that by the millions participated in, or supported in one form or another the anti-capitalist protests in context of "anti-globalization", but, more germane, adult workers in Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Italy far from supporting "imperialism" to keep their "bribes", on the contrary took the streets repeatedly, by the millions, in opposition to the Anglo-American Invasion and Occupation of Iraq!
Japanese, Korean and Philippine workers were also in the streets in protest.
There is a fundamental difference in Marxian materialist conception of history and epistemology of praxis. Marx never spoke of any generic "revolution" as "the poor" rising against "the rich". Rather, it is the conflict in society engendered by technological changes bringing into existence new conditions of production represented by a rising class in opposition to the limitations of the old order.
"Man never renounces what he has gained, but this does not mean that he never renounces the form of society in which he has acquired certain productive forces. On the contrary. If he is not to he deprived of the results obtained or to forfeit the fruits of civilisation, man is compelled to change all his traditional social forms as soon as the mode of commerce ceases to correspond to the productive forces acquired."http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1846/letters/46_12_28.htm
The poor people in every revolution benefit from the changes brought about by increased labor productivity brought about by the new technology. They are oppressed and they fight. Yet, their participation in revolutions, motivated by anger at their oppressors is not what determines the character of the revolution.
"For instance, privilege, the institution of guilds and corporations, the regulatory system of the Middle Ages, were the only social relations that corresponded to the acquired productive forces and to the pre-existing social conditions front which those institutions had emerged. Protected by the corporative and regulatory system, capital had accumulated, maritime trade had expanded, colonies had been founded—and man would have lost the very fruits of all this had he wished to preserve the forms under whose protection those fruits had ripened. And, indeed, two thunderclaps occurred, the revolutions of 1640 and of 1688. In England, all the earlier economic forms, the social relations corresponding to them, and the political system which was the official expression of the old civil society, were destroyed."http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1846/letters/46_12_28.htm
What makes socialism possible and proletarian revolution inevitable is large-scale industry. Advances in industrial technology collide with the capitalist mode of appropriation resulting in overproduction or surplus produce that cannot be sold, plant closures, and surplus populations that cannot find work on one hand, declining rates of profits and attacks on workers who are employed, on the other. The usual way out of these contradictions have been wars that destroy productive forces and decrease the surplus population by workers killing each other off.
At the same time the advances in technology and efficiency resulting in increases in labor productivity while in the short term resulting in layoffs, and higher profits from increased labor productivity, creates conditions for the self organization of social labor as the workers strike for, and win, increases in wages and decreases in hours. But, the inevitable surplus products and surplus population unable to find work, and therefore unable to purchase, resulting in intensifications of competition within and between nations, again and again places before proletarians: either accept depressions, wars and barbarism or take the productive forces and put an end to capitalist commodity production and wage labor
In an online book Michael Adas writes of the Global economy in the 20th century. Discussing the Great Depression as a global phenomenon Adas wrote:
"The depression resulted from new problems in the industrial economy of Europe and the United States, combined with the long-term weakness in economies, like those of Latin America, that depended on sales of cheap exports in the international market. The result was a worldwide collapse that spared only a few economies and brought political and economic pressures on virtually every society.
"Pronounced tendencies toward overproduction developed in the
smaller nations of eastern Europe, which sent agricultural goods to
western Europe, as well as among tropical producers in Africa and
Latin America. Here, continued efforts to win export revenue drove
local estate owners to drive up output in such goods as coffee,
sugar, and rubber. As European governments and businessmen
organized their African colonies for more profitable exploitation,
they set up large estates devoted to goods of this type. Again,
production frequently exceeded demand, which drove prices and
earnings down not only in Africa but also in Latin America. This
meant in turn that many colonies and dependent economies were
unable to buy many industrial exports, which weakened demand for
Western products precisely when output tended to rise amid growing
United States and Japanese competition."
It is to be recalled that at this time it was the European powers -- Britain, France, Portugal, Belgian, and Spain that had nearly all the colonies whereas America and Japan's wealth was based primarily upon domestic capitalists exploitation of their proletarians.
"By the later 1920s employment in key export industrial sectors in the West - coal (also beset by new competition from imported oil), iron, and textiles - began to decline, the foretaste of more general collapse.
"Throughout most of the industrial West, investment funds dried up as creditors went bankrupt or tried to pull in their horns. With investment receding, industrial production quickly began to fall, beginning in the industries that produced capital goods and extending quickly to consumer products fields.
The existing weakness of some markets, such as the farm sector
or the nonindustrial world, was exacerbated as demand for foods and
minerals plummeted. New and appalling problems developed among
workers - now out of jobs or suffering from reduced hours and
reduced pay - as well as the middle classes. The depression, in
sum, fed on itself, growing steadily worse from 1929 to 1933. Even
countries initially less hard hit, such as France and Italy, saw
themselves drawn into the vortex by 1931."(Michael Adas: The
Twentieth Century in World History 1992)
The colonies were part and parcel of the same capitalist world market system, and were not a solution to the contradictions inherent in the laws of motion of capitalist commodity production by wage labor. It was, and is, in the industrialized capitalist countries, that these contractions are most acute and historically have been resolved, not by finding some natives to colonize and "super-exploit" but by the more thorough exploitation of industrial and agricultural proletarians in the industrial capitalist "core".
Part III of Thesis on Imperialism and War
In Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism Lenin wrote:
"The imperialism of the beginning of the twentieth century
completed the division of the world among a handful of states, each
of which today exploits (in the sense of drawing super profits
from) a part of the "whole world" only a little smaller than that
which England exploited in 1858; each of them occupies a monopolist
position in the world market thanks to trusts, cartels, finance
capital and creditor and debtor relations; each of them enjoys to
some degree a colonial monopoly…"
Note that Lenin's premise is that "super profits", accumulated in "a hand full of states", are derived by these "states" from each state possessing a "monopoly" engaging in the "exploitation" of the "whole world". Where is the economic science in this? How does a "state" exploit "the world"?
The issue of "super profits" has however never been defined relative to "normal profits", neither by Lenin nor any subsequent Leninist anti-imperialist economists.
In fact the notion of "super profits" is derived from Ricardian socialists, according to whom profits are derived from "unequal exchange" -- that is as the product of superior bargaining power, due to monopoly, lack of competition and thereby unequal exchanges between Capital and Labor. All that Lenin did was apply this bourgeois theory of profits to the international capitalist market system, stated internationally in terms of trade that the imperialist countries acquire super profits because of monopolies and finance capital, which, in consequence, colonial countries suffer from a "comparative disadvantage".
Marx dismissed this bourgeois theory of unequal exchange advocating on the contrary, for instance in Value, Price and Profit: "To explain the general nature of profits, you must start from the theorem that, on an average, commodities are sold at their real value, and that profits are derived from selling them at their values, that is, in proportion to the quantity of labor realized in them. If you cannot explain profit upon this supposition, you cannot explain it at all." [Value, Price and Profit, CW 20:127]
Marx was dealing with aggregates. That is, average wage and prices and profits in a systemic whole and therefore socially necessary labor-time required to reproduce society as proletariat and bourgeoisie. The capitalist's wage-fund is averaged out, including the prices of labor power both in the imperialist home country and in the colonies. The value of labor power is determined by the price of means of subsistence, which nowadays is calculated as the "cost of living". The benefit of export capital is that, while on one hand it employs otherwise surplus capital that would have lain fallow in the home country, on the other hand it can demand cheaper labor in the colonies because the proletarians in the basically agrarian colonies were not totally dependent upon wages in order to live as in the industrialized home country.
In other words, the colonial worker was still part of a peasant community, where their families lived in villages and other family members may have provided agricultural produce or fishing for food and trade. In which case, at least in the 1910s when Lenin did his analysis, having an agrarian support base those who worked for foreign capitalists did so to supplement their family wealth and income but were not totally dependent upon them for wages. The price of their labor power was therefore cheaper relative to their counter-parts in the industrialized countries where their entire family were totally dependent on wages by means of which to purchase all their means of subsistence.
David Ricardo wrote in the opening paragraphs of The Principles
of Political Economy and Taxation: "The produce of the earth -- all
that is derived from its surface by the united application of
labor, machinery, and capital, is divided among three classes of
the community; namely, the proprietor of the land, the owner of the
stock or capital necessary for its cultivation, and the laborers by
whose industry it is cultivated."
Ricardo was right -- as far as capitalist commodity production by wage labor is concerned: "the produce of the earth -- all that is derived from its surface by the united application of labor, machinery, and capital, is divided among three classes of the community…"
The market is the mode of appropriation of labor, in exchange for money as wages, and by this transaction the capitalist buying the labor power owns the products of that labor which he in turn sells in the market. Labor power is a commodity and the products of labor expended in production are commodities. By the market transaction the labor power of proletarians is purchased by capitalists which transaction these capitalists purchase at the same time the right of ownership of the proletarians labor and thereby the products of the sold, thus alienated labor.
In the following paragraph Ricardo continued: "the proportions
of the whole produce of the earth" is "allotted to each of these
classes, under the names of rent, profit, and wages".
Marx in Capital defined the commodity form of labor-power --
which is alternately called "labor capacity" and "labor potential".
Marx observed: "By labour-power or capacity for labour is to be
understood the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities
existing in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces
a use-value of any description."
Labor-power as a commodity, the same as all commodities, a use-value that is at the same time an exchange value, and therefore in the market economy of capitalism has its natural value equivalent of the socially-necessary labor time required to reproduce the worker (equivalent of the means of subsistence so required) and its socially determined, or market determined price.
"The exchange value of the commodity is the quantity of equal social labor objectified in its use value, or the quantity of labor which has been embodied, worked up in it. The magnitude of this quantity is measured by time: the labor time that is required to produce the use value, and is therefore objectified in it.
Money is distinguished from the commodity solely by the form in
which this objectified labor is expressed. In money, the
objectified labor is expressed as social labor (in general), which
is therefore directly exchangeable with all other commodities in
proportion as they contain the same amount of labor. In the
commodity, the exchange value it contains, or the labor objectified
in it, is only expressed in its price, i.e. in an equation with
money; it is only expressed notionally in gold (the material of
money and the measure of values)”.
It is the time that is bargained. The contract sets the block of time -- e.g. x dollars an hour -- for a certain skill. It is the type of work done, and selling ones skilled or unskilled labor power of a duration, labor-time, that proletarian as well as capitalist regard this labor power as a commodity in the "labor market." The means of production the capitalist has purchased, and now owns, embody a constant value (having been produced by living labor in previous labor processes) thus accumulated labor value in them, exist in space; whereas the labor power purchased, and now owned by the capitalist, exists in time.
In the "labor market" the proletarians offer their skills, a certain labor quality, for sell:
"He and the owner of money meet in the market, and deal with
each other as on the basis of equal rights, with this difference
alone, that one is buyer, the other seller; both, therefore, equal
in the eyes of the law. The continuance of this relation demands
that the owner of the labour-power should sell it only for a
definite period, for if he were to sell it rump and stump, once for
all, he would be selling himself, converting himself from a free
man into a slave, from an owner of a commodity into a commodity. He
must constantly look upon his labour-power as his own property, his
own commodity, and this he can only do by placing it at the
disposal of the buyer temporarily, for a definite period of time.
By this means alone can he avoid renouncing his rights of ownership
Hegel had discovered labor-power as an alienable property, his
labor capacity belonging to the worker. In Hegel's Philosophy of
Right: "Single products of my particular physical and mental skill
and of my power to act I can alienate to someone else and I can
give him the use of my abilities for a restricted period, because,
on the strength of this restriction, my abilities acquire an
external relation to the totality and universality of my being. By
alienating the whole of my time, as crystallised in my work, and
everything I produced, I would be making into another's property
the substance of my being, my universal activity and actuality, my
The selling of one's labor power as a commodity presupposes the freedom of the worker. Chattel slaves do not sell their labor to slave-owners any more than oxen or mules sell their work time. Aristotle, and for that matter Thomas Jefferson regarded slaves as intelligent as far as animals go, but inferior to humans and with no human rights.
Slaves do not own themselves nor, consequently, do they own the products of their labor. The proletarian owns himself and herself, but not the selling of his or her labor capacity, -- placing themselves at the disposal of a capitalist for a specified time and during this time the workers work for, and the products of his or her labor belongs to, the capitalist that purchased their labor power, their capacity to work.
The slave does not own himself or herself; consequently neither do they own their time. Whenever the slave works, whatever he or she produces belongs unconditionally, unequivocally, and automatically to their owners. The product of slave labor immediately is the property of his or her owner. Slaves don't sell their labor power. That is not possible where slavery is the dominant mode of appropriation and form of exploitation.
The capitalistic exploitation of wage labor, the proletariat, is the product of history.
Marx's "3 points:
1) Capitalist production is the first to make the commodity the universal form of all products.
2) Commodity production necessarily leads to capitalist production, once the worker has ceased to be a part of the conditions of production (slavery, serfdom) or the naturally evolved community no longer remains the basis [of production] (India). From the moment at which labour power itself in general becomes a commodity.
3) Capitalist production annihilates the [original] basis of commodity production, isolated, independent production and exchange between the owners of commodities, or the exchange of equivalents.http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/economic/ch01.htm
The relation of wage labor or proletariat and capital or capitalist in the market the proletarian is the personification of labor capacity and the capitalist in the buyers market. Once purchased, put to work the exchange value of the labor capacity by work actualizing use value as transferring value of previously produced objects embodying value (objective labor) and its own value (subjective labor) but in this process is valorization of value engendering value producing value greater than itself. To organize this the capitalist function is that of personified capital.
In Capital Volume I in the eleventh chapter on the 'Rate and Mass of Surplus Value':
"Within the process of production, as we have seen, capital
acquired the command over labour, i.e., over functioning
labour-power or the labourer himself. Personified capital, the
capitalist takes care that the labourer does his work regularly and
with the proper degree of intensity. * Capital further developed
into a coercive relation, which compels the working class to do
more work than the narrow round of its own lifewants prescribes. As
a producer of the activity of others, as a pumper-out of surplus
labour and exploiter of labour-power, it surpasses in energy,
disregard of bounds, recklessness and efficiency, all earlier
systems of production based on directly compulsory labour."
This is the conceptual framework for Marxian economic analysis
of the self-expansion of capital comprehending the necessity of
exploitation of purchased labor power: "Intrinsically, it is not a
question of the higher or lower degree of development of the social
antagonisms that result from the natural laws of capitalist
production. It is a question of these laws themselves, of these
tendencies working with iron necessity towards inevitable results.
The country that is more developed industrially only shows, to the
less developed, the image of its own future." (Marx: Capital Volume
I. Preface to the First German Edition.)
As owners of the productive forces the Self-Expansion of Capital
drives the capitalist to exploit labor power, independently of his
personal conscience, the same way hunger drives workers to sell
their labor power, independently of their personal dignity:
"capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value
and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of
production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labor.
(Marx Capital Volume I)
The labor potential is its inherent valorizing capacity:
"Whatever the particular kind of actual labor the capitalist may
wish to buy, this particular kind of labor capacity only retains
its validity to the extent that its use value is the
objectification of labor in general, hence value-creating activity
in general" (Marx Economic Works 1861-3
Productive Labor is a rational human activity altering the natural environment to satisfy human wants in acquiring, producing and distributing their means of production or, by these tools means of subsistence. This is true whether the labor is gathering roots, nuts and berries and/or hunting, herding, horticulture, plant and/or animal husbandry, agriculture and/or industry.
Unlike previous subsistence cultural ecologies the cultural ecology of the capitalistic mode of production and appropriation is ever hungry, predatory and expansive. It penetrates the subsistence economies both in its home country and into others. It changes those modes of production, and by bringing those natives of foreign lands into the world market expands capitalism in those countries transforming its populations into bourgeois and proletariat.
The cosmopolitan nature of capitalist commodity production is global in which European capitalist country's self-expansion of capital results in replicating capitalist conditions of production in 3rd World countries and colonies. The predatory self-expansion of capital into colonial and neo-colonial countries, and exploitation of wage labor in those colonies and neo-colonies, are part of the total capital invested and thus the total wage fund of industries and national averages.
At the very outset of the science of political economy Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations Book I, Chapter VIII - Of the Wages of Labour. observed:
"What are the common wages of labour, depends every where upon
the contract usually made between those two parties, whose
interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as
much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former are
disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower
the wages of labour."
Subsequently in Book I, Chapter IX - Of the Profits of Stock,
Smith went on to observe how "the wages of labour are generally
higher in a great town than in a country village. In a thriving
town the people who have great stocks to employ, frequently cannot
get the number of workmen they want, and therefore bid against one
another in order to get as many as they can, which raises the wages
of labour, and lowers the profits of stock. In the remote parts of
the country there is frequently not stock sufficient to employ all
the people, who therefore bid against one another in order to get
employment, which lowers the wages of labour, and raises the
profits of stock.
Smith was right in dealing with wages advanced by capitalists to workers for production and profits extracted by capitalist from workers [unpaid labor] in aggregates -- that is, the average wages and averages of profits including the differences into these averages of the wages and profits both of town and country. As in the towns in comparison to the country, I posit that the averages of wages and profits of a capital advanced in the purchases of means of production (constant capital) and labor power (variable capital) in the industrialized countries and the colonies and neo-colonies likewise aggregates of the total wage fund advanced and profits derived from total output, values embodied in the total commodities produced with surplus value derived from unpaid labor-time spent in production (work).
As in Capital, Marx observed: "the variable capital of a capitalist is the expression in money of the total value of all the labor-powers that he employs simultaneously. Its value is, therefore, equal to the average value of one labor-power, multiplied by the number of labor-powers employed. With a given value of labor-power, therefore, the magnitude of the variable capital varies directly as the number of laborers employed simultaneously.
The mass of the surplus value produced is therefore equal to the surplus value that the working day of one laborer supplies multiplied by the number of laborers employed. But as further the mass of surplus value which a single laborer produces, the value of labor-power being given, is determined by the rate of the surplus value, this law follows: the mass of the surplus value produced is equal to the amount of the variable capital advanced, multiplied by the rate of surplus value, in other words: it is determined by the compound ratio between the number of labor-powers exploited simultaneously by the same capitalist and the degree of exploitation of each individual labor-power.
(Marx Capital Volume I -Part III: The Production of Absolute
Surplus-Value Ch. 11 Rate and Mass of Surplus Value)
With the Marxian understanding how "the labor which is set in motion by the total capital of a society, day in, day out, may be regarded as a single collective working day"(ibid.) it is clear from investigation of transnational corporations that the capital advanced and profits extracted by exploitation of wage labor is a package investment and return. The concept of average profits from multi-national investment of transnational corporations negates the Leninist theory of imperialism and "super profits".
"Super profits" presupposes "super exploitation" based on comparison of wages of workers in the developed capitalist countries to the wages of workers in less developed countries.
In 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism' Lenin characterizes the export of capital as imperialism's most typical feature: "Under the old type of capitalism, when free competition prevailed, the export of goods was the most typical feature. Under modern capitalism, when monopolies prevail, the export of capital has become the typical feature". (Vladimir I. Lenin: 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism', in: 'Selected Works', Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 56). By 'exported capital', Lenin means primarily " . . . capital invested abroad", (Vladimir I. Lenin: ibid. p. 57). In 3rd world, less developed countries where surplus capital is invested "for the purpose of increasing . . .profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries. In these backward countries, profits usually are high". (Vladimir I. Lenin: ibid. p. 57). Lenin calls profits from such foreign investment as super-profits: "Capital exports produce . . . enormous super-profits . . .. They are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their 'home' country". (Vladimir I. Lenin: Preface to the French and German Editions: ibid. p. 12).
As I have shown averages in profits are measured against the total wages advanced. Thus, the low wages in the rural areas in the developed countries and in less developed countries average out. The lower wages may for a time mediate against the tendency of average profits to decline, but the decline continues as machinery and overproduction cause intense competition between capitals displacing workers.
The so-called iron law of wages to profits, that increases in profits come as a result of decreases in wages, or finding cheaper wages abroad, operates from the false assumption that wages are the workman's 'share' in the wealth created was dismissed by Ricardo's explication of wages as the price of subsistence of the workers.
"The power of the laborer to support himself, and the family
which may be necessary to keep up the number of laborers, does not
depend on the quantity of money which he may receive for wages, but
on the quantity of food, necessaries, and conveniences become
essential to him from habit, which that money will purchase. The
natural price of labor, therefore, depends on the price of the
food, necessaries, and conveniences required for the support of the
laborer and his family."
Subsequently, in an Address to members of the International
Working-Men's Association, Marx acknowledged this, but went further
to explain: "The value of the laboring power is determined by the
quantity of labor necessary to maintain or reproduce it, but the
use of that laboring power is only limited by the active energies
and physical strength of the laborer. The daily or weekly value of
the laboring power is quite distinct from the daily or weekly
exercise of that power, the same as the food a horse wants and the
time it can carry the horseman are quite distinct."
Capital Volume 1:
"On these assumptions the value of labor-power, and the magnitude of surplus-value, are determined by three laws.
(1.) A working day of given length always creates the same amount of value, no matter how the productiveness of labor, and, with it, the mass of the product, and the price of each single commodity produced, may vary.
(2.) Surplus-value and the value of labor-power vary in opposite directions. A variation in the productiveness of labor, its increase or diminution, causes a variation in the opposite direction in the value of labor-power, and in the same direction in surplus value.
(3.) Increase or diminution in surplus value is always consequent on, and never the cause of, the corresponding diminution or increase in the value of labor-power.http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch17.htm#S1
These laws can best be explained by an example.
If socially necessary labor-time of four hours is required to produce socioeconomic necessaries to reproduce humanity, in the form of commodities the cost of subsistence in our capitalist society is $10.00 per day, for workers and their families. The labor-value created by ten men and women working in a broom factory, paid $10.00 each, working 8 hours, producing a total of 100 brooms per day at $2.OO each.
The socially necessary labor-time is four hours. The total of $100.00 per day is spent by this capitalist purchasing labor power of ten workers on wages of $10.00 per worker per day. to The value of the labor contained in the brooms is calculated, including other conditions of labor (machinery, energy, &C.) which is transferred by labor, comes to a marketing price of $2.00 each. In four hours the workers can manufacture 50 brooms which if sold at $2.00 each would total $100.00. There would be no profit and the capitalist would go bankrupt. So, the capitalist, in order to turn a profit from his investment, is compelled to contract the workers to work not only the four hours of necessary labor-time, but an additional four hours of surplus, unpaid labor-time. Consequently, at the end of the day there are 100 brooms. Thus the working day of eight hours is four hours necessary labor-time + four hours surplus [unpaid] labor-time resulting in one hundred brooms sold at $2.00 each. This enables the capitalist to pay out the $100.00 wages and make a profit of $100.00, or 100%.
The price required to purchase means of subsistence for the survival of the workers and their families can change by capitalists acquiring more advanced technology. Just as power saws displaced hand saws in the timber industry, because of the dramatic increase in output per worker per unit of time,in our example above new technology would increase the number of brooms produced in the working-day, other things unchanged, multiplying the surplus products and surplus value,thus leading to greater profits. Increased labor productivity results in increased profits.
Lenin, therefore has it backward: the "super-exploitation" is not of workers working by hand in a rice, coffee, sugar, or tobacco plantation in Africa, Asia or Latin America -- notwithstanding they work hard for long periods of time under hell hole work conditions for cheap wages. Rather, the higher rate of exploitation is in the industrialized countries, where capitalists employ the most advanced technology increasing labor productivity -- notwithstanding the trades unions having won relatively higher wages (compared to agrarian workers in 3rd world countries) improved working conditions, and fewer hours.
The reasons the workers in the less developed 3rd world countries can sell their labor power cheaply in comparison to workers in the industrial countries of Europe and North America is because those workers are at the same time economically integrated into their tribal or village economy based in agriculture supplementing subsistence not covered in wages. Thus, in the less developed colonial and neo-colonial countries the labor power of proletarians sells at their values just as in the industrialized countries.
On the other hand proletarians in industrialized countries are completely dependent upon the market to purchase all their means of subsistence -- food, clothing and shelter -- for themselves and their families. Their wages must be adequate for these purchases, and so the wages they receive are relatively higher if compared to proletarian wages in less developed, agrarian countries.
It is true that the proletarians in the industrialized countries have a relatively higher standard of living than their counterparts in less developed, agrarian countries. This is obviously, from what I have shown, not because the capitalists appropriates "super -profits" from underpaid 3rd world workeeeeers ostensibly uused to "bribe" European, Japanese and American workers", but because of the greater productivity made possible by advanced productive technology
In the consumerist American culture it is in the interests of capitalists, not just in the United States but internationally, to have Americans with high wages that purchase their commodities. This is why the anti-imperialist 3rd world bourgeoisie, while wanting to place barriers restricting cheaper industrially manufactured import commodities from Europe, as well as America, at the same time want European and American governments to lower, if not eliminate barriers to, and restrictions on commodities produced in those 3rd world countries entering Europe and America. These are some of the economic issues and contradictions that are being fought out in the WTO, with the anti-globalization movements in the developed capitalist countries inadvertently politically aiding the bourgeoisie of the 3rd world countries to exploit the workers and peasants of those countries.
"Imperialism, the Highest State of Capitalism", together with his articles in "The Rights of Nations to Self-Determination", and "Backward Europe and Advanced Asia", Lenin has inadvertently provided the bourgeois partisans with arguments that has led to the dismissal of the industrial proletariat in the developed capitalist democracies, denounced as "sell-outs", "privileged bourgeois"(!), and corrupt racists on the one hand; and the presentation of bourgeois partisan "people of color", "nationalist", and other bourgeois movements as "revolutionary" on the other.
Marx and Engels are denounced as "Euro-centric" and "racists"
because, they reached the conclusion: "Of all the classes that
stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat
alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other classes decay
and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the
proletariat is its special and essential product."
The anti-communists also dismiss the revolutionary potential of the European proletariat, and Marx who, although, on behalf of the International Working-Men's Association, wrote:
"Considering, That the emancipation of the working classes must
be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle
for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle
for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and
duties, and the abolition of all class rule; That the economical
subjection of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of
labor — that is, the source of life — lies at the
bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental
degradation, and political dependence; That the economical
emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to
which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means;
That all efforts aiming at the great end hitherto failed from the
want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labor in each
country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between
the working classes of different countries; That the emancipation
of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem,
embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and
depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and
theoretical, of the most advanced countries…"
It is certainly true that Marx and Engels had internalized the conceptual language and attitudes of racist culture and racist anthropology in their time. Engels did so more so than Marx, for instance in the Communist Manifesto where they wrote:
"The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves", and: "Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West."http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm
The racist language is unacceptable and inexcusable. The description of this historical process, however, is accurate: commodity products of industrial capitalists on the basis of wage-labor penetrated every culture of every peoples, subordinating the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to European industrial capitalist and their respective national military forces. Eric Williams's "Capitalism and slavery", and Walter Rodney's "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" operated from this fact, collected the data, and provided further analysis that proved it.
What is also significant in this regard is that Lenin inadvertently provided the anti-communists the concepts and even language that the bourgeoisie of 3rd world countries were to use against Marxism: denouncing the European and American working-classes as corrupt and bourgeois relative to the "toilers" and "oppressed" national bourgeoisie in the colonies and neo-colonies based upon the European and American proletariat having been "bribed" by "super -profits" derived from "exploiting people of color".
In Theories of Surplus Value [Chapter XV] Ricardo’s Theory of Surplus-Value -- written between 1861 -63 Marx made criticism of Ricardo's concept of surplus -value, thus profits derived from commodity circulation rather than exploitation in production:
[A. The Connection Between Ricardo’s Conception of Surplus-Value and his Views on Profit and Rent]
1. Ricardo’s Confusion of the Laws of Surplus-Value with the Laws of Profit]
||636| Nowhere does Ricardo consider surplus value separately and independently from its particular forms—profit (interest) and rent. His observations on the organic composition of capital, which is of such decisive importance, are therefore confined to those differences in the organic composition which he took over from Adam Smith (actually from the Physiocrats), namely, those arising from the process of circulation (fixed and circulating cap-ital). Nowhere does he touch on or perceive the differences in the organic composition within the actual process of production. Hence his confusion of value with cost-price, his wrong theory of rent, his erroneous laws relating to the causes of the rise and fall in the rate of profit, etc.
The proletariat is a cosmopolitan multi-ethnic global class whose average wage declines relative to increased rates of average profits. It is the increases in labor productivity in the developed countries that engenders maximizing surplus value. There are therefore greater capital investments of European, North American and Pacific realm in each others' industrialized countries than there are invested in South Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. It was the Marshall Plan, and under its auspices, American capital investments in Europe to rebuild its economy, not investments in 3rd world crop economies, that transferred wealth to America. This was the post war boom.
However, as it stands today, the recovered and advancing industrial economies of Europe and East Asia are challenging America's economic supremacy. I will go into this more in the next section where I deal with the self-expansion of capital engendering capitals in collision, and wars.
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