Class Composition in the Crisis

Hobson’s ‘prophecy’

It is well-known that in his work on imperialism Lenin drew a lot of material as well as analytical insights from Hobson, the social-liberal (as defined by Lenin himself), and author of one of the most celebrated works on the subject: also entitled Imperialism. Twice, the Russian revolutionary cites the same passage from the book which dares to “prophesy” about the fate of the European working class in the event of China being divided by the strongest segments of imperialism or, if you prefer, in the event of the major powers embarking on a frantic race for the division of the world. [1] If this were the case, says Hobson, the bulk of agricultural and industrial production would be moved to the former Celestial Empire, while only industries dedicated to the final stage of the production process, including transport and logistics in general would remain within European countries. At the same time, the mass of “domestic servants” would be enormously extended in the service of a small elite of super-rich rentier-financiers and the more numerous class of commercial traders, of various officials and so on: all would benefit, albeit secondarily, from the huge profits generated by the exploitation of China (i.e. of its workers). Hobson added that, even taking into account the margin of uncertainty present in every forecast, especially one made at the beginning of a historical process, the underlying trend was beyond doubt, so long as no obstacles were encountered in its path. Lenin, amongst other things, commented:

“The social-liberal Hobson does not see that “the obstacle” he mentions can only be overcome by the revolutionary proletariat, and only in the form of a social revolution”.[2]

We know how things went: the revolutionary proletariat tried, between 1917 and the early ‘20s, to overthrow capitalism, but its impetus was defeated by the bourgeoisie, not least with the help of social democracy and the trade unions, whose opposition to imperialism had been, up until the war, to say the least, controversial, especially since some of its sectors looked favourably on the redistribution of a portion of the proceeds of colonial exploitation (the famous crumbs) to certain layers of the working class.

So, what is left of Hobson’s “prophecy”, exactly a hundred years after Lenin’s compelling analysis of the highest stage of capitalism? Things did not go exactly as envisaged. Even if China had been a step away from being dismembered by the great powers, the defeat of the revolutionary offensive after the First World War “bequeathed” humanity another terrible imperialist war, which in turn was followed by an economic boom that started a new cycle of accumulation on a world scale. Now, after decades, this has inevitably started to come up against the incurable contradictions of capital, especially the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. From about the mid-Seventies of the last century, capitalism’s responses to its own structural problems, have profoundly altered the composition of the class, not only in the countries of the capitalist “centre”, but all over the world. Although it is true that capitalism has dominated the planet for over a century, having also subjected remnants of previous modes of production to its own laws (accelerating their decay and historical exhaustion), it is also true that the inclusion of the labour force into a single world market irrespective of political/state barriers, has only fully taken place with the implosion of the Soviet empire and the so-called “neo-liberal revolution”. [3] Together these are both important manifestations of the crisis and part of capital’s response to the crisis itself, alongside the huge changes in the organisation of work which the introduction of information technologies has brought about.

After several decades of generalised attacks on the world of wage-labour to be able to make use of every possible means to extract surplus value – the lifeblood without which the system could not live – the overall condition of the proletariat resembles something like the “pessimistic” picture outlined by Hobson at the beginning of the twentieth century. Relocation has in many ways replaced the colonies while the basic tendencies of capitalism have not been undermined. Above all, increased productivity (surplus value) by means of new technology has made increasingly large sections of the industrial labour force “redundant”, transferring them to the service sector. If services generally create profits for the individual entrepreneur, overall they do so at the expense of the primary surplus which stems solely from the production process. Inevitably, once this source began to diminish, there have been consequences in the service sector, which finds itself – it could not be otherwise – part of a tendency that had been underway for several decades, i.e. the declining conditions of the global labour force. It is a relative and absolute deterioration, both in terms of wages and how far conditions in the workplace can be endured. It is no less than a competitive race to the bottom for the global work force, its “Manchesterisation”, as we defined it twenty years ago.[4] In other words, there is a tendency to return to nineteenth-century working conditions which in turn confirms Marx’s theoretical [5] whereby the situation of the working class (broadly defined) deteriorates as capitalist accumulation (and the development of the productive forces) proceeds, whatever the initial condition, high or low. This trend, identified theoretically by Marx, has been borne out by a huge mass of data provided by bourgeois academics, though of course within their framework.

Once again we have to stress that the “wage share”, i.e. the total amount of wages and salaries (including the tertiary sector,) has fallen and is falling as a portion of national income, both in the “centre” and in so-called emerging economies. This is despite the fact that in some sectors, in certain parts of these countries, there have been wage increases – won after hard struggles, sometimes bordering on uprisings. In fact, contrary to those who claim that the deterioration of proletarian living conditions was only a temporary feature of nineteenth-century capitalism, today’s declining share of wages in national income constitutes absolute impoverishment.

If this is not more dramatically apparent it is because, as we said before, wages, although decreasing or stagnant, can buy roughly the same use values as in the past, even if they are low quality, or lower than before, as, for example, with the food consumed by many “working poor” in the US and beyond. Thus, dramatic impoverishment has so far been somewhat blunted, at least in the “West” (and not for everyone), by the availability of everyday values at a relatively low price. This price is due to both technological development and super-exploitation, certainly when it comes to the brutal character of exploitation in re-located capital’s “emerging” areas. Thus, the blossoming of “old horrors from the early days of English factories” [6] facilitates ­– in what may seem a paradox – the decline of working class conditions in the “centre” rather than allowing the existence of a workers’ aristocracy. That is, unless you consider wage workers of the “advanced countries” who, on average, “enjoy” higher wages, to be an “aristocracy” en bloc. To avoid misunderstandings and mindful of sliding into the lower region of theoretical discussion, it is worth stating that the “Western” working class in no way shares responsibility for the brutal exploitation of other portions of the world working class, as is sometimes still argued: It is not the case and cannot be so, because power lies in the hands of others. Not only is the “Western” proletariat the object of exploitation just like the other “sections” of the proletariat but, in terms of the rate of surplus value (exploitation), rather than the brutality of the form it takes, it is even more so. Meanwhile, the export of capital to “emerging markets” or countries “in transition” (ex-Soviet bloc), creates or develops entire industries which have a negative impact on the working class (always understood in a broad sense) in the “heartlands.” Investment to places “where labour is more plentiful and cheap and the “organic composition of capital” is lower, [...] constitute a major influence working against the tendency of the rate of profit to fall in the home country.” Further, this:

“Not only implies that capital exported to the colonies [read: to “emerging markets”, ed.] is invested at a higher rate than if it had been invested at home; but also it creates a tendency for the rate of profit at home to remain higher than it would otherwise be. The latter effect occurs because the amount of capital seeking investment in the homeland is reduced as a result of the lucrative colonial outlet [from relocation, ed], which reduces the pressure on the labour market while the capitalist can acquire labour power in the home country at a lower price. The export of capital, in other words, is a means to recreate the industrial reserve army in the homeland whilst opening up new fields of exploitation abroad. Capital thus gains twofold: through the higher rate of profit obtained abroad and through the higher “rate of surplus value” which can save the motherland.” [7]

In short, in the words of Lenin, capital makes its way abroad [8] not because it cannot make a profit “at home”, but because the rates of profit are higher over there, because the organic composition of capital is lower than in the so-called mature countries or at least the value composition is more favourable to the same amount of capital due to the much lower cost of labour. For example, in certain Eastern European factories “updated” by foreign capital (German, French etc.), the technology is ultramodern, but wages are a third, fourth or even more lower than “at home”. Thus, it is not so much the technical elements of the production process (machinery etc.) or their quantitative ratio, but the value of labour power that is different. Here, as capital relocates to the industrial areas of “developing countries”, where the organic composition allows higher rates of profit than in the “metropolis”, big factories – even gigantic ones – are reborn whilst they diminish in the old industrialised states. Just to mention a fairly well-known example, in Ciudad Juarez [9], a Mexican city on the border with the US, 360,000 workers are concentrated – not an insignificant number – of which 35% are employed in electronics, a large proportion of whom work for the infamous Foxconn, which has “technologically poor assembly lines, except for certain electronic devices to check the quality of the final product.” [10] The basic wage is 100 euro per month, but with overtime you can get up to 140-150. It is a wage that has become competitive with China, where, as we said earlier, wages have increased in recent years (though not everywhere), after a series of very tough struggles. Here it is worth noting some points yet again, particularly for the benefit of those who still, more or less believe (and there are many) in the economic “trade union” struggle – as long as it is carried out with determination, perhaps under the guidance of an “alternative” trade union which therefore makes it valid, irrespective of the historical phase of the accumulation process (which is usually not even considered). In the first place, a nominal wage increase – obtained only after great hardship and great self-sacrifice by the workers – does not always correspond to a net gain. For instance, it often happens that when workers end up with a bigger amount in their pay packet their indirect wages are noticeably reduced, as in fact happened at Foxconn in Shenzhen. Yes, after very determined strikes and following a dramatic series of suicides by workers who were mentally and physically broken by the inhuman rhythms imposed by the firm, a significant increase in the pay packet was conceded. However, this was at the cost “of the converse reduction in free housing and food stamps, as well as in the numerous leisure facilities that were originally available”. [11] In addition, although it may seem paradoxical, even “Chinese” capital has begun to outsource to places where it can pay the workforce an even lower price (for example, Vietnam, Burma etc.). The alternative would be, as always, investment in the most advanced constant capital, with an inevitable increase in the organic composition, which of course is inconvenient compared with the profit rates achievable by reducing the value of labour power and submitting the workforce to a terrorist-style dictatorship in the factory, not even formally mitigated by trade union type limits. (And since the latter are either totally or partially ineffective, they are weakening or are disappearing worldwide.) [12]

Secondly, but not unimportantly, wages in China and elsewhere have risen from such an extremely low level that barely permitted survival, where the workforce was subjected to such extraordinary exploitation, if that is the right term, above the average at any rate – in terms of surplus value – so that the bosses could pocket a sort of super profit. The workers’ struggles have bitten into the portion of available super profit, testing the limit of that specific organic composition, of this particular segment of the global capital employed in a particular region, in any one factory, within the conditions determined by the current phase of the global accumulation process. To give a closer geographical example, you can draw a parallel with the warehouse workers who, in recent years, have been protagonists in great battles.

Giving everything you have during a fight with the class enemy is in some ways exemplary. After being sacked and arrested, they definitely secured victories, indeed, great victories in trade union terms, but which in many cases have ended up with a regimen close to slavery. But, and this is not a patronising judgment, the end result – always susceptible to being attacked by the bosses’ counter-offensive – is that now the warehouse workers are subjected to “normal”, “average”, exploitation which no trade union, whether “red” or “class” will be able to substantially undermine.[13] Thus, according to a recent ILO report, it was possible for wages in the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and other regions to increase by 7-10% over the past year. An article published recently in Il Manifesto (“The Bulgarian Brand Slaves”, 13.11.2014), described the working conditions of garment workers in Bulgaria as well as Turkey and some countries of the former USSR. All of them could be compared to the factories in the British industrial revolution or those of the Italian post-war period, where insecurity, low wages and excessive overseer power reigned. In Bulgaria the monthly salary was €129, in Moldova €81; in some regions of the former Yugoslavia and in Istanbul it reached a maximum of €300; but in certain parts of Turkey where Kurdish and Syrian refugees were (and are) employed unlawfully for fifteen hours per day or even more in periods of urgent orders, for €130.

Female and Immigrant Proletarians, Always Most Oppressed by Capital

Women who are also migrants or migrants who are also women: these have always been the two sectors of the proletariat who pay the highest price in the accumulation process and from which, sure enough, in recent decades the bourgeoisie has been drawing abundantly, sometimes to the detriment of the male and “white” proletariat.[14] In fact, the employment of women in general has increased a bit everywhere, though not uniformly, not because capitalism has acquired a feminist consciousness, but because the pay is usually lower than men’s and the jobs typically need only low qualifications as well as offering a high dose of insecurity. Just to give an example, compulsory part-time is almost exclusively women.

The same can be said of the migrant proletariat: after a sharp decline in migratory flows around the Seventies, there was a marked increase, so that now whole sectors of business cannot do without immigrants, despite the poisonous campaigns the right fascist/populists (Lega Nord, Front National, etc.), are using to increase their electoral appeal. Immigrants are an asset to the bourgeoisie and its state since they get lower wages (in Italy, on average 23%, about the same as women); they work in occupations few “locals” will accept and they use few services, getting less than they pay in to the state coffers through payroll deductions and taxes.[15] In the US, between 1910 and 1970, the proportion of migrants in the workforce had dropped from 21% to 5%, while in 2010 – according to official data – it had gone back up to 16%. Like all averages, they tell us little or do not say enough: in California migrants are more than a third, in New York more than a quarter of the entire workforce.[16] Not to mention, of course, illegal immigrants, who in the US are about twelve million.

Even for Italy, it goes without saying, the average can simply indicate a much more complex reality. If the immigrant workforce is about 11% of the total, in some areas it has a crushing weight, as with logistics or personal domestic services (where 80% are migrants, of whom 78.3% are women),[17] while migrants account for 20% of industrial workers (but even here, in certain areas, they are the majority or almost). It is more difficult to quantify the true weight of migrants in agriculture, since from California to Italy the employment of immigrants without residence permits using methods akin to slavery is extensive. Here too, it is certain that without migrant labour whole productive sectors would encounter great difficulties, at any rate until the crisis has forced at least a part of the “indigenous” workforce into the slave labour so far done almost exclusively by migrants. Another sure thing is that the immigrant, as well as not benefiting from public services that belong to “Italians”, (as the stories that are bandied about at every turn, particularly by the right fascist-populists, make out) also does not steal jobs from “our compatriots”, at least not in the capitalist ‘heartlands’, although the nastiest working conditions that are forced on immigrants help to lower the conditions of the entire workforce. As usual, though, the responsibility in no way lies with the immigrant proletariat. Nevertheless, it is true that in many poorer countries, the bourgeoisie plays off migrants against locals, egging-on physical confrontation between the two segments of the proletariat who are “competing” for the same jobs and, needless to say, where immigrants are willing to work for lower wages, at a more intensive pace, with fewer protections etc. Some readers may recall the riots between South African proletarians and workers from neighbouring countries a few years ago; it was a fratricidal struggle, causing deaths and injuries but unfortunately it is not uncommon in the history of the workers’ movement, and only reinforces bourgeois class domination.

A Few Reflections

A part of the bourgeoisie, primarily its most reactionary sectors, has always said there are plenty of jobs but blames the “national” unemployed and particularly young people, for opening the door to a “foreign invasion” as a result of their lack of “will to work”. This is a stupid tale since historically immigration has co-existed with a more or less high level of unemployment in the host country. While no one has ever seen the tyrants who send their children to foundries or farms in August to work for two euros per hour, simply for their own good, it is natural for anyone in the family who has even the flimsiest roof over their head to aspire for more: for a better paid, less strenuous job, less dirty and less dangerous. Nevertheless for several decades now, under the pressure of the crisis, even if the job you find meets the last three requirements, it will not satisfy the first; in any case, it is going to be precarious. Moreover, given the accelerated decline of so many aspects of the employee’s working life, many unemployed rightly prefer to “enjoy” the dole instead of accepting a job which almost certainly offers worse working conditions than the previous employment. On the other hand, immigrants generally do not have any kind of “parachute” (social or family) to cushion the impact of an increasingly brutal labour market. In any case, in order to stimulate the “lazy” unemployed to accept whatever job there is (i.e. at a high rate of exploitation, precarious with low or very low wages), governments are reforming, that is reducing, the so-called social safety nets. This is what has come to be called workfare, the modern version of the ruthless systems set up by the bourgeoisie of Her Britannic Majesty to force the “poor” to be exploited like animals in the factories of the industrial revolution which are so similar to those in today’s “emerging economies”. In any case, a worker who loses “guaranteed employment”, sooner or later cannot do anything but accept “what’s going,” but “what is going”, is usually in services, in ‘distribution centres’, warehouses and supermarkets, where workers (often female workers) are harassed in a thousand ways and paid rock-bottom salaries to organise the sale of goods produced by their class brothers and sisters in even worse conditions.

A journalist’s report on North-East France – until a few decades ago one of the pivots of the French industrial system, before undergoing a radical restructuring – gives an accurate picture of the fate of the “new” workforce, a fate that touches millions of people all over the world:

“By comparison [with traditional factory work, ed] the service staff, cashiers, the waiters and supervisors of today are precarious and flexible pieceworkers [...] it has turned into a kind of Wild West where anything is allowed and living conditions for many are close to those of the unemployed [since] pauperisation is no longer the preserve of the jobless.” [18]

Thus Hobson’s ‘prophecy’ has in many ways been proved true, even if “the domestic servants” he wrote about do not work as personal servants to a few rentiers, and are in every respect wage workers, indispensable to the functioning of bourgeois society. Hence they create surplus value for capital in the service sector. This sector appropriates and redistributes amongst other capitalists a portion of the primary surplus value extorted in the industrial production process, including agriculture whenever it employs hired labour. It is also true that over the last thirty years the working class, strictly understood, has grown massively outside the old industrialised countries and is now the numerically preponderant part of the world working class.[19] However, this has not brought any economic benefit to the wage-earning class of the “heartlands”, because the process is the result of a structural, historical crisis of capitalism where the overall condition of the proletariat can only decline. For the moment, all this is creating huge problems on the political level, but it is not the only factor, and perhaps not even the most important, which is making it so difficult to establish the communist perspective inside the “globalised” class. The shifting composition of the class, unemployment, the blackmail of insecurity – which is no longer an unusual element, but is now structural – undoubtedly can have a strong paralysing effect, adding to the load of frustration, fear, extreme uncertainty about the future, right up to loss of identity, both as individuals and in terms of class identity.[20] Who could deny it? But in another context, these now absent, if not annihilated factors, could be the springboard for a broad class response. Put in yet another way, this huge, objectively explosive social material could be drowned by the demoralisation, or worse, that is being used by factions of the bourgeoisie in the struggle amongst themselves and blow up, not only metaphorically, in the face of the proletariat itself to the benefit of its class enemies. Whether they wear the long beard of jihadi fanaticism, or dress in the green shirts of an invented “Padania” or extol the secular values of “Marianne”, the result for the proletariat is always the same, always dreadful.

At root the reason for this historic tragedy lies in the lost “vision” of an alternative society since the collapse of so-called ‘real socialism’: the rejection of everything that goes under the discredited name of ‘communism’. That’s on top of the disillusion – between economic/social crises and corruption – with anything called “socialism” which in the past would have been assured of some support, at least initially.

Islamic fundamentalism, backed by the US and its allies in the area, initially had little support. At a time of global economic growth the “secular” Middle Eastern regimes which emerged from national liberation wars backed by the USSR promised well-being and seemed to be achieving it. Meanwhile, the “Arab” immigrants who arrived in the Ile-de-France or Molenbeek (Brussels), without abandoning their religion were integrated, in some ways, into the life of the new country. The steelworkers, the miners of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, strong in number and in their “faith” in the new world foreseen by the PCF, were not even touched by the sort of extremist nationalism espoused by openly fascist characters from the Front National who are now riding high on the crest of the electoral wave. The same historical dynamic applies for the many proletarians who once voted or gravitated around the PCI and who have now finished in the arms of the Northern League. We understand: the crisis has wiped out the material conditions which allowed and promised “well-being” for all. In Molenbeek half the young people: children and grandchildren of previous immigrants are unemployed, the other half must habitually contend with day-to-day insecurity. In the numerous Pas-de-Calais in Europe (and the Western world), deindustrialisation has opened the floodgates to a working life that once would have been correctly called underemployment, crushed by the iron heel of bosses who are becoming more and more emboldened. Meanwhile, according to the ILO, North Africa and the Middle East have the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world.[21] Conversely, many young people in the “heartland” – and certainly in Italy – even when they work, work for wages that are little more than reimbursement of expenses, living an empty life “filled” by the search for consumerist distractions, supported – while it lasts – by so-called family welfare. Some of them originate from petty bourgeois families which, due to objective transformations induced by the accumulation crisis, have fallen down the social ladder or, if you prefer, have been proletarianised. They often bring with them an “alternativism”, an outlook which in key aspects looks like a modern version of the same old reformist illusions: self-determination within bourgeois society, humanisation of capitalism, fair wages, fair compensation for work performance and so on.

Is it any wonder that young people who are sentenced to an empty, meaningless life of insecurity and exclusion, who above all, lack a class reference point, let themselves be enchanted by false prophets (it’s appropriate to say): Islamic fundamentalists, reactionary, bourgeois and anti-communists par excellence? Is it any wonder that the masses of proletarians who have seen the veil drop from what they believed to be the “sun of the future”, in their disorientation and confusion have become hypnotised by charlatans who inform the poorest of them – those who flee from horrors of the many imperialist wars – of the cause of their acute social unrest, and point them towards the enemy to fight? The proletariat is either revolutionary or it is nothing, said a man who knew a lot [22]; and another, who all his life followed the course set by the first, noted that when workers lose their class consciousness they are reduced to plebs, the blind instrument of the bourgeoisie and its machinations.[23] This is the real tragedy of our time, but it is not a natural event or a curse of the gods: it is a historical product and as such can be overcome. Too many individualists prefer obscurantist chat on the internet ... too many hesitate to become active militants beyond the keyboard or the private circle. We however, have the ambition to position ourselves as a political and organisational reference point, to contribute to the formation of that body without which we will never get rid of this inhuman world – that is the world party for the proletarian revolution.



  1. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, ch. 8 and The Split in Socialism, October 1916, in Lenin-Zinoviev, Contre le Courant ed. Maspero,1970 vol.2 p.259.
  2. Lenin, Contre le Courant loc.cit.
  3. Not only is the workforce increasingly integrated into a single world market, but it is also increasingly linked to the same “value chain”, and is thus part of the same production line, so to speak. An ILO report of November 19, 2015 states, “According to estimates in the report, Jobs and Social Questions in the World in 2015_, in 40 countries, representing 85 percent of world gross domestic product and approximately two-thirds of the world’s workforce, between 1995 and 2013 the number of jobs linked to supply chains has increased by 53 per cent (or 157 million posts), reaching a total of 453 million in 2013.”_ In Global Supply Chains and Decent Work .. . (in French),
  4. See the theses for our VIth Congress, in Prometeo no.13, translated as “Communist Work and the Trade Unions Today”. Both versions available on our site.
  5. Karl Marx Capital Vol 1, chapter 23. Einaudi edition.
  6. Karl Marx op.cit. Chapter 20, p.688.
  7. Maurice Dobb, Imperialism, Political Economy and Capitalism, Turin, Bollati Basic Books, 1977, pp.224-225. That Dobb that does not know how to distinguish between socialism and state capitalism, is unable to recognise the existence of the same capitalist economic categories in the USSR which he believed to be constrained by the West, is part of the historical drama of the Stalinist counter-revolution.
  8. Though today it is increasingly difficult to attribute a “nationality” to capital. Incidentally, in this article we intentionally do not deal with fictitious capital and the abnormal role of financial speculation, which plays a primary role in increasing exploitation and worsening the situation of the working class and wage earners.
  9. Sadly, the city is also known for the murder of thousands of women by criminal organisations of various kinds.
  10. Il Manifesto, 11.12.14
  11. Guy Standing, The Precariat, the New Dangerous Class, Bologna, Il Mulino ed. p.53.
  12. An increase in exploitation or its maintenance at particularly brutal levels by tyrannical bosses, does not imply a significant increase in the organic composition, to the benefit of the rate of profit.
  13. For readers who are genuinely following our argument, in order to avoid misunderstandings, we refer these questions to two items on our site:
  14. At least in the first few years following the bursting of the subprime bubble, it was exactly this sector of the workforce which was hit hardest in terms of unemployment, because the vacated posts were eventually filled by immigrant labour. It is a fairly widespread phenomenon, though not so much in Italy where the immigrant work force is more affected by the crisis than the rest of the employed.
  15. For Italy, official sources calculate an average surplus of over three billion – approximately 3.9 a year, until at least 2012-2013. It is possible that this has fallen lately with the loss of employment by many immigrants due to the crisis, whilst remaining largely positive for the state coffers.
  16. Standing, op.cit. p.146.
  17. Mauro Biani, Tracce di migranti (Tracking Migrants), published by Il Manifesto, 2015, p.121; the data is for 2012.
  18. Le Monde Diplomatique/Il Manifesto May, 2016
  19. According to the ILO, on the basis of 2013 data, the industrial labour force in “emerging” countries grew 120% between 1980 and 2005, while it decreased by 19% in the “advanced” countries. In this regard, however, it must be said that many tasks and processes, once carried out in the factory, have been outsourced, so that operators now no longer appear among industrial workers, but as service workers, so the actual drop must be less. Michael Roberts, academic Marxist economist, refers to some data contained in the book by John Smith, Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century, which reports: “In 2010, 79%, or 541 million of the world’s industrial workers lived in “less developed regions”, compared to 34% in 1950 and 53% in 1980, by contrast with the 145 million industrial workers, or 21% of the total, who were living in the imperialist countries in 2010 (p.103). For manufacturing workers, the change was even more dramatic. Now, 83% of the manufacturing labour force in the world live and work in the nations of the global South.” We will not dwell here on Smith’s position, a rehash of a certain third worldism. The review and an essay by John Smith, summarising his book, can be easily found on the web. We have consulted the Sinistrainrete site.
  20. As we have always said, the crisis is necessary but not enough for the “radicalisation” of the masses. In this regard, Trotsky, writing in January 1930, in opposition to the so-called “Third Period” theorised by the Third, now Stalinist, International, observed: “... The misfortune is that the increase of exploitation does not imply in any circumstance greater militancy of the proletariat. Thus, in a declining situation, in a period of rising unemployment, especially after losing battles, the increase in exploitation causes not the radicalisation of the masses, but on the contrary, capitulation, break up, disintegration.” in Lev Trosky, Crisis of Capitalism and the Labour Movement, Savelli, 1975, p. 44.
  21. From ILO report of 24.8. 2016: Youth Unemployment in the World is Growing Again.
  22. Karl Marx, ‘Letter to Schweitzer’, 13 February, 1865.
  23. _“The proletariat would reduce itself to being mere plebians if it lost its class character as the antagonist of capitalism; and its possibility as an exploited class which struggles for its own defence and liberation would be thwarted and rendered null and void if the motivation and physical forces for a revolutionary leadership were not produced from within it through its own struggles.” ”_Onorato Damen, Introduction to “Five Letters”, in the book we have published Bordiga Beyond the Myth, p.34-5.
Monday, February 13, 2017

Revolutionary Perspectives

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