[In his autopsy of the Second International, Lenin sets out the symptoms of revolutionary situations (which do not always result in revolutions). In this epoch of crisis and the future promise of greater crisis, we feel that the left is under-equipped to diagnose a revolutionary situation. As always, the present excerpt is provided for the […]

The editorial staff of AI apologize for a lack of steady content in recent weeks, due mostly to work on two publishing projects and an upcoming theoretical journal. We certainly hope to be publishing more articles in the coming weeks, as well as introducing our new projects and going over some of what we have […]

By Zak Brown Introduction Unlike the stiff and boring Marxism which exist primarily on campus and the internet, feminism is actually becoming cool again. Now, feminism itself invokes all sorts of imagery from every conceivable position on the Left and all manner of terrible outcry from the Right. However, when I say Feminism I am […]

Introduction You work for it; you work with it. You need it to survive; you survive to need it. You’d steal for it; maybe, if the price was right you’d even kill for it. It commands armies, nations, and public policy; often times it means life or death (quite literally). It is both celebrated and […]

What follows is an influential piece from Bruce Franklin, first published in Red Papers 2, 1969, re-posted here for its historical and theoretical value. As always, Anti-Imperialism.com re-posts articles for the purpose of education and discussion and does not necessarily denote agreement with the piece in question. The first major Black rebellions since 1943 broke […]

According to the historical materialist methodology, the base and structure of society (i.e., the productive forces and the relations of production) determine the essential qualities of the super-structure: the state, ruling class ideologies, and the entirety of the subjective forces. That is to say that the physical qualities of the elements of production (the base […]

By Freya B. As Samir Amin aptly notes in his critique of Hardt and Negri’s Empire, in periods of unrest and confusion following the defeat of revolutionary movements, there is a tendency for theories to emerge which lend legitimacy to that unrest and confusion, and which actually portray the resulting opportunism as a viable form […]

By Nikolai Brown Cope, Zak. Global Wage Scaling and Left Ideology: A Critique of Charlie Post on the ‘Labor Aristocracy.’ Research in Political Economy, Volume 28. (89-129). 2013 Not long ago, a PDF of Charlie Post’s 2010 essay, Exploring Working-Class Consciousness: A Critique of the Theory of the ‘Labor Aristocracy,‘ was circulated around the internet. […]

Dear RAIM, The term revisionism has always been confusing to me, not just because re-visioning something sounds like a pleasant experience of creative imagination. But more seriously, I understand revisionism as watering-down or modifying theory to gain more popularity, basically abandoning aspects of the theoretically correct analysis for one purpose or another. However, I also […]

It has been demonstrated at Anti-Imperialism.com and elsewhere how a majority workers in the First World are not simply an upper stratum of proletarians, i.e. a classically defined ‘labor aristocracy.’ Instead, a majority of First World workers receive wages (or other compensation) that include surplus value necessarily originating in the super-exploited labor of others in […]

Wages and class struggle

Karl Marx’s opening line in the first chapter of Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 states that, “wages are determined by antagonistic struggle between capitalist and worker.” (p. 19)

This opening line is often cited by nominal leftists as explanation for exorbitantly high wages of many workers in the United States and throughout the First World. The explanation they reach is that First World workers receive such high wages because they have secured them as historic concessions over the course of past class struggle. But this view is narrow and has quite specific limitations.

In terms of scope, this explanatory view negates the workings of capitalism internationally. Wages of all workers have hardly risen, just those within certain spatial and social limitations (i.e., those within the First World and often part of oppressor nations). The notable idea ignored by the First Worldist viewpoint is that while class struggle certainly may have played a role in elevating the status and material fulfillment of First World workers, this class struggle may not have occurred on their part alone. Instead, the raising of wages for a limited number of worker, i.e. those mainly in the First World, was a measure to counteract not merely their own class struggle but that of the international proletariat. During the 20th century, the international proletariat advanced in their struggle in many regards. They were able to establish nominally socialist states which for a time acted as economic and political bulwarks against capitalist-imperialism. As well, the proletariat of the Third World waged several wars of liberation against direct imperialist occupation and neo-colonial puppets. It was no doubt such heightened class struggle which played a large role in determining the wages of First World countries, so as the secure their passivity and tacit support of the system at the moment it was facing its greatest challenges from the international proletariat movement. Continue reading