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#15103255
Perhaps some of the Marxist experts could help me understand this issue.

Looking at examples of where communism was established, except where it was imported with the help of Soviet tanks, it always happened in predominantly poor agrarian societies. The Russian Empire and China are two examples.

In Indonesia there was one of the biggest communist parties in the world until the military coup of 1965. It was again a very poor agrarian country with an impoverished industrial working class.

In Europe communist parties were popular in Italy and France throughout the Cold War.

In Britain there were communist MPs in government during the 1950s.

Does the absence of any significant communist representation in English speaking countries speak to a structural issue in terms of Marxist class analysis? For example, does this mean that working class elements in Britain and America are not as predominant as they are in continental Europe and Asia?

There is a book 'Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat' the thesis of which seems to be that the white working class in America was in actual fact really a type of petit-bourgeoisie and that the whites in America were not from the labour classes.

In Scotland and in England there was a significant merchant class.

Is it possible that there is very little actual proletarian base in English speaking countries?
#15103320
Not sure if it’ll provide an exact answer to your question but give direction to where an answer may be found and in what works.
I am yet to study Lenin or Trotsky in their original contributions/development to Marxist theory.

[url]burawoy.berkeley.edu/Marxism/Marxism%20As%20Science.pdf[/url]
Combined and UnevenDevelopment of Capitalism
While German Marxism was struggling in theo- ry and in practice with anomalies brought about by the extension of democracy and the continued expansion of the forces of production, the oppo- site situationconfrontedRussian Marxism.There absolutism based on a semifeudal economy was fettering the growth of capitalism and at the same time creating a powerful and radical working class. As we have seen, Luxemburg saw the 1905 revolution as the forerunner of a new series of proletarian revolutions in the West. "The most backward country of all, just because it has been so unpardonably late with its bourgeois revolu- tion, shows ways and methods of further class struggle to the proletariat of Germany and the most advanced capitalist countries" (Waters 1970, p.203). Developments in Russia appeared to re- fute the Marxian idea that revolution would first break out in the most advanced rather than the most backward capitalist countries. While Lux- emburg intuited the solution to this anomaly, it was Trotsky who, as early as 1906in Results and Prospects ([1906], 1969),developedhis theories of the combined and uneven development of capitalismand of permanent revolution to explain and anticipate the October Revolution and its aftermath. The prophetic power of Results and Prospects is supported by the fact that Trotsky's celebrated History of the Russian Revolution written in 1930 (1977) was based on the same theory.

Orthodox Marxism, represented in Russia by the towering figure of Plekhanov, argued that Russia had to undergo a bourgeois revolution before it could advance to socialism. It was therefore at a loss to exploit the growing militan- cy and radicalism of the working class. By con- trast, Trotsky argued that the only class that could carry out a bourgeois revolution in Russia was the working class, and by virtue of that fact the bourgeois revolution had to proceed unintermpt- edly to a socialist revolutionwhich could only be successful if it also triggered a revolution in the West. This was Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution.

But why was the working class the only possi- ble agent of a bourgeois revolution? Capitalism in Russia developed very late under the spon- sorship of the state and of foreign (particularly French) investment. Being weak and dependent, the Russian bourgeoisie was continually plun- dered by a Czarist regime that was threatened militarily by states built on much more advanced (capitalist) economic foundations. At the same time that absolutism stifled the growth of the forces of production, the establishment of the most (technically) advanced capitalism in the major Russian cities created a new and militant working class. The majority of Russian workers had been recently uprooted from their land. It did not embrace the conservative traditions of Western proletariats which had evolved with capitalism. So, when brought together in huge factories the Russian working class displayed all the features of a revolutionary class.

The novelty of Trotsky's theory of combined and uneven development lay in its treatment of the international character of capitalist develop- ment and its political implications. According to Trotsky, capitalism did not develop unilinearly in parallel fashion within each country as Marx had assumed, but rather jumped from one coun- try to another. Uneven development led to the combination of the most advanced and the most backward forms of production, creating in coun- tries of the "second rank" a weak bourgeoisie and an explosive working class. While the peas- antry was crucial in destabilizing absolutism, it could not lead a revolution. That role would have to be adopted by the working class, which would not be able to stop at the overthrow of absolut- ism. Precisely because it was a working class and its interests were therefore at odds with cap- italism, it would have to move forward to social- ism. By spreading back from East to West the revolution would be permanent in the interna- tional arena after it had been made permanent within Russia.

While creating a new belt of theory, Trotsky was also true to the Marxist core. He defended P2 when he wrote about the limits of absolutism posed by its economic foundations, P3 when he wrote about the fettering of forces of production by absolutism, P4 when he said this would lead to revolution, whose struggles could not be read off from economic relations but would be shaped by political and ideological factors. In anticipat- ing a socialist revolution in Russia, Trotsky was not expectating stages of development to be skipped (which would violate P.5 and P6) since such a revolution would take place in the context of an international capitalism that had exhausted its potential for development in the core countries.

ies.
That he was wrong in his diagnosis of the situ- ation in the West does not detract from the fe- cundity of his theory of combined and uneven development of capitalism. Indeed, Lenin and Gramsci in different ways would develop that theory to explain the pacification of the Western working class just as others have used it to ex- plain the radical character of the working class in Third World industrializingcountries today, such as Brazil and South Africa (Seidman 1990).

Even Trotsky did not preclude the possibility of the defeat of the working class in the West. In Results and Prospects (1969) he wrote that fail- ing a revolution in the West the Russian revolu- tion would be aborted and would turn inward on itself. He anticipated the broad outlines of what actually happened after 1917. The tragedy of Trotsky's life was that he was destined to be the agent and the victim of his own accurate predic- tions - the involution of a Russian Revolution that was not followed by revolution in the West, the process he analyzed with great acuity in
Revolution Betrayed ([I9361 1972).


Although do note that its characterization of Marx is not quite on point as Trotskys thoughts can all find their origins in Marx in different works, particularly the prediction of the Russian revolution itself and its dependence of the western revolutions.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/preface.htm#preface-1882
The Communist Manifesto had, as its object, the proclamation of the inevitable impending dissolution of modern bourgeois property. But in Russia we find, face-to-face with the rapidly flowering capitalist swindle and bourgeois property, just beginning to develop, more than half the land owned in common by the peasants. Now the question is: can the Russian obshchina, though greatly undermined, yet a form of primeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher form of Communist common ownership? Or, on the contrary, must it first pass through the same process of dissolution such as constitutes the historical evolution of the West?

The only answer to that possible today is this: If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development.


Also useful to examine Lenins work on imperialism and the notion of labour aristocracy for that part of the US working class.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/pref02.htm
Obviously, out of such enormous superprofits (since they are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their “own” country) it is possible to bribe the labour leaders and the upper stratum of the labour aristocracy. And that is just what the capitalists of the “advanced” countries are doing: they are bribing them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert.

This stratum of workers-turned-bourgeois, or the labour aristocracy, who are quite philistine in their mode of life, in the size of their earnings and in their entire outlook, is the principal prop of the Second International, and in our days, the principal social (not military) prop of the bourgeoisie. For they are the real agents of the bourgeoisie in the working-class movement, the labour lieutenants of the capitalist class, real vehicles of reformism and chauvinism. In the civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie they inevitably, and in no small numbers. take the side of the bourgeoisie, the “Versaillese” against the “Communards”.


I do wonder how this might be applied in the modern day. I always had a vague speculation about how significant industrialization of other nations would lead to an eventual equalization of wages as we see how increasingly stagnate real wages are in the west, minimizing the disparity. But there is a lot of force in keeping a country undeveloped or restricted so it doesn’t become competitive.
So need more nuance based in facts and international relations of production to develop a sense of the worlds working class in different nations.
#15103378
GCHQ and the NSA shared intelligence on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and communist elements were repressed or purged in these English-speaking countries under the Five Eyes alliance that can be traced back to the Atlantic Charter in 1941. The "Five Eyes" (FVEY) refers to an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The British government operated a programme to identify, blacklist and dismiss suspected communists from government posts in the pre-war era and similar programmes were active in the post-war era in line with the red purge in America. If you were a communist back then in the United States or Britain, you were probably a paid Soviet informant who needed to be jailed. You can never imagine how the Soviet Union funded and controlled communist cells in the "Five Eyes" countries throughout the Cold War.

Between the early 1920s and the late 1940s, the British government operated a large programme to identify, blacklist and dismiss suspected Communists working in HMG’s munitions factories, shipyards and scientific establishments. It was kept secret from British workers and the British public; it has remained so until now. This lecture tells the story and reflects on its implications for modern British history and contemporary politics.
https://www.dur.ac.uk/cvac/?eventno=42448
Last edited by ThirdTerm on 29 Jun 2020 06:59, edited 1 time in total.
#15103381
Political Interest wrote:Perhaps some of the Marxist experts could help me understand this issue.

Looking at examples of where communism was established, except where it was imported with the help of Soviet tanks, it always happened in predominantly poor agrarian societies. The Russian Empire and China are two examples.

In Indonesia there was one of the biggest communist parties in the world until the military coup of 1965. It was again a very poor agrarian country with an impoverished industrial working class.

In Europe communist parties were popular in Italy and France throughout the Cold War.

In Britain there were communist MPs in government during the 1950s.

Does the absence of any significant communist representation in English speaking countries speak to a structural issue in terms of Marxist class analysis? For example, does this mean that working class elements in Britain and America are not as predominant as they are in continental Europe and Asia?

There is a book 'Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat' the thesis of which seems to be that the white working class in America was in actual fact really a type of petit-bourgeoisie and that the whites in America were not from the labour classes.

In Scotland and in England there was a significant merchant class.

Is it possible that there is very little actual proletarian base in English speaking countries?


Obviously, cultural and ideological differences need to be taken into account. Historically, the Anglosphere has been entrenched in liberalism in a more extreme way than the rest of the world has. The United States in particular, owing to the circumstances of how it was founded, is, in my opinion, the most liberal society in the world, to the extent that only now, after every developed nation in the world has a basic system of universal healthcare coverage, are people in the US seriously considering it. The United States is unique in that three quarters of the population seem to view the term 'socialism' in itself as some radical foreign concept that should best be steered clear of.

The point you have highlighted here is certainly a fundamental one which many seem to fail to grasp. Indeed, communist revolutions have only ever occurred in semi-feudal societies, because only people in these societies have ever been desperate enough to engage in radicalism. With this in mind, consider now that the nations of the Anglosphere were the first in the world to undergo industrialisation. To what extent this is related to the extremely liberal nature of these societies, I'm not sure, but it must be considered.

I think the political parties of the United Kingdom are the best way of looking at how different ideologies in the Anglosphere interact with one another. Following the industrial revolution, the Liberal party, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party were the main forces in British politics. The Conservatives had developed their praxis mainly form the ideas of Edmund Burke, who advocated for moderating the progression and liberalisation of society by looking back, learning from history and maintaining the best aspects of society as it was. The Labour Party based their praxis on Fabian Socialism, named after the Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus. They viewed their strategy as the following:
For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.
Their strategy was such as they believed that a gradualist approach was necessary to socialise the economy of an industrialised people, who would not support revolution.

Though the Liberal Party faded into irrelevance, the approach of both of Britain's major parties to politics is essentially one which attempts to bypass the liberal tendencies of the populous to advocate for something else. As someone like the neoreactionary blogger Mencius Moldbug might say, these parties are essentially two sides of the same coin, in that the Conservatives merely seek to modulate the progress made by the Labour Party, whereas the Liberal Party represented another ideology entirely. I forgot where I was going with this, but I hope I've helped to move the conversation along.
#15106183
The reason militant proletarian organizing, and even revolutions, existed in the most backward countries of the world around 1900 was *because* those places were so backward. They were trying to catch-up to the West in industrialization, and that's best fulfilled with a corresponding change in the societal *structure*, or 'social relations'.

If you think about it for a moment, industrialization confers *massive quantities* of mass-produced goods, but capitalism has only featured hierarchical-pyramids of private ownership and management of these means-of-mass-industrial-production, which is inherently *elitist* compared to the massive quantities coming off the assembly lines of industrial production.

If control of this mass production was *collectivized* among the workers of any given factory / workplace, then there would be a more spread-out, *egalitarian* approach to the *running*, and even 'co-administration', of such sprawling machinery, including all of the incremental-step work-roles of the assembly line.

Unfortunately the proletarian-type revolutions (notably the Bolshevik Revolution and the Hungarian Revolution) did *not* prevail, and so we still live under elitist-hierarchical class rule today. But the issue remains burning, since it's still *unresolved*, and the elitism ('income inequality') worsens by the day.

Also, many / most of those so-called 'communist parties' were actually bought-off, and were *bourgeois-nationalist* in practice, molded after the bureaucratic-elitist Stalinist USSR apparatus, for whatever that was worth -- it wasn't about empowering the *workers* in practice, in their workplaces.

Sure, within any *empire*, like that of the U.S., many more people will be relatively *privileged*, compared to their international Third-World-type counterparts, and may be land owners, 'middle-class', etc., with economic interests that are tied into nationalist patronage networks (political commodification, in other words).

I think we have to keep in mind, though, that *anyone* who receives a wage for what they do, whether that's *physical* labor ('blue-collar'), *service* labor ('pink-collar'), or even *office* work ('white-collar'), is thus a *worker* since their economic interests are *not* tied into the health and success of the business entity that they work for.

I think there's certainly *plenty* of a proletarian base in the 'First World', advanced capitalist countries of the West, and certainly enough to carry off a proletarian revolution in their own countries given favorable conditions and adequate militant labor organizing, class consciousness, general strikes, etc. -- which would then have to link with their respective brothers and sisters, by industry, in the rest of the world.

One's class interests can be empirically measured by looking at one's objective relationship to the means of mass industrial production (meaning significant stock ownership and life-means from dividends, or not?). For someone to be petty-bourgeois they'd have to be getting most of their income from the business they own, by exploiting limited numbers of wage-workers.

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