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labour aristocracy

The problem of relative privilege in the working class

"Waterside worker', by Noel Counihan, 1963.

By Chris Slee

March 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his article entitled “Is there a labour aristocracy in Australia? (published in the Socialist Alternative magazine, Marxist Left Review) Tom Bramble criticises the concept of the “labour aristocracy” on a number of grounds.

Watermelons or tomatoes? Social democracy, class and the Australian Greens

[For more on the Australian Greens, click HERE. For more on Green parties around the world, click HERE.]

By Nick Fredman

January 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal; this is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, copyright 2013 Taylor and Francis; Capitalism, Nature, Socialism is available at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rcns20/current.

Abstract

This article* examines the extent to which Green parties can be considered social-democratic formations. The Australian Greens, since 2010 in de facto governmental coalition with the Labor Party, are posited as an important case study of the global Green party movement. The Australian Greens have generally been seen as a far-left party, as expressing the views of the new social movements or as a site of tension between these two tendencies.

Gramsci in 1923: notes on the crucial year for his Leninism

More articles on Gramsci at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

By Jonathan Strauss

April 14, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Among those who are sympathetic to the views of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), two views have developed about the significance of his political theorising.

One is that Gramsci -- a leader of the Turin workers’ movement in the years at and immediately after the end of World War I, a founding member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and later the PCI secretary from 1923 until his jailing by the fascists in 1926, and author of the Prison Notebooks -- was “of the early-1920s Lenin-Trotsky stripe” (Thomas 2010). Beyond upholding these Marxists’ common revolutionary commitment, however, this view proceeds from a partial reading not so much of Gramsci as of Lenin, and especially on a particular understanding of his What Is to Be Done? (1902), which in turn prevents a more profound understanding of Gramsci’s relationship with Lenin’s thought.

Doug Lorimer's introduction to 'Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism'

Introduction by Doug Lorimer

I. Lenin's aims in writing this work

The term "imperialism" came into common usage in England in the 1890s as a development of the older term "empire" by the advocates of a major effort to extend the British Empire in opposition to the policy of concentrating on national economic development, the supporters of which the advocates of imperialism dismissed as "Little Englanders". The term was rapidly taken into other languages to describe the contest between rival European states to secure colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia, a contest that dominated international politics from the mid-1880s to 1914, and caused this period to be named the "age of imperialism".

The first systematic critique of imperialism was made by the English bourgeois social-reformist economist John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940) in his 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, which, as Lenin observes at the beginning of his own book on the subject, "gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism" (see below, p. 33).

Lenin had long been familiar with Hobson's book. Indeed, in a letter written from Geneva to his mother in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1904, Lenin stated that he had just "received Hobson's book on imperialism and have begun translating it" into Russian.(1)

Alex Callinicos on imperialism, two reviews

Review by Barry Healy

Imperialism and Global Political Economy
By Alex Callinicos
Polity, 2009
227 pages

October 2, 2010 -- The topic of “imperialism” greatly occupied the minds of late-19th and early-20th century socialists. Some of the tradition’s greatest minds toiled mightily to discern the fundamental changes in capitalism that were occurring before their eyes.

Capitalism, as analysed by Karl Marx, had grown fat in its European heartland through the ruthless exploitation of colonies and the brutal factory system in its coal dark cities. But suddenly new phenomena started to appear in the late 1800s.

Banking capital moved from being a support for industrial capital, first merging into and then dominating manufacturing. This agglomeration of money power created massive industrial complexes, like Germany’s famous Krupps steelworks.

The colossal scale of these industrial works dwarfed human beings.

Free pamphlet: `The Labour Aristocracy: The material basis of opportunism in the labour movement'

The labour aristocracy and opportunism in the history of Australian working-class politics

By Jonathan Strauss

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. Such class-collaborationist politics express the interests of a relatively privileged stratum of workers who receive benefits supported by monopoly superprofits. Karl Marx and, especially, Frederick Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with V.I. Lenin, however, for whom it became “the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era”.[1]

Towards a historical materialist history of Australian working-class politics

By Jonathan Strauss
The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. Class-collaborationist politics express the interests of a relatively privileged stratum of workers supported in their benefits by monopoly superprofits. Karl Marx and, especially, Frederick Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with V.I. Lenin, however, for whom it became “the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era”.1

Engels and the theory of the labour aristocracy

By Jonathan Strauss

I. The theory of the labour aristocracy

II. Marx and Engels on the labour aristocracy in 19th century England

Notes

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. The superprofits of monopoly capital support the benefits of a stratum of relatively privileged workers, whose interests in this are expressed by class-collaborationist politics. Marx and, especially, Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with Lenin, however, for whom it became "the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era".1

Many revolutionaries who claim Lenin as an influence nevertheless reject the theory. They deny the character of imperialism as monopoly capitalism, the existence of the labour aristocracy or the stability of opportunism. Their method mimics the empiricism of bourgeois economics, political science and sociology rather than following Marx and Engels' injunction to study history. Their acceptance of the results of this reflects the very often dominant position of opportunism in the working-class movement.

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