According to Marx, the portion of society that is parasitic increases over time: "At the dawn of civilization the productiveness acquired by labour is small, but so too are the wants which develop with and by the means of satisfying them. Further, at that early period, the portion of society that lives on the labour of others is infinitely small compared with the mass of direct producers. Along with the progress in the productiveness of labour, that small portion of society increases both absolutely and relatively."(22)
Despite the focus given to the labor aristocracy by Lenin, Marx and Engels were the first to speak of the labor aristocracy of the colonial countries. Even in Capital, Vol. 1, Marx speaks of "how industrial revulsions affect even the best-paid, the aristocracy, of the working-class."(23)
Engels in particular is famous for some quotes on England. Here we only point to the quotes from Engels that Lenin also cited favorably in his book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. As we shall see, Lenin's approval and careful attention to the quotes from Engels on the labor aristocracy are very important in his own thinking.
One of the clearest quotes from Engels as early as 1858 cited by Lenin is: "The English proletariat is 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 as well as a bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world, this is, of course, to a certain extent justifiable."(24 ) We should also point out that from Lenin's point of view it was a matter of concern that this had been going on for over 50 years already. Just before expressing this concern, Lenin says, "Imperialism has the tendency to create privileged sections also among the workers, and to detach them from the broad masses of the proletariat."(25 ) Writing to the same Kautsky who later betrayed everything, Engels said, "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 merrily share the feast of England's monopoly of the colonies and the world market."(26 ) Spineless Mensheviks internationally regret this blanket statement by Engels. The more dangerous revisionists of Marxism are only too gutless to say Engels was wrong while contradicting him at every chance. The spineless flatterers of the oppressor nation working class fear the reaction of the oppressor nation workers to being told they are parasites. Likewise, these spineless social-chauvinists evade the task before the international proletariat--a historical stage of cleansing the oppressor nation workers of parasitism. This task cannot be wished away with clever tactics of niceness.
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