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S E C T I O N
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P O L I T I C A L M O T H B A L L S
O R P E R T I N E N T P O L I T I C S
On Saturday, April 20, 1968, a British Tory named Enoch Powell startled not only his parliamentary colleagues but a good portion of the world when he voiced the existing virulent racialism of his own society.
On Tuesday, April 23, 1968, at least a thousand British dockers staged England's first political strike in a long while – supporting Enoch Powell.
Only the day before, a staid London daily had editorially called Mr. Powell's effort "An Evil Speech", and dubbed it "a political action". It charged that
"it was an arranged occasion, carefully scripted, carefully planned... a clear challenge to Mr. Heath's (Shadow Prime Minister's) leadership... (he) had to dismiss Mr. Powell in order... to clear the Conservative Party of complicity in Mr. Powell's racialism... are there really so many Conservative members who go all the way not only with Mr. Powell's views, but also with his language?"1*
Six days later, a leading weekly paper printed a study of the entire phenomenon, leading off with a quote from "a race relations officer", who said that:
"Enoch Powell's speech has suddenly made racial prejudice look respectable. Coming from a member of the Tory Shadow Cabinet (he had been Shadow Defense Minister – H.W.E.), people can't help taking it as some kind of authority to let rip with 'anti-nigger' words."2
London dockers corroborated him in action, at the same time illuminating the entire situation. The London weekly noted with it called a "curious" fact:
* Throughout this text, unless otherwise specified, all emphasis in s p a c e d - o u t letters has been a d d e d by the writer; all emphasis in CAPITALS is in the original. [The original text uses spacing where there would be italics. In this transcription, italics are used instead of the spacing. —Transcriber]
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"only four coloured men are employed in the thousands-strong dock labour force, and these are only acceptable because they are second generation. Dock work is a family ... affair and it can be hard for a white worker to join the force unless he is 'known'."3
In a word, the dockers were not responding to local stimuli, but to something more general. The OBSERVER noted:
"Like the dockers' demonstration, the token strikes elsewhere have been spontaneous and usually started by people who are not normally politically active. They were small but widespread in the Midlands. They affected breweries, radiator and car component factories, and engineering works of all kinds."4
More revealing were actions and reactions of leaders of some unions involved.
First, a divisional officer for Number 3 docks group of the Transport and General Workers' Union (familiarly known as "the T & G") knew nothing of what was going on till "tipped off that there was trouble in his parish". He "and another official" rushed off "to try to preach the union's official policy of no discrimination", but to no avail. By 11.30 a.m. of the 23rd, "all but 21 of the 3000-odd West India Dock workers had decided on a protest". Many of those interviews were surprised at "the speed and spontaneity of the action".
While the OBSERVER stated that "there were no ring-leaders", it named one, whom it described colourfully, as well as by saying that he was "active in the Labour Party".
One well-known Communist and union leader, did the OBSERVER sneered, "manage a squawk of protest":
"With five colleagues, he issued a circular – 'in their personal capacities' – protesting against the racial demonstration."5
But, commented the weekly,
"dockers ridiculed (this Communist) attempt to PREVENT a strike. They had decided the race issue was worth the loss of anything from £5 to £8 for a day's work."5
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All union officials interviews, said the OBSERVER, "are deeply embarrassed by last week's events". Of course! Those events went contrary to union policy. Significantly, one "ex-T & G official" told the paper that
"every year the head office gets a lot of resolutions for the union's annual conference from branches all over the country which are strongly colour prejudiced... the senior officers of the union, not least the General Secretary himself... see to it that none of them comes up for debate."6
So, the dichotomy between union policy and membership practice has been perpetuated by those appearing to espouse policy, perhaps picturing this as the means for doing so.
Another union official, divisional officer of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs, had received threatening phone calls from members of his own organisation because of his letter to the Midland press criticising Enoch Powell's speech.
Puzzled this unionist:
"I fail to understand this. What else can this be but naked racialism? We are supposed to be a left-wing union."
Well might the poor man exclaim in bafflement! He is among that majority who have not forgotten the great fanfare with which Harold Wilson had been ushered into the highest seat of British Government at the end of 1964.
When, some twenty days later, the "liberal peace candidate" Lyndon Baines Johnson was catapulted into Presidential prominence in the U.S.A. in the contest with Barry Morris Goldwater, these joyful peans were augmented from across the sea.
Both events, thanks to illusions and forgetfulness, had generated hopes on the African continent: "NOW things will surely change! NOW Africa will be able better to fight colonialism." A sigh of relief went up over the world, which settled back for a long lull. Only certain Cassandras of the Orient (and elsewhere) refused to withdraw earlier warnings about all such "men of peace".
By the last week in April, 1968, the London OBSERVER could quote the general secretary of the Pakistani Workers' Association "which has the support of some 10,000 Pakistani workers in the Midlands" as saying:
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"We have lost faith in the British Trade Union movement. The dockers have confirmed our suspicions."7
Simultaneously, the general secretary of the Indian Workers' Association predicted "separate unions" for coloured workers "in the near future". He added that such an eventuality would "be bad for the principle of... unionism.8
But the Labour Government itself had contributed to this disillusionment by its odd idea of "anti-colonialism": Congo Kinshasa, British Guiana, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Malaysia, Aden – sacrificed in quick succession on the altar of political expediency. Lyndon Johnson's even stranger version of "peace" quickly popped up in North and South Vietnam, at Stanleyville, Santo Domingo, in Indonesia and all over Africa.
While the shock to many was severe, illusion persisted broadly. For, eulogies uttered even by certain Marxists lauded "good" "sincere" and "truly radical" individuals included in the British Labour Government of late 1964, people who had long since declared their intentions of "doing right" by workers both "at home" and in the colonial areas.
Actually, their "goodness", supplemented by the deeds they did, demonstrated that the course of Social Democracy (like that of any other material phenomenon in this material world) proceeds independently of the will, intelligence or intentions of individuals.
This was not the first time that "Labour" parties had shown the same schism between words and deeds. Those words obtain for them the authority to perform their deeds. And events have showed that even once-hard-bitten Communists are still being taken in, and – some say – now contributing to the pervasive illusions contained in Social Democracy's words.
The world, however, still includes Marxists who remain tough. One of the most famous of them not long ago declared:
"Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe... Between the opposites in a contradiction, there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change.
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"Contradictions exist everywhere, but they differ in accordance with the different nature of different things. In any given phenomenon or thing, the unity of opposites is conditional, temporary and transitory, and hence relative, whereas the struggle of opposites is absolute."9
What "contradictions" is this successful revolutionary talking about?
In 1957 and again in 1960, Marxists – some of them by then a bit less case-hardened than previously – met in Moscow and, despite developing differences in their ranks, managed a unanimous answer to this question.
They enumerated as "the fundamental contradictions in the contemporary world" those between
"the socialist camp and the imperialist camp;
"... the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the capitalist countries;
"... the oppressed nations and imperialism; and
"... among imperialist countries and among monopoly capitalist groups."10
Having thus set them out, they elaborated on them in 25 points. But among the first comments preceding exposition of the "points" was this:
"These contradictions and the struggles to which they give rise are interrelated and influence each other. Nobody can obliterate any of (them) or subjectively substitute one for all the rest.
"It is inevitable that these contradictions will give rise to popular revolutions, which alone can resolve them."11
In Point No. 8, the world's Marxists officially further declared:
"The various types of contradictions in the contemporary world are concentrated in the vast areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America; these are the most vulnerable areas under imperialist rule and the storm centres of world revolution dealing direct blows at imperialism...
"The national democratic revolution in these areas is an important component of the contemporary proletarian world¬
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revolution... pounding and undermining the foundations of the rule of imperialism and colonialism...
"In a sense, therefore, the whole cause of the international proletarian revolution hinges on the outcome of the revolutionary struggles of the people in these areas, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the world's population."12
Here is precisely the rock on which the less "stern" among self-styled Marxists have stubbed a collective toe. For, as the cited documented noted,
"Certain persons now go so far as to deny the great international significance of the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples, and, on the pretext of breaking down the barriers of nationality, colour and geographical location, are trying their best... not to break (these) down... but to maintain the rule of the 'superior nations' over the oppressed nations. It is only natural that this fraudulent 'theory' is rejected by the people in these areas."13
But matters are much more serious even than this:
"It is impossible for the working class in the European and American capitalist countries to liberate itself unless it unites with the oppressed nations and unless those nations are liberated. Lenin rightly said,
'The revolutionary movement in the advanced countries would be a sheer fraud if, in their struggles against capital, the workers of Europe and America were not closely and completely united with the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of 'colonial' slaves who are oppressed by capital.'"14
It is at this point that Enoch Powell and the British dock workers enter the picture. Powell, the Right-wing, openly-racist Tory spokesman for monopoly capital, finds "spontaneous" and widespread support from thousands of English rank-and-file union members. Their "Labour" Government, and Labour and Communist officials, publicly deploring, are completely powerless to stop the exhibition. In fact, sober reflection suggests that they were, at least objectively, "accessories after the fact".
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Here is how, seemingly suddenly, the above epitomization of England's scene reveals the crucial overall importance not only to England but to today's world of understanding the role, nature, origins and history of Social Democracy.
Where does the latter fit into the pattern of world contradictions10 officially postulated by world Marxists? What effect has it had on revolution: in colonies? "at home"? Why was a "Labour" man leading the London dockers in their openly racist strike?
Only a thorough restudy of Social Democracy, from its beginnings through current events, can provide answers.
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S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y D E F I N E D
To discuss anything intelligently, we must first define it. What, then, is Social Democracy?
Before World War I, Lenin used the words referring to revolutionary working class organisation in Russia and elsewhere. Can this be done today?
In 1914, the Second International, then comprising all Socialist Parties whether "right" or "left", split over whether or not to support "one's own" bourgeoisie in "the war to end war". Those who stayed with the Second International turned nationalist and chauvinist, indulging in an orgy of "patriotism". Typically, the "patriots" wound up at war's end vastly improved in their material conditions. After the formation of the Third International, those who practiced "proletarian internationalism" began calling themselves "Communists", leaving the title "Social Democracy" to those who had discredited it.
The British writer, R. Palme Dutt, has noted that
"It should be explained that the term 'Social Democracy is here used only to cover ... post-1914 Social Democratic Parties which subsequently united to form the post-war Second International or 'Labour and Socialist International'. It should be further noted that the policy of Social Democracy is here used only to denote the policy of collaboration with capitalism as preached and practiced by the post-war Second International."1
The definition in the following pages will follow Dutt's time boundary: Social Democracy will be considered a phenomenon that post-dates the First World War, although its roots obviously extend much further back into the history of modern political movements.
To what "phenomenon" are we referring, precisely, when we say "Social Democracy"?
– Palme Dutt calls it class collaboration. Is this the¬
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whole of it? Between whom, for example, does collaboration occur?
– Social Democracy has also frequently been called reformism.2 Is this its definition? Is "reformism" the same as "class collaboration"?
– In some places – like Scandinavia or England – there are mass parties which call themselves Social Democratic or Labour. Are such parties required by the definition of Social Democracy? If no such parties exist – as in the United States or South Africa – is Social Democracy thereby non-existent in those places?
– For a long time, Social Democracy covered its leaders and /or its policies with "the mantle of Karl Marx". Either Social Democrats claimed to be "the real Marxists" or they said they were "improving on Marx". Is a claim to being the heir of Marx still a criterion of Social Democracy?
A dialectical materialist approach in answering such questions requires a preliminary examination of Social Democracy's material – especially, economic – base. Lenin has offered an unequivocal description thereof:3
As we shall see,* at the stage of imperialism, the capitalist world had become divided into "usurer" and subjugated nations. "Usurer nations" began to derive their main economic resources from the export of capital, which was soon to bring in super-profits "obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of their 'own' country". Now, the oligarchs who cull super-profits from "overseas" investments constitute a tiny minority of population, world-wi
s[d]e and in their own strongholds. Their ability to continue reaping the benefits of owning society's means of production depends on relative tranquility, especially in their own back yard. For that reason, modern imperialist rulers have conceded in action that sharing their swag as a divisive measure is far cheaper for them than would be losing it altogether to a possibly united class enemy superior in number. Out of their super-profits, therefore, they bribe a section of "home" workers to create a labor aristocracy, whose¬
* Vid. Chapter III, below.
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existence is an economic necessity for the ruling class in the world's industrial centers.
Lenin analysed the labor aristocracy itself, whom he called "the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class", as "the labor leaders and upper stratum" of workers in metropolitan countries, those
"bourgeoisifed workers ... who are quite philistine in their mode of life, in the size of their earnings, and in their entire outlook."3
These particular workers, he went on, form
"the principal prop of the Second International and the principal SOCIAL (not military) PROP OF THE BOURGEOISIE."3
But the Second International derives from an organization originally set up to create Socialism – i.e., from an originally revolutionary outfit. In fact, in 1917 did not its Russian off-shoot commit real revolution that refused to die down? Who could assess the "reliability" of the proletariat anywhere in those dangerous years?
Here was a job for jugglers of ideology, capable on the one hand of sounding "revolutionary" enough to hide their real betrayal in supporting "their own" bourgeoisies in imperialist war; and, on the other, of leading down the political garden path any hot-headed followers of "wrong" examples.
Social Democracy – of the post-1914 bourgeoisified variety – was the obvious candidate for such a post. It stepped into its role with an aplomb developed from previous decades of rehearsal.
The ideological prompter came in, moreover, with perfect timing behind those post-war goodies at first promised as bonus "victory" in "the war to end war"; and then delivered, beginning in the "allied" countries with the U.S. in the lead.
From then on, the Second International was busy all over the world – and as a Second World War followed the First, a world labor aristocracy took hold in the West, its leading contingent soon shifting from Britain to the United States.
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Clearly, then, the economic base of Social Democracy is the labor aristocracy in industrialised countries. Even more specifically, it is those who, in one way or another, keep the Second International alive. Hence, organizations, ideology or individuals who serve such a group must be included in Social Democracy's armory.
Conversely, Social Democracy's main function must be to serve the interests of metropolitan labor aristocracies within the bounds of the capitalist system, a service clearly of primary value to the ruling class.*
If so, then Social Democracy is clearly revealed as part and parcel of Contradiction No. 2, above**, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in capitalist lands.
But what part is it? And how does it fir into the world picture?
Plainly , the same evaluation – "of primary importance to the modern ruling class" – applies to all major "acceptable" economic, political and social bodies in any society ruled by a minority. Therefore, establishing that Social Democracy serves "its own" ruling class by no means clarifies its specific function within the system – as proved in the erroneous predictions made by Marxists who thought otherwise.
As capitalism became more and more parasitic through growing dependence on revenue from "overseas", its ability to bribe with ever-bigger inducements more and more of "its own" workers made it therefore necessary for the bribed now to insist on the continued influx to the "home" country of super-profits, fountainhead of its own "super-wages", the quid pro quo of its support for the system. In this way, an ever-larger portion of the working class in capital-exporting nations, as long as and because they accept the system, become committed to¬
* Naturally, this is not to say that Social Democracy was founded with the proclaimed goal of "maintaining capitalism forever". Rather, originally, its political ancestors constituted a trend in the working class. Their first, main appeal to workers lay in their announced intention of abolishing an unjust system, an intention their off-spring still often pretends to harbor.
** See Page 9.
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continued colonialism, the source of imperialism's major super-profits: the more decadent imperialism becomes; the more militant the anti-colonial liberation movement grows, both as cause and result, further threatening the already-moribund status quo, the more colonialism becomes indispensable to the existing comfort of labor aristocracies inside the system.
The specific task of Social Democracy – in the process, indispensable to the ruling class, of ensuring capitalism's survival – is to act as a political mechanism for maintaining the constant flow super-profits to the "mother" country. Here is how, while acting for the labor aristocracy, Social Democracy serves the bourgeoisie as its "principal SOCIAL (not military) PROP".
In performing that service, however, Social Democracy can only hide, not resolve, the basic contradiction it exists to combat: whether they know it or not (and for some time they have not known it), the more the bribed workers support the system for the comforts it gives them, the more they, willy-nilly, are exploited by "their own" bosses, a fact disguised by the ten-fold greater exploitation of colonial workers.
Overlooking such reasoning caused Marxists a few decades ago to miss the mark grossly in assessing Social Democracy's future and led to the absence of any effective countervailing ideology. In turn, that lack has enabled Social Democracy, by inducing the labor aristocracy to close its eyes to its own basic working class role in industrialized countries, to cause ever-growing numbers of metropolitan workers to act against those very working class interests which Marx had declared the only basis for solving the world's problems. Rather, with its enormous – in many countries, automated – productivity, that labor aristocracy enriches the bourgeoisie it supports better and faster than the bourgeoisie enriches it. No wonder monopolists willing pay a price they can afford for services rendered. For, by bribing it, the ruling class merely uses the labor aristocracy as a buffer between itself and those whom, with the uncanny class instinct of minority rulers on the decline, it recognizes as its main enemies: the numerically far greater "low stratum of the proletariat" in world hinterlands.
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The corollary is that, when the contradiction between the ruling class and the main, hinterland, proletariat reaches a critical point, Social Democracy, in siding with the ruling class, unhesitatingly sacrifices as much of "its" labor aristocracy as necessary to ensure the safety of the system. Such a procedure is under way in Britain now. Yet it is a fact conveniently forgotten – with a little assistance from pundits of both the bourgeoisie and Social Democracy – in order to avoid considerable trouble.
Labor aristocracy support for its own main class enemy has successfully put off revolution in industrialized areas – and elsewhere – many times. Far from being the result of individuals or misleaders, this has rather come about because the system itself, of which Social Democracy is an inseparable part, has evoked a new, inner but subordinate, contradiction inside the imperialist system. This is a temporary contradiction. Nevertheless, for the time being, the internal systemic main contradiction between the working class in metropolitan areas and their "own" ruling class has been obscured by this artificially-induced but no less real contradiction between the working class in imperialist nations and those who fundamentally are really their class brothers in the world's subjugated areas. This has occurred to the great cost of the "lower stratum" of the world proletariat ... and eventually, to that of the bribed, as well.
Social Democracy's aim is to make this situation "permanent".
How is such a contradiction to be dealt with?
The answer is a main target of this text
In the foregoing context, it is now possible to examine specific features of Social Democracy:
1. Class collaboration. Obviously, as induced by Social Democracy, this occurs between the labor aristocracy and the imperialist bourgeoisie of the industrialised countries.
Is this all there is to it?
It is a fully-documented1 matter of record that Social Democracy is inseparable from the rise of Fascism. In various countries, the leading spokesmen of Social Democracy have either paved the path to power for Fascism, or have themselves taken part in Fascist governments. In either case, Social¬
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Democratic Parties have "when necessary" shot down "their own" workers.*
For definitive purposes, it need only be noted here that Social Democracy, via its policy of class collaboration, is invariably connected with Fascism.
2. Reformism. Palmiro Togliatti, late head of the Italian Communist Party, used the terms "Social Democracy" and "reformism" interchangeably. For example:
"... the basis for the development of reformism in the ranks of the working class is to be found in the fact that the bourgeoisie ... is in a position to corrupt a section of the working class."2
That "corrupt" or bribed "section of the working class" is, of course, the labor aristocracy. But is reformism confined to Social Democracy?
In capitalist countries like the U.S., aren't there out-and-out bourgeoisie parties which epouse reformism? What about the U.S. Democratic Party under Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Was it also "Social Democratic"?
First, such bourgeois parties of reform do not directly fulfill Lenin's qualification of "prop" for the Second International.
Second, and more important: bourgeois reform parties are based upon and run by a section of the bourgeoisie itself in its own class interests. This is so whether or not their platforms make promises to or "in the interests of" workers. In this case, gains for workers are by-products of activities and aims.
On the other hand, Social Democratic parties, whose memberships always consist mainly of workers, are operated by the labor aristocracy in the name of labor. In their case, support for the bourgeoisie is the (indispensable) by-product.
* Later in the text (Chapter XIV, Pages 104 ff.), a new look at Fascism will explain why. Also explained later: WHY Social Democracy acted in this particular way in some countries while not even taking on mass form in others; WHY Marxist predictions of the imminence of naked Fascist power inside certain Western "democracies" failed to materialize.
** It is not intended to infer that membership, support or other factors are immutable characteristics. Memberships of such¬
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Reformism, therefore, is an element of Social Democracy, but not its totality. To take it as its totality would blur the basic motive for its specific support for colonialism. Similarly, reformism is not the same as, but only one form of, class collaboration: another is the one where Social Democracy shoots down "its own" workers. In general, the latter type is more broadly expressed in aiding Fascism to power under some conditions and/or participating in Fascist rule.
3. The mass base. Must its ideology have a mass political base in order for the whole phenomenon to qualify as Social Democracy?
While the answer is negative, Social Democracy and its function cannot be understood until the TEST is applied whether a given situation produces a mass base for Social Democracy or not.
Applying that test will be shown to clear up a number of questions never before examined, yet of close relevance to the meaning and purpose of Social Democracy and its relationship to colonialism.
Furthermore, our analysis will bring out the following facts, which must be included in any definition of Social Democracy:
– If there is NO mass base, one of TWO possibilities is indicated:
a) Confrontation: the given labor aristocracy is enjoying the benefits of a colonialism whose subjects are in its midst, in which case RACISM emerges openly, and Social Democracy ceases to be organisationally needed; or
b) Colonialism or Semi-Colonialism: the territory under consideration has, from having served as a source of super-profits, produced no labor aristocracy of its own, leaving no suitable soil in which to cultivate a LOCAL mass base for Social Democracy.
– If there IS a mass base, it proves the existence of colonialism without confrontation. That is, the given¬
parties, while still mainly working class, have been declining rather massively of late. Support for such parties, while still – as for all major parties under "bourgeois democracy" – working class, is now about one-third traceable to the middle class. The candidates of such parties are being drawn more and more from non-working class sources.4
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labor aristocracy is enjoying the benefits of a colonialism NOT IN ITS MIDST.
So, the test of a mass base acts as a water-shed between those sectors of world labor for whom organized Social Democracy is necessary and those for whom it is either a frill (Racists) or a foreign export designed to serve alien interests (colonial or semi-colonial peoples).
The test of a mass base is inextricable from the definition of Social Democracy, despite the fact that a mass base is not, per se, a criterion for Social Democracy.
4. The mantle of Karl Marx. Mass parties of Social Democracy in industrialized countries arose in an ideological atmosphere where the name of Karl Marx as always invoked as the ultimate authority for policy. Yet today, most such parties have discarded this custom. In fact, the only avowed supports of the Second International still claiming to be Marxists live in colonial or semi-colonial areas.
Today, even references to socialism are not necessary to qualify an ideology or party as Social Democratic. What is needed is an alleged tie to labor; or, at least, some type of demagogy.
5. Is Social Democracy an ideology? Since the labor aristocracy of industrialized nations economically active "overseas" is its material base, Social Democracy requires a policy of class collaboration as a by-product of its alleged support for "labor's interests".
On this basis, any ideology, espoused by labor aristocracies and/or their spokesmen in labor's ranks, which claims to be specifically in labor's interests, and which requires for this purpose collaboration with "its own" (or any other) bourgeoisie, is a Social Democratic ideology. Since such an ideology coincides with that of the Second International, whether or not the espousing body or spokesmen formally acknowledge the tie, it is necessarily a reinforcement for that organization and therefore qualifies as its "prop".
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The role and/or function of such an ideology would be assessed through the test of a mass base.
The content of the ideology is petty-bourgeois. The essence of the latter is vacillation and "tailism". Lenin put it the following ways:
"The proletariat fights for the revolutionary overthrow of the imperialist bourgeoisie; the petty bourgeoisie fights for the reformist "improvement' of imperialism, for adaption and SUBMISSION to it."5
"The main thing the Socialists fail to understand and what constitutes ... captivity to bourgeois prejudices and their political teachery to the proletariat, is that in capitatlist society, as soon as there is any serious intensification of the class struggle on which it is based, there cannot be any middle course between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat. All dreams about some third course are merely the reactionary lamentations of the petty bourgeoisie."6
Social Democracy, which (whether this is revealed sooner or later) is inseparable from the development of Fascism, is a political entity post-dating the First World War, with ideas indistinguishable from those of the Second International, being espoused by "labor leaders" and/or their spokesmen in labor's ranks, and claiming to be primarily "in labor's interests".
Although, like any major acceptable trend in a society, it serves the ruling class in general, its specific economic base is the labor aristocracies of industrialized countries, whence it is objectively committed to continued colonialism because the labor aristocracy relies on (indeed, exists only because of) a share of super-profits, its own super-wages and other bribes.
Its program includes: class collaboration as a by-product of "policy in labor's interests"; an element of reformism (making capitalism "work better"); and some sort of demagogy, usually referring to labor but not necessarily mentioning socialism.
In addition, fully to define it, the test of the mass base must be applied to Social Democracy to determine its precise function.¬
— 26 —
The outcome will be one of three possible alternatives, all related to its commitment to colonialism:
A. There IS a mass base for Social Democracy because the colonial subjects are not living amidst the given labor aristocracy;
B. There is NO mass base because
1) the colonial subjects live in in the midst of the given labor aristocracy (as in the U.S. or South Africa), in which case RACISM tends to replace Social Democracy, which thereby becomes a "political frill"; or
2) the territory itself involves colonial subjects, who produce no labor aristocracy and hence cannot produce any mass manifestation of Social Democracy. In this case, Social Democracy, if it appears, is a FOREIGN EXPORT serving METROPOLITAN labor aristocracies.
A definition may be applied to any situation.
Application of this one will follow detailed study of Lenin's analysis of Social Democracy, with special reference to its current applicability.
[— 27 —]
T H E O R I G I N S O F S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y :
L E N I N ' S A N A L Y S I S
In the early thirties of this century, Marxists wrote frequently about Social Democracy. Since then, however, the Left has had little to say about it. Why? Had Social Democracy departed from this world? Had its significance lessened?
In this writer's opinion, the reason for the lull is that earlier Marxist diagnoses of Social Democracy, important though they were, fell short of truth.
Marxists who studied Social Democracy made signal contributions by laying bare that ideology's splitting effect on the working class. They revealed how, in certain industrialized countries, such splitting had in practice prevented what once seemed to be "growing revolution". They illumined Social Democratic hypocricy, documented its specific results, its methods, and showed the role it played as catalyst for Fascism's success.
Yet, like any scientists, they were hemmed in by what facts were available at the time. Certainly some facts appeared to support their analysis. "Hindsight is marvelous", runs a well-known saying.
Nonetheless, thirty years of actual events do offer a vantage point from which to examine what, with all due respect, can be shown to be the insufficiencies of earlier Marxist analyses of Social Democracy.
The fact is that Lenin had actually provided all the tools needed, even in the 30s, for complete understanding of Social Democracy and its functions. We have summarized his findings as follows:
"Private property based on the labor of the small proprietor, free competition, democracy, all the catchwords with which the capitalists and their press deceive the workers and the peasants, are things of the distant past. Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world by a handful of 'advanced' countries...1
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"the international split of the whole working-class movement is now quite evident (the Second and Third Internationals) ... What is the economic base of this world historical phenomenon?
"Precisely the parasitism and decay of capitalism which are characteristic of its highest historical stage of development, i.e., imperialism ... capitalism has now singled out A HANDFUL (less than one-fifth at the most 'generous' and liberal calculation) of exceptionally rich and powerful states which plunder the whole world simply by 'clipping coupons'. Capital export yields an income of eight to ten billion francs per annum, at pre-war prices and according to pre-war (World War I – H.W.E.) bourgeois statistics. Now, of course, they yield much more.
"Obviously, out of such enormous SUPER-PROFITS (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 labor leaders and the upper stratum of the labor aristocracy. And the capitalists of the 'advanced' countries are bribing them ... in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert.
"This stratum of bourgeoisified workers, or the 'labor 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 labor lieutenants of the capitalist class, real channels of reformism and chauvinism...
"Unless the economic roots of this phenomenon are understood and its political and social significance is appreciated, not a step can be taken toward the solution of the practical problems of the Communist movement and of the impending social revolution."2
Lenin's comments on the ideas in the above summary are also instructive. He began by noting that "insufficient importance" had been attached to the parasitism¬
— 29 —
"characteristic of imperialism". Capitalist monopoly, he stressed, caused the entire imperialist economy to have a tendency toward stagnation, expressed by unused capacity, suppressing parents, etc. Monopoly also retards development internationally through " the monopoly ownership of very extensive, rich or well-situated colonies".
Imperialism, he noted, is "an immense accumulation of money capital in a few countries", leading to
"the extraordinary growth of a class, or rather, of a stratum of rentiers, i.e., people who live by 'clipping coupons', who take no part in any enterprise whatever, whose profession is idleness. The export of capital, one of the most essential economic bases of imperialism, still more completely isolates the rentiers from production and sets the seal of parasitism on the whole country that lives by exploiting the labor of several overseas countries and colonies."3
He reinforced this point by quoting bourgeois economists to prove that
"the income of the rentiers is five times greater than the income obtained from the foreign trade of the biggest 'trading' country in the world! This is the source of imperialism and imperialist parasitism."4
The result had been that
"the world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states."5
The consequences for the working class movement Lenin described thus:
"The rentier state is a state of parasitic decaying capitalism and this circumstance cannot fail to influence all the social-political conditions of the countries concerned, in general, and the two fundamental trends in the working-class movement, in particular."6
— 30 —
A leading British economist of the day, J.A. Hobson, is quoted on the connection between imperialism and interests of financiers. Hobson talked of
"groups of financiers, investors, and political and business officials draining the greatest potential reservoir of profits the world has ever known (Asia and Africa) in order to consume it in Europe...7
"While the directors of this definitely parasitic policy are capitalists, the same motives appeal to special classes of the workers. In many towns most important trades are dependent upon government employment or contracts..."8
Discussing the bribery of the "lower classes", the English economist also recorded
"the reckless indifference with which Great Britain and other imperialist nations are embarking on a (policy whereby) most of the fighting by which we have won our... Empire has been done by the native."9
Lenin comments that
"Imperialism, which means the partition of the world, and the exploitation of other countries...which means high monopoly profits for a handful of very rich countries, creates the economic possibility of bribing the upper strata of the proletariat, and thereby fosters, gives shape to, and strengthens opportunism."10
He also pointed out that
"The percentage of the productively employed population to total population is declining"11
in imperialist countries themselves. Lenin defined these "upper strata of the proletariat" as they were "at the beginning of the twentieth century", they furnish, he declared,
"the bulk of the membership of the cooperatives, of trade unions, of sporting clubs and of numerous religious sects. To this level is adapted the electoral system which...is... 'sufficiently restricted to exclude the lower stratum of the proletariat proper'."12
— 31 —
Evidence of this trend in the working class movement during the epoch of imperialism lies in
"the decline in emigration from imperialist countries and the increase in immigration into these countries from the more backward countries where lower wages are paid."13
Concluding his analysis of the "labor aristocracy", Lenin quotes Engels on the same subject.
First: from a letter to Marx dated October 7, 1858:
"The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat ALONGSIDE the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this of course is to a certain extent justifiable."14
Second: a letter to Karl Kautsky, dated September 12, 1882:
"You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general. There is no workers' party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily share the feast of England's monopoly of the world market and the colonies."15
The question now arises: Does Lenin's description of parasitism apply to today's world? Later chapters will try to answer this question, through certain others related to it:
– Is the modern imperialist economy still parasitic?
– What are the distinguishing features of the modern bourgeoisie?
– Class collaboration under modern conditions: its forms and shapes?
– Fascism today: is it in power anywhere, and if so, in what form?
– The modern labor aristocracy: who is it and where is it found?
– Does Social Democracy have a mass base in today's world? Where? Why?
But before we can answer such questions, it will be necessary to look specifically into Social Democracy a bit further.
[— 32 —]
T H E M E T H O D S O F S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y
At the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in Moscow (July through September 1928), Social Democracy was high on the agenda. There Ercoli – Palmiro Togliatti, late head of the Italian Communist Party – made his detailed report on "Social Democracy and the Colonial Question", to which reference has already been made.*
Known before his death for a belief the Italy's workers would vote "their own" capitalism out of existence, Ercoli in this early speech masterfully exposed Social Democracy, demonstrating the real unity of its theory and practice.
His report will be studied in detail both for the many positive lessons it contains, as well as because its short-comings create pointers for today.
Most instructive is Togliatti's documentation of Social Democracy's specific record in, and policy toward, colonies. A summary of his documentation is essential context for all the discussion which follows:
IN SYRIA, whose "complete independence" the Second International had once demanded, the French Socialist Party voted for the war appropriations for imperialist expeditions, during which French generals massacred the populations of Damascus and other towns.
IN INDONESIA, the Dutch Socialists warned "their" government that a revolt was coming; and once it came, not only did they "not defend in parliament this bloody revolt", they severely condemned the spirit of the revolt "whether it originated in Moscow or Canton". When mass death sentences brutally suppressed the revolt, Dutch Socialists boasted of disapproving only death sentences "merely for propaganda". That is, they approved death for workers and peasants who "gave cause", i.e., who revolted.
— 33 —
IN AFRICA, the record of British Social Democracy is too long to be covered in less than a book. The specific story of the Clement Atlee Labour Government from 1945 to 1951 has, however, been given in detail by Jack Woddis:1
IN SUDAN, the Labour Government sent warships to terrorize the population, instructing British authorities to "do everything necessary to maintain order".
IN KENYA, the Atlee Government record by itself is enough to damn Social Democracy once and for all. At Mombasa in 1947, the African Workers' Federation and the Railway Staff Union called a general strike for higher wages and lower house rents. They were joined by hotel, shop and domestic workers. And what happened?
"The Colonial Office under the Labour Government acted with the same ruthlessness as under any Tory Government. Police and troops were called in, the strike was suppressed, and the President of the African Workers' Federation, Chege Kibachia, was banished without trial to a remote village in Northern Kenya."1
At Uplands Bacon Factory in September 1947, when another strike broke out the police were again called in. They fired on the workers; 3 dead, 22 arrested, including 20 sentenced to two years at hard labour.
In September 1948, Makhan Singh, Secretary of the Labour Trade Union of East Africa, organised a Cost of Living Conference. Delegations came from more than 16 trade unions and associations, representing more then 10,000 African and Asian workers. The Labour "leaders" of Britain arrested Singh and deported him.
During 1949 and 1950, new legislation was introduced into Kenya, of which the following six were typical:
1) A Wage-Freezing Bill, "The Compulsory Trade Testing and Wage Fixing Scheme";
2) A Trade Union Registration Ordinance;
3) A "Slave Labour" Bill, introducing forced labour at starvation wages;
4) A Deportation Ordinance, giving Government increased power to deport;
5) A law banning strikes in "essential services": all the Governor¬
— 34 —
had to do to make any strike illegal was to add its industry to "essential services";
6) The already-existing Emergency Powers Ordinance was amended to increase the Governor's powers.
The result, Woddis declared, was a series of attacks on Kenya's trade unions, including the arrest of leaders of the East African Workers' Federation, of the East African T.U.C., and an eventual ban on the latter on pretext that "it was not registered".
IN NIGERIA, official Social Democratic policy resulted in the shooting of coal miners at Enugu in 1949. 7,500 miners had struck for higher pay, allegedly a common Social Democratic demand. Outcome? 231 dead, 50 wounded. In the ensuing mass counter-demonstrations, further repressions and wholesale arrests took place.
IN TANGANYIKA, strikes occurred in 1948 at Port Tanga, and in 1950 at Dar-es-Salaam, the latter involving the Dock Workers' Union. The Labour Government promptly outlawed the union, confiscating all its funds and property, and arrested and imprisoned its leaders, During the same period, the leadership of African Cooks' and Washermans' Union of Tanganyika was removed as "unsatisfactory".
IN GHANA, a demonstration of unemployed ex-servicemen ended when police fired on it, killing three, In 1949 and 1950, a general strike as last push to independence saw mass arrests, including Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and others later part of Ghana's first African Government.
The colonial record of Harold Wilson's Labour Government since 1964 is written in the names of countries it betrayed: Congo Kinshasa, Aden, Malaysia, British Guiana, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, Bechuanaland – and on and on.
Furthermore, these examples form a pattern by which Social Democracy in power fully reveals its real colonial policy: as in Wilson's present Government, it does all in its power to make a mockery of such political independence as colonial countries had achieved despite all interference.
Brutality, both economic and military, is the major weapon of Social Democracy's colonialism,¬
— 35 —
exactly the same – if not worse than – ANY imperialist government. Togliatti himself called attention to this saying that all super-exploitation of colonial peoples is done by
"methods of unheard-of brutality...the result of which is the undermining and at times the complete destruction of tribes and even whole races, which frequently takes place where the plantation regime is introduced...the destruction of great masses of human begins."
Actually, brutal measures by Social Democracy against colonial peoples are quite logical considering what they accomplish for the metropolitan labor aristocracies whom Social Democracy represents. Precisely because the Labour Government had destroyed all attempts by colonial workers to improve their living standards, it could be recorded that
"The economic position in Britain improved in 1952 because there was a world-wide fall in the price of food and raw materials which benefited the British economy."2
What the author neglected to add was that colonial economies depend heavily for their incomes precisely on "the price of food and raw materials", and the benefit to the British economy resulted because colonial economies had been rendered more lopsided than before.*
SUCH brutality never seems to upset the Western Left nearly as much as the selfsame instrument turned against "its own" workers in the streets "at home", when for some reason or other the colonial cushion has either been removed by military defeat or not attained because of later arrival by the specific ruling class on the capitalist world scene.
Yet, surely it must be clear by now that Social Democracy will use brutality as one effective modus operandi whenever necessary to ensure continued super-profits. Even though new forms of colonialism have had to be devised to meet the advance of the Liberation movement throughout the subjugated areas of the world, the casualties go on; brutality escalates.
* See Appendix II for examples of how this "price game" works.
[— 36 —]
T H E T H E O R E T I C A L P R E T E N S I O N S
O F S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y
An important corollary of the Social Democratic record is that its "theory" and its practice have always been one, a fact Togliatti reported. Dissecting its allegedly "theoretical" pronouncements invariably reveals policy indistinguishable from imperialism's.
Nevertheless, Social Democracy still encourages the widely-held belief that some sort of separate "theory" exists on which the Second International bases its various less objectionable activities (the others are not mentioned in polite society – i.e., in the ranks of Social Democratic spokesmen).
"which consisted in allying itself with or directly participating in the colonial enterprises of the bourgeoisie".1
The colonial attitude before World War I of those who were to become the post-1914 Social Democrats found expression in a number of Socialist Congresses: at Paris in 1900; at Amsterdam, 1904; and at Stuttgart, 1907.
Summed up, the pre-World War I colonial position of these gatherings consisted of following main planks:
1) Verbal condemnation of colonisation and its "existing methods".
2) Recognition of the possibility of improving the system of imperialist domination in colonies by certain "reform for the natives", to be supported by "good socialists".
3) Substituting the "right of self-administration for the more basic right of self-determination.
— 37 —
At the Stuttgart Congress, for example, Karl Kautsky, most "left" of such Socialists, hemmed and hawed on colonial liberation: the possibility was "doubtful", it was by no means "simple", and even if it could be agreed that it should take place, the question as to how would have to be discussed "later". Kautsky said:
"The idea of emancipation of the colonies is a sort of border idea which shows us the course to be followed, but it is not a practical proposition for the immediate application of which we must work."1
He suggested that the colonies wait for the "socialist revolution" "automatically" to liberate them. Meantime, he concluded,
"the right of the natives (sic!) to self-administration must be extended as rapidly as possible."1
In a word, imperialism's own position on "colonial freedom"!
Following World War I, with the emergency of modern Social Democracy, the earlier colonial policy outlined above was strengthened and more plainly articulated. If at one time, Social Democrats had hesitated to show their true colours about colonialism,
but[by] 1928 that reluctance was gone. For, Togliatti noted, at the Brussels Congress of the Second International in that year, Social Democracy displayed "its attitude on colonial questions without any embarrassment whatsoever". Quite naturally! They had become "teachers" to "their own" bourgeoisies on how to prevent colonial revolution. They began by jettisoning Karl Marx. They continued by openly proclaiming the policy of class collaboration.
In fact, following World War I, Togliatti said,
"the Social Democrats have become colonial politicians. They recognise the possession of colonies as something which their countries could never renounce and that, when their country has no colony it is up to them to demand a colony for it in a more or less open manner. In this field, there is not a single Social Democratic Party which is an exception."1
— 38 —
And Togliatti's survey of various countries confirmed his diagnosis:
IN FRANCE, the Socialist Party always voted all credits for colonial enterprises. In December 1927, at a French socialist Party Congress, it was stated that without colonies, "the post-war problem cannot be solved". In 1928, a resolution drawn up by a French Socialist named Zyromski averred that
"nothing would more contradict socialism than the acceptance of certain narrow, petty and egoistic individualism. Socialism...cannot tolerate self-sufficient nationalism, and the intervention of higher economic countries constitutes the corollary of its principles."1
IN HOLLAND, the Socialist Party didn't even discuss the need for colonies; it was interested only in the method by which colonies should be ruled. Naturally, for it, "the interests of international humanity set up limits to the right of free determination", such that on the practical level "separation of Indonesia from the Netherlands" was not its slogan.
Here, the labour aristocracy equates itself to "international humanity", whose interests then "naturally" supersede such mundane petulances as "the right of free determination" for those who misery serves such lofty "international humanity"!
IN GERMANY, Social Democrats, for instance at the Berne Conference in 1919, openly protested the fact that Germany had been deprived of colonies. At the Marseilles Congress, through R. Hilferding, it demanded colonies for Germany. This demand was still being repeated in 1928. In 1966, it is being quietly exercised by expanding West German penetration of Africa, Asia and Latin America.*
IN ITALY, in 1928, the Social Democrats passed a resolution protesting against the distribution of colonies in the Treaty of Versailles. A fresh settlement of the colonial problem was demanded, taking into account Italian capitalism!
IN BRITAIN, the Labour Government of Ramsay MacDonald¬
— 39 —
(1929-1931) rejected all demands to it by the Zaghloul Government of EGYPT, which were : for England to withdraw her troops, economic and political "advisers"; and for freedom of the Suez Canal.
The British labour aristocracy's program, drawn up in 1918, said that
"the Labour Party is against the egoistic conception of 'non-intervention' in the affairs of the various countries of the British Empire."1
Any why? Because the Labour Party considered it its duty
"To defend the rights of British citizens who have overseas interests."1
"as for this community of races and peoples of different colours, religions and different stages of civilization which is called the British Empire, the Labour Party is in favour of its maintenance."1
That Labour Party was not fooling when it declared that the right of self-determination was not applicable to any of the British colonies, and subsequent Labour Governments drove home the assertion at the point of a bayonet.
Even THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS, that great World War I "achievement" in "world cooperation", declared that "the civilised countries" have the right to "determine the fate" of "the others".
All these activities Togliatti traced to what he called their "theoretical sources". Those, he said, had roots in Social Democracy's "idea" that, since capitalism was "historically inevitable", therefore, it must be assisted in every way to spread over the globe.
But, said Togliatti, this was a vulgarisation of Marx's position on the historically progressive nature of bourgeois revolutions, and of his postulate that the form of production and organisation of capitalist society are the "objective pre-conditions for the formation of Communist society".
— 40 —
It was a vulgarisation because, to stop at this meant omitting Marx's concomitant and inseparable position that the development of society and its forces of production do not proceed peacefully, but dialectically and in a revolutionary way. What Social Democracy was leaving out, he said, was precisely Marx's central thesis of class struggle as the motive force of history.
The baby having thus been tossed out, the bath water followed when dutch Social Democrats "pioneered" a "theory" about how economic exploitation of colonies was not tied to their political domination from afar. According to them,
"a clear distinction between the economic and political aspects which exists in the life of a colonial society offers the possibility of participation in the struggle of emancipation of the navies (sic!) from an international point of view."1
Social Democracy showed the way for modern neo-colonialism!
At Bruseels in 1928, Social Democracy as a whole followed through on the Dutch start with a resolution saying that socialists were against "political domination" over colonies in principle, but they "left open" the question of "economic domination" (which, Ercoli commented "is stronger, more perceptible, and burdensome, and on the basis of which political domination develops").
From there it was but a step to claiming that
"colonial policy...has opened up access to the natural resources of the backward countries, has developed production and modern means of transportation in these countries and has thus very greatly increased the basis of raw materials for world economy and promoted the development of the international division of labour."1
Precisely! Togiatti commented on this frank exposition that
"every system of colonisation...is determined in its form and in its development by the internal requirements of the colonising country, and that those requirements are in strict and irreconcilable contradiction to the economic development of the colonised country."1
— 41 —
That was why, he explained, capitalism relentlessly drained away colonial resources, exhausting supplies with no regard for the effect on population. He added that
"Countries which were formerly renowned for their fertility, such as India and even China, were condemned to periodically recurring crop failures...Everywhere the creation of a class of landless and wretched peasant is taking place as well as the progressive pauperisation of the great mass of the workers."1
Worse than merely not developing the forces of production in its colonies, industrial capitalism distorted these economies, preventing any real economic progress; in fact, literally for centuries draining away the material basis for it. Even where certain industries did develop in colonial territories they never in any way eased the super-exploitative nature of the colonial economy.
Ercoli stressed that
"the aim of capitalism in general is not to develop the forces of production, but to pocket the greatest possible profit for each capitalist and for each individual capitalist country."1
Figures from Indo-China in 1928 supported the speaker's contention that "no capitalist enterprise...offers such great profits as a colonial enterprise".
Today's statistics show his contention truer than ever. For instance, a leading apologist and self-offered mentor for a more "sensible" U.S. imperialism has noted, in the United States,
"foreign investments account for...with armaments, 50% of the profits of industrial corporations...In 1960, the 20 industrial corporations with the largest profits obtained 33.7% of the profit of all industrial corporations...the 20 largest military contractors obtained 49% of all prime contracts. In 1957, the 20 industrial corporations receiving the most profits from foreign investments obtained 69.3% of the profit of all industrial corporations from this source...If the rising trends in military and foreign investment profits continue, in the near future military and foreign business combined will definitely provide over 50% of the total¬
— 42 —
profits of the industrial giants. In fact, that point may have been passed already in 1962."2
Such facts make much clearer today than in 1928 the inseparable connection between colonialism (or neo-colonialism) and WAR as the twin basis of the dying imperialist world system. To retain its slipping hold on life, imperialism cannot do without "its colonies in fact". To ensure those "colonies in fact", it is being drawn into ever-spreading wars, which, in turn, prime its clogging economic pump and reinforce the struggle for world division and redivision.
More than ever, its "overseas" activities alone hold dying imperialism to life. Colonies are clearly an inseparable part of the imperialist system as a whole as long as it lasts. This point underlies a small book with a huge sock by a French economist:
"The fact that imperialism entails an essential internal contradiction between exploiting countries and those that suffer exploitation does not destroy its unity; on the contrary, its unity is created by this contradiction without which it would not be imperialism...both groups are essential parts of the imperialist system – that is what makes imperialism what it is."3*
Inescapable is the corollary that the destruction of the colonial portion of imperialism's economy will be the destruction of imperialism itself. In this way, Liberation is pin-pointed as the main pivot in the current phase of world revolution. Commented Togliatti in prophetic words:
"This, then, is the real danger for Social Democracy, the approaching colonial revolution."1
Small wonder, then, that colonies should be that specific portion of the capitalist system which Social Democracy protects!
[— 43 —]
M A R X I S T P R E D I C T I O N S A B O U T
S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y I N T H E 1 9 3 0 s
Communist failure to tie Social Democracy's colonial record even to its general function as upholder of capitalism had at least one fairly immediate result: predictions by Marxists in the '30s about Social Democracy's future fell flatter than a bride's cake.
What, specifically, were those predictions? How and why did they fail?
The grand-daddy of them all was one by Georgi Dimitroff, remarkable defendant in the infamous Reichstag Fire Trial of Hitler Germany's early days. Defeating intended legal murder by transforming his accusers into accused, Dimitroff survived his trial to become first president of the Bulgarian Socialist Republic.
Between July 25 and August 20, 1935, in speeches to the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern1, he had summarised his own experience of Fascism, postulating how the working class and its vanguard should overthrow it where it existed and prevent its success elsewhere.
His ground-breaking analysis illumined the decay of bourgeois democracy during the twilight of imperialism.
While scrutinising Fascism, Dimitroff found it necessary to discuss Social Democracy:
"Comrades, in view of the tactical problems confronting us, it is very important to give a correct reply to the question of whether Social Democracy at the present time is still the principal bulwark of the bourgeoisie, and if so, where."2
To his own question, he replied:
"it must be borne in mind that in a number of countries the position of Social Democracy in the bourgeois state, and its attitude toward the bourgeoisie, have been undergoing a change.
— 44 —
"In the first place, the crisis has thoroughly shaken the position of even the most secure section of the working class, the so-called labor aristocracy, upon which, as we known, Social Democracy relies for support. This section, too, is beginning more and more to revise its views as to the expediency of the policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie.
"Second ... the bourgeoisie in a number of countries is itself compelled to abandon bourgeois democracy and resort to the terroristic form of its dictatorship, depriving Social Democracy not only of its previous position in the political system of finance capital but also, under certain conditions, of its legal status, persecuting and even suppressing it.
"Third, under the influence of the lessons learned from defeat of the workers in Germany, Austria and Spain, a defeat which was largely the result of the Social Democratic policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and, on the other hand, under the influence of the victory of Socialism in the Soviet Union as a result of the Bolshevik policy and the application of living, revolutionary Marxism, the Social Democratic workers are being revolutionised, and are beginning to turn to the class struggle against the bourgeoisie.
"The joint effect of all this has been to make it increasingly difficult, and in some countries actually impossible, for Social Democracy to preserve its former role of supporting the bourgeoisie."2
In a major Left work of the 1930s, Palme Dutt had undertaken to bolster Dimitroff's vivisection with Fascism's and Social Democracy's actual records. Studying conditions at various historical periods of the working classes in advanced countries, he had noted that
"Liberalism enjoyed one last blooming in the earlier or pre-war period of imperialism ... The super-profits of imperialism provided the means in the imperialist countries to endeavour to buy off the revolt of the advancing workers with a show of meager concessions to a minority."3
— 45 —
After World War I – at least in the victorious countries – expansion continued of these "meager concessions to a minority". But, after the Wall Street crash of 1929 signaling the onset of the general crisis of capitalism, Dutt recorded a new development:
"With the rising colonial revolts, the basis of imperialism began to weaken. The stream of super-profits diminished... (leading to) the cutting down and withdrawal of concessions already granted."3
Here, surely, was the harbinger of imperialism's actual demise, the world Left inferred, and a corresponding euphoria enveloped it. Nor was it surprising. The objective situation certainly appeared to support to the hilt their optimism: A united front pact between the French Socialist and Communist Parties had been signed on July 27, 1934, leading rapidly to the fall of the pro-Fascist Doumergue-Tardieu Cabinet. In Austria, the illegal Communist Party had become a mass organisation, absorbing Left Social Democratic and certain other elements, to found a United Socialist Party. In Italy, in the Saar and in Spain, similar developments were taking place.
On the other hand, Dutt was forced to report, significantly, that
"the British Labour Party and a number of other Social Democratic parties ... actively opposed the united front and even developed extended disciplinary measures to prevent its realisation."3
In October 1934, a meeting between representatives of the Communist and Social Internationals was held; it was felt to augur great things. But in November,
"the Executive of the Second International at Paris, after a four-days' debate, by a narrow margin rejected the proposal of the united front and broke off negotiations. Nevertheless, the strength of the united front was such that the ban on the Second International on the united front for its separate sections had to be lifted; and a minority declaration of seven parties was issued in support of the united front."3
— 46 —
In a preface to the third edition of his book in August 1935, Dutt added that
"Since the book originally appeared, many new developments have taken place, among the most import of which are the new processes taking place in the Social Democratic parties, offering hopes of a healing of the split in the working class and of the passing over of the majority of the workers to the revolutionary cause."
[— 47 —]
W H Y T H E P R E D I C T I O N S F A I L E D
If the correctness of any analysis is measured by the accuracy of the predictions to which it gives rise, then it must be noted that neither the Communist-forecast "decisive struggles" no
t[r] its "united front of the working class" materialised after all.
What is more, the preceding false predictions of what they would accomplish lulled Marxist vigilance, weakened self-reliance in the movements of the oppressed peoples, and supported a misinterpretation, continuing to this day, of the real role of the world revolutionary scene of the Western working classes.
What material factors had Dimitroff and Dutt omitted from their analyses to cause such an outcome?
When establishing his criteria for judging Fascism, Dutt had simply ignored imperialist parasitism, although he had noted:
"The 'democratic freedom' of Western imperialism has been built on the foundation of colonial slavery."1
As general conditions favouring the growth of Fascism, Dutt has listed:
"1) intensification of the economic crisis and of the class struggle;
"2) widespread disillusionment with parliamentarism;
"3) the existence of a wide petit-bourgeoisie, intermediate strata, slum proletariat, and sections of the workers under capitalist influence;
"4) the absence of an independent class-conscious leadership of the main body of the working class."2*
Dutt documented these "general conditions", and concluded that Fascism was the¬
* It is interesting that nearly all these conditions exist in England as these words are being written, May-June, 1968.
— 48 —
"characteristic instrument of finance-capital which can be brought into play in the most highly-developed industrialised countries when the stage of crisis and of the class struggle requires it."
Just when was that?
Dutt had an answer:
"Its success or failure, as in every country, depends on the degree of the preparedness and militant resistance of the proletariat."
As this contention, history has thumbed its nose. For instance, what better indication of the "degree of preparedness and militant resistance of the proletariat" can there be than its closeness to revolution? Don't facts suggest that revolution in that epoch was almost at hand in Italy and Spain, and that it certainly was closer in Germany, vanquished, than in Britain, the U.S. or even France. If Dutt were correct, why did Fascism not attain power where the proletariat was least "ready?" Obviously, the upheavals of the day did not have the content the Marxists attributed to them. Or else those Marxists were overlooking something big.
Within a remarkably short period after Dutt's analysis, it became clear that Western workers were blithely ignoring Left advise to "place no faith in the 'democratic institutions' of such countries". Forgetting the great struggles of the '30s, the Western proletariat year after year abandoned itself to the blandishments of exactly those "institutions": for example, elections from 1940 through 1964 in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere in the West showed anything but "widespread disillusionment with parliamentarism".* Understandably, for parliamentarism was again rewarding its faithful.
To be fair, Dutt did try to protect his own rear when he said:
"All this is not to argue that Fascism must necessarily develop and conquer in Western countries."
*See Table 11, Page 138, which shows a constant increase in both absolute numbers and percentage of eligibles voting in the U.S.
— 49 —
As things turned out, here at least he came close to prophecy. Fascism actually did conquer some Western countries but not others, despite Dutt's and other Marxists' belief that it was an imminent danger even in the West's "great democracies". Despite the ferment of the post-Crash decade and he onset of capitalism's general crisis, the Western "democracies" did not, after as predicted, institute Fascism "at home".
What ecided which countries Fascism conquered?
Marxists had proven that imperialist war was fought for division or division of colonial spoils. In 1918, the defeated – Germany, Austria, etc. – had been deprived of their colonies. More: those colonies had been redistributed. At the stroke of a pen in Versailles, the vanquished had thus been cut off completely from their former "stream of super-profits", while the "Allies" (who were, of course, the "great democracies") were cut in on a new, additional source. Military victory against Germany had thus ensured imperialism's top dogs of a new lease on life.
Equally, military defeat had forced German imperialism and its associates either to find new outlets for their export capital or to turn inward against "their own" working classes. Hitler's cry for "lebensraum" accurately recorded that, for imperialism, "room" in which to "live" was synonymous with "room" into which even – more – monopolised capital could expand – and that for German capital expansion was indistinguishable from life itself. Somebody was going to have to supply the economically-choking vanquished with necessary "air". During the great depression, with the First World War too recent to be revived as the usual solution, only one obvious and available outlet existed: "one's own" working class.
Countries like Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and their like offer examples of what happens when, having reached the stage where capital export has become essential, a capitalist country has no foreign outlet for it. Germany, Austria and Spain demonstrate a corollary: what happens when a developing capitalist economy is deprived of such an outlet. In both cases, the ruling classed did, in fact, turn inward as their "solution".
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Yet, oddly enough, while these examples were actually arising. Lenin's warning was scarcely dead on the historical air:
"unless the economic roots of this phenomenon (that is, overseas financial activities as the specific source of imperialist parasitism - H.W.E.) are understood and its political and social significance is appreciated, not a step toward the solution of the practical problems of the Communist movement and of the impending social revolution can be taken."3
This prophecy has been fulfilled. Uttered in 1921, it had already indicated that "success or failure" for imperialism depended on the growth of parasitism, expressed as ever-widening polls of man-power and resources to be super-exploited by metropolitan monopolies.
If, then, Fascism was a specific stage of imperialism, where else could its "success or failure" lie?
History supports the observation that Fascism has in fact been exercised by imperialism against Western peoples only if they are about to be forced into the role of a "source of super-profit", either to replace a lost, or to substitute for a never-achieved, colonial empire. As long as real colonies, territorial or economic, exist, imperialism is "safe". For these reasons, any conclusion in 1935 about "imminent Fascism" which did not document this crucial factor was bound to come to grief. International imperialism in the "democracies" still has room to maneuver, to "solve" its difficulties at the expense of peoples in colonial or neo-colonial areas.* The system's central pillar remains hat vast colonial labor reservoir, available for super-exploitation.
Fascism's "success or failure" inside Western "democracies" could simply not be accurately forecast in the way the Marxists of the '30s tried to do it.
Obviously from the foregoing reasoning, too, Fascism's absence in "democracies" cannot be attributed to "greater benevolence" or¬
* Today, direct super-exploitation has ceased to be necessarily the main form of imperialist parasitism (see Appendix III). But the principles enunciated in these pages remain the same.
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"understanding" or, despite their inner conflicts on other issues, to any "differences in interest" among ruling classes or between one section of a given bourgeoisie and another when it comes to preserving their system.
Although Marxist analyses of Fascism had dealt with social Democracy, they did not, in the writer's opinion, fully analyse the connection between the two. They merely chronicled it, showing that wherever Fascism triumphed, Social Democracy paved the way for it. As "explanation", they contented themselves with repeating Lenin's 1916 formula that Social Democracy was "the principal bulwark of the bourgeoisie"; without applying his criteria to the conditions of their own day, they could offer no satisfactory explanation for the failure of their predictions and simply dropped the whole subject.
From a historical vantage point three decades later, it now appears that those Marxists could have seen that – if the Western labor aristocracy under the impact of the great depression was indeed "revising its views as to ... class collaboration" – the bourgeoisies in pivotal Western countries still had a couple of aces up their sleeves. Blinded by glittering generalities, Marxists got those aces slipped over on them. By leaving out of account the ruling class vector, Dimitroff simply drew wrong conclusions about Western labor's real direction in his day.
When he had said that "the position of social Democracy in the bourgeois state, and its attitude toward the bourgeoisie, have been undergoing a change", he had based himself on a firm material foundation: the crisis, he had said, has "thoroughly shaken the position of the ... labor aristocracy". Surely the general crisis of capitalism is a solid enough cornerstone for such a prediction? Unfortunately, Dimitroff had relied not just on the crisis, but on a crisis to which he envisaged only one solution: namely, revolution. It proved a serious and costly underestimation of imperialist parasitism.
Social Democracy did not undergo any major change, either in its "position in the bourgeois state" or in its "attitude toward the bourgeoisie". Nor could it. Moreover, Lenin had already predicted as much. "It may be argued", he had said,
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"that of the (leaders of Social Democracy), some will return to the revolutionary socialism of Marx. This is possible, but it is an insignificant difference in degree, if we take the question in its political, i.e., in its mass aspect. Certain individuals among the present social-chauvinist leaders may return to the proletariat: but the TREND can neither disappear nor 'return' to the revolutionary proletariat ...
"We have not the slightest grounds for thinking that these (Social Democratic) parties can disappear BEFORE the social revolution. On the contrary, the nearer the revolution approaches, the stronger it flares up ... the greater will be the role in the labour movement of the struggle between the revolutionary mass steam and the opportunist-philistine stream."4
Those who did not know of, or forgot, such words missed the destruction that, because of its ties with colonialism (implicit in its need for super-wages), social Democracy had to change tactics when a colonial empire seemed in danger. Its eye remained where Marxists should have kept theirs: on the state of imperialism's "stream of super-profits". Social Democracy admirably adapted its tactics to the varying levels of that stream: as long as that kept flowing in, super-wages were sure to follow.
So, although the labor aristocracy was, for the time being "thoroughly shaken by the crisis", it was far from "revising its views" about class collaboration itself. Actually, Dimitroff had said only that the labor aristocracy was
"revising its views about the expediency of the policy of class collaboration."
The operating word was "expediency". If imperialism is forced to withdraw its bribes, polite class collaboration becomes, indeed, no longer expedient : some new form is required. This was where Fascism came in. And it served its purpose.
In noting that the bourgeoisie could no longer afford democracy at home, and so had turned to "the terroristic form of its dictatorship". Dimitroff had been reporting fact. But this had little to do with what became of Social Democracy. For, both he and Dutt, the latter in irrefutable detail, had proved that¬
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this dictatorship generally did not deprive Social Democracy of its "position in the political system" or even of its legal status except in individual cases. Dutt had documentd instance after instance where Social Democracy took part in that "terroristic form" of imperialism's dictatorship.
In this, once it is admitted that its aim is to ensure the continued flow of super-wages to the labor aristocracy, Social Democracy were mere logical. That flow must come from whatever source is available.
In the light of current events, it can only be concluded that Dimitroff must have been motivated by an understandable wish when he suggested that Western workers had learned from the defeat of their class brothers in places like Germany. He was generalising too soon from working class actions of his day when he added that USSR success was revolutionizing Western Workers. If anything, his diagnosis was carried out in reverse.
Within a very short historical period thereafter, led by the shining example of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in victorious, soon-economically-rampant America, a veritable cascade of glittering bribes again began flowing into American working class pockets with effects soon to mock Dimitroff's theses. Restive workers in the U.S. were given on an increasingly grand scale a substantial stake in the status quo. The gift, accompanied by odes of virtually unchallenged praise for a system which makes such things possible, successfully, if temporarily, obscured the fact that even the bribed labor aristocracy is exploited. Marxists like Dimitroff had seen the exploitation, but had grievously underestimated how big a stake in the status quo could be raised, as well as the primacy, enormity and soporific effect "at home" of super-exploitation abroad. They had failed to foresee what a large sector of the Western proletariat were eventually to be brought over, to serve alien class aims, thereby to keep alive a system which the Marxist analysts of the 30s claimed was on its last legs.
Far from being unable, as Dimitroff had concluded, to maintain its allegedly former role of supporting the bourgeoisie, opportunism was soon rewarded for its police role during tight times by a new stream of super-wages at a level far higher than before.¬
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And, for its officials, lucrative Government posts opened up in ever-larger numbers.*
The halcyon days of the Western labor aristocracy had been but briefly interrupted. That that interruption was ended at the expense of renewed and deepened colonial slavery was, at the time – and even now – of little concern to comfortable Western workers.
But the price that was to be exacted from Marxism for its miscalculations in this area was to be high, indeed.
* In 1935, British TUC officials were represented on six Government committees; in 1949, on 60; in 1954, on 81; and in 1968, on more than 115.5
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S O CI A L D E M O C R A C Y A N D
T H E S C A N D I N A V I A N M Y T H
Lenin's analysis of imperialist parasitism, brought home to the working class in the main imperialist countries, might jolt some of them free from their cushioned lethargy. Certainly, it could supply meaningful context for vast numbers of the subjugated. So, Social Democracy has an incentive to prevent this news at any cost from leaking out. The illusion of "democracy" in the West must be kept alive, replenished from any available source, with special and frequent reference to the blessings which accrue from it to so many of its faithful followers.
From Social Democracy's viewpoint, no better instance of such blessing exists in the entire moldering imperialist world than Scandinavia. If America, Britain, France, Germany or Japan have unfortunate flaws, like brutality toward colonial subjects, they can be redeemed by the shining example in the north of Europe: these countries own no colonies; they boast large Social Democratic parties, sharing substantially in the parliamentary game. They appear to form a precious exception, invokable to "prove" the lack of need for revolution by workers anywhere.
Thirty years after Marxist predictions of revolutionization of Western workers, the existence of Scandinavia and the Social Democratic myths about it allow a self-avowed Asian spokesman of European Social Democracy still to speak about the wonders of "democracy" in the West.
Dr. Wong Lin Ken, a representative of "Malaysian Socialism", did in fact
eugolise[eulogise] European Social Democracy as successor to Marx. In particular, he said:
"Another false prophecy of Marx is that the proletariat will increase its misery. Instead, the standard of living of the working class in Western European¬
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countries and the United States has improved since the days when Marx wrote . . ."1
(Note the implied equation between Marx's "proletariat" and "the working class in Western European countries and the United States", an equation to which the text will return later.)
The author continues:
"Furthermore, the improvements of the standards of living of a working class have owned nothing to the exploitation of colonies. Thus, the workers in Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, which own no colonies, have always enjoyed higher standards of living than those in France and Britain, the two great colonial powers in Europe. Nor have the living standards of workers in France, Britain and the United States declined after they had liquidated their colonies."2
First, in passing, for an Asian to hold up as worthy of imitation on has own continent the Western working class and its standards while in the same breath denying that such standards "owed" anything to "to the exploitation of colonies" constitutes, in the face of colonial conditions, a fear of daring unequaled outside the exploits of modern spacemen.
Second, also in passing, Dr. Wong's bland inclusion of the United States as having "liquidated its colonies" may prove amusing to students of the colonial scene. It would probably be less so to Madison Avenue, which laboriously fashions Uncle Sam's "non-colonialist" image.
The main point here, however, is Dr. Wong's ecstatics about the Scandinavian countries. He claims that:
"The high standards of living of workers in these advanced industrial countries are largely the result of the work of the social democratic parties, working in conjunction with the trade union movements."3
What is suggested is a well-known myth two-fold in nature: that high living standards are a Social Democratic "achievement", peacefully attained by collaborating with "understanding" or "intelligent" monopolists; second, the fable entitled "Scandinavian socialism".
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But do not facts attest the truth of the idyll? Considering Sweden as not only typical, but the best of the cited lot, does it not boast the highest wage level in Europe and a national income about five times higher than that of, say, Portugal? Don't Swedish workers enjoy the largest fringe benefits of any in Europe? Certainly, there is no blinking the Swedish municipal elections of September, 1962, when Social Democrats for the first time actually called a majority of votes cast: 50.6%, against 47.8% in the 1960 contests4 (a majority they have since lost, however: Sweden's Social Democratic Party lost 109 seats, or 8.2%, at municipal elections in September 1966, because of "the Government's tough economic policy"5).
Isn't all this precisely what Dr. Wong was talking about?
The acid test of real socialism is expropriation from former owners of the social means of production, leading to a new type of State designed politically to eliminate the ex-ruling class. This is NOT the same as "nationalisation", although the existence of a sizeable "state sector" in any economy is often cited as alleged proof of "socialism".
By this test, Scandinavia cannot qualify as socialist. Even the false test, of a large state sector, does nothing for Sweden's claim to socialism: more than 90% of the national economy of Sweden is in private hands. The government shares in producing water power and in running the railways! Of 50 major industrial enterprises in Sweden in 1960, only nine (18%) were state-owned.4
Another "argument" frequently invoked to prove Sweden socialist is the alleged existence of a large cooperative sector of its economy. But in fact, cooperatives play a relatively minor role there. In 1959, Swedish cooperatives operated 7,439 stores and boasted 1,117,222 members.6 Total population that year, by government estimate was 7,434,000: cooperative members comprised slightly more than 15%. Now, during the same year, in "free enterprise" U.S., some 31,941,000 people belong to cooperatives, out of 177 million population.* So, in the champion¬
* Chapter XVIII, Page 150, below.
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of champions of capitalism, more than 18% of the inhabitants were in cooperatives. By this criterion, the U.S. would be "more socialist" than Sweden.
The truth is that, if Sweden is anything, it is a showcase of world free enterprise.
Well, then, counter social Democrats, at least Scandinavia illustrates "enlightened capitalism". That is why Social Democracy has obtained so much for "its" workers from Sweden's ruling class. How about this?
First, a seldom-mentioned fact: that, over the epoch of imperialism, Sweden's ruling class were virtually uninvolved in Europe's major wars. Investment capital, therefore, had the advantage (to be enjoyed after World War II, in turn, by defeated Japanese capitalism) of being used in Sweden, at least for some time after the war, primarily to expand the national industry.
Second, Sweden's economy is one where monopolies hold all the key positions, a sure test offered by Lenin as to whether or not a capitalist economy had advanced to its "highest" stage. What is more, Sweden's gigant[ic] monopolies are closely allied with foreign capital, mostly British, American and West German. The same tendency to obliterate boundaries exhibited by Western imperialism as a whole operates in Sweden, which is, thereby, an integral part of Western European imperialism.
Third, Swedish economy is heavily dependent on external markets: 20% of her gross national product (GNP) depends on foreign trade.4 Her best customer is Western Europe, which absorbs 70% of that trade, or 14% of GNP.4 Sixty per cent of her entire industrial output is exported, including 90% of her iron ore, almost all her engineering goods, and 80% of her cellulose, a product in which only Canada exceeds her.4 Within this export trade, certain high quality Swedish machine goods enjoy a monopoly of external markets,4 a condition invariably resulting in super-prices, one channel of super-profits especially employed by monopolies.
The usual export of capital began after World War I.4 A good portion of it goes to South Africa.
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Military expenditures are usually the indispensable accompaniment of metropolitan capitalism's advancing parasitic foreign activities. Sweden's truculent bid within the recent past to be included in the European "nuclear club" showed that munitions manufacturable only in countries with affluent bourgeoisies are definitely now within this country's capabilities. Her army consists of 600,000 regulars and a home guard of 100,000 – a ratio near 10% of population.6 The air force is fourth largest in the world, following only the U.S., Britain and the USSR.6 Along 700 miles of coastline, artillery is dug in to atom-bomb-proof rock shelters, while similar airplane hangars and civilian shelters for 2,000,000 have been built.7
In his laudings of Scandinavian Social Democracy, Dr. Wong Lin Ken conveniently omitted reference to foreign investment or any equivalent, spot-lighting territorial possession as the main, if not sole, content of colonialism.
Dr. Wong simply "overlooked" Lenin's proof that territorial possession is not the sole criterion of colonialism. Financial acquisition, he said, is also a form of it, one moreover now rapidly becoming dominant in the West. Lenin said:
"Finance capital is such a great, it may be said, such a decisive force in all economic and in all international relations, that it is capable of subjecting, and actually does subject to itself even states enjoying the fullest political independence."8
Today's England, and most of Western Europe, bear Lenin witness!
So, assuming Sweden mirrors the real Scandinavia, it has a ruling class which was spared the economic drain of the World Wars; a monopoly capital not only NOT pressed for outlets for its surplus capital but, on the contrary, actually enjoying a double source of super-profits: from the usual capital export and from monopoly of the lucrative Western European market for major Swedish machine products. (Of course, these are added to the advanced technological level of Swedish industry in our day, which plays a large derivative role in its present affluence.)
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If this picture is accurate, one would, by our definition of Social Democracy,* expect a large labour aristocracy of relatively great affluence. And, because Sweden owns no outright colonies (so that not only are the subjugated for away; even the colonies themselves are "invisible"), one would also look for a mass Social Democratic party.
Workers form the vast majority of Sweden's population. Industry absorbs 41% of total labor force; agriculture, 20%, proving the advanced nature of its industrialization.4 As noted, these workers enjoy the highest wages in Europe (and, at one-third of wages, also Europe's highest taxes). Of the labour force, 300,000 are on relief, 4.4% of population.4** Forty-five per cent (45%) of Swedish workers are unionised.9
Thus, Sweden has produced a labour aristocracy embracing a majority of population, and forming a leading component of the Western European labour aristocracy. The goodly "size of their earnings" and their affluent "mode of life" express themselves in "an entire outlook" favourable to Social Democracy.
The suc[c]ess of Sweden's mass Social Democratic party is the result, not the cause of Swedish labour's well-being, despite the absence of territorial colonies, but based in large part on foreign economic activities. The Sweden which "owns not a single colony" nevertheless lucratively super-exploits colonial subjects in South Africa and elsewhere, including Western Europe's machinery market.
Far from an exception in capitalism, Sweden turns out as a rather tidy text-book example, complete with "poverty minority", juvenile delinquency, large suicide rate, a "crisis in morals", all advancing merrily to the usual "hearts and Flowers" trilling about "pure democracy".
Testimony to this effect is now coming out of Scandinavia itself. A number of groups have sprung up in the countries of that area, all nominally repudiating the "revisionist" world outlook. They do not all agree with one another. In Sweden, one¬
* See Chapter II.
** Capitalism in any form must have its "labour reservoir". Sweden is no exception.
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such group issues an organ called THE SPARK. In Denmark, another group – thinking along the lines set forth in these pages – was attacked y THE SPARK for its position on the conditions of Scandinavian workers. Under the heading, "Does Denmark (and Sweden) Take Part in This Plunder?" the Danish group replied as follows:
"THE SPARK is extremely indignant that we allow ourselves to be of opinion that there is a connection between the economic situation of Danish working class and the share of Danish capitalism in the super-profits from the colonial and neo-colonial plunder – and especially THE SPARK is very angry that sensible Swedes exist, who are saying the same thing about Sweden.
"THE SPARK flatly rejects this horrible accusation against Swedish monopoly capital. Swedish capitalism, in the opinion of THE SPARK, has made itself guilty only of exploiting the Swedish workers so heavily that more and more of them are the happy owners of motor cars or summer houses, cameras, deep-freezers, television sets and electric toy trains. No one is allowed to say about Swedish monopolist capital that it has exploited the colonial and semi-colonial peoples.
"As 'proof' THE SPARK presents a number of statistical surveys of how many productive enterprises Swedish monopoly capital is owning in other countries, and where these enterprises are situated. Triumphantly, the result is reached that only about 20 per cent of that kind of enterprises are situated in the oppressed countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is further noted that by far the majority of these enterprises have been built up after World War II, and that the money for the investments has been exported from Sweden with the sanction of the National Bank.
"And where, then, has the money come from? Well, when it has been exported via the National Bank from Sweden, it is clear that it has been stolen out of the pockets of the workers of Sweden.
"Seldom have you heard nonsense the like of this! According to THE SPARK, some way or another Swedish monopoly capital has suddenly emerged from nothing. As far as can be seen from the explanation of THE SPARK it has no connection with the past. It is there – just like that.
"How did capitalism arise in Sweden? How did industrialization take place in Sweden? We do not intend to go¬
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into details, but we should not be much mistaken if Swedish capitalism, just as was the case in Denmark, to a very high degree was based on loans from the big capitalist powers – England, Germany. And where did these big capitalist countries get the money to finance these loans? We know that from Marx, from Engels, from Lenin. From the colonies!
"We know that the development of Danish capitalist industry is very closely connected with the long-standing Danish monopoly concerning fine agricultural products (based on import of cheap raw materials from Asia and Latin America) to the English market, where profits from the colonies had created a public with money to buy them.
"What about Swedish export of iron ore to the rapidly growing German industry at the time around 1900? Is there any connection between the strong demand of German industry for Swedish ore and the exploitation taking place in the German colonies in Africa, which – among other things – meant the total disappearance of whole Africa tribes? (Does not West German capitalism deal in neo-colonial exploitation today, and does it not still buy Swedish iron ore?)
"We think THE SPARK should examine these problems – instead of operating with a Swedish monopoly capital anno [circa? —Transcriber] 1968 as if it had no previous history, and as if it was all alone in the capitalist world.
"Since, in passing, THE SPARK expressly states that exploitation is above all taking place in production enterprises, we just want to remind the readers of the fact that during the years after the Korean war a sharp fall set in the export prices of the oppressed countries to our part of the world and a still sharper increase in the prices which they had to pay for their imports from our countries – also the imports from Denmark and Sweden. So maybe Swedish monopoly capital has also made a little money through the many trade (sale) enterprises which has been set up in the whole wide world since World War II. And maybe this growing difference in export and import prices has also had a certain importance for the increasing real wages of the Swedish workers?"10
Disposing of the Swedish legend, as dear to Social Democratic hearts as to the ruling class Social Democracy serves, is more than a mere intellectual exercise. In the context of general Marxist failure to appreciate the decisiveness of imperialist parasitism, this legend¬
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bears directly on the slough into which the Western Left has fallen: faced with Social Democratic gloating over Scandinavia's economic success and its implied applicability to the entire capitalist system, Marxists in the metropolitan world – already half-digested into postwar material affluence – seriously botched the job of countering such propaganda. Did Social Democracy claim Sweden the "glorious exception that proves the rule"? Then these Marxists felt duty bound to deny all. Instead of pin-pointing the form of Scandinavian parasitism within the imperialist economy and relating it to the general phenomenon, they point to 300,000 Swedish workers on relief, to high taxes paid by Scandinavian workers4 and imply that these – not capital-export-based high wages and their resultant political expression in successful mass Social Democracy – were Sweden's currently significant features.
Furthermore, the Scandinavian myth is an indispensable background against which to view Palme Dutt (and others) accenting worsening workers' conditions under European Fascism. Echoed by Eastern European Marxists, Dutt and his cohorts, from the depths of the crisis, answered Social Democratic boasts about Scandinavia with predictions of an imminent end to the whole system. Postwar difficulties and ensuing upheavals in the capitalist world involving even the labor aristocracy of the time gulled Marxists into trying to make of such undeniably worsened conditions the only clue to the future. They refused to consider Scandinavia. And so they failed to see over the edges of depression conditions to the relationship between where such conditions lead and the presence or absence of super-exploitable colonial populations. With dog-like persistence, they ignored Lenins admonition on the significance of imperialist parasitism which held a ruling class solution.
Not very long ago as history unwinds, an interesting example in the Congo provided a peek into future. During Patrice Lumumba's rise, Belgium's monopolists feared the real loss of their colony when "independence" was granted in January 1960. although their fears were soon proven premature, their answer was an austerity program inside Belgium, a logical attempt to transfer to Belgian workers the increased exploitation aimed at recouping anticipated colonial losses. By June 1960, that program had¬
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evoked "chaos" in Belgium; and in December 1960, the declaration of a general strike brought the entire Belgian working class onto the streets. Horrified at the revolutionary potential looming in such a situation, uncle Sam hastily intervened through his creature Mobutu in the Congo. Patrice Lumumba, murdered January 17, 1961, paid with his young life for that intervention. But his murder at least temporarily solved Belgium's – and America's – immediate worry about revolution at home, by ensuring that the loss of the Congo would be in name only.* Before the end of January 1961, the general strike in Belgium was over.
The case of Scandinavia reveals that the more remote or hidden parasitism is (either by the distance of the subjugated and/or the apparent absence of colonies themselves), the greater the concessions imperialism can make to "its" workers at home. Continued "democracy" in the West proves parasitism's nonstop growth as long as imperialism exists – a growth which, even as it intensifies the system's inner contradictions, still allows it to totter on.
But, at least partly because Marxists offered no valid answer to Social Democratic claims about Scandinavia, the Western labor aristocracy continued unhindered in its political support for colonialism, either via growing overt racism, as in the U.S. and South Africa; or by pursuing Social Democracy's will-o'-the-wisp where it leads: to uncovering covert racism, as in England.
Meanwhile, colonial casualties mounted in the struggle for liberation. The Western Left's myth that "the working class in the main capitalist countries" is, at this point in history, a battalion of liberation did not help such casualties. Although that Left often predicted a pending change in Western working class adherence to its colonially-derived bribes, the very opposite is what happened – the world labor aristocracy shows a growing attachment to them!
The objective result of the cited Marxist position has been paralysis of that Left's ability to make realistic estimates of existing conditions. Yet, only facing facts can make Marxism work in the West once again, as it did for the scientist Lenin up to the mid-20s.
* See Appendix IV for background.
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But how can facts be faced when obscured by the attitudes of men with the authority of Georgi Dimitroff, Palme Dutt and Palmiro Togliatti? At the time when they were writing, their every word was taken as gospel – when History certainly called for an entirely different attitude. Lack of criticism developed into a huge weed in the Western Marxist garden, and soon was to overrun and choke the ideological soil of the Western Left.
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