Re: More questions on the theory of the labor aristocracy
Bob Gould wrote:
Obviously, Lenin and Zinoviev both extend their empiricalOf course. But let's go back to your earlier request for some sort of summary of Lenin's theory of labour aristocracy.
observations into a general analysis.
Do the empirical observations on which the analysis seems to be based
form part of what Jon and Peter understand to be the Leninist theory
of the aristocracy of labour in imperialist countries?
It seems important, to me, to try to clarify this before we can carry
the discussion further.
[England's] exclusive position [between 1852 and 1892] led to the emergence, from the 'masses,' of a semi-petty-bourgeois, opportunist 'labour aristocracy.' The leaders of this labour aristocracy were constantly going over to the bourgeoisie, and were directly or indirectly on its payroll.... Present-day (twentieth-century) imperialism has given a few advanced countries an exceptionally privileged position, which, everywhere in the Second International, has produced a certain type of traitor, opportunist, and social-chauvinist leaders, who champion the interests of their own craft, their own section of the labour aristocracy.
- Lenin in Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder
Lenins theory of labour aristocracy was an integral part of his analysis of the development of monopoly capitalism. This is why the discussion of this question on this and other lists intersects with discussions about imperialism (and the qtn of national self-determination), social democracy, the labour movement, racism, etc.
Of course the theory falls if these trends of an economic split in the working class have not persisted.
The actual material divide in the working peoples in the world is one of the biggest realities of our world today. It is summed up by todays equivalent of Lenins privileged less than one-tenth of the world:
North America and Western Europe - representing 12 percent of the world's population - account for 60 percent of this consumption. By contrast, the one third of humanity who live in South Asia and sub Saharan Africa account for only 3.2 percent of this consumption. ("State of the World 2004" report by Worldwatch Institute)
This cleavage, reinforced by now more than 100 years of monopoly capitalism, is the major reality check for socialists today. In this 100 years capitalism has created the biggest global army of wage slaves in history, so socialists are posed a number of challenges
1. How can the workers of the world unite in the face of such institutionalised disparity in their own ranks?
2. How can socialism develop when distorted economic and social development spurs political upheaval most in the parts of the world where there is the poorest material basis for displacing capitalist relations of production and exchange? Especially as:
a) In the semi-colonial countries there is, as a result, a material basis in economic backwardness persistent and powerful pressures bureaucratism even on revolutionary regimes pressures (as Trotsky and others identified)?
b) In the advanced capitalist countries, there is a material basis, for a persistent class collaborationist and opportunist tedencies to persist in the labour movements, i.e. these are not just the result of the conservativism of particular labour leaderships but that labour bureaucracy has a strong social base. Lenin believed that it was not possible for monopoly capitalism to indefinitely deliver material security to all of the working class even in the advanced capitalist countries.
Rather than simply deduce a) and b) this from evidence of the global economic split, we should also look at the specifics in imperialist countries.
To identify a material base for opportunism (or for bureaucratism) is not to argue that it is inevitable. This would be clearly over-deterministic. Actual political struggles that can be decisive (though for how long?) and ideology has a degree of independence from material conditions.
Does this help?
- Socialist Alliance demands Labor repeal draconian Abortion Laws
For immediate release 25/01/04
Independent candidate for South Brisbane Lynda Hansen endorsed by the
Socialist Alliance stated ` the silence is thunderous, here you have
two other women candidates standing for election in South Brisbane
and not one has mentioned the reproductive rights issue. Labor
Premier Wayne Goss won a State Election in the past on a promise to
legalise abortion, with many women voting for Labor believing things
would change. Coming up to another State Election, little has
changed. Are Labor and Greens too afraid to mention Abortion as an
`As an active feminist and socialist I have been campaigning for
years to demand that women have a choice about their bodies. If I am
voted to office I will immediate campaign to repeal the abortion laws
and take abortion out of the criminal code. Women demand choices not
moralising and broken promises. As a representative of the Alliance I
will campaign for fully recognised and paid maternity leave and a big
increase in publicly funded child-care services. If women choose to
have families there should be extensive social and economic service
infrastructures to assist them. Its to time to stop treating women
like second-class citizens!
*Socialist Alliance to serve eviction notice on Labor Politician*
For immediate release 25/01/04
Big Pollie Eviction One way to improve public housing in Brisbane
Independent candidate for South Brisbane endorsed by the Socialist
Alliance states `Socialist Alliance South Branch and supporters will
be picketing outside Labor MP Anna Blighs office on Saturday
January 31, at 11 am to serve Bligh with an eviction notice to
vacate her campaign office to make way for urgently needed
accommodation for homeless people in the local area
Lynda Hansen states `Bligh made a cruel and careless comment made
last week in the Southside News that the homelessness matter was a
`difficult social issue. Hansen states `what Bligh called a
difficult social issue is actually about people- human beings in our
community that need, as we all do basic fundamental services such
as a roof over their heads.
Green candidate Juanita Wheeler sung gentle platitudes about
emergency shelters and affordable housing but did not put forward any
Socialist Alliance housing policy is quite clear there are real
Establish a large-scale building program to make good quality, energy
efficient affordable public housing available. Stop privatisation of
public housing. Expand funding to housing cooperatives. All rents to
be capped at 20% of income. Ensure fully funded refuges and other
secure emergency accommodation for women and children escaping
Establish a publicly owned and controlled housing finance corporation
to provide low-interest home loans to those in need.
Join us to serve an eviction notice on Anna Bligh, and tell her what
you really think of Labors rotten record of funding for public